The garden is in! For many of you the gardening season may have started a while ago, but for us here in the midwest it is just beginning to roll. I am the designated weeder at our house and so every year Tony tries to get creative in how to make it as easy as possible for me. This year, with a baby due in mid-July, he is afraid that more responsibility for the garden may fall to him, so weed control is at an even higher priority. Last year we tried a black paper-like material over the entire garden to control the weeds, but sunlight penetrated the paper and the weeds just grew up under it. It was a terrible failure. This year Tony decided to go with black plastic. I have some concerns about the plants getting enough oxygen…maybe that is stupid…time will tell.
Our garden runs the length of our backyard–about 4″ wide by 50″ long. I always want a bigger garden in the spring, but by the end of summer it seems about right.
The set-up this year is a soaker hose under the black plastic with mulch set out as walking paths and around each plant where we cut the plastic for the plants. Lets hope we have defeated most of the pesky weeds!
Because we have somewhat limited space, I try to think economically. What do I buy at the store that I can grow myself? What do I cook with the most? I have been making my own tomato sauce for the last few years, so that is my biggest target. We just ran out of sauce so I am a little short on making it for the whole year. (Homemade pizza sauce, spaghetti, and tomato soup are what use it up through the year.) Solution=more tomatoes planted this year. We also were not able to do any salsa last year, so we also planned for that.
Thus, 16 tomato plants, banana peppers, red bells, chili peppers, tomatillo peppers, onions, and well…green beans. I still have pickles from last year that I think will last us another year, so I am not concerned about cucumbers. If I had the space I would but… I would also do squash… and strawberries…and an entire herb garden…maybe some artichokes and brocolli…oh rats, I want more space. Someday I am going to live on a farm!
Let’s hope this growing season is a good one! Your food can’t get much more local than your backyard!
Looks good Ingrid! We just got our garden going, last weekend, so we have some seedlings coming up that we planted from seeds! We also did a ton of tomatoes as well. I want to learn to can some sauce, because last year we only had about 4 plants and we got a ton of them! my favorite are grape tomatoes! What kind of tomatoes do you use for making spaghetti sauce?
For tomato sauce I try and pick types that will give me a good beefy flesh. You’d rather have more “meat” for sauce than juice. I’m not very scientific about it…this year I just looked at the names and pictures on the labels. I should probably do a little more research on it, but I’m kind of a wing it girl on this. I will have to do a blog post on what I do for the sauce. Here’s my basic recipe for what it is worth.
Boil tomatoes for a minute until you see the skins split. Dunk tomatoes in cold water and then remove skin.
In a big pot, saute chopped onions and garlic–as much as you’d like in your sauce. Add rough chopped tomatoes. (Some people remove all the juice and seeds, but I really feel like I am wasting so much of the tomato with this. I rough chop them and then let them drain a bit in a colander to get rid of some of the juice.) Now you are just going to simmer those tomatoes away. Add plenty of fresh and/or dried herbs. I add oregano and basil. I also add salt, pepper, garlic powder…whatever sounds good. After simmering/thickening a bit (you can try to quicken the thickening by adding a bit of corn starch. I recommend mixing the starch with a small amount of water just so that it doesn’t clump on you.) Fill jars with sauce and freeze.
When I go to cook with the sauce, I always add a few Tbsp of tomato paste to thicken it more. I also add any extra seasonings and a touch of brown sugar.
It’s kind of like you do a basic sauce the first time around and then do some fine tuning when you go to eat it.
Good job on your garden! I enjoyed reading about it on your blog.