Do This to Grow Better Produce Next Season

How has your growing season been going? Did you learn anything new, discover a new vegetable, fruit or herb that you want to grow again or find a new technique to trellis that you do not want to forget?

Each growing season offers new lessons. That is what makes edible gardening so darn fun (and addicting).

Things are beginning to slow down in the DIY Backyard Farm. As the days get shorter the plants grow slower. The weeds go slower too! That means there is less to do and more time to enjoy the amazing harvest. We still have tomatoes, peppers and some other all-star summer vegetables. There are even some golden raspberries showing up for a curtain call. It is like we have worked hard all spring and summer cycling to the top of a steep mountain. Now it is time to coast down the other side.

The extra time allows for reflection and some preliminary planning. The image below is of a real garden notes sheet for one of our tomato gardens. I included it here as an example of how we catalog our experiences and ideas. These notes will be a huge help once we begin planning for the next season’s crops.

If you take notes like these you will be a better backyard farmer and grow superior produce year after year. My book contains garden planning worksheets and garden notes pages like the one below. I hope you will buy a copy today.

Garden Notes

Garden Notes 

Monthly Garden Experiment – Fishnure (June)

In February while seeking a break from the snow and ice I came across Fishnure Fertilizer. Some guy on Twitter was posting pictures of side by side plant comparisons with and without the use of Fishnure. That guy was Jim and he’s the main person behind the Fishnure line of products.

I did not know Jim, so naturally I was skeptical and asked him to send me a sample so I could try my own comparisons.

A week later some Fishnure arrived in the mail! Good to see he was confident enough in his product to take up the challenge.

Waiting to try Fishnure was difficult because I had planned on using it for a tomato comparison. That meant I had to wait until May!

Fast forward a few months and there I was with my son, “The Tomato Shark”. Together we began the Fishnure Tomato Experiment. If you missed last month’s experiment on growing bucket loads of potatoes click here–>Potato Experiment.

We chose Supersweet 100’s tomatoes for the Fishnure experiment. The 2 plants were purchased from the store as starts and came from the exact same package. Our plan was to have two potted tomato plants. Potting them allows more control over soil, water, sunlight and nutrient differences. Both pots got identical garden soil right from the DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Beds. The only difference was that I mixed Fishnure into the soil of one of the plants.

The picture below shows the plants at the 2.5 week mark. The plant on the right is the one growing with Fishnure. We certainly noticed more foliage on the Fishnure treated plant at this point in the experiment. However, as I write this post we are almost into week 4 and the control plant seems to have caught up.

Plants at the 2 week mark in the experiment

Plants at the 2.5 week mark in the experiment

At this time we decided to add a top dressing of Fishnure. The product labeling recommends 2x a year feeding with Fishnure. This feeding will be the only additional application of the product we use this season.

Using Fishnure is fairly easy and not too messy. Ours came in a resealable bag. The product we tested had a tendency to clump and we had to break it up a bit before using. I was surprised by how little smell there was. I was expecting something that smelled like old fish tank or maybe fish oil capsules.

The plan is to update this post as the season progresses. My son and I are excited to see the final results of this experiment and will be sure to share them on the DIY Backyard Farm blog. Will the Fishnure treated plant produce more tomatoes? Will the tomatoes taste better or different from the tomatoes on our control plant? Only time will tell! Stay tuned…

The Proper Way to Plant Tomatoes

My 9 year-old son, locally known as “The Tomato Shark” shows us how to plant tomatoes the right way. Yes, there is a wrong way to plant tomato plants.

Don’t be afraid to bury them in fairly deep like you see in the video. The tomato plant will develop a better root system. Better roots usually means better plant too!

Here is a more detailed tomato planting video we put out last year for the folks who want a bit more information.

What types of tomatoes are you growing this season?

A Tomato for the Ages (or next season at least)

Today a friend gave me a magnificent tomato called Purple Haze. I had them this evening and quickly wrote them into my list of tomatoes to grow next year.

tomato,purple haze

A perfect Purple Haze Tomato

As soon as I finished my meal I began searching the net for information on this variety. After reading a number of sites I was satisfied that I had enough information to confidently add Purple Haze to my very short list of tomatoes to grow next year.

I liked the summary offered by a website call Tomato Dirt. This site does a nice job of providing background info on how the variety was created. I especially liked how they noted that Purple Haze is not yet stabilized. That means it is not producing reliable, consistent results. For example, it is meant to produce large cherry-sized fruit. However, it sometimes produces oblong or larger tomatoes.

Stabilized or not, I want to grow them next year. As I always say, “plan your garden and then garden your plan!” Start planning now when the experiences are fresh in you mind.

Secret To A Successful Garage Sale

My friend Dave recently shared a story with me about the power of Sungold tomatoes. Maybe I should put pictures of my tomatoes on the signs for our next garage sale???

Here is the story as told by Dave:

Thought you would get a kick out of this story….

A friend was having a garage/moving sale and a guy was looking at some golf clubs that were up for sale. He noticed the guy was standing in the same spot for a long time. Then my friend noticed the guy was picking SUNGOLD cherry tomatoes off his plants. After seeing him eat 5 or so tomatoes he walked over and said, “those tomatoes are pretty good huh?” The guy said he has never had a tomato this good and wanted to know what the name of them was. He proceeded to pick 10 or 15 more to go!

Watch This For Tastier Tomatoes

Your desire to taste one of the best fruits of summer may have you picking them at the wrong time. Let the resident 8 year-old DIY Backyard Farmer show you how it is done!

Note, he meant to explain that it is important to harvest tomatoes that are close to ready before a major rain. Often times those tomatoes will swell and split. If no major rains are expected than most tomatoes benefit from longer hang times. This is especially true for cherry-type tomatoes. Not sure if that was clear in the video, but that is what he meant to say.

Now go make some BLT’s!

Never Waste A Tomato Again

Every season we say the same thing, “we can’t wait to jar our plum tomatoes”. Every season we do the same thing, “Nonna, can you please jar our tomatoes?”

We just do not have the time to deal with the abundance of San Marzano plum tomatoes that we harvest all at once. These past few seasons we discovered oven roasting them. It is a quick, easy way to ensure not a single tomato goes to waste. Anyone can execute this recipe with ease.

Roasted tomatoes taste great alone, on top of a crusty piece of bread or mixed into a pasta Primavera. I hope our readers will share their favorite uses with us.

oven roasted tomatoes

finished and ready to eat, or save (not)

Here’s How To Do It

Simply slice each plum tomato in half lengthwise. Then place the cut halves onto a lightly oiled baking pan cut side up. We season ours with some dried herbs (from our garden of course), garlic powder and a touch of grated Parmesan cheese. Of course, you can roast them plain as well.

Next, place the pan into an oven set to 400 degrees. You can slow roast them at a lower temperature as well for an even more intense flavor. We usually roast at 400 degrees because it is much quicker. Check on them often because cooking times depend on thickness of the tomato halves.

The tomatoes are done when they look like the ones in the picture above. Look at those nice charred edges and super concentrated flavors!

Note, in the summer we use our grill and BBQ a lot. I often roast tomatoes on the grill to keep from heating up the house too much. Instead of a baking pan I use a sheet of heavy-duty foil (well oiled) placed on the top rack of the grill or away from the coals if using a BBQ.



Tomato Tending Tip For Late Season Success

Right after July 4th, it seems that the days fly off the calendar. While that is happening the tomato plants keep growing. It is like watching Jack and the Beanstalk right in your own backyard!

A few nights ago I had an experienced gardener at my home. She was complaining about how her tomato plants have all flopped over and begun to die. It sounded to me like the plants grew too tall and started to collapse under their own weight. I have seen this often and experienced it myself. Plus, the added weight of tomatoes makes the plants even more likely to become damaged.

Long ago I learned to “top” the tomato plants. Topping is only really needed for indeterminate tomato plants because these varieties just do not know when to stop growing.

I demonstrated my technique for topping tomato plants in the video below.