Eat Really Local!

Eat REALLY Local!!

 

My garden is growing like crazy. (For the “before” pictures, check out my previous post on this garden).

I have experimented with planting different species of tomatoes – both hybrids and heirlooms just to see the difference.

There truly is a very visible difference as you can see from these pictures.

I have planted extremely intensively, having my tomato plants only a foot apart, but you can see that the Early Girl tomatoes, although they are heavy bearing (which is what they were hybridized to do!) have been attacked quite heavily by spider mites, whereas the heirlooms on either side are growing very vigorously indeed, with no incidence of spider mites even though the plant a foot away is infested.

Early Girl hybrids/spider mite

I have been having a problem, however, with blossom end rot and the tomato flowers just not producing the fruit, but turning brown and drying up.

Milk Sprayer
Blossom end-rot

I looked into it, and I have started spraying my blossom end rot plants with milk spray (1/2 cup instant skim milk powder into an empty 2 litre pop bottle, then fill with water) and we will see what happens.

The non-producing flowers, however, are a much simpler problem to fix.

In my quest to find the perfect spot for my tiered planting beds, I thought the very best spot in the world was in my back yard, between cedar hedges, and protected from the wind.

Well, they are so protected that I believe they are not being pollinated sufficiently by the wind. Tomatoes are self-pollinating, which means that both anthers and pistil (male and female parts) are in the same flower. BUT, they rely on either wind pollination or bees. With the reduction in bee population, and lack of wind in my backyard, that leaves ME!

blossoms withering

Luckily, it’s very easy to pollinate a tomato by hand. All you have to do is give the flowers a little shake. Here’s me shakin’ up the tomatoes!

I will let you know if it worked or not in a future post.

All in all my gardening “experiment” has been a success.

Last night we had a most delicious grilled eggplant dish, and we have been eating grilled Swiss chard at least twice a week for a month now. It has become my favourite (and I didn’t particularly care for Swiss chard before) not only because it’s delicious, but also because I think it’s the perfect vegetable – not really susceptible to pests (except cheeky chipmunks!), and whenever you pick a stem, it seems that two grow back to replace it! How good is that? 

 

 Recipe

8,9 or 10 (or however many you want) swiss chard leaves and stems

Glorious Swiss Chard!

1/2 a large or 1 small onion

kosher salt

olive oil

Wash and chop the stems very well and slice into about 1/2″ pieces.

Put a piece of foil onto a medium-hot barbeque

Dump the stems and chopped onion onto the foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt.

Close the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped leaves, close the lid and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the leaves are quite wilted.

Enjoy with abandon!

Chop those Swiss Chard Stems

 

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