Saturday, August 11, 2012


In the years that we've gardened, we never had a turn out quite like this one.

Today's post is all about our tomatoes and the lesson we learned in planting them.

Here's the story:
The first year after we got married, my husband & dad built a beautiful, huge garden that came complete with an arched entrance, raised beds & a tall white fence to keep out animals. I planted roses around the front and blackberries along the sides. But, summer after summer our crops struggled. We had a harvest, just a very small one for the size of the garden (24' by 24'). Our tomatoes suffered every year with wilted leaves and a very sour taste. I just couldn't understand. All I really wanted were tomatoes. I didn't know what we were doing wrong. The soil was tested & it wasn't bad at all. But without hesitation, we continued to add lime, sand, manure & plant tone to see if it would help. The outcome still wasn't good. The tomatoes were always wilting by mid summer. It wasn't until our wise neighbor gave us a clue as to what might be going on. Nope, it wasn't the bugs in the soil, or the 'invisible' fungus our parents had suspected. There obviously was no lack of nutrients.....but maybe, just maybe it was the walnut trees that grow along our wood line that could be the culprit of wilting tomatoes. Sure was true. Black walnut trees give off a pollen after they bloom, which is in late spring in Ohio. (Their always the last trees to turn green.) The yellow pollen is thick & deadly to the fragile leaves of a tomato. Now...this may seem like old news to some, but we never knew that black walnut trees and gardens couldn't be in close range. For us, close range was within 25 feet. We both new it was inevitable ~ we had to move our garden. There was just no point in keeping it 'there' if it couldn't produce what you needed. So...we changed our garden spot. Literally, we cut the size in half & reused the raised beds, (and some of the soil). There is no arch, no white fence but......this year ~ we've been blown away by the outcome. The new spot sits right between the girls' swing set & a wood line that does not have walnut trees. This year, it's a different story ~ more veggies, more tomatoes, & more green!

There are so many things you can do with tomatoes. One of my favorites is dicing them up with peppers & onions. In a large saucepan, I combine the three ingredients & add a little salt & olive oil. Simmer on a low flame until all ingredients start to blend & fall apart. My mother has always used this homemade sauce for an addition to scrambled eggs, chicken, or pork chops. It truly is delicious. Store your sauce in jars in the fridge or freezer. It can last for months!

Whether your making fresh salsa, spaghetti sauce, gazpacho, or even a face mask, one thing's for sure: you'll be enjoying the healthy benefits tomatoes carry. Packed with vitamins A, C, & E, they are also strong in folic acid & potassium. They are linked to reducing cancers & lung diseases, as well as helping regulate blood sugars & weight management. For your skin, make a mask by mashing them down, seed & all to help shrink pores & tighten your skin. Rinse off after 5 minutes & enjoy soft smooth skin. 
Hip, hip hooray for tomatoes!

To hoping everyone has a tomato filled summer!
Happy Trails:)

P.S. The old garden spot has found a new purpose. It's the site of our new barn:)

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