2016 Tomatos and Sauce

This year was a very good year for tomatoes.  I planted two varieties, Plum Regal and some leftover Paisano.  The Plum Regal variety is supposed to be more resistant to disease, but I found that the community garden disease factory still killed the plants about halfway through the season, so I lost half the crop to blight.  Anyway, this still left me with about 120 lbs of tomatoes over the course of the year.  I always core, scoop out the seeds and then freeze them until I have enough for a batch of sauce.  I was able to do three batches this year, each producing 12 pints of sauce. 
 Tomato sauce
                I usually start early in the morning by setting up my induction burner (more energy efficient than the stove) and putting 20 pounds of the cored, seedless tomatoes in the pot.  This fills up my 12 quart saucepot.  I sautee onions and garlic according to a canning approved recipe and then toss that in with the tomatoes.  I then use an immersion blender to puree all of the ingredients.  One that is done, I toss in some chopped basil.  It then gets to simmer for about 6 hours as the sauce is reduced by half.  This leads to 12 pints, but unfortunately, my canning pot only fits 7.  So, I have to do two batches.  I sterilize all of the jars, lids and rings by washing with hot water and soap, then holding them at 180 F for 10 minutes.  I then take them out, pour 1 tablespoon of Lemon juice in the pint and fill with sauce.  35 minutes in a boiling water bath for the pint and they are done.  I carefully take them out and then repeat for the next batch of jars.  This year, I ended up with 36 pints.  I can use these for pizza sauce as well as it is thick enough.

2016 Pumpkin and Squash

The pumpkin and squash experiment did not do well.  I started 8 squash plants of the Metro PMR (Powdery Mildew Resistance) variety and decided to do pumpkin from seed.  After 1 week, the squash seedlings had been eaten and the same on the pumpkins that had sprouted.  It turned out to be a groundhog.  I set a live trap and caught two groundhogs.  This appears to have solved the problem as the next set of seeds I planted (which is probably going to end up being too late) has grown tremendously with only a couple nibbles here and there.  In the meantime, I have set up an electric fence (which was being unused by my brother) with 3 strands.  One is 4” off the ground and the next is 8” in order to ward off any future groundhog incursions.  Again, this year did not go well, but I am hopeful for next year.  The potatoes, onions and beans did do well over there, so I will have to think of a new set of crops that will work there.