[From the original archives on PocketLoft, 09-27-2003 12:00 PM.]
Anyone who's familiar with the 'Farmette Report' thread knows I use the term somewhat tongue in cheek. The county considers our size property a 'farmette' - but we have no livestock and we're no farmers. We do have a big ol' barn and lot of garden space with mostly flowers. This year, I decided to try my hand at growing some produce organically, but I kept it conservative because I knew I'd be at work full time and would have little time for tending to a big vegetable garden. Here's what I learned from the experience:
1. Plan for attrition - I now have a lot of respect for folks who can consistently produce a crop of any sort. It's not as easy as sticking a few seeds in a bit of dirt. (Duh! ;) ) For instance, I tried growing a type of leafy green, tatsoi, which is very hard to find in stores but is also very delicious. I planted 6 cells in a seed starter tray with a couple of seeds each. Only two sprouted and grew to be a size that I could transplant to the garden. Since there were only two plants, I put them in separate beds in the courtyard so as to keep a closer eye on them. Plus deer can't get in the courtyard! One died within a few days of some type of disease. The other began to look promising - and just as it began to fill out nicely, something (slugs? a rabbit?) ate it down to the stalks.
2. Prune and thin judiciously - I can weed like all get out, but I'm a whimp when it comes to thinning and pruning nice plants. I could have done better with some of my flowers and veggies (especially the tomatoes) if I'd pinched back the plant to encourage bushier growth.
3. Be careful of overplanting - Even though I didn't provide proper support for my sprawling tomato plants, and didn't pinch them back enough, etc., we're swimming in tomatoes now. Why? Typical newbie mistake: I overplanted. Unlike the leafy green, I planted tons of tomatoes (four varieties) because I wanted to have enough for a good harvest even if groundhogs or other critters started to help themselves. For the last few weeks, I've been harvesting an average of a pound or two a day of tomatoes. I've been cutting up the extras and drying them in a dehydrator. At this rate, I'll have about a year's worth of 'sun-dried' tomatoes by the end of harvest. Good thing I planted a ton of basil, too. :D
What else to do with all those tomatoes? Well, here's a simple recipe for bruschetta:
1. Get as many ripe tomatoes as you want to eat. Chop them up as coarse or fine as you like.
2. Chop up some fresh basil leaves - as much as you like - and toss them in with the tomatoes.
3. If you like garlic, mince a clove or two and add it. (There's some terrific pre-minced roasted garlic you can get that doesn't have as much of that garlicky 'edge' to it as the raw stuff.)
4. Dribble on some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar (or other good vinegar of your choice).
5. Toss in some grated parmesan - just a little.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir.
7. Serve on top toasted bread. Enjoy!
I'm just about to have this for lunch. :D