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Today I was able to can 7 quarts and 4 pints of tomatoes. It probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more than I thought it would be. It was quite the surprise to discover that there was enough for a double batch instead of the single I anticipated. This particular recipe is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book I mentioned in a previous post. It’s tomatoes with mixed vegetables. We really like the combination of veggies in it (tomatoes, celery, onion, and green pepper), and it was nice to be able to can more this year. Our tomatoes haven’t been going crazy yet like they have in the past, but they’re still doing well.
In the past, we’ve always grown a hybrid variety like Better Boy. This year we grew almost all heirloom varieties. The one we grew the most of was called Rutgers – I wanted Brandywine tomatoes but we couldn’t find them. We also grew Yellow Pear (they look really strange – I’ll have to pick some and take a picture) and Mr. Stripey. The Yellow Pear have good flavor but are more of a salad tomato since they’re so small. The Mr. Stripey tomatoes are some of the biggest I’ve ever seen, but we haven’t gotten many off that plant at all. My favorite this year though was the Sweet 100 – it’s not heirloom but those tomatoes are so sweet. They’re marble-sized and I eat them right off the vine when I’m in the garden. They taste amazing. Those are definitely on my list to grow again next year.
Usually we just buy half a flat or so of the same variety, but this year we changed things around quite a bit. We followed the garden in a day plan so Samuel could have his own garden, and let him pick what tomatoes he wanted (he picked Better Boy and Sweet 100). For mine I picked Yellow Pear and Better Boy because Samuel wanted another one. That raised bed garden (we doubled the garden’s size and then split it) did really well and was fun to plant.
The majority of our canning tomatoes are in the main garden with everything else. We changed that around too – we’ve been reading and experimenting with intensive gardening and raised beds. We are absolutely thrilled with the results. Our garden isn’t much to look at this year, but we’re getting more produce out of the same amount of space as before. What a blessing!