This past week has been quite interesting! Today we had the remnants of Hurricane Ike come through Illinois – although it was a tropical depression by the time it hit us. I was surprised to see some limbs off of a tree near our house. The winds didn't seem too bad, although there seemed to be gusts of 30 mph at times. Some roads were also flooded because we had a downpour for at least five hours this morning non-stop.
Anyways, back to the main topic. This week was generated the last of the sweet corn. The hybrid I use is called Sugar Dots. Sugar Dots has both white and yellow corn kernels and it matures fairly quickly – about 90 days to completion. About three months ago, I went through and harvested my first set. About a week before, I planted another 30 stalks in another area of the yard for later harvest – which was this past week. Overall, I was not too pleased with this later harvest although the weather for its growth period was cool – between 70 and 80 degrees for most of the days. The previous harvest yielded two ears of corn on several stalks, but this time there was only one that yielded two ears. The rest of the corn all yielded one (a few didn't yield any) and the ears ranged from about 3 inches in length to a good 7 inches in length. I think it comes down to the fact that during the maturing stage, the sun had moved and the house was shading the corn. The soil was not as fertilized as the other batch either.
In addition to the corn, I have been getting buckets of tomatoes. The tomatoes we have are both cherry tomatoes and roma tomatoes. I do have the say that these two are the highest-producing kinds of the tomato plants. My parents try for the larger tomatoes each year and are disappointed with the results. At one time, I also attempted to plant the 'beefsteak' tomatoes and got very few vine-ripened fruit. So far, I have only two roma tomato plants but yet I have received over 60+ vine-ripened fruit. Today I just pulled another 20 of them off the two! The sizes are smaller than the beefsteak variety, but I would prefer to get some kind of yield than none at all.
The cherry tomatoes are also growing everywhere like a weed. There are four cherry tomato plants and I usually get between 75 – 100 fully ripened cherry tomatoes off the four plants every other day. About 10 – 25% of them though seem to be cracked open – which I don't understand because the weather has been cool and there has been plenty of moisture over the past two weeks.
Today I tried my luck at freezing tomatoes. As other places online suggest, you want to barely make an "X" incision at the bottom of the tomatoes just enough to cut through the skin. Then, with boiling water, put about 2-3 tomatoes in the boiling water at one time for 30 – 45 seconds. After this, ensure to take them out promptly and put them in ice cold water for a little bit. What I would suggest is getting all of the tomatoes boiled up first and then begin taking the skins off – to save energy on the stove. The tomatoes can sit in the ice water for 15 – 20 minutes without problem. Afterwards, I then cut off the tops of the tomatoes and then sliced them and placed them in freezer bags. I put about a pound or two of tomatoes in each bag.
This year with the plethora of roma tomatoes, I wasn't sure what to do with them all before going bad. My wife took two large bags of them to her co-workers yesterday – probably 10-pounds worth – and that is when I decided it was time to start freezing them for later use in salsa, chili, and other recipes that need canned tomatoes.
We went and bought a 5-cubic foot freezer a few days ago and this has made storing all the extra produce easy! The fridge/freezer combo that most people have only store so much – and ours was already full from all the corn and other stuff! This will make the possibility of freezing produce in the future more accomodating.
We still have plenty of them on the vine that are to ripen up yet, so we will get plenty more. Too bad there isn't a way of preserving tomatoes so they maintain their rigidity for use on hamburgers, but oh well.
Next year I plan to put out about the same number of roma and cherry tomato plants – and will probably do the same thing with the corn – except I may try to plant the corn in both areas and after it is harvested, plant another batch. I will have to do more research first because corn definitely will take all the nutrients out of the soil. Next year I plan to till up a little section of the front yard and plant two rows of bush green beans as well. It might make the neighbor upset, but I would rather use the lawn for something productive instead of paying for gasoline to mow the yard.