Tomato Time

In our neck of the woods, Mother’s Day weekend marks our last frost date.  So now that momma’s day has come and gone, we have been “gettin’ out in it” and planting our tomatoes.

If you have been reading for awhile now, you may remember that back in February we had our family’s annual seed starting day.  Well, I’m sad to say that after three years of starting our tomato seeds inside, this year was a complete flop.  We are not sure of the cause:  old seeds (for the first time ever we used left over seed from the previous year instead of ordering new), bad light bulbs, not enough watering, too much watering or a little bit of each.  But whatever way you look at it, those tomato seeds never got beyond the tiniest sprout and then just kind of died.

After getting beyond the feelings of defeat, we went on to plan number two:  the farmer’s market.  I started chatting with a few different venders and found a woman whom I immediately knew I wanted to buy tomato plants from.  She genuinely cared about the plants that she had tended to since seed stage, and I knew with that much tender loving care I was bound to get some great tomatoes out of these plants.  From this kind woman I ended up with:

~18 Viva Italia plants (She claims they make the best tomato sauce and cans beautifully…yes please!)

~2 Juliet plants (These plants produce small, oblong tomatoes that are sweet in flavor and are perfect for garden snacking.)

I then ventured to another farmer’s market where I ran across our favorite local mushroom growers.  They told us that their tomato seeds they started indoors for their home garden didn’t grow past seedling stage either (I must say, this did make me feel a touch less like the worst green thumb on earth.)  They told me they were going to purchase some tomato plants from the vendor whose booth was neighboring theirs, so I too bought a few plants from them.  I ended up with an additional 6 Roma plants.

Finally, I went back to The Seed Savers Exchange, where we buy all of our seeds, and looked at their transplant options.  I ended up ordering a few of our favorite heirloom varieties from them:

~2 Green Zebra plants (A sight for the eyes as well as the taste buds!  Tart yet sweet in taste…delicious.)

~2 Mexician Midget plants (For more garden-side snacking)

~1 Amish Paste (A great paste tomato we had great success with last year.)

~1 Speckled Roman (Also a great paste tomato we loved in past years.)

***A great natural gardening tip I obtained from the lovely woman I mentioned from the first farmer’s market:  When you plant your tomato transplant, put one tablespoon of epsom salt in the hole before you plant.  Then once a month, sprinkle one tablespoon of epsom salt around the base of the plant and water.  She said she has been doing this for years, and the epsom salt acts as a natural fertilizer for the plant.

I tried it out.  I dug my hole, put down a thin layer of compost, then added the one tablespoon of epsom salt.  I then planted the tomato plant as I normally would.

We shall see.

Garden Party

This Mother’s Day was one for the memory books. I rose early for some quiet time with my hubby.  I sipped coffee while he made homemade cinnamon rolls that he and the girls were planning to serve to me later. When the girls awoke, the wild rumpus started (Oh Maurice Sendak, you will forever be remembered.) There were cards, there was frosting, and there were the most precious video cards that the girls and Tyler had worked on the day before, complete with costumed princesses, fairies and singing. It was a wonderful start to a fabulous day!

When the noon hour arrived, so did our entire family for our first annual Mother’s Day Garden Party. The kids played the day away in the playhouse, entertained us with their musical instruments, and then rounded out the day in the kiddie pool. The adults enjoyed rhubarb bellinis (yet another favorite Jamie Oliver recipe of mine taken from this cookbook), some tasty food, and of course, great company.

On the food docket for the day was pulled pork that I slow roasted for fifteen hours the day before, served with two different barbeque sauces my hubby made that morning. We also enjoyed rhubarb squares (the recipe can be found in this post), a mojito cake made from a Pampered Chef recipe I love to bust out when the weather gets nice, and coconut macaroons that I found a recipe for in Taproot magazine. All of our guests also brought dishes to pass including salad made with home-grown lettuce, and mushroom crustini’s made with locally grown mushrooms and bread baked by nuns in an area convent.

I know I mentioned it yesterday, but again, I hope that all of the mothers out there had a wonderful day on Sunday. We are all so lucky to be able to tend to our children each and every day. Even though some days can be rough, and we may want to just take a momma’s time out, it is comforting to know there are a plethora of other moms out there giving it their all.  Thank you for reading this blog, for your comments, and your thoughts.  It is a true blessing.