#Tomato

Do you follow #tomato on Instagram?  There are 5.8 Million posts of this most delicious fruit.  Yes, we can buy tomatoes all year long here in South Central PA, but how many of us can’t wait for those precious few months when we can grow or buy them local!  Count me in!  It’s finally spring and time to start thinking about planting our gardens!  YEASSS!

We recently had the great opportunity to visit good friends in Florida.  Knowing how much we love farming, they took us to a Florida farm where we could buy fresh picked flowers, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn and more.  Lordy, it was pure paradise for Rick and I.  We both grew up on farms.  As children, when our families took car rides (yes, it was an experience, not an every day event typically ending with ice cream 🙂  our dads were always observing other farmer’s fields.  I still crane my neck to see how all the crops are growing and wishing the farmer who planted them all the best as I pass by LOL!  Farming is not for the faint of heart….

Anyhow, I posted a photo on Facebook of a lovely pile of Heirloom tomatoes that were for sale at the farm we visited in Florida.  I had a lot of questions about what kind of tomatoes they were, so I thought there may be more questions that I could answer.  I am by no means an expert on tomatoes or growing them, but I do know what I like and a few things about the different types of tomatoes.  I’m still learning.  There is a lot to learn…

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Here is my little unofficial tutorial.   There are three different varieties of tomatoes:

Open Pollinated (non-hybrids):  This variety will produce the same tomato plant year after year if you save the seeds.

Heirloom:  They have a history.  Either a family history or commercial history.  The variety must be at least 50 years old (or introduced before 1940) and typically have a great taste!  All heirlooms are open-pollinated but not all open pollinated are heirlooms.  Confusing, right…?  If you save the seeds of an heirloom tomato, you will grow the same plant year after year.

Hybrid:  This is the variety that we have gotten used to.  It has been cross bred to exhibit the best characteristics of varieties.  They have been bred to withstand shipping and have a longer shelf life.  They are usually a very pretty tomato too.  We all like that, right?  The hybrid seeds can be saved, but you will not get the same tomato plant.

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Tomatoes can be determinate and indeterminate……WHAT???  No quiz later, I promise!

Determinate Tomatoes are short bushy types (can still get up to 2-3′ typically) and the fruit matures within the same time frame.  There are early, mid and late season varieties.

Indeterminate Tomatoes provide fruit all season long till frost, however will grow quite large and need a lot of support (can get up to 6’ish).  I believe most heirloom varieties are indeterminate so you would need a lot of room in your garden for them.

When you are shopping for your tomato plants or seeds, all the info about whether it is a determinate, indeterminate, hybrid, heirloom, open pollinated, etc will be on the tag or on the seed packet.

Here at Family Tree Farm, we have sold heirloom varieties (which, in my opinion, are the most delicious and have that wonderful tomato taste that we long for all winter) at our roadside stand.  They are not big sellers.  It’s so hard for the heirloom to compete visually against a hybrid.  We all want those beautiful red, round, large slicer tomatoes for our BLT’s.  The heirlooms come in all different colors and sizes and can develop some really weird shapes!

Last year I snuck in a couple Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes along with the hybrids we planted.  Their taste was divine.  The plants got crazy big and I didn’t do a very good job of keeping them off the ground, but still harvested lots of them for my own delight!  I did share some with Rick.  He had to agree, they were delish!

I’m going to sneak more heirlooms in this year…..shhhh, don’t tell Rick.  I just have to do a better job of keeping them off the ground……

If you want to know more about heirloom tomatoes, I would recommend www.tomatofest.com.  They have an awesome site with lots of heirloom info and seed varieties.

Happy Spring Folks!

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Love Is In The Air…..

Yes friends, it’s that time of year….Valentines Day is just around the corner!  How do you feel about Valentines Day?  Do you celebrate with your snuggle bunny, or if you have children, snuggle bunnies 🙂  I recently saw a report that the $ amount spent is going down for retailers at Valentines Day.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe there are more people like the hubs and I!

We don’t fuss here on the farm.  A nice card, and my hubs loves flowers too…isn’t that sweet?  We try to make a little more effort for dinner than usual.  We don’t need to go out,  (although, if dinner reservations are made – I’m dressed and ready to go LOL!) it’s just nice to celebrate at home.  True Story….one year (about 25 years ago – SHOCK?!) my hubs bought a vacuum cleaner for me on Valentines Day.  As you can imagine, it didn’t go over so well….not that I want or need extravagant things, but a vacuum?…….Humph!   On the flip side, it was one of the best vacuum cleaners I ever had.  I kept it.  The vacuum was a beast and did an amazing job for many many years. Please know, if you ever bring his Valentine gaffe up to my hubs in front of me, I will deny what I just said….wink. wink.

Last year, someone sent me a lovely photo of a small bouquet of flowers wrapped in what looks like black construction paper.  Isn’t it adorable?  Wouldn’t you love to receive or give something like this?  I don’t know if she took this photo, or where she found it, so I can’t give credit where credit is due.

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Anyhow, I was reading one of my favorite blogs this week and there it was.  A similar sweet little Valentine bouquet of flowers in a paper cone.  The blog is StoneGable.  Check her out!  She has great farmhouse decorating tips and delicious recipes.  StoneGable’s blog post has printable paper too – very cute.  I just wanted to make my flower cones in black like the photo above.  Check out my video tutorial as I make one.

What is great about this little bouquet in a cone is, you can take a large bouquet of flowers that your purchase from your local florist and divide it.  That way all your snuggle bunnies get a little gift of love from you and you don’t have to break the $.  Sweeeet, right?  Super easy to do!  Try it!

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Happy Valentines Day!

Karen

What’s Your Vision?

Well, Happy New Year Friends!  The Christmas tree has been taken down – I’m still un-decorating the house.  It always seems like I think I finished putting Christmas away, then I find something right out in the open that was missed a day or two later.  How about you?

We had a wonderful Christmas season with our family – love them soooo very much.  Now, it’s time to move on to a fresh start with the new year.  It’s time to reflect.  What worked, what didn’t.  We have some time to go through photos taken during our busy seasons, and start to plan for 2019.  It’s exciting and ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­daunting at the same time to start the year over again.

I’m not a written goal setter.  Are you?  It’s not that I don’t believe goals are not important, because they are.  Setting goals, writing them down, works for many, but has never really worked for me.  I’m very visual, you see.  There needs to be something creative to make me sit for a period of time to focus and be intentional.

Vision board, you say?  Yes!  If you want to try a new way to goal set, try putting together a vision board for yourself.  Below, is my vision board from 2018.  It was full of flowers which, coincidentally or not, was on my mind (and what was in my large magazine stash) wink, wink.  I wanted to grow more beautiful flowers than ever for my customers to pick here on our farm.  It would be my fifth season of PYO Flowers and I really wanted to step up my game.

img_1075.jpg Grab a piece or two of plain poster board.  Gather as many magazines as you can get your hands on – the more the merrier!  Don’t go out and buy new magazines, just use what you have stashed around (I’m a stasher, so this was no problem – insert eye rolling emoji), or ask friends and relatives for their magazine stashes.  Glue stick, scissors and a place where you can make a mess and leave it until you are finished is everything else that you need.

Go through the magazines, one page at a time.  When you see words or images that move you, tear that whole page out.  Lay it aside.  Keep flipping, tearing – don’t overthink!  Just go with what moves you.

After you have gone through all the magazines, organize your pages into images and words.  Then start cutting the images that move you out of the magazine pages and place them in one pile then cut the words out of the other and keep in another pile.  You may not use them all, again, don’t overthink this.

Grab your glue stick and start with the larger pieces and place them on the poster board.  You will pick up some images and/or words and think “what was I thinking”. Set it aside, or throw it away!  I glued all my picture on my board first, then glued the words on.  It was very therapeutic as I could see my vision come to life in front of me in a colorful collage.

When you are finished, keep your vision board in a prominent place in your home where you can see it every day.  I stood in front of mine every morning for a few months while I was sipping on my coffee just for a few minutes.  By the time summer came along, we were too busy and my vision board was ignored.

I grew, what I think, was an amazing flower garden despite having one of the most challenging summers weather wise ever here in South Central PA.  I met new friends and felt so much joy in their happiness cutting flowers.

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Flowers have a way of not only saying, I love you, or this bouquet is just because I was thinking of you, or I picked this beautiful bouquet of flowers just for myself, because I am worth it!  Flowers heal the soul.  They rise from the dirt and take our breath away with their beauty!

I’ve had some time to go through some professional photo’s we had taken in our You Pick Flower Garden by Loving Memories Photography & Design.  It was a hot steamy summer’s evening, after a few days of rain, of course.  I found this photo.  Insert holy cow emoji – is there one?  There should be!

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I had a strange urge while we were in the garden having photos taken to use a colorful chair.  Trust me, I had not looked at my vision board for months.  I can remember cutting out the colorful sofa that’s on my vision board above.  The sofa was definitely not in a home but in an outdoor setting, and I just had to place it on my vision board.  Who knew, months later, that photo would inspire me and I would use that vision in our flower garden for photos.  I’m just realizing this as I am writing this blog post and looking at the photos.  Wow, the power of the brain and what visualization can do!  Life becomes what you think about the most…..

Try a vision board, it’s not difficult, don’t make it be difficult.  Have fun with it.  Look at it every day and see what happens! I’m a believer and am running to the store for poster board this weekend.  I can’t wait to see what my vision will be for 2019.

I’ll share more photos of our lovely garden photo shoot that Loving Memories Photography and Design  took on that hot summer’s evening in 2018 as the 2019 season progresses.  I can’t say enough about Krista, her professionalism and ability to take such amazing photos in the heat while thwarting off mosquitoes that seemed to be attracted to only her!  I can’t wait to work with Loving Memories again on more photo shoots here at Family Tree Farm.

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Happy New Year friends!  Show me your vision boards!!

See you soon,

Karen

To Peel Or Not To Peel…..

Apple Peel

Do you believe there are more vitamins and nutritional value in the skin of a fruit or vegetable?  I always did, because my dad told me so (insert laughing emoji)!  He also told me if I ate the crust of my bread my hair would curl… (insert hysterically laughing emoji).  Didn’t happen.  Hair is as straight as a pin.

I decided to do a little research on this very matter with apples.  We have a whole orchard full of beautiful, delicious apples. To peel or not to peel, that is the question???

I, of course, went to my favorite resource, Google, where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about apples (and everything else you ever wanted to know or not know – insert rolling eyes emoji).  Some pro peel, some bleh peel.

We all know apples are one of the most nutritious snacks available.  According to one article I read in a Huffington Post article, a medium apple with skin contains 4.4 grams of fiber.  Without the skin, there is only 2.1 grams.  Apparently, the cut-off for what is considered a “good source” of fiber is 3 grams.

I read another article from The Washington Post stating that by peeling apples you miss out on powerful nutritional pluses.  Not only does the peel have a good source of fiber, they have 25% more potassium and 40 % more vitamin A.  According to Elaine Trujillo, a registered dietitian nutritionist, the peel contains bio-active compounds polyphenols, pectins and ursolic acid.  I have nooo idea what any of that is, but apparently it’s supposed to be good for us.  I’ll have to “Google” it.

I seem to find more benefits to keeping the peel on, then peeling it off, but do your own research.  Do you peel your apples or eat them with the peel on?

I’m going to stick with what dad told me.  I eat my apples with the peel on!

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See you soon!

Karen