Friday, September 3, 2010

Donner Party Dead

Here's a pic of why I haven't been posting on the topic of homestead gardening, and in turn preserving the harvest. This years garden bounty has been poor, pathetic & pitiful.
In short if we only had what we grew this season to survive on then we'd be dead.
Donner party dead.

Nursery Stock Roma Paste Tomatoes Summer 2010
Last year I started my canning tomatoes from seed, San Marzano an Italian paste variety. They were to say the least all that and a whole lot more until the blight hit.
The quantity of this year's crop is nothing compared to 2008 plum tomatoes. While the average size of the plum tomatoes are slightly smaller than previous years, the number of plums per plant this growing season is drastically less.

Total of home canned home grown tomatoes to date is drum roll please ... 5 quarts from 19 plants.
5 quarts of stewed tomatoes preserved over two canning sessions.
Did I mention late blight showed up last week in the sunniest corner of my garden ?
I am needless to say down hearted after all the composting & bio char I did in the past two years.

Neighbor's 100 year old Maple a.k.a. Sunblocker pic taken @ 1 p.m.
Apparently there is no substitute, no magic soil formula to replace the required 6 hours of sunshine each day that my city garden lacks.

Plan B - call around to both the barter buddy network & outside sources to score a good rate on canning tomatoes. Prices range from $12 a bushel for U Picks to $25 from a faux Amish furniture store. Green bell peppers range from $10 to $14 half bushel. Also need a small handful of hot peppers and garlic. Lots & lots of garlic.
Goal is to can up at least 30 quarts of stewed tomatoes, 25 pints of salsa (can you ever really have too much salsa on the pantry shelf), and if the price is right 30 quarts of sauce. I have been blessed this season with an abundance of Rosemary, Basil, & Thyme.

Would be too much to ask for a gleaning opp on canning tomatoes preferably plum type.

~~ pelenaka ~~
who has been knocked down a peg by Mother Nature


  1. Late blight comes from rain, as much as from insufficient sunlight. Spores can travel miles in storm clouds, so if the farm two counties over has it, you probably will too. (for reference, see

    Here in Germany, everyone told me to grow my tomatoes against the house where they would be protected from rain by the edge of the roof. I never heard of such a thing-it rains plenty in rural Delaware, where I grew up and we never did such a thing-so I planted my toms out in the sunniest part of our yard, which seemed to make more sense to me. Long story short, I lost nearly the entire crop last summer to late blight. This year, I have far fewer plants because there isn't so much space against our small house, and what I have is not much due to the late start we got this year (heat was on till May), but there is no sign of blight, and it's been raining off and on the last four weeks.

    Not sure if that's much help, since it's not really viable to grow enough to put by when you use the against-the-house method, and greenhouses are pricey, but there you are. Some British seed companies are selling blight-resistant cultivars (try Thompson and Morgan), and at least one German seed grower has been working on developing "Freiland" varieties (literally "Free land", meaning not under roof or greenouse) that are blight resistant--at least in the climate here.

    But I feel your pain. We would also have not made it through the winter on what we grew this year. We had a terrible year for potatos and onions (which we grow at my in-laws). First the cold spring, then the hottest July on record, then aforementioned rain, then the mice got to the potatoes. We lost at least half of our meagre crop to rot. Ditto on the onions. And from five squash plants, not a single squash. We are seriously thinking about raised beds for next year.

  2. I know way more than I really ever wanna know 'bout late blight due to last year.
    Thanks for the heads up on those tom breeds. I will give them some thought I have after all, all Winter long.
    Just goes to show you how one bad thing can follow the next until your pantry is bare.


Thanks, good to know there are other's with this interest