How to make your tomatoes turn red?

While going searching my logs I noticed the query in the topic. My first response, in my sarcastic mind was, “Uh red paint, maybe a red permanent marker?” After some more serious thought I did get some more helpful ideas.

Don’t be greedy: I know it is hard when you want to get as many delicious tomatoes as possible and you let your plants go wild producing as many fruit as possible but unfortunately you hit the end of your growing season with 70% of those tomatoes to never to become ripe before the first frost. You can prevent this by pinching off any suckers that are not part of the main vein of the plant. Sure you may not get as many fruits but your plant can spent more of its energy getting that fruit red instead of growing more green tomatoes to throw in the compost.

Be light on the nitrogen: Do not give your plants too much nitrogen during its growth period. You will get a big beautiful plant, but unfortunately fruit will bear too late in the season to mature into ripe red tomatoes.

Get supermarket quality tomatoes from your garden: Of course tomatoes ripened on the vine will have the better taste but when your season runs out and your tomatoes are still green what can you do?  One option is to take any flawless tomatoes (no bruises, no cracks) place them very gently in a cardboard box padded on bottom with newspaper and place in a cool humid location. You may also add a ripe banana to speed up the process by adding a little extra ethylene.  If you are luck in a couple/few weeks you should have some red tomatoes.

Just eat the green tomatoes: If all else fails there is always the option of breading them with some bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and fry up until golden. There is also the green salsa option which I am planning on trying out this year…ok I may have been a little “greedy” this year.

How to save jalapeno seeds

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I am attempting to grow the best pepper plants I can indoors (grow box) so I started with jalapeno peppers.  They grow relatively small 2-3 feet and require 2-3 gallon container for growing.  While this is fine for an outdoor garden, though indoors I can only sacrifice 1 gallon container.  This summer I grew several jalapeno plants which spent half of their life in the grow box and spent our warm summer outdoors.  All of the plants produced but there was definitely a clear winner which had incredible early yields even with its small growing quarters.

I used several immature peppers (green) for salsa this year but allowed several peppers to mature (red) which I will be saving the seeds for planting this winter and next summer for future plants.  By hand selecting the best parent plants should be good old natural selection at work.

The process to collect pepper seeds is pretty simple though I must first provide this warning:

WARNING: Peppers are hot, especially the veins.  When handling peppers use caution and wash your hands well with dish soap.  Under no conditions do not rub your eyes or pick rub your nose before washing your hands or you will be regretting it for a couple hours.  Using gloves is also recommended.

That being said slice the peppers lengthwise with a sharp knife.

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Use a fork or spoon to gently dislodge the seeds into a small bowl.

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If you are lucky enough to have hot sunny weather still (week of rain here) lay they out in the sun for a couple days and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them.  If you are sun challenged like me set them on a windowsill for a few days.

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As I have said before saving you own seeds is very easy and free and as an added bonus you can personally pick the best plant to be the donors of seeds for your future plantings.  In my case I also have the benefit of a plants that is genetically grown to following my sporadic watering and care patterns.

Pickled jalapeno peppers

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My jalapeno peppers did great this year.  So good I didn’t really know what to do with all of them.  After making some salsa and having several mature red ones as snacks in the garden, I still have about two pounds that I didn’t want to go to waste.  After a little thought I decided to make some pickled jalapeno peppers.

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CVG Picked jalapeno pepper recipe

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coriander (mine were still a little green from garden)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
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    Directions:  Mix ingredients and bring brine to boil.  Either slice or leave the pepper whole.  If you choose to do whole peppers, be sure to poke them with a toothpick so they won’t collapse.  Fill jars with jalapeno peppers and then fill with hot brine up to 1/2 in from the top of jar.  Boil for 10 minutes and feel free to pick some pickled peppers as fast and as many times as you want this summer.

    Garden Salsa recipe

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    Big moment this week, I was able to make salsa entirely from ingredients.  I normally don’t use cherry/grape tomatoes for salsa but my Early Girls are not that early this year and have not quite turned red. 

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    CVG Garden Salsa Recipe
    • 2-3 tomatoes (or 12-15 cherry/grape tomatoes)
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 small onion
    • green onion
    • 5 sprigs of cilantro
    • tablespoon vinegar
    • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
    • sugar

    Directions:  Coarsely chop tomatoes (removing seeds, though if I few sneak in it is not a big deal), onion, and green onions and add to bowl.  Finely chop garlic, cilantro, and seeded jalapeno pepper and add to mixture.  Add vinegar to bowl and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for 10 minutes and add sugar until salsa does not have a spicy aftertaste (normally 1-2 teaspoons)  If you like the spice skip the sugar and include seeds from the jalapeno.

    Mango Salsa Recipe

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    I am starting to get some cherry tomatoes turning red but not enough to make salsa so yet again so I decided to make some Mango Salsa.  It is great to eat on tortilla chips the same you would for regular salsa or black bean corn salsa.  One of my favorite things to do with is as a topping to blackened salmon (salmon grilled with dusting of Cajun seasoning)

    CVG Mango Salsa Recipe

    • 3 mangos
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 small onion
    • green onion
    • 5 sprigs of cilantro
    • juice of one lemon (or lime)
    • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
    • sugar

    Directions:  Finely chop 1 mango (or blend in blender/food processor) this will create a base for the salsa.  Coarsely chop remaining mangos, onion, and green onions to have more defined texture and add to bowl.  Finely chop garlic, cilantro, and seeded jalapeno pepper and add to mixture.  Squeeze in juice of lemon into bowl and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for 10 minutes and add sugar until salsa does not have a spicy aftertaste (normally 2-3 teaspoons)

    Now if you really like the spice you can leave the seeds in and/or skip the sugar but for the blackened salmon it give a good contrast to the spicy meat and people just are not usually expecting fruit to be spicy.

    I can proudly say with the exception of mangos, lemons, and sugar the remaining ingredients came right out of my garden.

    Doing recon at the local farmers market

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    Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to infiltrate a local farmers market to gain intelligence to help aid your personal garden.

    Sure, the farmers market is a great place to find some fresh food you can’t or didn’t have time/space to grow in your garden.  It is also a great place to get seeds/starts for your garden.  It is also a great resource to figure out how various fruits/vegetables grow in your area.

    Even if you are growing everything you want/need in your own garden a quick stop at your farmers market can help you check out your competition and see for example in my case, “hey their garlic grew just as bad as mine this year.”

    This is also a good time to try out new fruits and vegetables you are thinking of growing next year.  There is nothing worse than growing a bed full of arugula and figure out at that point you hate the stuff.  If you are lucky enough you might even get a meal and some seeds to plant with next year depending on you seed saving ability.

    Now as always you don’t want to blow your cover while doing surveillance, so make sure you have a good cover store.  In my case I used a few people known as “my wife and daughters” to appear less conspicuous.  You can even use techniques of taking a picture of your “daughter” to get some recon picture of their products for further analysis.

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    In the end it looks like my little spy helpers had a good time and we even contributed a little to the local farmers economy and got the secret ingredient to CVG Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe (ok, it was corn).

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    This post will self destruct in 10 seconds (sorry had to say it)

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