Indoor Plant Starts

Here are my indoor plant starts for this year. The front row of cups are beef steak tomatoes that I saved the heirloom seeds from last year’s plants. I am so excited that they germinated so well. You can read more about saving tomato seeds here. The seeds were planted 12 days ago and many sprouted within just a few days.

Indoor Plant Starts 4-2024

On the back row on the left is a zucchini start. I planted two seeds in the cup but so far only one has sprouted but I had that happen last year too. Sometimes the seeds take extra time to come up.

The other two back row cups are cherry tomato plants that I started from store bought seeds.

As it is still cold at night here, these plant starts will continue to grow in my kitchen window until things warm up more. I will be transfering them into some bigger pots soon so the plants can have more room to grow. Then I will be hardening them off outside during the day until I can plant them in the garden outside.


Saving & Drying Tomato Seeds

It is always a great idea to save and dry tomato seeds from your heirloom tomatoes. Here are a few seeds I saved earlier this Fall and am drying on a paper towel. These were some tasty and big beef steak tomatoes so I really wanted to save the seeds for next year’s garden.
Drying Tomato Seeds

After they dried out some on the paper towel, I gently moved the seeds around to continue the drying process. You want to make sure your seeds are completely dried out before storing them for future planting. Use a new paper towel if necessary to make sure the seeds dry and ready for storing.

Saving your tomato seeds is not only a way to save money on buying seeds but also is a useful idea for growing more great tasting tomatoes that you enjoyed during this year’s garden.


Late Fall Carrots

Here are my late fall carrots that I just harvested. I had lots of late carrots I planted and have been enjoying them immensely. With the warmer weather, I was able to put up these carrots even after several frosts this year. You want to pull them before the ground freezes solid. Otherwise it is hard to get them out and you break them trying to get them out of the hard-as-concrete dirt. Trust me on this, I had that happen last year.

Late Fall Harvested Carrots

I cut them up a bit and blanched them in boiling water for about 5 minutes.

Blanched Carrots

Once the carrots are blanched, I put them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Next drain them well. Then I froze them flat in a Ziplock freezer bag for use later.

Now next time I need some carrots, I can just pull some out of the freezer bag for use in a stew, shepherd’s pie, or other recipe. It’s wonderful having homegrown carrots available all year around.


Homemade Tomato Sauce Ideas

I had an abundance of tomatoes this year from my garden. I have made sauce, salsa, and frozen cut-up pieces of tomatoes. I decided that I was going to try a new idea where I processed the tomatoes and then froze the sauce in ice cube trays.
Tomato Sauce in Ice Cube Tray

First I cut up a big pot of tomatoes and cooked them for about 45 minutes.

Cut-up Tomatoes in Pot

Once the pot cooked down, next I put the tomato pulp through a food mill. The food mill removes most of the skins and seeds as shown in this picture.

Tomatoes in Food Mill

I cooked the remaining tomato juice along with a bit of salt, pepper, sugar, and a few other spices (season as you desire) for about another hour. I cooked it over medium low on the stove top. This allows the juice to thicken up and now you can either put it in a jar or put it in an ice cube tray for freezing. The handy thing about freezing the tomato sauce into ice cubes is that you can add a few as needed to any recipe that you are making.

Tomato Sauce in a Jar

After freezing the tomato sauce in the trays, I did have to let it unthaw a little so I could get them out. Then I moved the frozen tomato cubes to a ziplock freezer bag to keep in my freezer until needed.
Frozen Tomato Sauce Cubes

These are a few useful ideas for processing your homegrown tomatoes and saving them for use later. Don’t let all those tomatoes go to waste, cut them up and get them cooking so you can enjoy your own homemade tomato sauce this winter.


Zucchini in the Fall

My Zucchini plant is still producing even into Fall this year. I started this plant from a seed in the house and planted it out in the garden early this Spring. It almost died after a big rain storm and hail in early May. I remember having to prop up the seedling with a twig to try and save it.

Late Fall Zucchini

I have to just shake my head to believe this is the same plant now. It has produced so many Zucchinis this year and is still going even with temps down to 37 last night. They say one key, useful tip is to keep harvesting Zucchinis all season long. According to an old gardening book I have, it says when you continually harvest the Zucchinis, the plant thinks it needs to keep producing. Even now, I have new blooms and Zucchinis growing.

I have frozen Zucchini in the freezer, used raw Zucchinis in salads, stews and several other dishes. I just love Zucchini and have been so happy with the garden output of this plant. So hopefully the frost holds off for a bit longer so I can enjoy even more late Zucchinis this year.


Plantain Tincture

Plantain tincture is very useful and simple to make. Plantain grows wild and plentiful in many areas. I wrote about plantain previously and its many uses in a post here at My Useful Ideas.

Plantain tincture is very easy to make. First pick the leaves of plantain as shown in this picture. Just look around your driveway or lawn and you will probably spot some. I picked some green, healthy leaves to make a small batch of plantain tincture as shown in the photo below.

I gently rinsed off the plantain leaves and ripped them up to fill this small glass jar.

Plantain Tincture

Next fill the jar to the top with some grain alcohol such as Vodka. This is some cheap 80 proof Vodka that I purchased and have on hand for such projects. Cover tight with a lid and put it in a dark closet or basement. You can wrap a newspaper or paper towel around it to help keep the light out. You want to leave it in a dark place for about 5-6 weeks. I did gently shake the jar a few times during the soaking period.

Here is a photo of the plantain after the soaking period and before I stained out the leaves. Continue Reading →