Steps for Starting Tomato Seeds

First, Gather all your equipment in one place.

  1. CLEAN ALL POTS AND EQUIPMENT INCLUDING HANDS.
  2. MOISTEN SEED STARTING MIX. IT SHOULD BE MOIST, NOT DRIPPY.
  3. FILL CONTAINERS AND PRESS LIGHTLY INTO CELLS
  4. LABEL CONTAINERS; KEEP NOTES ON PAPER TOO
  5. ¼” IMPRESSION IN SOIL
  6. COVER SEED WITH SEED STARTER MIX
  7. SPRAY WITH WATER TO MOISTEN SURFACE
  8. MIST DAILY.   SEEDS SHOULD BE MOIST, NOT WET.
  9. GERMINATION SHOULD OCCUR WITHIN 7 DAYS
  10. COTELYDONS IN 15 DAYS WITH NICE GREEN COLOR
  11. FIRST TRUE LEAVES APPARENT IN LESS THAN 30 DAYS. WITH PLENTY OF LIGHT, THE LEAVES SHOULD BE CLOSE TO THE COTELYDONS.
  12. WITH FIRST TRUE LEAVES, FERTILIZE WITH VERY DILUTED FISH EMULSION.
  13. TRANSPLANT INTO LARGER CONTAINER WHEN YOU SEE THE SECOND SET OF TRUE LEAVES.

Sources for Organic and Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. (www.rareseeds.com)  Based in Mansfield, Missouri. Beautiful catalog and seed varieties from around the world. Started in 1998.

Botanical Interests Seeds (www.botanicalinterests.com). Based in Broomfield, Colorado.

Bountiful Gardens (www.bountifulgardens.org). Based in Willits, CA. Non-profit organization, a project of Ecology Action (John Jeavons founder), which operates the research mini-farm. Promotes GrowBiointensive method.

Kitazawa Seed Company   (www.kitazawaseed.com) . Founded in 1917; Oakland, CA. Over 25 varieties of traditional and heirloom seeds of Japan and China. Provides growing and cooking information.

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (www.groworganic.com). Based in Grass Valley, CA. Started 1976, new owners 1996. Website and printed catalog has useful gardening information, also valuable gardening videos.

Renee’s Garden Seeds (www.reneesgarden.com). Based in Felton, CA. Sells heirlooms and hybrids

Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org) Nonprofit, based in Iowa, formed in 1975 that saves and shares heirloom seeds. All seeds are non-treated, non-GMO, open-pollinated. You can join as a member, post list of seeds you have saved; others can contact you directly. You can buy from their catalog and online. Members get 10% discount off. Good visuals, quantitiy/packet/oz given, growing instructions provided.

Seeds of Change (www.seedsofchange.com). Based in Rancho Dominguez, CA, but have a research farm in NM. They buy seeds (OP, non-GMO, many heirloom seeds from organic growers, not wholesalers). They do have hybrid variety seeds available. Now owned by the Mars Inc. candy company.

Sustainable Seed Company (www.sustainableseedco.com). Based in Petaluma, CA. Grows or buys only organic, non-GMO seeds from local farmers and from U.S. only, not from foreign seed suppliers. No paper catalog.

Territorial Seed Company (www.territorialseed.com). Based in Cottage Grove, OR.

Adapted from information presented by Florence Nishida.

Seasonal Gardening Workshops

At Emerson Avenue Community Garden

SUNDAYS 1:00-3:30PM

Emerson Ave. Community Garden

 

 

Seasonal topics. Hands-on learning at every class. Beginners Are Welcome!

Join us for Organic Gardening Workshops at Emerson Avenue Community Garden, Emerson Ave. at 80th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90045, on the grounds of Wright STEAM Magnet.

Instructors: UCCE Master Gardeners: Lucinda Zimmermann and Dana Morgan. Contact: danah.morgan@gmail.com

Cost: $50 for the series of 5 classes or $15/class.  Parents and teachers at WISH Charter, Wright STEAM Magnet, and plot holders at EACG pay $45.00 for the series. Fees support a variety of educational programs at the garden. A link to Paypal is available on our website http://www.eacgc.org. To reserve space in all five classes, select “Spring Gardening Series.” Children age 12-18 accompanied by a paid adult: $25.00/series or $8/class. No refunds. Your donation goes to EACGC, a non-profit organization. Cash or checks made out to EACGC will be accepted at each class if space is available. Class size is limited to 20, and registration is complete when payment is received.

 

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

  • 22  Garden Tour and Introductions. Planning and preparing a spring garden bed. Understanding seed packets, choosing the right tool for your task. Hands on: Starting seeds in containers and preparing a garden bed for spring planting.

 

  • March 8 Vegetable Botany and Container Gardening. Choosing seasonal plants and seeds appropriate for our climate. Transplanting seedlings. Hands on: Direct seeding and transplanting.

 

  • March 22 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and weed identification. Saving water and using best practices for irrigation. Hands on: Olla construction.
  • April 26 Tomato Tips. Choosing tomato varieties, starting seeds indoors and controlling pests and diseases organically. Harvesting, storing, and preserving tomatoes. Hands on: Saving seeds and planting and staking seedlings.

 

  • May 17  2015 — The Year of Soil! Master Gardener Don Smith will lead this class focused on building soil for healthy crops. Learn ways to use compost and start a worm bin.

Tomato Preservation Workshop July 27 1PM

This class is supported by the Emerson Ave. Community Garden and is part of their educational program.

Join us at the Westchester United Methodist Church on July 27th, 1-3:30pm for our Tomato Preservation class.   Taught by master food preserver, Elizabeth Sala, and assisted by master gardener Dana Morgan, in this class we’ll discuss

  • Hot water bath canning for tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Food Safety: best practices to keep you and your family safe
  • Drying/dehydration and freezing tomatoes
  • Using a food mill to prepare roasted tomato sauce (Tomato Pasata)

Each student may bring a couple pounds of homegrown tomatoes to can.  All will be involved in the canning process and preparation of a delicious seasoned tomato sauce, which can be served with pasta.

What to bring:  Please arrive promptly at 1:00 with a notebook and pen, cutting board, and a medium size bowl.  Also bring a   sharp knife that can cut through tomato skins.  An apron is recommended.

Registration:  Contact danah.morgan@gmail.com by Friday evening (7/25) to see if space remains in the class.   If so, you will receive an email reply.  Registration is  $15.00/student.

 

Winter Citrus Recipes

WINTER CITRUS MARMALADE

Inspired by “Time to Kill Marmalade” by K. West in Saving the Season.

Total weight of fruit: 4 lbs
8 Blood oranges 34 oz
1 Cara Cara orange 8 oz
1 Eureka lemon 9 oz
1 Navel orange 4.5 oz
1 Grapefruit (10 oz)
4-5 cups of cane sugar
3 cups of water (filtered is best)
¼ cup warm, mild honey

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Scrub the fruit in cold water.  If from the grocery, also wash it with hot water to remove wax.

2.  Using a sharp potato peeler, remove the colored zest from the fruit in wide strips.  Remove as little of the white pitch as possible.  Slice the peels into thin strips or confetti shapes as you wish.  To win the Blue Ribbon at the Fair, peel should be consistent in size.

3.  Trim the albedo (white pith) away from the flesh of the citrus with a sharp serrated knife.  Chop the flesh (pulp) into ½ inch dice and place in a large bowl.  The pith and seeds can be kept for making jelly or composted.

4.  Combine the sliced peel (zest), diced pulp, and water in a preserving pan, and boil gently for 30 minutes.  The peel should be tender, cooked all the way through.

5.  Add the sugar 1 cup at a time, stirring gently to dissolve, and bring the contents of the pan back to a boil.  After about 20 minutes test for a gel set. (Small plates or bowls in the freezer will give you a quick check for gel set).

6.  Optional ingredients:  You can add ¼ light honey at this point, to add more sweetness and flavor. And if you add alcohol, such as Grand Marnier, Campari or (to emphasize the pink color),  boil for an additional 30 seconds. Confirm the gel set.  Allow the marmalade to cool for 5 minutes, stirring gently occasionally to distribute the peel; be gentle so as not to stir bubbles into the marmalade.

7.  Ladle into 5-6  8 oz. jars (½ pint). Leave ¼” headspace.  Seal and process for 10 minutes in boiling hot water.  The water should be 1 -2” above the top of the jars.

  • Supplies needed for Winter Citrus Marmalade:
    • Soft brush for cleaning fruit
    • Potato or vegetable peeler
    • Large preserving pan (thick bottom)
    • Large pot for heating jars and lids.  Jars & lids should be hot when filled.
    • *Jar lifter
    • *Magnetic lid lifter
    • *Funnel
    • *Bubble Remover and head space measurer
    • Lid rack (optional)
    • Metal or heat proof ladle
    • Tongs for lifting lids, jars
    • Large bowl for debris (pith, seeds)
    • Quart measuring cup (sugar)
    • ¼ cup measuring cup (honey)
    • Sharp knife (serrated knife for peeling fruit
    • Long spoon or heat-proof long handle silicone spatula (to stir and scrape sides)
    • Tasting spoon(s)
    • 2-3 small bowls or plates for gel set testing (to go in freezer)
    • 6 clean ½ pint canning jars with lids and bands
    • Pot holders
    • Clean cloth for wiping rims of jars
    • Jar labels

*These supplies are included in the Five Piece Canning Tool Set

Timing:  One person working alone but consistently, should be able to get the marmalade into the final hot water bath in about 2 hours. It’s great to have help with the peeling and slicing.

* * * * *

Mandarin Oranges in Light Syrup

This is a UDSA approved recipe for raw-packing fresh fruit in light syrup.

  • Select firm, sweet, eating-ripe fruit
  • Prepare syrup, bring to a boil then lower and keep warm
    • Light Syrup Recipe – 1 cup sugar in 1 quart of water yields 4 ¾ cups syrup
  • Wash and peel fruit, remove as much pith as possible as it can taste bitter
  • Break fruit into sections
  • Fill jars with fruit
  • Pour syrup over fruit
  • Release any bubbles
  • Put on lids and rings, allow ½” headspace
  • Place jars in water bath canner and process.
  • Process for  10 minutes. Then, allow to cool 5 minutes in hot water
  • Remove from pan, cool completely for 12 – 24 hours

Amount of fruit:  ¾ lbs fresh fruit = 1 pint canned fruit
Preferred syrup:  Light Syrup – 20% sugar
Amount of syrup: Plan for ½ cup syrup per pint of fruit

* * * * * * *

Lime Syrup
This recipe makes an excellent limeade (2-3 tablespoons: 1 cup water over ice), and can be used in place of Rose’s Lime Juice or sweet-and-sour mix in alcoholic drinks.  The small Mexican limes give the most flavor.  My overly productive tree is a Bearss lime (also known as Tahitian or Persian lime), so that is what I use.

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 2 limes
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 slices of quarter-sized fresh ginger (optional)

1.  Combine the sugar, water, and lime zest in a medium saucepan.  Heat the mixture over very low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then bring the syrup to a boil and take it to about 230 degrees.

2.  Add the lime juice and return to a boil.  Pour through a strainer into pint jars.  Add lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Or strain the syrup into any bottle or jar, cap it tightly, and store the cooled container in the refrigerator, where the syrup should keep well for months.

3.  The ginger is optional.  I add a few slices of peeled ginger in step one.

4.  To mix limeade for a group:  2 cups Lime Syrup, 8 cups water over ice.  Add slices of fresh limes and mint for garnish.

* * * * * * *

HOMEMADE PECTIN

I never saw my grandmother Opal use commercial pectin. And she didn’t make her own pectin, as far as I know.  She simply cooked fruit with sugar and acid (lemon juice) until it set.  Berries were either made into pies, frozen, or canned in light syrup.  I have great memories of her homemade Plum Jam and thick, spicy Apple Butter.  When I make pepper jelly, like Habanero Jelly, I use a cup of homemade apple pectin, which I’ve stored in the refrigerator.     –DH Morgan

Apple Pectin

 Use tart apples, like Granny Smith or slightly under ripe fruit. You can also use crabapples or quince.

  • Wash fruit, and remove stems and calyxes.  If you’re using quinces, rub off the fuzz.
  • Slice the fruit, including the cores.  Combine the fruit in a kettle with 2 cups water for each 1 pound of fruit.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the kettle, and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes or until the fruit is tender.
  • Empty the pulp and juice into a jelly bag and let the juice drip  into a bowl for at least 4 hours.  Pour the juice into a kettle and boil it rapidly until it is reduced by half.
  • Pour your product into small canning jars and either freeze it or hot-water bath can it.

Orange Pectin

Cut Valencia oranges in half.  Squeeze out the juice and save it for jelly, if you like.  Or just drink it!  Remove the seeds.  Scrape out the membranes and some of the white pith/albedo.  I like using a grapefruit spoon.  Fill a 2 cup measure with this material.  Use your blender to mix the membranes with 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 cups water.  Let this mixture sit for 4 hours.  Add 2 more cups water, and let the mixture sit for 12 hours.  Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain the juice through a sieve and then a jelly bag.  You should get about 2 cups of liquid.  This product can be refrigerated, frozen, or preserved in a hot water bath. If you’re going to use it within a week, store in the frig.

(Pectin recipes are adapted from Linda Ziedrich’s excellent book, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves.)

 

SOURDOUGH CLASS 3/9/14 Registration

Emerson Ave. Community GardenOn Sunday, March 9th, 2014 (1:00-4pm) I’ll lead a class in sourdough bread and crackers.  This class will meet at the Westchester United Methodist Church on Emerson Ave.  As with all our classes, we are limited to 16 students. Inspired by the work of Chad Robertson in his excellent book, Tartine Bread, I will demonstrate how to build and store your own sourdough starter and use it to prepare great San Francisco style, restaurant-quality bread in your home kitchen. I have been baking this type of bread for several years.  We will also learn to make tasty whole grain sourdough crackers.

Taking classes with two of California’s best bakers, Craig Ponsford (San Rafael) and Dave Miller (Chico), I now feel prepared to teach this class.  My friends in LABB (Los Angeles Bread Bakers) and SLOLA (Seed Library of LA) have connected me to like-minded bakers who share my love for the art and craft of baking bread and growing wheat.  Nan Kohler, of Grist & Toll in Pasadena, is helping us recover a true wheat connection in Los Angeles by establishing a mill.  Over the past 5 years, bread baking has become an even more important part of my family life, and I hope you will join me in my enthusiasm for working with whole-grain flours.

Before the class, you may want to read the first two chapters of  Chad Robertson’s 2010 book, Tartine Bread.  If you want to bake your bread in a closed cast iron pot, as he recommends, you can buy a combo cooker online for about $30.00-$35.00.   You do not need to bring it to class.  A cloche works well too, but is more expensive.

Elizabeth Sala and I are very grateful for the generous support of the Emerson Ave. Community Garden Club and its members who have made these Food Preservation Classes available at an affordable price ($20.00/class).

–Dana Morgan

Registration was closed Thursday, March 6 at 10pm.

 

Winter Citrus — Food Preservation Classes

Our first Food Preservation Class, WINTER CITRUS, will be offered by Emerson Avenue Community Garden Club on Sunday, February 23 from 1-4PM. Taught by master food preserver Elizabeth Sala and master gardener Dana H. Morgan, participants will learn basic hot water bath canning and make delicious marmalade and syrup. Cost is $20 per class. Class size is limited.

This class is closed.