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links: sample a new novel, can tomatoes and more

links 2I SPENT SOME OF A RAINY holiday weekend clicking about online, often with consecutive batches of tomato sauce bubbling on the stove. The result (besides a freezer stash of marinara): links to share! They include the first chapter of a new botanical-themed novel by “Eat, Pray, Love” author Liz Gilbert; how to save “dry” seed (the ones in pods, rather than inside fruits like a tomato); and a simple step-by-step in words and pictures of canning tomatoes, among other goodies.

chapter 1: download liz gilbert’s latest

I WON’T tell you much about “The Signature of All Things,” the novel due out October 1 from Elizabeth Gilbert that I read in galley form this summer, except this: The backdrop of this historical tale is brilliantly botanical, and you can download the first chapter free right now, by clicking here.  (More on this great read after publication, including a giveaway of some copies I’ve pre-ordered to share with you.)

how-to: canning whole peeled tomatoes

I SAID I’ve been making tomato sauce to freeze, but perhaps you are thinking about canning whole peeled tomatoes. I love this simple how-to in photos and words from the Food in Jars’ website author, Marisa McClellan. Note that she has updated her processing times since she first published the how-to in 2009. Total time in the hot-water bath or pressure canner is always under discussion, even among experts on food safety. Other references to compare to, for the range of thinking on that score: the Center for Home Food Preservation; the Oregon State University Extension, or Iowa State Extension.

seasonal bounty…of fruit flies?

MY KITCHEN COUNTER is heaped with fruit and vegetables this time of year, each awaiting their turn in the pot or on the plate, but that means I’m also keeping company with fruit flies. I loved this ode to them from the Edible Manhattan blog, who says vinegar is “even more crack-like than fruit itself” and uses a splash of it in a special jar to lure them.  My friend Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl uses leftover wine and a homemade trap, like this.

harvesting ‘dry’ seeds with feet, truck tires, and more

I WAS FASCINATED by High Mowing Organic Seeds’ blog post about their technique for harvesting crops with “dry” seed (seeds that form in pods, seedheads, or capsules, instead of inside a “wet” fruit, the way a tomato or eggplant does).  Apparently it’s not just wine-makers who stomp, barefoot, on their harvest—the seed farmers at High Mowing in Vermont, do, too, and they drive their pickup truck over the harvest as well. No kidding.

Even though average gardeners aren’t processing a giant crop of a particular seed as these farmers might, the article included helpful advice for anyone saving seed. For instance: From the moment you sow in spring, you have to be watchful to insure a top-quality seed crop months later. Roguing out any “off-looking” individual plants before pollination, for instance, prevents less-than-ideal specimens from contributing to the genetics of your future seed supply. Follow a crop of seed from sowing to harvest in this story.

  1. Cary Bradley says:

    Thanks for the reminder about vinegar! My husband is about to throw the baby out with the bathwater as the little flies are so annoying! Love, love, love saving bean seeds. Am a Bean Buddy for Rancho Gordo this year, growing out 3 of their trial varieties. Very fun! and very much look forward to Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest! Thanks Margaret for all you share!

  2. Renee says:

    No need for an elaborate trap. I put a couple of inches of cider vinegar in a small glass, add a couple drops of dish soap. That’s it. Extremely effective at drawing the pesky things and drowning them. Also very easy to clean up and use again.

  3. I just want to thank you, Margaret, for previously sharing your delight with Juliet tomatoes. I finally grew one this year and I can’t believe how much meat you can get off such a petite tomato — and there’s hardly any core!

  4. Jo Anne Warren says:

    Recently I read Ellis, Charles E., The Dying of the Trees; The Pandemic in America’s Forests (New York: Viking Penguin, 1995) This was the book Barbara Kingsolver read that led her to write “Poisonwood Bible.” Since trees is my topic, it was a natural. I usually think of the urban “forest” in Bellevue and other cities; this book is about our forests. I struggled sometimes to get the sequence. Cutting, clear-cutting, snags and downed trees, dead trees on the ground, lessened photosynthesis, lessened oxygen for us. Too much carbon. CO2. Not enough of the water stored within trees (did you know that?). Drought. Insects. Wildlife diminished. Life all messed up all around. Major chapter on Forest Service, Smoky the Bear. What a fiasco that is and was! The suppression of natural forest fires leads to “crown” fires, that is not fires along the ground clearing the underbrush and opening pine cones (which open only in fires—thus releasing their seeds), but fires destroying the whole forest. Happening right now. This book written in 1995. I would like to read something of a report on all the topics in this book written more recently. I fear the worst. 8/28

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