Frog Eye Salad, a tradition

There are some recipes our family uses in celebration of different seasons and holidays. Frog Eye Salad is an Easter dinner tradition. I found the recipe years ago in a school generated cookbook. The school collects recipes from the families of students attending, and compile the recipes into a cookbook and sell them to raise funds for specific items or programs at the school.

Where the name Frog Eye salad comes from I do not know as there are no frog eyes in the recipe. It is a sweet tropical pasta fruit salad. There are three parts to the recipe: the sauce, the pasta and the fruit. I do variations of the recipe depending on what is in the cupboard at the time. I will put my variations in parenthesis to show the difference from the original recipe.

The Sauce:

1 Cup of Sugar 2 Tablespoons of flour 1/2 teaspoon of salt 1-3/4 Cups of Pineapple juice ( I get the juice from the cans of fruit I am adding, or if I am using fresh pineapple, after blending the pineapple I strain the juice into a cup ) 2 eggs beaten 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Combine sugar, flour and salt, stir. Beat eggs then add to pineapple juice. Add the juice/eggs to flour mix, stir well, cook over moderate or medium heat, stirring the mixture until it thickens. I like the consistency of thick gravy. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice, can be fresh or bottled.

The pasta:

The type of pasta is Acini de Pepe or pearl pasta. Same pasta two different names.

16 ounces of pasta

Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Really soft pasta does not hold up in the pasta salad. Drain.

In an airtight container mix the pasta and the sauce together and refrigerate until cold.

The Fruit:

3 – 11 ounce cans of mandarin oranges, drained 2- 20 ounce cans of pineapple chunks, drained 1- 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained

(I will substitute fruit cocktail for a can of mandarin oranges or one can of pineapple. The pineapple makes the salad. One fresh pineapple is substituted for all the canned pineapple chunks and crushed. I also drained Maraschino cherries to add color to the salad for July 4th. )

1 – Cup of miniature marshmallows (I consider these optional, if I have them I use them. If I do not it does not distract from overall taste.)

1 – Cup of coconut (This is listed as optional, but I consider it a main ingredient. The flavor combination of pineapple, oranges and coconut are what give this salad character. )

Fold the fruit, marshmallows and coconut into the pasta, until well blended and refrigerate until cold.

If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this salad can keep for up to a week.

amtolle

Planters (part 1)

I like to have unique or different planters for the plants outside. I enjoy recycling or repurposing an item, to be used again instead of throwing into the garbage, and the item ultimately being in the landfill or ocean. I find that repurposing something is less expensive than buying an item for the purpose. Today, it is planters. I love plants and growing things, but I do not always have enough containers to put plants.

I wanted some planters for my new patio. I am repurposing two metal coffee cans. If I were not repurposing these metal cans, they would be in the metal pile to be taken to a scrap iron yard and recycled.

For my project I am using the two metal cans, some wallpaper border I fell in love with, sand paper (the size of the grit is not important), a paint brush, and wallpaper glue or paste.

Since I am making planters, I need to drill a couple of holes to allow excess water to drain away from the roots of the plants. I used a 1/4 inch drill to make the holes. I would not go larger than 1/4 inch, as the soil would escape from the planter.

Removing the labels, I will sand the sides of the cans. The sanding is to create a broken surface, or rough surface for the wallpaper adhesive to bond to. Sanding to create the rough surface does not take much effort, basically just rubbing the sandpaper back and forth to create “scratches” in the polished metal.

Next, I measured out the wallpaper border to fit around the can, with 1/2 inch extra. I had found this wallpaper border at a Habitat for Humanity Store. I love visiting those stores, and have purchased building materials for remodeling and updating my home. This wallpaper border does not go with the interior theme of the house. But it will look good for planters.

I put the wallpaper adhesive on the can a few inches starting at the top and moving to the bottom. I attach the wallpaper making sure it is straight. Proceeding along the side, adding some adhesive and attaching the wallpaper a few inches at a time until I reach the start. I place some adhesive on the 1/2 inch extra and attach. I then take a damp rag, with gentle pressure I rub the wallpaper around the metal can, smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles, and making sure the wallpaper is glued to the whole surface of the can.

I am pleased with the final product. These will look nice on the patio, adding some unique color and design.

I placed rosemary in the new pots. Rosemary is good to keep mosquitos and spiders away for an area. They do not like the smell. A gentle rub on the leaves will release the aroma of the rosemary. Rosemary is also good for cooking in italian dishes, fish and lamb. When using fresh rosemary for cooking, a little bit adds a lot of flavor, fresh is much stronger than dried. You can also dry the rosemary you grow in planters.

amtolle

What’s for Dinner?

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Everyday, without fail, I make the decision regarding what is served for dinner at 6 pm. My husband is able to cook, but what he cooks is not healthy. He loves cooking everything in one pan (less dishes to wash), fried. When we met his dinner was Hamburger Helper with a can of vegetables added. Needless to say I have made his life healthier and with more variety in what he eats.

There is always the question “What’s for dinner?” that I must answer daily. I love grilled steaks, grilled corn on the cob and a salad for dinner. There is the budget to keep balanced. Steak is good on occasion but not healthy everyday. The cost of steaks today, the bank account would be zero.

The challenge is to prepare healthy meals, variety and stay within the budget.

As a child I was excited to become an adult. In high school we were required to take a class, Early Adulthood. This class covered job applications and interviews, how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, the process of a marriage, renting and buying a home, divorce and funerals. There was nothing said the daily decision on what to feed yourself and a family.

My parents did their best to prepare me for adulthood. My mom never mentioned the constant decision of what to fix her family for dinner.

Somehow telling a child “When you become an adult, you will have to decide what you are going to eat everyday.” was not important. There is a lot that goes into deciding what a person should eat.

First, there is what they like to eat, favorite foods and those they hate and refuse to eat.

Then there is the budget. Many of us can not afford to go to a store and get whatever food their taste buds desire.

Health, the meals prepared need to be healthy. “Garbage in, Garbage out” is true when it comes to what we feed our bodies. In order to stay healthy, we have to put healthy foods into our bodies. Providing our bodies with the proper nutrients and in balance, not too much of this vitamin and enough of that mineral, keeps our bodies working properly allowing us to grow, work, and enjoy life.

Then the time required to prepare the meal. Working a job takes time away from preparing a nutritious meal for ourselves and our families. Crockpots and planning ahead help with the time management of preparing a meal.

All things considered and executed daily to answer our loved one’s question: “What is for dinner?”

Ironically for many decades being a housewife was not considered an occupation and did not require a skill set. A very untrue statement. The meal planning and budgeting and cooking required skills.

amtolle

Different Lifestyle

I realize the posts I publish exhibit a different lifestyle than most lifestyles of those reading the posts. I enjoy sharing parts of my life with others. I say parts of my life as it is very to post about the varied things I do in one day of living.

My life is multifaceted. I am a mother. Although my children are grown, when you are a mom, you are a mom forever. I am proud of my children and their families.

I am a grandmother. I currently have eleven grandchildren. I will have a granddaughter born in June. And the triplets will be born in September. Two of my grandchildren have graduated from high school.

My biggest passion is horses. I professionally trained horses for twenty years. My children grew up during the time I was training, raising and selling horses. I love the foals, and being the first to teach them about people and starting their training on the ground. Currently I own four horses.

My children were involved in 4-H. You do not have to live on a farm to join and receive the benefits of being involved in 4-H. My children showed horses, pigs, sheep, rabbits and poultry. But they also did rocketry, leather craft, ceramics, baking, sewing, and photography and painting. There are many projects a child can learn to do and exhibit that do not involve an animal or having to have a farm. I was a project leader of many of the projects my children choose to participate in.

4-H teaches more than projects. Youth learn proper rules and etiquette for council meetings and meetings of government entities. They learn to present what they have made and learned. Record keeping is also done and judged. There are local, regional, district and national offices the youth campaign for and are elected to by their peers. In my opinion, 4-H is a great place for youth being homeschooled, it provides a fun environment for learning and meeting others with the same interests.

I taught horsemanship clinics and judged horse shows, poultry shows, rabbit shows and even judged llamas once. I did not know much about llamas, I told the show management as much. But I was present and the llama judge was not. I was chosen for the position.

Working with others to learn to ride and the various projects I taught in 4-H, I realize people do not know what I am talking about at times. They do not know the procedure and steps to get an animal ready for exhibition or a piece of ceramic.

Currently, I am a sheep farmer. I love being a sheep farmer. Watching the lambs, talking with the sheep, and seeing my breeding program evolve bring me joy and completeness.

Be assured I care very much for my animals. They are living beings. Yes, I do eat my own sheep. I also am thankful to the animal, and there is a ceremony, that gives its life so I may live. I sit up all night with a sick lamb. I have sick lambs in my house, along with the unpleasant odor and mess.

I am willing to answer questions concerning my posts on things you, the reader, may not understand. I know the posts I read are from people who do very different activities and have different passions than myself. I am not afraid to ask a question. We gain knowledge by seeking, asking and listening.

amtolle

Dorper Sheep Show

A White Dorper Sheep class at Mid-American Dorper Show April 2022

The past two days I have been attending the American Dorper Sheep Breeders Society Mid-American Show and Sale in Duncan, Oklahoma. This event is fairly close to where I live, meaning travel expenses are lower than if I went to other events.

Why do I attend this event? I am a sheep farmer raising Dorper sheep. Attending this event I have to opportunity to meet with and talk to other Dorper Sheep breeders. I study their animals and their bloodlines. As a sheep farmer I will need to purchase breeding rams for my farm every two to three years. I want to know what other sheep breeders raise that would benefit my breeding plans for my sheep.

It is an event that brings anxiety as I am very nervous in large crowds. This year the event was even more crowded. With the lifting of many of the moretoriams due to Covid-19, people were able to travel, show and sale their sheep from states that previously they had not been able to travel to. The event is also a large learning time for me to study sheep and bloodlines. I also get to connect with sheep farmers whose sheep I like and want to put their bloodlines in my flock. Sheep farmers are able to see what the sheep look like that others are breeding and what bloodlines they are using with their sheep.

Sheep farmers like looking at others sheep. Talk to each other about the influences in the sheep agriculture business. Mostly, they like to show they have the best sheep. Yes, the show is very competitive. When the sale day arrives, there are some sheep who fetch a very high price as there are sheep farmers wanting to improve their sheep, and bring in different bloodlines.

Two years of not being able to buy rams and ewes with different bloodlines, put the breeding plans on a holding pattern of just maintaining the quality of their sheep, without improving their sheep.

When you live in an area, the area gets saturated with certain bloodlines. Breeding only those bloodlines does not improve your sheep, but can cause your sheep to degrease, as the recessive genetics start showing up as dominant traits. With these large show and sales, sheep farmers are offered the opportunity for bloodlines very different than the ones they have.

Several sheep farmers in different states are bringing in bloodlines from Australia to diversify the bloodlines in the United States. Sheep embryos are purchased, shipped to the United States and implanted in a ewe in their flock. The expense of shipping embryos is much less than trying to ship a sheep. This method is too expensive for me at this time. But I have learned at the event, a sheep farmer and friend has done that and the embryo produced a ram. Great news as a ram will put the bloodlines in many lambs, where a ewe will only put the bloodlines in her lambs.

At this event I met and talked with a breeder and we became friends. They were also able to tell me about the new ram I purchased. The information was most helpful. I am looking forward to more visits as they are close to where I live. Although it will be difficult to purchase sheep from them, since the new ram I purchased came from ewe and ram they had sold to the person I purchased the ram from. Sharing knowledge and conversation will be good.

At the sale I purchased three ewes to add to my breeding program. The person I had purchased the ewes from has been most friendly to us. Has wanted to help us in the sheep business. He has definitely encouraged me to on improving my sheep and showing my sheep. Although I did not have a sheep to show this year. I do have a couple to show next year. He was so thrilled we purchased sheep from him.

Some things I left with I need to learn more about artificial insemination and looking into doing embryo transfers. I also need to find a veterinarian who has working knowledge of the procedures and does them with a good success rate. I will be busy for the next year learning more about being a sheep farmer.

Regardless of what you do for income or as a hobby, there is always more to learn. I need to learn to move forward and improve in what I am doing as a sheep farmer, and with the other things I do with my life.

amtolle

Birthday Gathering

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

We gathered for the 80th birthday celebration for Hank, a dear friend of ours. Before Covid-19, a group sometimes large and sometimes small would meet every Friday at Casa Torres for dinner and conversation. The people who came had one thing in common, they were friends of Hank and his wife. Horses was the other thing everyone had in common. Those who came were owners or previous owners of horses, the common thread of the group.

We met Hank and his wife when I answered an ad for a stall cleaner. I worked for them, cleaning 18 stalls every weekend for six months. We became very good friends. I only worked cleaning stalls for six months, my older body could not handle the physical labor of 18 stalls.

Shortly after starting to work for Hank and his wife, we were invited to join the Friday Dinner Group at Casa Torres. Most of those we met were older than my husband and I, as most of the group was retired. Some of us talked about current horse events we were training and competing in. Others talked about past events and horses. The conversations were about horses, riding techniques, chiropractors, farriers, and the events competed in. We would talk until told the restaurant was closing.

Tonight the whole group, less two who happened to be in the Cayman Islands, were there, 27 of us. We had gathered to celebrate the birthday of a remarkable man and dear friend.

It was so pleasurable to see and talk with everyone again. Conversation was catching up with each other’s lives from the two years we had not seen one another. Learning the ups and downs, injuries and horses retired.

I feel the Covid-19 stole two years from life. In the beginning of Covid-19, with states restricting where people could go, I could not even visit family. Casa Torres had closed. No dinner meetings. No seeing friends, since they were quite a few years older than myself, I would not risk exposing them to Covid-19. The area we would trail ride was closed.

We all had missed each other and the weekly gatherings at Casa Torres.

As business and the area gradually opened. Some of us were able to meet to ride. When riding horses, you are more than six feet apart. But the Friday dinner group did not meet. Hank, who went on dialysis a year before Covid-19 would not risk being exposed. He also has not ridden horses for over a year.

We had gathered to celebrate a birthday for Hank. There were to be no gifts.

There was a gift given, from Hank to all of us, we all met together.

Tonight was special.

Tonight will be remember.

We gathered again at Casa Torres.

amtolle

P.S. The restaurant had cleared all the tables and all the chairs, except ours were on the tables. We had left after closing tonight.

On Mark, Set,….

I have shared my daughter is pregnant with triplets, spontaneous triplets. Most triplets are the results of infertility treatments. My daughter is not on any type of fertility treatments. Hence, spontaneous triplets. A triplet pregnancy is considered very high risk.

This morning I received a call that she was seeing the doctor. An unplanned doctor visit. I may have to pick my granddaughter up from pre-K. I assured her I would be there.

I live two hours away. Then I realized we are approaching the time when unplanned doctor visit are going to occur. In a few weeks she will have to stop working and get lots of rest, eventually bedrest.

With the call, I needed the booster seat in my truck. I needed clothes for staying overnight if that was needed.

We have been planning and doing to help their family be ready for triplets. But, I was not ready. No overnight bag, no prep for my husband if I am not home.

Today, I packed the overnight bag. I have some meals in the freezer. I will be making and freezing more meals. I did an inventory of the sheep feed and supplies. I made a food list of items to stock in the pantry for when I will not be home.

We, they and the whole family are truly excited about welcoming triplets into our family. I have spoken with the children, we have come up with a plan to assist with diapers and wipes (triplets use 18-20 a day). There are baby showers being planned. I will be staying with them once she is sent home, through the delivery and afterwards to help out with whatever needs done and for support.

As a family we realize it will take the whole family to raise the triplets and their sibling.

In our current times, I notice families not as close together as they once were. As a child I went to school with my cousins. Weekends were spent at someone’s home where each individual family gathered to eat and play games.

People have moved miles away from family, like ours, family is scattered to several states. Most of the moving away is for work or job positions as in my scenario of moving due to a job transfer for my husband. Children grow up, go to college, find jobs or serve in the military and move away from the area they called home. Away from parents, grandparents and relatives.

How can “scattered families” stay close and connected. Thanks to technology, there are video chats, and phone calls. Cell phones allow us to talk with the high expense of long distance calling that was standard when I was a child. I am thankful for unlimited minutes and data. I know I use my share in keeping in touch with the grandchildren and children.

Video chats have allowed us to share weddings with those who could not attend. A few birthday parties as well. I can watch my grandson learning to play the piano, see my granddaughter’s solo performance.

All of these tools are great. The key is to remember to use these tools available. I have learned how to do a screenshot of an item I wanted to purchase for my granddaughter’s birthday, wanting parent approval before purchasing. I have learned how to video chat and multiple person conversations. I have to keep learning so I can use the tools to stay connected.

Is it comfortable to ask a twelve year old how to do something with the cell phone? Not really. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

To stay connected I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to learn to do more with my cell phone besides answer “Hello”. Learning to use technology to stay connected with my family has been a challenge. I have hung up on family trying to connect another person to the conversation. I struggled with connecting to the live video at a birthday party. Learning can be a struggle.

An unexpected reward is hearing my grandchildren tell me “you got it”.

Is our family ready for triplets? I do not know about the others, but the parents are. I am. I did not need to go today. But when I do, I am ready to be there.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

amtolle

The Importance of “Poop”

I am currently a sheep farmer and have been for seven years. Prior to being a sheep farmer I raised and trained horses. I have decades of raising horses. My favorite thing to do is to breed horses and raise foals. I love baby horses.

A daily activity that has become so routine I do not realize I am doing it most of the time is to look at the poop. Yes, I look on the ground making sure the poop is the right color, size and texture of every animal. And on the occasion I see an animal releasing poop, I watch. Sounds a little perverted, but in truth it is very helpful to a person raising animals.

Animals can not verbally speak English or other languages spoken by humans. Animals can not tell me their tummy feels bad or they feel bloated, until the pain is so extreme the cause is life threatening.

When my grandson was three years old, he was living with us. I was raising horses, we had a few foals on the ground. I was walking around using a small stick to look at the horse poop on the ground.

He asked “Granny what are you doing? That is yucky.”

I told him I was checking for worms (parasites) in the horse poop, to see if our horses had worms. Worms make horses sick. So I look for worms to know if I need to give them medicine (dewormer) so they do not get really sick.

“Oh” he replies, “What do these worms look like?”

On a different day while helping my husband put grain in buckets to feed each horse, he saw my husband put corn oil in the buckets and mix it. “What is that for Grandpa?” he asked. My husband always being humorous, replied “It makes the horses poop straight. This is their poop straight medicine.” The truth reason for putting oil in the horse feed was to make their hair coat shine.

The next day, while doing feeding and watering the horses with me, he asks, “Granny, how do you know if a horse is pooping straight? All I see are piles.”

I asked where he heard “poop straight”. After being informed of his and Grandpa’s conversation. I showed him how horse poop should look. A couple of the foals had really loose poop, so I showed him what poop looks like with they were starting or had a tummy ache. These foals had some digestive stress as their mothers were in foal heat, and it is common for foals to get running poop.

Currently, I am caring for a lamb who I purchased that does not have a mommy to nurse from. This little lamb was not doing gaining weight well with the flock. I wanted to make sure it was eating enough. When I took the lamb out of the flock, it became more stressed. The next day, the poop was runny or scours, its urine and poop were the same consistency. It is not good for a lamb to have scours, they dehydrate very quickly. I treated the lamb. Every day I check the lamb. I have started cutting the top of grass to feed the lamb. Yesterday, the lamb’s poop was not as liquidy, but still runny. A sign that things might be getting better. Today, the lamb’s poop was solid, not shaped right, but definitely not runny, a good sign.

Looking at poop tells me how the digestive system is working in the animal and if the animal is sick or not doing well.

When we go to a doctor visit, are you ever asked “How are your bowel movements?”

Poop is important for animals and humans.

amtolle

Grandpa’s Garden

Photo by Greta Hoffman on Pexels.com

The enjoyment of gardening started when I was nine years old. My dad purchased twenty-four acres that was used as hay ground. He moved our mobile home or trailer house to the land. Along with us came my grandparents, my dad’s parents in a mobile home. That spring there was to be a garden.

My sister and I worked with my dad putting in an absolutely straight as an arrow fence. My dad was a perfectionist of sorts, when he did a job, he did it right. “Do a job right the first time, and you will only have to do it once” were words he often spoke to us. My dad used a surveyors transits to make sure the fenceline was straight.

My grandpa loved to garden. He was retired and liked to keep busy. A place was selected for the garden. Dad plowed the garden area to loosen up the soil and break the grass roots up so a rototiller would be able to work the soil. Then Grandpa spent two days going over the area with a rototiller. All day for two days, when he was done, the soil had a fine texture, no clumps and no grass.

Next was to set out the rows and irrigation ditches. The acreage was watered by flood irrigation. The garden would be watered using the same method. Dad and Grandpa made a tool using a level and lumber to determine the slope of the garden area, to find high spots and low spots. The low spots would collect water, not good for plants as the roots would rot. The high spots would not get enough water. After walking all over the garden area with the leveling tool, next was to grade or smooth the area getting rid of low and high spots.

For the grading, Dad and Grandpa made a drag from railroad ties, attached ropes to the ends and pulled this railroad tie leveler back and forth across the garden area. Then out would come the leveling tool to see find the high and low spots again. The process took a whole Saturday. As a kid, a whole Saturday doing one job, was a very long time. When they were done, the whole family gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride my dad said, “The garden is now ready for rows.”

Months before, my mom would spend hours with Grandpa, selecting seeds, and learning how to map out a garden. Different plants needed different width of rows for growing room. They drew a map for the rows and labeled each row with a name.

The string and stakes along with a tape measure came out, my Dad’s favorite tools as they were used for everything we did. Going my Grandpa’s carefully drawn map, they started putting in ditches. Marking the ditches with stakes and string, they cut the ditches into the soil using a hoe. The ditches were for the water. Us kids were told to stay out of the “garden” until all the ditches were done. They did not need us tromping all over messing with the strings and ditches. When all the ditches were in place, the water was diverted down the irrigation ditch into the garden ditch, and water flowed. Dad and Grandpa watched the water flow down every ditch, making sure the flow was even. The first flowing of the water was to settle the soil and put moisture back in. Two days later they had the water flow a second time, this was to mark where to put the seeds.

The garden was ready to receive the seeds. I was eager to learn anything. My siblings and myself were not allowed to help with the garden prepping, but we would be allowed to plant seeds. My mother did not want us in the garden at all, but Grandma said we were old enough to learn. Grandpa and Dad agreed, and said us kids could work beside them. They would teach us how to plant.

Grandpa took me to teach me how to plant. We started with the corn. Taking out a tape measure, ( I think a tape measure was one of his favorite tools as well.) we walked to the area for the corn. I was told to hold the tape measure and seeds while he made the planting row with a hoe, just above the water line in the ditch. Grandpa taught me how to use the tape measure to measure 6 inches. Place a seed at the very beginning of the planting row, then measure 6 inches from the seed, and place another. I went down the rows, measuring 6 inches and placing seeds. Grandpa made the rest of the planting rows, while I planted. I felt so important as I was planting seeds on my own. When he finished the planting rows for all the corn, he came back to fill in the rows I had placed seeds. He told me I was doing a great job.

After the corn, we planted green beans. Green beans were 4 inches apart. Dad and my sister and brother planted the carrots, radishes, peas, black eyed peas and beets. Grandma was teaching mom how to transplant the 30 tomato plants that Grandma had started and grown in the house for a month.

Next Grandpa took me to the squash and cucumber area. There the rows were farther apart. He would take a step and mark with the hoe, take a step and mark. Then he came back to me and said “now let’s plant”. He showed me how to make a small mound, put a hole with my finger in the center and place three seeds next to each other. He would cut the water ditch to go around the mound. We planted the squash and cucumbers. When we looked up, the others had finished what they were planting.

Once again, we gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride we surveyed the work we had done. The garden was planted. Us kids were told to stay out of the garden unless we had an adult with us. They did not want us tromping on the new plants when they appeared.

Grandpa would water the garden several times a week. I watched the bare ground begin to turn green. Grandpa would take me through the garden teaching me how to water and identify the different plants that were sprouting. When the plants were four inches tall, we started pulling weeds and grass. Grandpa showed and guided me in using the hoe to get the weeds and grass on the top of the rows making weeding faster. I had to carefully pull weeds and grass near the plants so I would not damage or kill them.

I would watch for Grandpa to come out of his house, and head to the garden. Mom did not spend much time in the garden. But Grandpa and Grandma were there almost everyday. I worked beside them learning how to grow and care for the plants that provide food for the table. When they were ready, my grandparents showed me how to harvest the fruit of our labors.

Grandpa and Grandma only stayed two years with us in the twenty-four acres. Two years I learned to how to grow a garden.

amtolle

Tomatoes

Photo by Julia on Pexels.com

I love vine ripened tomatoes. I planted some seeds in solo cups inside the house. I also purchased three plants from a nursery. In this post I will show you the progress of those I planted and the method I use for planting them outside in containers and the ground.

Above is a purchased tomato plant, grape tomato variety I am planting into a large pot. Tomatoes can grow in containers, but the container or pot needs to be at least three gallons or larger. The larger the fruit the plant will produce the larger the container needs to be. The plant requires a root system to draw sufficient nutrients from the soil to supply nutrients to the plant and fruit. Larger fruit, larger root system to support the plant and fruit, hence a larger pot or container.

I fill my pot or container 3/4 full with soil, or potting mix. I make an hole for plant, making sure the bottom of the planting hole is 4 inches above the bottom of the container. Next I add crushed egg shells to add calcium to aid in the prevention of blossom end rot, a nutrient deficient disease.

I will pinch off or use scissors to cut off the lower leaves of the plant. I do not want leaves below the soil. The stem in the soil will start growing roots. I then fill with soil, then water to remove all the air from around the roots.

Every tomato plant needs at least one, but preferably two marigold plants. Why do tomato plants need marigolds, to keep away the tomato cutworm. These worms true identity is a caterpillar. The caterpillar will strip away the leaves and eat the tomatoes ripe or green, leaving you with a dying plant and no tomatoes.

Caterpillars are the young of butterflies and moths. The tomato caterpillar is the young of a moth, and the moths do not like Marigold and the scent marigold put off. If you do see little black feces on the leaves of your tomato plants, there is probably tomato cutworms. These worms camouflage very well with the tomato plant. But at night with a black light, they show up gloriously. I do not spray my tomato plants with insecticide, I find the cutworms and pick them off.

Happy gardening.

amtolle