3 Storage Tomatoes You Can Grow to Eat Fresh Tomatoes Next Winter

Eating local comes with a plethora of benefits. When you eat from your backyard or even local farms you get healthier, fresher ingredients. You also lower your environmental impact because eating food from close to home saves tons of energy that’s typically used to transport and refrigerate food from all across the globe.

But eating local can also be really tough. Most have us have become accustomed to having easy access to fresh produce whenever we want it. No matter how much we can, dry, and freeze during the summer months that fresh, grocery store produce starts to look really tasty each winter, even if we know those pale mealy tomatoes will never come close to our backyard slicers.

While there’s no real replacement for sinking your teeth into a freshly picked tomato, still warm with the summer sun you can still enjoy fresh homegrown tomatoes in the winter. Southern Exposure offers three tomato varieties that are good for fresh winter storage.

Garden Peach Tomato

Garden Peach Tomato

This indeterminate tomato is ready to harvest in just 73 days. If harvested green just before the frost the Garden Peach is an excellent storage tomato. It also has outstanding flavor, vigorous vines, and is split resistant.

Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Though it’s quality doesn’t quite match a fresh, summer garden tomato most find it to be superior to supermarket tomatoes. Plus it allows you to eat fresh, local food well into the winter. Some customers even report storing Long Keeper for 4-6 months! The Long Keeper is a semi-determinate tomato that’s ready to harvest in 78 days and ripens 6-12 weeks after harvest.

Reverend Morrows Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

Reverend Morrows Long Keeper Winter Storage Tomato

The Reverend Morrows Long Keeper is a determinate Louisiana heirloom. It’s 83 days to harvest and has good storage qualities.

If you intend to use any of these varieties for winter storage it’s best to plant them in late spring or midsummer depending on how long your season is. You should plan to be harvesting them just before your first frost if you want them to keep into winter as long as possible.

Once harvested these tomatoes should be stored at room temperature with air space in between each tomato. They won’t last as long if they’re touching. Only unblemished tomatoes should be stored. You should also go through the tomatoes weekly to check for ripe ones that can be used and remove any that are rotting.

Adding one of these awesome varieties can help you add more local food to your diet on a year round basis. They’re well worth a little extra effort!

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Property Planning with Permaculture Zones

Many permaculture enthusiasts choose to design their garden and property based on a zone system. The premise of this system is to layout your property in as efficiently as possible. Using this method to plan ahead can help ensure your property is easily accessible and productive. Even if you live on a tiny, already established property you can still utilize permaculture zones to help organize your garden or farm.

Typically there are 6 different zones with zone 0 being the home. While there is certainly variations based on personal needs and property characteristics often zones 1-5 go from outward from the house 1 being the closest and 5 being the farthest. Areas in a zone 1 require the most frequent care while zone 5 requires no maintenance.

Zone 1

Zone 1 is typically the closest to the home or areas you visit most frequently. For this reason features in zone 1 should be those that you use most frequently or need the most care. Good examples include small greenhouses or cold frames which house tender seedlings or have to be carefully monitored, culinary herb gardens, worm farms for processing kitchen scraps, etc.

In this example zone 1 is a small area around the southern side of the home containing a worm farm, small hoop house, and an herb and salad garden.

Zone 2

While it may not be accessed quite as frequently as zone 1, zone 2 is probably where you’ll grow the last majority of your food. Zone 2 areas typically include things like perennial plants, annual vegetable plantings, and food forests with a combination of plants, shrubs, and trees. Other items often located in a zone 2 include compost bins, chickens coops, beehives, ponds, and potting sheds.

In the example zone 2 has a food forest with smaller sized fruit trees, annual plants, and perrenials all intermingled. It also features a duck coop and small pond.

Zone 3

Zone 3 can still be productive agricultural land but needs less tending than zones 1 and 2. These areas may include livestock pastures, orchards of larger fruit and nut trees, and possibly large areas of staple crops.

In the example there’s and large fruit and nut orchard that partially extends around the southern side of the home to offer shade in the summer as well as a wheat field.

Zone 4

This area is a lightly managed piece of the property. It can be used for foraging, encouraging or growing woodland medicinals and mushrooms, harvesting timber or firewood, and even occasional grazing.

For this is example zone 4 is used to harvest wild mushrooms and firewood as well as cultivate a woodland medicinal herb patch.

Zone 5

This is your wilderness area. It’s typically left untouched and pristine for the benefit of wildlife, nature, and your enjoyment and recreation. For many zone 5 will be the farthest away from your home, a place to take relaxing walks but not necessarily visited as frequently as areas that require management. On the other hand some may choose to have a section of zone 5 extend right to their house to offer more frequent opportunities to observe and enjoy nature.

 

If you have a property of any size you can utilize some of the permaculture zones planning method. Breaking your property into sections can help ensure you create a space that’s productive, functional, beautiful, and good for wildlife.

 

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5 Ways To Increase Your Gardening Wisdom This Winter

If you love gardening it can be really tough to stay in the moment and enjoy winter. It’s much easier to look at seed catalogs, dream of next season’s garden, and mope that it’s still too cold to go plant peas. But winter is actually a great season too. It’s a good time to relax, reflect, and learn.

Visit an Agricultural Event

There’s many agricultural events that go on across the country each winter. Most offer awesome workshops or classes that can really help you become a better gardener. Plus they’re great places to network. Especially if your event is local you can make friends with people who share your passion for gardening and learn about their ideas.

Southern Exposure attends a variety of events over the winter like the PASA Farming for the Future Conference or the Mother Earth News Fair. Be sure to check out SESE’s Event Schedule.

Read a Gardening Book

Curling up by the wood stove and reading a good book is a classic winter pastime. It’s easy to reach for that new novel from your favorite author but this winter make sure you grab a couple nonfiction gardening books too. You can find a lot of great, educational books in Southern Exposure’s store that are sure to up your gardening game. You can find the book section here.

Subscribe to a Gardening Blog

We’re may be a little biased but we think SESE’s blog is pretty awesome and you can sign up for our newsletter to get notified when there’s new content to check out. There’s a lot of other great, informative blogs out there though. Some of our favorites include Mother Earth News, Rodale’s Organic Life, and Modern Farmer but there’s a lot more great ones out there especially if you’re looking for a specific niche.

Go Through Your Garden Journal or Get One Set Up

Keeping a garden journal is a great way to learn all on your own. Plus its the only educational material that’s focused on your actual property. Getting advice from other sources is great but no two properties are exactly alike. If you have a garden journal from last year set aside some time this winter to go through it and check out what worked well and what needs improvement. Maybe make some resolutions for the coming year.

If you haven’t started a garden journal set one up for the coming year. You’ll probably be more likely to use it and get more out of it if it’s well organized. Consider setting up sections for planting dates, notes on specific varieties, weather conditions, and more. You can also surf the web for free or cheap garden journal printables if you need some ideas.    

Take an Online Class

There’s a surprising amount of online courses available for gardening related topics and many are cheap or free. Find something that suites your interest like a class about herbalism, permaculture, or even short, simple classes like how to set up drip irrigation.

Watch a Few Videos

While spending all winter in front of the TV or computer isn’t a great idea if you like to watch anyway maybe you can swap some of your viewing time for educational movies or shows. SESE has a few DVDs available or browse Youtube for some great free options.

Just because winter is an off season for many gardeners doesn’t mean you can’t still be working towards the garden of your dreams. Spending time learning this winter will help you to beat the winter blues and get a better harvest next year.

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Saving the Past for the Future