Yesterday, November 2nd,  the last tomatoes were harvested!  

IMG_20170923_150913_702Even with Ashland’s early summer heat wave in late June, two months of smoke filled skies from forest fires, and an early light frost on September 22nd,  this season was the longest and most robust tomato harvest ever experienced in the Lucas garden.  

What made the difference this year?  Was it the 60 lbs of rabbit manure worked into soil in mid-February, the rice straw mulching in mid-June, the removal of all the new growth and stem suckers in mid-September, or all the above?  It’s always difficult to determine why one growing season yields a better harvest than previous years, but gardeners are delighted when is all comes together and produces a bounty of tomatoes!   

Top producers 2017:

Better Boy: Large fruit, high yielding , disease resistant.* Indeterminate, Harvest in 70-75 days

Early Girl: Medium fruit,  early producer and longer season than most varieties. Indeterminate. Harvest in 57-63 days.  

San Marzano:  Medium fruit, elongated heirloom paste tomato. Somewhat longer season than other paste tomato varieties.  Seeds stay true from generation to generation.  Indeterminate.  Harvest in 85 days.

Jeweled Enchantment: Medium fruit, heirloom slicer, long season producer. Hard to find seeds! Indeterminate. Harvest 70-75 days.

*Indeterminate–  Plants continue to grow and  fruit throughout the growing season.  Determinate – Plant stops growing when fruit sets and all the fruit ripens at approximately the same time over a 1-2 week period.

 Tomato Bisque Soup

4 cups chopped fresh Tomatoes
½ cup onions, chopped
2-4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ cup butter ( or  ¼ butter &  ¼ olive oil)
¼ cup flour
1 qt. milk (or nut milk, either Almond or Cashew)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried parsley
¼ tsp. baking soda

Phase I:   Cook Tomatoes in large sauce pan for 15 minutes.
Add & stir in baking soda to hot tomatoes just before combining the Phase II mixture.

Phase II:
Salute onion & celery in butter for 5 minutes
Add flour, cook 1 minute
Stir in milk, salt, & parsley; cook on low 15 – 20 minutes or until thickened.

Slowly pour tomatoes  and the onion- celery- gravy mix into a blender. Remember to vent the blender cap and start motor slowly for stream to escape.  Pulse  or Blend until desired soup consistency is achieved.   Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.   YUM!

Article and photos by: Carlotta Lucas


Recipe: African Peanut Soup


African Peanut Soup [Vegan]

2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups cubed sweet potatoes – (2) 10-oz bags organic frozen, or 2 large organic fresh.
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
½ teaspoon paprika, or to taste ( use chili pepper flakes or cayenne, if you like “heat”)
1 teaspoon salt
1 can diced organic tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz can)
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
Cilantro leaves, chopped

Using in a 5 or 6 quart Saucepan or Dutch Oven,
Sauté onion & garlic in coconut oil until onions are translucent.
Add broth, sweet potatoes, ginger ; cook on medium heat for 6 minutes.
Add salt, tomatoes, & peanut butter. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook an additional 7 minutes. (Note: if using fresh sweet potatoes cook an additional 3 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender)

Let cool slightly, puree with a handheld blender, or in small batches in a blender. Serve in bowls , garnished with peanuts & cilantro.

Made today by: Carlotta Lucas
Photo by: Carlotta Lucas

Adapted from The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook by Jere & Emilee Gettle


Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients & Method

  • 2 lb Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, and/or Sun Gold Tomatoes and/or Roma Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sea salt
  • optional: 1 tablespoon sugar
  • optional: garlic

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Slice small tomatoes in half and spread them out over a baking sheet, cut side up. (If you are using big heirlooms, cut them into quarters or even eighths.) Drizzle olive oil over the tops of the tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Roast for 2-4 hours.

Sprinkle on a bit of sugar to add caramelized goodness.
Add as many cloves of garlic you want to bake with the tomatoes.

After roasted,  if you don’t eat them all right away, you can keep roasted tomatoes in a jar by covering them with olive oil, then refrigerate them.

Uses: Blend into a pate’, spread on bread or pizza, use on top of baked brie, or use whole in sandwiches, pasta, quiche… the list is endless!

submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

Tomato Pie Recipe

Here’ s a great recipe for those gardeners out there who are actually harvesting some red tomatoes this year!

 Tomato Pie Recipe

1  9-inch pie shell
1  onion, chopped [if caramelizing, double the amount; it really adds to the flavor!]
4 large peeled tomatoes, sliced or chopped, [approx 3 cups] squeeze to remove excess juice1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped basil, or more to taste!
2 cups grated cheese (combinations are good: Sharp Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Gruyere, Mozzarella)
1 cup mayonnaise [or vegetarian Vegenaise] Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  1. Pre-cook pie shell approx.10 minutes, a frozen crust might need to cook slightly longer.
  2. Salt tomatoes in a colander and allow them to drain while pre-cooking pie shell.
  3. Chop onion [option:caramelize*] 
  4. Using paper towels, squeeze as much juice out of the tomatoes as you can.
  5. Layer onions, tomatoes, and basil in the pie shell. 
  6. Combine grated cheese and mayonnaise to together. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Spread mixture over the tomatoes.
  7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until light brown & bubbly.

Serves 6.

*Caramelizing Onions
New York Times recipe for caramelizing onions fast. Start onions in a dry pan without any oil. As the onions begin to darken, but before they burn, add oil and salt to stop their browning. Then sauté them until they have softened in some spots and crisp up in others. This is said to take less than half the time of the traditional, slow-cooked method.


During the winter months when our local Grower’s Market is not available, it’s fun to grow your own sprouts.There are other ways to do it, in glass jars, for instance, but here’s mine.First, I buy sunflower seeds (other types of seeds are also available) in the bulk food section at local grocery stores like Shop ‘n Kart or Ashland Food Coop.Then I use an ordinary planting tray without drainage.

  1. Put about a couple of inches of planting mix in the tray.
  2. Sprinkle seeds sparingly over the mix.
  3. Cover seeds with about another inch of planting mix.
  4. Place tray on a small table near a window and preferably near a furnace heating vent.The sprouts will think it’s summer.
  5. Water lightly with a watering can as needed.
  6. Turn the tray as needed when sprouts lean toward the light.
  7. Harvest with kitchen shears when sprouts are the height you like.Mine take about twelve days.
  8. Store sprouts in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, then use in salads, sandwiches, or whatever appeals to you.Delicious!
  9. Compost tray remains, and start over for a constant supply of nutritious sprouts.

Enjoy, Marjorie Hoeft


A few suggested uses:

Raw snack
In salads
Inside tortilla or tacos
A powerful green juice
Sprinkle on soups, or pizza, before serving, as a topping
In sandwiches

…Carlotta Lucas