Red lasoda potatoes were planted mid-January, and are getting to be a good size by late February. These will be ready to harvest in late April or early May.
The mesquite trees were beginning to bud by late February, which is usually a sign in our area that the danger of a freeze has passed. We took this as the green light to start planting the spring garden early this year, beginning on February 24.
We put in a variety of tomato plants: one yellow pear, six celebrity, and fifteen roma. I’m hoping to have lots of tomatoes to can. Also planted were a variety of pepper plants: two cayenne, six poblano and two grande jalapeno. One fennel plant was added because we lost all we had in a severe freeze earlier in January.
We spread a load of Kitchen Pride mushroom compost on the garden the first weekend in March. We also did some more planting: six Red Deuce tomatoes, six Homemade Pickles cucumber plants, two dill plants, two lavender, and lots of marigolds.
One of the tomato plants that was planted in February already has a bloom just a couple of weeks later…looking forward to having homegrown tomatoes once again!
Tomatoes are abundant now, and making tomato soup is a great way to use a lot of them at one time. My recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup from the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.
First, roughly chop about four pounds of tomatoes and dice the onions and carrots.
Heat the olive oil, and sauté the onions and carrots until tender. Add the garlic.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, chicken broth, salt and pepper.
After the soup has cooked for about 40 minutes, add the cream and then process the soup through a food mill. I have the OXO Good Grips food mill, and it is a very functional tool to use when it comes to processing tomatoes to remove the skins and seeds.
Discard the pulp and serve the soup with homemade croutons.