Fall Tomatoes and Other Notes

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The Juliet tomato is a prolific tomato in the Houston growing environment. Here it is, November 6, 2016, and I still have ripening tomatoes on the plant as well as blossoms! The tomato is sweet but does have a bit of a tough skin. Doesn’t bother me but some may notice. They look like a miniature Roma and make great sauce. The plants are indeterminate and again, to repeat myself, prolific. Two plants can overwhelm a family.

Stovetop Juliet Tomato Sauce

By Analiese Paik

Ingredients: (double or triple as necessary)

  • 1 pound of Juliet tomatoes, preferably organic.
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • fresh basil, oregano or parsley (optional)


  1. Rinse tomatoes and set aside. Chop garlic while heating a pot large enough to fit the tomatoes on the stove. Add olive oil to the pot and when it shimmers, add the garlic and stir until fragrant over medium heat, a minute or 2.
  2. Add tomatoes to the pot along with 1/4 cup of water so the garlic doesn’t burn. The tomatoes will take at least 5-10 minutes to soften up and begin releasing their juices. I like to put a lid on the pot to speed this up.
  3. Once the tomatoes begin to release their juices and the skins start to burst, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the tomatoes have all lost their skins or are quite soft
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce right in the pot. Add salt to taste and a chopped herb if you’d like. The flavor of the sauce, with the garlic alone, is rich and complex.
  5. Strain the sauce through a large strainer or food mill heavy enough to hold the seeds and skins. Be sure to push down on the solids to release all the sauce. Cool the sauce and store in the refrigerator in glass containers. When making large quantities, be sure to chill in the refrigerator before freezing.




Bright Red Juliet tomato and more ripening


More and more and hint at how they grow in clusters.


A good number of the 100 Chandler strawberries in the ground planted through a weed barrier. Hope to keep the berries cleaner.


The banana flowers begin to turn upward as they mature. The flower hangs down and the bunch develops and points skyward now.

Other Notes

The Burro banana plant has put on a nice bunch going into, what Houston calls , winter. As I have noted before, last winter I had a bunch survive and ripen even though the plant lost all of the leaves. I left the bunch on and I was rewarded with 40 plus Burro bananas. Fingers crossed I have the same luck.

The Burro and Manzano plants are trying to get ahead of me by sending up shoots. I dug up and potted one of each for a member of the Facebook page, “Texas Small Farming and Homesteading” group. Kim and Jeff live nearby and I delivered the potted plants to them yesterday. Surprise, surprise….they are also beekeepers! Smaller world than we’ll ever know. I guaranteed more if these two died.

I recently put Chandler Strawberry plants out into the garden. I am looking forward to spring and hopefully an epic strawberry jam making explosion. Today will be another round of adding beet, turnip and lettuce seeds. I soaked some snap peas and hopefully they will take off. The previous planting went into the ground without presoaking and sure enough….nothing germinated. I have some accidental pole beans growing from volunteers. Enough for a couple of handfuls for dinner.

Bee stuff……during the next two weeks I should finish prepping all the hives for winter and then make plans for 2017. Hopefully my strongest hives will be ready to split in the spring. I will also build a few more swarm traps…..no luck with the three I set out this year. I made about 8 pounds of “creamed cinnamon honey” this past week. Inventories are getting low…..can’t wait for spring!

Bonus; I am passing along my recipe for cinnamon creamed honey. Not sure I should do this but…..if you really wanted to make it you could do a search and find it just the same….



Ok…..enough for today.



Redfish and Salad

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Ben's Redfish March 13, 2010
Fresh from the Garden Salad

Ben, my oldest son, went off fishing on Saturday the 13th and landed this very nice Redfish. He is using the fisherman's trick of extending his arms to highlight the size ( I coached him on that). It was right at the upper slot limit of 28". Very nice fish. He also brought home a nice speckled trout so we will have several fish meals this week. Cooked up one of the fillets last night along with garden fresh steamed Swiss Chard and Snap Peas. What a real treat.

Today I built a very nice salad featuring 4 varieties of lettuce and some fresh snap peas  from the garden. Bell peppers are store bought….. I am 5-6 weeks away from harvesting my own and by then the lettuce will have bolted. The freshness just can't be beat.

A little rain today for the garden but not so much that it turns to a quagmire. The hanging tomato plants seem to be looking good so my experiment for a cheaper "topsy turvy" planter may be successful.

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Last Day of February Gardening

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I put some replacement tomatoes out to replace the early ones that I sacrificed. This young guy is sharing space with some tender Romaine lettuce. I have several varieties of lettuce going now. Romaine, Buttercrunch, Red Leaf/Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson as well as a little spinach and red Swiss Chard.

The chard does very well here in Houston. Kind of a surprise. In fact the red was still edible into mid summer Iast year so I decided to plant some more.

I have a lot of ever bearing strawberry plants and use and use them as ground cover. Over the course of the season I gather enough to make some strawberry jam. I made about 12 jars last year and just now finishing off the last jar. Can't wait to gather up some more and if it goes well the 50 new June bearing plants may offer up some more! I added some new blackberry palnts yesterday, a thorny variety to add diversity to my thorn-less 3 year old plants. 

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Agressive Gardening Kills Two

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Well did that title get your attention. Yes sir, aggressive gardener Bishop Decker in his quest to have the first home grown tomatoes on the block is guilty! He set two tender, young and innocent tomato plants out a week ago taking a big chance…. Alas, Celebrity and Big Boy succumbed yesterday.

They were observed  early yesterday morning with a light coating of frost. They were bravely standing tall and erect but as the frost melted the injury became apparent and they passed quietly. They did not die totally in vain. They have become an important part of the compost pile so that their brief and tragic life can aid others. May they rest in mulch!

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Start of Blogging – Bishop’s First Post

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I have been wanting to give it a try for about a year and a half. Being semi-retired and just working part time I should have plenty of time but just never found it (really the answer is did not make the time). I got talked into opening a Facebook page a few weeks ago and it has not been anything I want to devote much time to so I thought I would try this.

Gardening, i.e., growing a few good veggies has been a passion for many years. So, I will start there. I was finally given a patch after hurricane Ike to have as my own spot in the back yard. It is not ideal from a sun perspective as well as being a tad damp…. but it is mine. I salvaged some fence from the Ike damage and screened my patch to my wife's delight. She has even provided a couple of cutesy touches and I gave he the pleasure of post the signs near the entry.

I expanded the square footage a little this past fall and crept out in the yard with 4 blueberry bushes….. I took some heat but I think they will not be an eyesore in a year or so.

This was June, 9 of 2009. Things are looking green. The sunflowers became 10 footers, the green beans were wonderful, the cucumbers huge, tomatoes ran wild, peppers galore and the cantaloupe were large but bland.

I will try some new tomatoes this year, Brandywine, two types, Arkansas Traveler and Oxheart. I will plant a Juliette variety of plum tomato shaped like a small Roma and at least on Celebrity…. does well in the heat.

My blackberries look primed for a good year. They are three years old now.

Another couple of weeks and I can direct seed the beans and cucumbers without too much concern.

It has been a wet and cold Houston winter and as much as I love the cool weather, it is hindering my planting.  Can't have my cake and eat it too!!!!!
Valentines weekend is coming up – I need to plan the garden efforts and something to let my wife know how much I cherish her tolerating my whims in the garden and elsewhere!


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