8 Steps to Homegrown Tomatoes – Part 1

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Becoming a Professional Bee Keeper

Some people mistakenly believe that beekeeping is a simple task. In fact, it takes commitment, dedication and some skill. Beekeeping can become a professional activity, providing an individual with steady income.

What does it take to become a professional beekeeper? The answer to this question involves several requirements and basic steps. A beekeeper can make money through the production of honey, wax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly. All these products can be created through specific procedures that a beekeeper needs to master.

Basic Beekeeping Prerequisites

To become a professional beekeeper, a person needs to get several questions answered.

It is of uttermost importance to find out whether you are allergic towards bees. All people experience pain and swelling if a bee stings them. Allergic people, however, experience a more severe and threatening reaction.

Blood tests can be used to determine if a person is allergic to bees. You can also know how your body reacts if you have been stung before. If you experienced no severe swelling and pain, you are not allergic to bees.

Professional beekeepers are knowledgeable. They read and know a lot about bees, keeping bees and making different products. Information can be found through a basic web search or through reading specialized beekeeping literature.

Knowing All About Beehives

Once you know everything about the basics, you will have to determine where to position the beehives and how many of them you would need.

You will need a garden or a lawn, where the beehives will be placed. For best results, you need a space that is not neighboring houses. You risk disturbing your neighbors otherwise.

Beginners should start with two or three beehives. Beehives and bees should be purchased solely from licensed providers. A new beekeeper should get started in May so that bees have the chance to grow strong and survive the winter.

Professional beekeepers will also purchase all the equipment needed to take care of bees. This step might be somehow expensive but if you are serious about it, you will have to get professional tools.

Medicines and Veterinary Care

Beekeepers should also make sure that they have the medications needed to keep bees healthy.

Bees need treatment against some of the most common diseases that affect them. Read about such conditions, what results they cause and how to prevent the disease from occurring.

You might use the services of a vet occasionally. Veterinarians can examine bees and determine how healthy they are. An inexperienced beekeeper might have difficulties determining if bees are suffering from a certain condition.

Love and Respect for Nature

If you want to be a professional beekeeper, you will need to learn how to love and respect nature. You will be successful only if you enjoy the activity.

Professional beekeepers are curious about the details of this business and they are daring enough to experiment. Honey can be produced in a number of ways and learning how to do that will guarantee the success of the beekeeper.

Technologies are constantly improving and people are discovering new ways to increase production and to make beekeeping an even more winning activity. A professional beekeeper needs to have an open mind and the desire to become better. This is the only way to make sure that the business will turn out to be a successful one.

Jamie Highland writes about various family, animals, and baby topics. For more info or to check out the bee baby shower theme or some baby shower gifts, visit My Baby Shower Favors.


Ratatouille is not just an animated film, but a vegetarian dish that uses some delicious summer vegetables.  Whilst it makes an excellent side dish ratatouille is so much more than a vegetable accompaniment. It is a rich vegetable sauce which is ideal for use with freshly cooked pasta, as a baked potato topping or as a component part for many other recipes. Simple to make, and delicious to eat ratatouille is a finding end to all your hard work in the garden. Cooking in a large pots and pans allows the making of multiple portions which can be frozen for later recipe use or is ideal for parties.


  • 12 large ripe plum tomatoes
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large aubergines, tops removed and diced 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) thick
  • 6 courgettes, tops removed, halved lengthways and sliced 2cm (¾ inch) thick
  • 3 red peppers, tops removed, deseeded and roughly diced into 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) pieces
  • 3 yellow peppers tops removed, deseeded and roughly diced into 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) pieces
  • 4 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley.
  • 5 x 1 litre (1¾ pint) plastic food boxes with lids or large freezer bags and ties


To prepare the tomatoes

  1. Fill the 3-ply Stainless Steel Preserving Pan 2½-3 litres of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Score across the base of each tomato with a sharp knife.
  3. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds then remove, with a slotted spoon, and put into a bowl to cool. Empty the preserving pan.
  4. Once cool peel away the tomatoes’ skin and discard, roughly chop the flesh discarding any woody parts and set to one side until required.

 To make the Ratatouille

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the preserving pan over a low to medium heat.
  2. Fry the aubergine until slightly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set to one side.

Repeat the process with the courgettes and then the peppers but reducing the olive oil to 2 tablespoons each time.

  1. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and fry the onions and garlic until softened.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaves, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the semi-cooked vegetables and cook for a further 15 minutes over a low to medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and achieve an even distribution of heat. Add the parsley 2-3 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  4. Check the seasoning, add a little salt if necessary. Spoon equal portions into the freezer boxes or bags.
  5. Put on the lids or ties and allow to cool before placing into the freezer.

Best used within 6 months of freezing. Once defrosted keep chilled and use within 48 hours.

Tips to Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes are temperamental and spoiled. When I say this I mean you have to be very careful with how you grow your tomatoes, otherwise you will end up will all sorts of problems like: flower drop, fruit end splitting and blossom end rot.

Tomatoes like it where it is warm, they thrive on sunlight you will want to plant them in a spot that receives around eight hours of sunlight each day. Temperatures should be in the warmer area.

You will first need to prepare your garden by heavily tilling the earth; tomatoes require loose soil with lots of organic matter. So you will also need to invest in some fertilizer.

The soil should have a PH of five point five to around six point five. The PH will affect the flavor of the finished produce so it is important to be sure that you understand exactly how you want to affect your soil and where you need it to be.

If your soil is too acidic you can use limestone to make it more alkaline. Be careful limestone will affect different soils in different ways, so check your soil and determine the proper amount needed to attain the correct PH.

After you have the organic matter added and the PH balanced you will want to make nice even raised beds. You want to have the roots reaching into the water not totally submerged.

This will prevent fruit deformation, or discoloration, and also make the plant grow better as well. If you are getting too much water in your plant it may result in flower drops, fruit splitting or blossom end rot.

Blossom end rot appears when the fruit starts to mature. You may begin to see a small water soaked spot near the blossoms end as suggested by the name of the disease.

Flower drop is where the fruit is congested with water and gets too heavy and for the plant to hold it; it then falls to the ground where it becomes compost. Fruit splitting is similarly cause by over intake of water, but it is where the fruit splits and when the innards of the fruit are revealed to open air it begins to rot while still on the stem.

So to control these from happening you have to regulate the water supply, this is best done by keeping the rivets even so that the water is evenly absorbed by the plant. Do not over water your tomato plants; if they are soaked up to the base of the plant you have too much water on them. One way to make sure you don’t over-water is to have an automatic irrigation installed with Orbit sprinklers .

So remember these tips and you will be a professional tomato gardener in no time. Tomatoes make a lovely addition to any garden; you may become the envy of your sister neighbors.

Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes Bonus

As you know, being a member of Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes comes with some really cool benefits – mainly being taught how to grow tomatoes from an expert. You won’t have to do any trial and error or investigating on how to do it because Ernie is going to show you exactly how he does it every year. It’s entirely duplicatable.

In addition to learning Ernie’s steps and secrets to growing highly productive tomato plants, there’s a bonus to go with it.

We have a growing library of resources as you need them:

  • How to identify and deal with various tomato plant diseases
    • Blossom end rot
    • Early and late blight
    • Mineral deficiencies
  • How to identify and deal with various tomato plant pests
    • Cutworms
    • Tomato hornworms
    • Tomato fruitworms
    • Nematodes
    • Stink bugs
    • Leaf footed bugs
    • Birds, squirrels, chip monks, rats, deer
  • Interviews with master gardeners and experts on a variety of topics, for example:
    • The 5 Laws of Vegetable Plant Growth – Jim Kennard
  • Charts and tables
    • Companion plant recommendations

How about that for a bonus?

In this video we provide guidance to help you pinpoint the optimal time for you to plant tomatoes in your region:

  • Planting from seed indoors
  • Planting outdoors
  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Answers to common questions
  • The primary factor to determine when to plant in your area

Here are related videos if you missed them:

8 Steps to Juicy Homegrown Tomatoes

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Here’s the previous video if you missed it: Growing Highly Productive Tomato Plants

Growing Highly Productive Tomato Plants


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The Black Tomato Variety

Over the past 12 months, I have become a big fan of gardening especially growing my own vegetables, partly for the excitement of seeing something beautiful come from a tiny seed. I often make salads and various meals from my homegrown vegetables but there is one dish that I get great satisfaction from, it is a true winter warmer.

There is nothing better than coming home from a hard day at work and making a tasty, enjoyable meal in no time at all and with very little effort.

Exploring my vegetable patch, my tomatoes were large and juicy and the red peppers full of colour. Picking one at a time wandering what I could conjure up this time. I headed back to my kitchen and started chopping the vegetables when it hit me: roasted red pepper and tomato soup. My mouth was watering. I wanted to keep this dish as simple and as easy as possible without having to nip round the supermarket for more ingredients. Here is the method to my madness:

Serves approximately 4 people


6 Red Peppers

10 Large Tomatoes

2 Onions

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 Pint Vegetable Stock




  1. Roughly quarter the red peppers and tomatoes, peel onion cloves and finely chop the onions. Place all in a deep baking tray with olive oil,
  2. Bake for approximately 40 minutes on a medium heat or until very soft,
  3. Add to blender with seasoning and a good handful of chopped basil, add vegetable stock as you go along until the right consistency is reached,
  4. Once all blended, add to a large saucepan and simmer until boiling,
  5. For a final addition, add to a bowl or mug with a spoonful of cream cheese!

Enjoy in the comfort of your candle lit lounge on a cold winters night!

For more information on how to grow your own vegetables visit www.GardenHealth.com

Georgia Tomato Farmer Shares His Secrets

An interview with Wendell of Talking Rock Produce

Wendell shared some tips about growing tomatoes with us. Listen to the podcast:

  • Tomatoes are my #1 crop
  • Soil temperature determines when it’s time to plant
  • Tomatoes like a mix of day time and night time temperatures
  • Raised beds and irrigation benefits
  • Soil nutrients are the key to growing better tomatoes
  • He grows 25-30 different varieties of tomatoes each year
  • Heirlooms are the “ugly” tomatoes
  • Wendell’s favorite heirloom tomatoes
  • The Florida Weave for staking tomato plants
  • Good ways to find greenhouses and high tunnels
  • Directions to the tomato farm

Fresh Tomatoes in November


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Storing Fresh Tomatoes for the Winter

There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh summer tomato. If only you could enjoy that flavor all year long. Thankfully, you can. There are a number of ways to preserve fresh tomatoes for later use. Whether you’re canning or freezing tomatoes, you can rest assured that you won’t have to eat a tasteless tomato come winter time. Here are just a few tips and tricks you can use for storing fresh tomatoes for the winter.

Canning Tomatoes

The first step to canning tomatoes is to thoroughly wash the tomatoes. Once washed, remove the stems and use a pairing knife to score the bottom of the tomato with an “x”. This will help ensure that the tomatoes are easier to peel once boiled. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 – 45 seconds. Immediately place the tomatoes in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off and cut the tomatoes into quarters, making sure to remove any blemishes. Place the tomatoes in sterilized canned jars, leaving a quarter-inch of the jar empty. Pour in two tablespoons of lemon juice for quart-sized jars, or one for pint-sized jars, and then fill the jars half full with hot tomato juice. You then need to remove any air bubbles from the jar, which can be done with a butter knife. Simply move the contents around with the knife to release any trapped air. You’re then ready to begin the heating process.

Before you place the caps on the jars, make sure they are clean so that the jars seal properly. Screw the lids on, but not too tightly. Place the jars in the canner, making sure they stay covered with at least an inch of water throughout the heating process. Boil pint-sized jars for 40 minutes and quart-sized jars for 45 (the exact time will vary according to altitude). Once heated, the jars need to sit in a draft-free area overnight. The next day, check the lids to make sure they sealed. If the lids make a popping sound, they did not seal and need to be refrigerated immediately. Canned tomatoes can be stored for up to 12 -18 months at room-temperature.

Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing tomatoes is much, much easier and less time consuming. To freeze tomatoes, you will need to follow the above mentioned steps for peeling the tomatoes. Once peeled, you will want to cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and liquid. As you work, place tomatoes in a colander to remove any leftover liquid. Once the tomatoes are squeezed and dry, place in freezer bags and remove the air from the bags. The tomatoes are then ready to freeze and can be stored for in the coldest part of the freezer up to 6 – 8 months.

When properly cared for, tomato plants can yield more tomatoes than you’ll ever be able to eat. Thankfully, you can store those tomatoes to eat in the winter. Whether you can or freeze your tomatoes, you’ll never have to eat a tasteless tomato again.

Shavonda Gulsvig works part-time as a driving instructor and loves seeing new drivers hit the road safely. She’s also a foodie who enjoys finding ways to store her own foods. Shavonda also enjoys making her own healthy wines so she can focus more on flavor and less on wine calories as she incorporates her creations into her cooking.

How To Save Tomato Seeds In 9 Simple Steps

I love growing different edible plants but always find it tough spending so much money on seed packets early in the year. Will I really grow enough food to cover the cost of the seeds? I always find myself asking this question before I make a seed purchase. Fortunately there is a solution for the gardener who is in the same situation. Why not save your own seeds? After all, this is what the big seed companies do.

Fresh tomatoes are a wonderful part of late summer and why not preserve the genetics of the tomato plants that thrive in your garden for next year? Below is a simple method for saving tomato seeds from your garden to jump start your garden next year.

But first make sure that the tomatoes you want to save seeds from are heirloom or open pollinated varieties. This means that the seeds will produce a plant with similar growing and fruit characteristics as the plant that grew in your garden this year. Seeds from hybrid varieties may not produce a plant anything like the parent.

The best way to prepare tomato seeds for storage is by fermentation. Doing this will help to separate the seeds from the gel. Follow the steps below for best results.

  1. Cut the tomato in half or quarters and scoop out the seeds and associated gel.

  2. Place into a small container. Be sure to label the container with the variety name.

  3. Add about ½ cup of water to the container and cover with saran wrap.

  4. Place in a warm location out of sunlight for 3-5 days. During this time the water will become cloudy and a moldy film may develop on the surface as the fermentation takes place, this is ok.

  5. After several days of fermentation remove the film with a spoon and add another 1/2-1 cup of water and stir the mixture.

  6. The best seeds to save are those that sink to the bottom. Carefully pour off the pulp and extra water.

  7. You may need to repeat steps 5 and 6 to obtain clean seeds.

  8. Strain the seeds through a metal strainer or paper towel and place seeds on a paper plate to dry. Wax paper also works well as a surface for drying tomato seeds.

  9. After several days of drying place the seeds in an appropriately labeled container for storage, paper envelopes work well as they allow any excess moisture to dissipate from the seeds. Store in a cool and dry location.

Tomato seeds prepared in the manner above and stored as described will be viable for several years. Again, be sure to label the fermentation container and envelope. Perhaps adding a photo of the tomato type to the envelope would be helpful as well.

 Galen Williams is the creator of www.ediblegardennw.com and is an avid edible gardening enthusiast.

How To Compost (Video)

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