Steve’s Garage Project and End Of The Season Tomatoes

Steve’s Garage Project and End Of The Season Tomatoes

My last few blog posts have been about projects around the house. Well, here's a post with stuff that Steve has been working on out in his garage.

The garage has four stalls, it's two stalls wide by two stalls deep with another garage door out of the back. Steve decided that he would start insulating the entire ceiling and then the walls. Once he got the insulation up in the ceiling, now he started hanging sheets of drywall. 

With the gracious use of our helpful neighbor's drywall lift, it can easily be done by one person lifting up those huge 4 ft wide by 10 ft long sheets! I think they weigh over 75 lbs each, so the lift is extremely helpful.

In typical Steveio fashion, he had the ceiling completely covered in drywall within a matter of days. We did have to make an extra run to haul another batch of sheets so he would have enough. Our little trailer can only haul about 10 sheets at a time. I helped load up the sheets from the lumber yard at Menards, but our wonderful neighbor Ed, came and helped Steve unload them all once we reached the garage.

This will really keep the garage warmer in the winter, but Steve plans to only heat it if he's working on something out there. It also makes the garage lighter and brighter by having the reflective quality of the unfinished drywall as opposed to the wooden rafters. 

Steve bought these really cool LED light socket adapters that you can change one single light fixture into five by using low voltage drawing LED spotlight bulbs. It really helps illuminate the entire garage.

 He found them on Amazon at:
It sure makes a difference. 

PS, see how we hang our canoe? We pull it up on a couple pulleys to suspend it near the ceiling. They are pulley kits from Harbor Freight for hanging deer at hunting season.  They came with all the hardware and ropes for only $14 each.  Pretty handy. All of our life jackets and paddles and seat cushions Etc are all stowed away inside of the canoe.  Less clutter in the garage. 

Once he had the ceiling all done, then it's time to start the walls. This is something that I could be more helpful with. First we unrolled the insulation and tacked it all into place on the walls. It means moving around a lot of stuff to get clear wall spaces to work in. 

Then we tacked up these handy sheets of pegboard to arrange all of our gardening tools. Can you imagine somebody was throwing all of this pegboard out in the garbage? We went to a lady's house to pick up a cabinet one day, and out by the road she had stacked five huge sheets of this perfectly good pegboard to get picked up for garbage day. We asked if we could take it with us and she said "sure"! Recycling at its finest. plus keeping it out of the landfill. We filled the wall spaces with insulation and then fastened the peg board over it. We moved all of the gardening tools further back on the wall towards the rear of the garage. It is nice to have each item at arm's reach and not stacked into a corner.  This area had previously been stacked with piles of siding, which is now all done and installed on the house.  More room in the garage! 

The purpose of this reorganization was to move all of the gardening stuff away from the front of the garage where we were always banging into it with the car doors from the Mustang and also more room on the side of our Saturn to get in and out.


That is enough of Steve's projects, now on to some of the stuff that I've been trying to keep up with the last week or two.

This spring, I planted only SEVEN tomato plants: three Better Boys, three Early Girls, and one Julianne grape tomato. They have been producing over abundantly and we have been enjoying wonderful ripe tomatoes since mid July until now.  This is a pic from early July... I watered them directly from the rainbarrel by moving the hose from plant to plant.  

Now that temps are dropping and frost is coming for the season, we needed to finish picking all of the tomatoes whether they were ripe or not. When the grandkids were over they helped pick everything off of the vines.

Littlest Claire was more than happy to crawl among the plants underneath and grab every green tomato that she could find.

Chelsea helped her pile them into boxes 
so we could cover them up 
and let them ripen indoors.

Once all of the tomatoes were picked, I asked grandson Clayton to please yank out the vines. He sure had fun. Here's a little video clip of him pretending to be a monster and tearing them all apart.

Once they pulled all of the vines out, Chelsea helped him drag them back off into the woods. These kids are so helpful and I am so thankful that they come over and give us a hand. Sometimes projects like this go much quicker when you have help and make it fun.

Now every couple of days I have a pile of ripe tomatoes to take care of. So far I've already canned 27 quart jars of tomatoes this season, and yesterday afternoon I had enough to can another four or five jars.

The rest of the tomatoes are spread out on trays and in buckets waiting for them to ripen. I pluck out the ripest ones and do another batch of canning or making salads.  I hate to think of having to buy those fake pink mushy things at the grocery store all winter.  Ugh. 

I leave the little grape tomatoes out on the island... as we walk by we pop one or two ripe ones into our mouth as a snack.  Slowly they will all turn red. 

There is nothing like the smell and taste of fresh garden tomatoes in the middle of winter. When I pop the lid off a quart jar, ready to dump it in a pot of chili, I always take the first scoop out with a spoon and eat it raw. I eat it fresh right out of the jar and it tastes like SUMMER! 

When I'm ready to start canning the tomatoes, I do it in my big kitchen sink. I never had a farmhouse sink this large in any of my other homes. It's so easy to keep all the mess within the confines of the sink space. When I'm all done, I can rinse it all out and carry the peelings in a bucket out into the woods.

When I can my tomatoes, I add a tablespoon of canning salt and a tablespoon of lemon juice to each sterilized jar. Then I scald the tomatoes to loosen the skins. My Mom always called it "slurping off the skins" ....  I miss my Mom this time of year.  We always canned garden produce together when I was a kid.  I didn't know back then how much it would mean to me now. We would stand back and look at our rows and rows of colorful jars line up on the shelves in the basement. Mom would exclaim:  "OH MY,  we are RICH!"   

Back to my canning, as I wipe off a tear or two.  

I cut out the stems, then peel off the skins, chop the tomato up into chunks and toss it in the jar. That is it. On with the sterilized lid. They go into the hot water bath for 45 minutes and they are done

If I am only doing four or five quarts of tomatoes, I use my tall soup pot and wrap each jar in cotton dinner napkins so they don't rattle against each other. If I'm using my big canning kettle, it holds nine quarts, but it is too large to use on the electric glass topped stove. If you balance a large kettle like that over two burners on the stove it can overheat the glass portion in between the two burners and crack the glass surface. 

When I use that larger nine quart jar canning kettle, it needs to be outdoors on the propane burner stand. This time, I didn't have quite enough tomatoes ripened to do 9 jars outdoors, so instead I just opted to do a smaller batch inside.

Soon they are all done, and pulled out of the kettle.
 ---and that is music to a canner's ears.

This morning at 8:30 am, the Packers are playing over in London against the Giants. The game is going to start in about 20 minutes. So I will finish up this blog and get it posted. Then I will go join Steve down in the She Shed to watch the Packers on a sunny Sunday morning.


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