From My Carolina Home

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Saving Tomato Seeds

It’s time to save seeds from all those wonderful tomatoes coming out of the garden.  I remember my grandmother’s little seed packets that she made herself using paper envelopes and the seeds from her garden.  I remember using them to plant, but I don’t remember her drying the seeds in the fall, so I wasn’t sure how she did it.  I’ve been working on the tomato pie recipe and almost have it right, but not quite yet. In the process of making those pies, I decided to save some tomato seeds, and I need to show this before we get to the pies in case you want to save yours too.  These tomatoes came from my garden, all except the large yellow one.

Tomatoes at From My Carolina Home

Tomato seeds are embedded in tomato jelly, and I found an easy way to get them clean by doing an internet search.  I really do not know if my gran did it this way or not, but it worked very well, so here is how I did it.  First, I gathered my tomatoes, and labeled three vintage mason jars with the three different varieties.   Start by cutting the tomatoes in half along the middle horizontally.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Scoop the seeds and jelly into the jar, getting as much out as you can.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, add some water to the jar, not a lot, about the same amount as the seeds and jelly. Roughly double the volume.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Here is the Cherokee Purple seeded with its jar of seeds and water.  There was a bit more I went back to get.  The idea is to remove a lot of the moisture from the tomatoes as it makes the pies soggy.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Then I did several red heirlooms.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

I like yellow tomatoes too, this one came from the store. By saving its seeds, I might have some in my garden next year.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, let them sit on the counter and ferment for several days. I left mine for a week, shaking the jars several times over the week. A week later, there is a definite separation between the pulp and the water.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, dump the seeds into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

The jelly will rinse off easily.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Then spread the seeds out on a paper towel and allow them to dry. I wrote the variety on the towel and prepared a little plastic bag to hold them with a bit of paper labeled with the name. Each variety got its own paper towel for drying.  Those seeds look identical, so you have to take care in labeling and keeping them straight with more than one variety.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

I let the seeds dry for a least a day, and put them in the little bags. I stored them with my other seeds in the basement, cool and dry. I hope that they grow next year, will see!!  The second harvest gave me more red heirlooms and a medium size Cherokee purple.

Tomatoes at From My Carolina Home

I made the first pie, and didn’t like the results, too soupy and the crust wasn’t done right.

Tomatoes at From My Carolina Home

Second try, I prebaked the shell which helped a lot.  But it still wasn’t right.

Tomato Pie at From My Carolina Home

It looks good, and it tasted good, not soupy, but the ratio of topping to tomatoes was off.

Tomato Pie at From My Carolina Home

So, yet another to be made.  More Cherokee Purples from the garden, along with some basic red slicers locally grown from the store.

Tomato Pie at From My Carolina Home

And I’ll save more seeds just to be increase the odds that I get viable ones.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Have you ever saved seeds?

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home



Vintage Charm



August in the Garden

This has been a really hot and humid August, normally the peak of the heat is gone by now, but not this year.  Of course the plants love this, but it means we haven’t gone hiking as much as we like. My tomato plant in the pot is finally showing signs of ripening fruit, plus the parsley is going wild. I really love the yellow calibrachoa flowers with the parsley, the green and yellow draw the eye to the lush corner.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I had to add a cage from an old bird feeder to the front flowerbed for the huge and heavy Cherokee Purple tomatoes to have a place to rest. The weight was pulling the branches down and breaking them over the top of the support cage.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Nearby, the wonderful pink daisy, a gift from a friend, bloomed again. Surprising as I thought it was done.  The color is just stunning.  Thank you, Bonnie H!!

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

All of the white begonias continue to bloom, both in the bed and on the veranda, growing nicely.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The torenias are winding down. I need to get out and pinch out all the dead blooms. They would likely bloom profusely again if I would.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The few blooms now still attract the most lovely of pollinators.  I think this one is a Spicebush Swallowtail, with the orange spots underneath and blue on the open wing backs.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This beauty dined on the dianthus pollen for quite a while.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I like the red leaves on this pink begonia, but it hasn’t grown as large as I hoped. I think it is getting a bit too much sun, the ones in pots on the veranda are bigger.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I put some garden lime on the hydrangeas to make the flowers more pink. The blooms came out this icky color at first.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

But the latest one is this lovely color!

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

My phlox is preparing another show, a few blooms are showing up and I expect three large heads of flowers in a few more days.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Impatiens and begonias spill over the pots on the veranda near the front door.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The two African violets love the humidity, and have doubled in size. They also bloomed nicely, now on the downside of the blooms.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The largest pot has three plants, but I am still disappointed in the flowers here. The lobelia has refused to bloom and the begonia hasn’t bloomed in a month. The coleus at least has some interest with the variegated leaf.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

But over in the east corner, the red geranium fairly glows next to the white petunias. In the back, the yellow daisy has bloomed again too. Pink coleus is getting very tall, and pink petunias spill over the edge of their pot.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Bringing the bounty into the kitchen, parsley and an heirloom tomato are set out for a salad.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh parsley leaves are scraped from the stems, chopped and added to lettuce for a nice contrast in greens.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Spinach is added, and the heirloom tomato is cut into bite size bits. Lovely colors!

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A few days later, two more tomatoes are harvested for dinner.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

We ate those, and then harvested these beauties on Thursday.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I nipped out to one of four basil plants for a few leaves.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Caprese salad is so lovely with homegrown Cherokee Purples and fresh basil from the veranda. Lightly dressed with a homemade balsamic viniagrette, it made the perfect first course for a grilled dinner.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Back in the garden, the Better Boy tomato is coming along, looks like I’ll have some slicers soon.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

One more look at that parsley, I am just so pleased with its growth.

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

What is growing in your garden?  Are you harvesting tomatoes and veggies?


Mid-April in the Garden

Yesterday was a very busy day for me with a meeting in the morning, and a bunch of errands to do including picking up my torenias from the garden center, checking out the humane society thrift store, and hitting Pier One’s sale.  Of course, while I was there, I had to get a few more plants, but I stopped short of buying enough for all the pots on the veranda in one trip.  For those of you who are local, these lovelies came from Raymonds Garden Center on Kanuga, a fantastic garden center with wonderful helpful people.  They even went to the greenhouse to bring out the torenias for me, and then made a second trip for the lobelias I wanted.  They hadn’t even put those out yet because our last freeze date was yesterday.  The weather looks good from here on, and I think I am safe doing the pots now. So, the trunk was full when I got home.

Trunkful of flowers

Unloading the trunk, I set the plants in the pots I thought I might use for each one. They may or may not end up where they are now.  Should I put the pink geranium with the yellow or the blue?  The little white pot in the middle there is a thrift store find, really cute with blue and yellow painted flowers on it.  It would look great with the blue lobelia.

plants on the veranda

Aren’t these yellow colors nice? The striped one is a Super Belle, next to a white geranium. The yellow on the left is a lantana.  The little white flowers in the middle are begonias.

yellow super belles and white geranium

These are members of the verbena family, and I usually associate them with a blue or purple color. These are the first yellow ones I have found, and it is such a pretty clear yellow.

Yellow lantana

I love the intense pink on this geranium, and the lobelias always have such a bright blue color.

Pink Geranium with blue lobelia

Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do in the garden. Arriving home later in the day than I wanted, I had to get busy weeding the front flower bed before they took over completely. This had to be done before I can plant the veggies I got last weekend. There are two tomatoes, a yellow squash and zucchini so far.


So, after an hour or so of prepping the front bed, I was done for the day. Planting will have to wait until the weekend. But at least the bed is ready, and weed free.  I really want to get at least three larger perennial plants for this bed this year.  I am thinking an evening primrose, and maybe something else tall with pretty flowers.  I wonder if a Carolina Jessamine vine would grow here, weaving in and out of the slats on the railing might be really interesting.  Maybe a clematis.  Or both!  A lovely variegated purple clematis would look wonderful with the yellow jessamine.

front flower bed weeded

The rosemary came back, and it should get a lot bigger this year. I think the sage gave up.  I am going to put some flowers in the clay pots in the bed, again to add a bit of height and more interest to the flower bed.

Rosemary with pot

On the other side of the sidewalk, the ajugas are still tempting to the bumble bees.

April bumble bee

The tulips are still blooming too. Amazing that they lasted so long. A few got bitten by the frost, but most are still here.

Tulips with darker tulips

Next to the tulips, Iris bed #1 is looking good with lots of leaves, but no buds yet here.  I am happy that they all look strong and healthy after being divided last summer. The small green plant on the lower left is a lily. It bloomed last year later in the spring, and I hope it will again.

Iris bed #1

The freeze last weekend really had me concerned about the buds on the mystery bulbs. So, I put the tomato cages in the box and put plastic over the top for the two nights it dipped into the 20s.

Freeze cover 2

Yesterday they seemed to be doing OK, and Marsha may be right after all. The buds are starting to look like iris.

mystery bulbs after the freeze

Iris bed #2 is looking good, no buds yet though.  Again, nice healthy looking plants, all from dividing the tubers from Iris bed #1.

Iris bed #2 with hydrangea

Behind the iris bed, on the lower level, the hydrangea is showing signs of freeze damage. This likely means that for the third year in a row I won’t have any flowers.

hydrangea damage

Out front, the hostas are coming up well, and the azaleas are just coming into bloom. The white one on the right has freeze damage. I’ll take you on an azalea walk next week when they really come into bloom.


So, back to the veranda, yellow torenias will go in the same rectangular pot as last year, sitting on two clay pots for a bit of height to allow them to cascade down as they grow. It is more interesting too, to have different levels for the pots. I have the white geranium in the plant stand along with one of the lobelias. I’ll have to see if I like that after a day or so.

arranging the flowers

Out in the forest, one of the dogwoods is coming into bloom.

April dogwood

Inside, one more surprise. The amaryllis finished its blooming about a week ago, and the leaves turned yellow. When I went to cut the spent leaves off, I found this – two more leaves are just coming up!

Amaryllis new leaves April

What does that mean? Is it just putting up leaves to soak up the sun and build up stored food to make more flowers next year? Will it bloom again this year? We will just have to wait and see.  I set my seedlings out to harden off in their bakery boxes, and will plant those soon too.

How is your garden? What is blooming around you now?


Last of the Garden

The days are not quite so hot, and the nights are definitely getting cooler, so the garden is winding down.  The torenias will continue to bloom well into October, but they are starting to look a little leggy.  The silver pot on the porch below is the amaryllis that rebloomed last winter.  Click on Reblooming Amaryllis to see that post.

Late August Garden - torenia

I was delighted that my heirloom tomato plant gave me at least a couple of small tomatoes before giving up.

Late August Garden - tomatoes

The little pink strawflowers finally bloomed, just one flower per plant, next to the basil that is still going good. I’ll pick all those basil leaves and freeze them for use all winter. That is after I enjoy some fresh ones with the heirloom tomatoes and some mozzarella cheese.

Late August Garden - pink flower, basil

The marigolds have kept the bugs off those little tomatoes, but they are just about done too.

Late August Garden - marigolds

Here are the last few geranium blooms.

Late August Garden - begonia

Impatiens are still going, but the cooler nights will soon take care of them.

Late August Garden - impatiens

These little petunias have bloomed all summer, but the plants stayed small.

Late August Garden - petunia

The variegated coleus finally got tall, and the begonias filled out a bit. They will last a while longer too.

Late August Garden - variegated green

Yellow torenias still spill over their planter.

Late August Garden - yellow torenia

Lovely cool mornings, with a cup of hot coffee, quietly beginning the day in the rocking chair looking at the late summer view.

Late August Garden - rockers

Looks like this photo I took last year, the clouds were prettier than the plain sky this morning.


Care to sit a spell? Is your garden still going?


Late June Garden 2015

Last Sunday was a wonderful mountain living day, as the temperature cooled to the mid-60s overnight, and I opened every window in the house for a good airing early in the morning.  It was cool all day, with a nice breeze to flush out the stale air in the house. Lovely and quiet, gentle wind in the trees ruffling the leaves, and the occasional haunting call of a blue jay in the distance, it was a day to relax and enjoy. Flowers continue to bloom in the garden, both on the veranda and on the mountainside.  These rhododendrons bloom late due to the reduced sunlight from all the trees.  They are a lovely pure white.  I can’t get any closer to them because of the poison ivy, so will just admire from here.

White Rhododendrons - 1

White Rhododendrons - 2

Right next to them are the pale pink rhododendrons.

Pink Rhododendrons

Out front, the hostas have come into bloom around the huge oak.

Hostas 9

Hostas 10

Hostas 8

My hydrangea doesn’t look like it will bloom this year either.  Disappointing because those big flowers are so pretty.

Hydrangea no blooms 2015

Looks like I might get some squash this year.


I am happy to find that two of the tomato plants I started from seed are actually getting good size.

Tomato June 2015

The strawberry plants are setting fruit, but I have a feeling the squirrel will get them before I can.

Strawberry June 2015

The torenias are getting huge, and trailing nicely. The hummingbirds stop by regularly, but they are always gone by the time I grab the camera.

Torenia June 2015 - 5

Torenia June 2015 - 4

Torenia June 2015 - 3

The candy pink daylily finally decided to bloom.

Candy Pink Day Lily

The other daylilies are still going beautifully.

Day Lily June 2015 peach

Day Lily June 2015 peach yellow ruffled

Day Lily June 2015 purple

Day Lily June 2015 red yellow

If you are reading this on an email or reader, stop by the blog and see the new summer header photo. How is your garden doing?


June Flowers are Still Blooming

The blooming season just goes on and on here.   Two years ago I received a white lily around Easter and when it finished blooming, I put it in the garden.  It bloomed last year and again this year.  Although it is well past Easter!  Last week two of the flowers were out.


It has three beautiful white flowers now. Easter lily about 2 months late, LOL!!


The spinach is coming along, I see a salad in the near future provided a bear doesn’t eat it like it did my lettuce crop 2 years ago.  I have proof – on my Pinterest board bear pin.


I have one little tomato.


The purple day lily continues to bloom.


The raised box with the two day lily plants is in full flower.  I have two areas with those purple day lilies.


This cream color lily has a purple throat and a lovely ruffled edge with purple.


Then there is a wonderful yellow day lily. It also has the ruffled edge in red.


In the pots, the verbena has finally shown a cluster.


Hoping for lots of vegetables and more flowers… and no bear visits.


Working in the Garden in June

Last week I finally got to the garden center to pick up the rest of the veggie plants I wanted.   I got three more tomato plants, one a purple heirloom, a couple of peppers, several herbs and a few more flowers.  The trunk was full.

Trunk plants

Nothing beats a homegrown tomato topped with fresh picked basil, and served with some local fresh goat cheese or mozarella. Hopefully, these guys will grow up soon.

tomatoes and peppers

Here is the heirloom one, hope it gets big and starts producing soon.

tomato heirloom

Hubby bought a potting bench for me. Isn’t it wonderful?

potting bench

So, I got my sage and oregano in the ground, and got the mulch put down.

veggies 1

The torenias are really growing!  All the baskets now have tendrils hanging below the bottom.  The hummingbirds have been having a field day, but I have yet to get a picture of one.


The yellow torenia is just about done blooming. I’ve not had one of these before so I don’t know if it will start again or not.


The petunias are lovely, and the dark purple lobelias are going wild.

lobelia and petunias in pots June 2104

The pots near the door are coming along.

June porch planters 1

My hydrangea has leafed out nicely. I need to take out those brown stems left over from last year. I can’t wait to see what color the blooms will be this year.


The day lilies are just days away from blooming.


Although the ones in the bed are blooming now. There’s a purple one with a yellow throat…

Day lily purple

and a peach color one with a purple throat.

Day Lily peach

My local big-box chain garden center has a clearance rack for plants.   I have learned to check it whenever I am there.  This time I picked up a bunch of geraniums and vincas for 25 cents each.  Yes they looked a little bedraggled, but a little water and the right light will do wonders.

planterbox vincas

Next week I’ll show you my big bargain. I want to get it to bloom if I can.

So, how does your garden grow?