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RE: Orange Champagne Vinegar (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: riverrat1 on 10.30.2009 at 10:58 am in Cooking Forum

Love the stuff! I don't have a Trader Joe's near me so Peppi sent me some. I make a salad dressing with it. I eyeball the amounts but the ingredients are.

Orange champagne vinegar, EVOO, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, sometimes a little mustard and a very tiny, tiny bit of Mayo. The mayo helps emulsify the dressing and you don't taste it.

I'm like Teresa, I reserve this vinegar for fruit salads and fresh salad.

I'll have to try the added orange juice. Great idea!


clipped on: 05.08.2010 at 01:53 pm    last updated on: 05.08.2010 at 01:53 pm

RE: Orange Champagne Vinegar (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: sue_ct on 10.30.2009 at 04:33 pm in Cooking Forum

Thanks everyone. Using just what I had on hand, I made a salad with mixed baby greens, dried cherries and cranberries, and slivered almonds. I also added a little cubed cheese. For the dressing, 1 T orange champagne vinegar, 3 T Stonehouse tangerine olive oil (Had a small bottle of this I wanted to try anyway), 1 T Orange Juice, a dab of Dijon mustard, about 1/8-1/4 tsp, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. The Dijon did add to it, I tried it before adding it and like it better with the mustard. I did enjoy it, but orange segments were definitely not needed because it was quite "orangey". I wish I had tried it with just the tangerine oil and orange vinegar before adding the OJ. It might not have needed it, or I would have then added it a tsp at a time. I will experiment some more omitting the OJ until last and only if needed. A lot of people on this forum seem to have this vinegar si sine giid variations on dressings to use it on would be nice.



clipped on: 05.08.2010 at 01:51 pm    last updated on: 05.08.2010 at 01:51 pm

RE: Are wispy varieties more susceptible to disease? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: carolyn137 on 09.27.2011 at 08:56 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

You could consider the following:


Kosovo, grows well for almost everyone
Nicky Crain
Tsar of Bells
Anna Maria's Pink Heart


Linnie's Oxheart
Indiana Red
German red Strawberry
Russian # 117

Maybe take a look at those, and there are many more, at Tania's T-base and see what you think. I could have listed many more b'c I'd a dedicated heart lover, but when lists get too long it gets ridiculous IMO.

I'm not going to list any yellow/orange or white or black hearts b'c I think it's best you start with the pinks and reds.



clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 10:08 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 10:08 pm

RE: Best black, beefsteak and oxheart tomatoes? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: carolyn137 on 12.30.2011 at 05:25 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Pink beefsteak: Mariana's Peace vs. Earl's Faux vs. Mortgage Lifter
Oxheart: Rostova vs. Anna Russian vs. Kosova
Black: Paul Robeson vs. Cherokee Purple


I have many tomato friends who grow tomatoes in OH and for sure this last season was not the best.

I have to put those varieties up there to compensate for a short term memory problem.LOL

Well you asked, and I have grown all of the pink beefsteaks that you list but would definitely suggest you consider:

Tidwell German
Omar's Lebanese
Large Pink Bulgarian.

I'm a heart lover and I just want to note that what Tomatofest is selling as Rostova, and TGS sells the same, should NOT be heart shaped. The original was a red beefsteak and it kinda morphed into a heart. I sent the last of my true Rostova seeds to Linda at TGS, so fingers crossed.

Anna Russian is fine, quite early for a heart and Kosovo seems to do well for everyone. But you've got all pink hearts there, discounting the wrong Rostova, which should be a red beefsteak, so let me suggest what I think are some great tasting and performing red heart varieties.

Linnie's Oxheart
Indiana Red
German Red Strawberry

...and some great ones to look for in the future since I don't think that any seed sites are yet offering them, but I didn't check:

Fish Lake Oxheart
Granny's Heart
Kukla's Portuguese Heart

I send seeds for new varieties to several seed sites where I know the owners well and have for a long time, for trial. Some can offer them if they like them, for the next year. Others need to subcontract out so it normally takes two years.

As for so called blacks , I've grown a lot of varieties and they just aren't my faves with a few exceptions and those would include:

Black Cherry
Indian Stripe
Black from Tula
Noire de Crimmee

If you want to find seed sources go to Tatiana's excellent resource where you'll find a page for each of the 3,000 varieties she has pages for, and scroll down on each page to find seed sources when available.

When on the Home page, see link below, go down to where you see the clickable link to searching for varieties alphabetically, which is the best search there when you know the name of a variety.

Tania herself sells seeds for about 600 different tomato varieties.

Hope that helps/


Here is a link that might be useful: Tatiana's Tomato Base


clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:22 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:22 pm

RE: Black Tomatoes (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: carolyn137 on 07.24.2010 at 08:18 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Yes, some have reported so called black tomatoes that are smokey or salty and I've grown a lot of different blacks and have never tasted anything salty or smokey so I wouldn't use those tastes as criteria for good taste and I'm not the only one who has never tasted smokey or salty.

There are darn few blacks that I like but as with all other varieties as many have said here, some are great in one year, perhaps not so great the next year, and usually weather related.

Some humans, and I'm a human, wink, thrive in hot humid weather but I'm a human who hates hot humid weather and prefers more moderate temps and lower humidity.

So too do different tomato varieties prefer certain weather conditions.

And of course taste is personal and perceptual and also has a human genetic component.

The few blacks that I like are Indian Stripe, Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Brad's Black Heart, Black from Tula and now Kazachka.

There have been folks who have grown out huge numbers of blacks in one season and find that many of them taste and perform the same. That doesn't surprise me one bit b'c when I first started growing OP's in large numbers in the mid-80's there were only about FIVE (5) known black varieties.

The fad for blacks started in the early 90's, has not yet abated, and now there are close to maybe 200 varieties.

Where there is demand the varieties will appear, if you get my drift. ( wink)

My personal faves are the hearts and the green when ripes, but of course with others sprinkled in for diversity reasons and I'm always looking for the next new variety I try to be a big winner. And I usually find a couple of winners each year.

One actually was Indian Stripe seeds for that sent to me in 2002 which I then listed in the SSE YEarbook and sent it for trial at those seed sites where I know the owners and trust them, and now Indian Stripe can be found all over the place and seeds very available.

it's good to know that some of my tomato kids have done well, and those would include Neves Azorean Red, Opalka, Indian Stripe, OTV Brandywine,Crnkovic Yugoslavian,Heidi,Large Pink Bulgarian, Omar's Lebanese, Soldacki, Sophie's Choice and many more.

Good to know some of my tomato kids have done well since all I have are two cat kids. LOL



clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:12 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:12 pm

RE: Blossom End Rot (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: carolyn137 on 07.17.2013 at 04:07 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

From an article I wrote a few years ago.


Blossom End Rot (BER) is one of the most common tomato problems seen in the early part of the season. It is a physiological condition, not a disease caused by a fungus or a bacterium or a virus. Therefore it cannot be treated.

And as I'll explain below, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to
prevent. BER has nothing to do with the blossoms, it refers to the fact that at the end of the tomato opposite the place where the tomato is attached to the stem, called the stem end, is the bottom of the tomato, which is called the blossom end. You often can see remnants of the blossom attached to that end as the tomato forms. At the blossom end one sees a flattened area that looks
leathery and initially brown and then black, as the fruit rots.

BER is said to occur when there is uneven watering, drought, heavy rainfall, excessive nitrogen fertilization, rapid plant growth or root pruning during cultivation, high winds and rapid temperature changes. So lots of conditions have been associated with BER. But the rapid plant growth and nitrogen fertilization are both common to conditions seen early in the season, and indeed, that is when most BER occurs. Then it usually just goes away.

BER occurs because under the conditions just stated, Ca++ moves from the fruit into the vasculature (stems) of the plant. Or, some feel that Ca++ never reaches the fruits becasue under stress demand for Ca++ exceeds supply.This lowered amount of Ca++ is what causes BER. Excessive rates of transpiration (kind of like sweating in humans) also is involved in Ca++ displacement. Thus, the plant as a whole is NOT Ca++ deficient, the Ca++ has just been displaced.

Many books and magazine articles tell you that by adding Ca++ in the form of lime or eggshells, for instance, that you can prevent BER. That does NOT appear to be true. It was several years ago that I found out that University field trial experiments have so far failed to show that BER can be prevented by addition
of Ca++. I recently e-mailed my friend at Cornell who told me all this two years ago, to again confirm that it was still true, and will update you, if necessary. Peppers and many cole crops are also susceptible to BER and there's quite a bit of literature on BER and Ca++ for those crops also. The results are the same; addition of Ca++ does not prevent BER.

Some data strongly suggests that foliar spraying with Ca++ is of no use because not enough gets to the fruits to do any good. And it's known that the sprays for fruits that are sold are usless. No molecules can get across the fruit epidermis. If they did, just what do you think would happen to the fruits when it rained.LOL

Not all varieties of tomatoes get BER. Some never do, others are horrible. That's not surprising since certainly there are slight physiological differences between varieties. After all, almost all garden tomatoes, with the exception of the currant tomatoes are in the same genus and species, Lycopersicon lycopersicum. And we humans are all in the same species, Homo sapiens, var. sapiens...and look how different some of our physiologies are.

So, BER is a physiological condition, cannot be cured, and current
literature data suggests it cannot be prevented. It occurs on some, but not all varieties of tomatoes, is usually seen early in the season and then stops, for most folks. It would be nice to say that you could even out your watering, prevent droughts and heavy rainfalls, ensure even and not rapid growth of plants and not disturb the roots by shallow cultivating. But on a practical basis, I think we all know that's almost impossible. So, BER has never bothered me, I just ignore it, and it goes away with time.

Adding Ca++ to soils that are Ca++ deficient makes sense, but few soils are. And if soils are acidic, Ca++ is not taken up well but addition of Epsom Salts to the soil can aid in Ca++ uptake in such acidic soils.

Many folks add Ca++ and then see that BER disappears. What they fail to realize is that BER is going to go away anyway, as the season progresses. And that's becasue as the plants get larger they are better able to handle the many stresses that can induce it. So one cannot correlate addition of Ca++ to disappearance of BER. Universities have done so many stidies on this already
becasue BER is a billion dollar problem in the commercial veggie industry.

Of all the stresses that can induce BER thetwo that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery.

That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water also can be done and is also one of the two major causes, IMHO, of BER.

BER appears usually on half ripe fruits but also can appear on grass green ones.Lack of Ca++ only occurs at the blossom end of the fruit and it causes tissue destruction which leads to that papery greyish/blackish lesion appearing.Now sometimes that lesion opens up and fungi and bacteria enter and that causes the rotting and also the appearance of fungal growth on and in the lesion.

Just pick off any BER fruits that appear and soon the next fruits to ripen will BERless.

Many books, magazine articles and websites still say to add Ca++ as lime, eggshells, etc, and seem not to be aware of all the research that has been done in the last 20 years. But many books, magazine articles, are now sharing this newer information about addition of Ca++ not being able to either prevent or cure BER except in rare situations of low Ca++ soils or acidic soils.

I suppose it will take another generation for the right information to be present everywhere. And from my own experience i can tell you that there will be folks who will get madder than can be when they read this kind of info becasue they simply believe otherwise. So be it. LOL Addition of modest amounts of Ca++ aren' t harmful, but I feel strongly that folks should know what's going on with past and current rsearch re BER and Ca++.

Hope the above helps.



clipped on: 07.20.2013 at 10:00 pm    last updated on: 07.20.2013 at 10:00 pm

RE: Container sizes and timing - too late? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: tn_veggie_gardner on 06.26.2009 at 03:41 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Sue: What Dave says is good advice. Regarding your pot size, I use the containers that say they fit 1.25 cu ft of soil for large varieties & they work just fine. You havw to figure out a good cage/trellis method for them though. 1.25 cu ft = 10 gallon container. One of the $10 bags of MG will fill 2 of them up to that line where the pot extends out a cm or so.

- Steve


clipped on: 01.24.2011 at 08:24 pm    last updated on: 01.24.2011 at 08:24 pm

Earls Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes

posted by: earl on 01.15.2007 at 03:02 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Earls Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes

Items from Walmart type garden center, 40 lb. bags of Composted Peat Humus, 40 lb. bags of Composted Cow Manure, Epson Salt and Bonemeal and Espoma Tomato-tone 4-7-10 fertilizer or equivalent .

In raised beds, after tilling, I dig good sized holes about 2 feet across, scattering the soil around the hole. Then to each hole I add bag of the peat humus, 1/4 bag of the manure, then I scatter about the hole a handful each of Epson salts, Bonemeal and Espoma. Then I use a spade fork to mix the formula VERY well some inches beyond the depth and width of the original hole. If plants are indeterminate they should be planted at least 4 feet apart.

I then, using my hands, I make a hole in the center of this mixture and plant the seedlings. If seedlings are tall I strip off the leaves except for the top few inches, and lay it at an angle or on its side in the hole and cover up to the leaves. Then I form a 4 inch deep water holding basin [a crater] about 1 1/2 feet across and around the plant, then mulch the plants and bed with straw or grass clippings, then water. Last I spread a handful of granular fertilizer such as Espoma Tomato-tone 4-7-10 on top of the mulch around the plants so it will leach into soil over time and feed the outer roots for they grow wide and deep. I use concrete wire cages 18-20 inches across and anchor them with rebar driven deep next to the cage. When I have to water, if I dont get rain in 7-10 days, I stick an open ended hose at the base of the plants and give them a couple gallons.

Never over water. The plants leaves will tell you theyre thirsty by drooping a bit. As the plants grow, to help prevent leaf disease, trim any branches that droop and touch the mulch.

During late summer if I think they need it I'll give each plant a couple gallons of fish emulsion or what ever liquid type I have. And if you have leaf problems, get started early using Daconil as soon as you plant, even saturate the mulch around the base as well as top and bottom of leaves.

I can't say this is the best way to do it, but it works for me.



clipped on: 01.21.2011 at 01:21 pm    last updated on: 01.21.2011 at 01:21 pm

RE: Favorite Full Flavor Large Tomato (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: carolyn137 on 09.03.2012 at 02:10 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Mary, Sophie's Choice, which I introduced, isn't a large fruited variety, and nor is Riesentraube, which is cherry sized with a nipple at the blossom end. ( smile)

Kathy, if you do a search here at GW you'll find lots of threads asking the same question, but I'll just list a few large fruited ones that I think are dependable and great tasting.

REDS ( beefsteak)

Neves Azorean Red
Red Penna
Milka's Red Bulgarian
Aker's West Virginia
OTV Brandywine

REDS ( hearts)

German Red Strawberry
Linnie's Oxheart
Indiana Red
Fish Lake Oxheart
Reif Red heart

PINKS ( beefsteak)

Omar's Lebanese
Large Pink Bulgarian
Tidwell German

PINKS ( hearts)

Nicky Crain
Anna Maria's Heart
Ludmilla's Pink Heart

... and many more

it might be best to start out with the large reds and pinks for a few years and then go on to the large green when ripes, the so called blacks and gold/red bicolors and oranges.

I listed both beefsteak and heart varieties for each color b'c I find that some of the best tastes are to be found with the hearts, but maybe consider starting with the red and pink beefsteak ones first.

If you don't know the above varieties I think it would be best to go to Tania's Tomato Data base, I'll link to it below, and when on the Home page scroll down to where it says to use the alphabetical method of finding the page for a variety b'c you can do that knowing the variety names I posted above.

Each variety has traits, pictures, comments from others, histories when available and if you scroll down on any variety page you'll find the seed sites that list that variety. Tania herself sells seeds for over 600 varieties and many of the seed sites she specifies list hundreds of varieties.

Hope that helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tania's Tomato data base


clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:13 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:13 pm

RE: Growing Tomatoes in Containers/Bags (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: missingtheobvious on 03.28.2012 at 09:46 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

KendraSchmidt, if you multiply the height, width, and depth of the bag in inches, that gives you the number of cubic inches the bag will hold (though of course you wouldn't plant it quite to the top).

When you have the size of the bag in cubic inches, divide that by 231.

That tells you how many gallons the bag will hold.


clipped on: 03.28.2012 at 11:39 pm    last updated on: 03.28.2013 at 11:41 pm

RE: Growing Tomatoes in Containers/Bags (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: elight on 03.29.2012 at 03:55 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Just a general conversion tip that has helped me a lot this season when converting between cubic feet, quarts and gallons... if you just type your desired conversion into Google, it will give you the answer.

For example, my containers' capacities are all measured in gallons, but most grow media is in cubic feet. So type into Google: 2 cubic feet in gallons

The search results page will tell you at the top: 2 (cubic feet) = 14.961039 US gallons

This same syntax works to convert between pretty much any two measures that can be converted between.


clipped on: 03.28.2013 at 11:40 pm    last updated on: 03.28.2013 at 11:40 pm

RE: meaty tomatoes (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: carolyn137 on 04.17.2012 at 04:46 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Almost any heart variety has dense flesh, outstanding taste and few seeds. I can name some if you wish.

You didn't indicate a color so I'll stick to just a few reds and pinks.

Neves Azorean Red
Red Penna
Aker's West Virginia
Red Brandywinwe, as long as you get true seeds
Box Car Willie
Ludmilla's Red Plum
Russian Bogatyr

... to name a few and all are OP, but not are all heirlooms.


Large Pink Bulgarian
Omar's Lebanese
Crnkovic Yugoslavian
Sandul Moldovan
Tidwell German

..... all are OP heirlooms.

Seed sources and pictures can be found at Tania's website, for most of them and probably all of them.

Link Below.

If you scroll down on the Home page you'll find a link to searching for varieties by variety name and I think that's the place to start.


Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Sources


clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:09 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:09 pm

RE: Seeding help please (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: fusion_power on 01.12.2013 at 04:21 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

What you have is tomato physiological disorder. It is caused by a combination of low temperatures and inadequate sunlight. It can be made worse by over watering and/or by over fertilizing. If you have been over watering, then the roots will be discolored. They should be straw white. If you over fertilize, the leaf margins will begin to die and you will have a green center surrounded by a brown rim. While the answers above may help, especially putting the plants into larger containers, you will have to find a way to give them brighter lights and to keep the temperature consistently above 70 degrees.

Tomato plants are finicky about temperatures. Here is a list of temperatures and the effect they have on tomatoes.

120 deg F = Severe heat, but if plenty of water is available, the plants are fine. This temp is way above levels at which pollination can take place. Plants with heavy fruit set may show stress.

92 deg F = This is the temp at which pollen starts clumping and blossoms begin to drop.

70 deg F to 92 deg F = This is the goldilocks zone. Tomatoes grow prolifically, flowers set readily, plants need maximum fertility in the soil. The high end of this range is optimum for spread of several foliage diseases.

65 deg F to 72 deg F = the best temperature to grow seedlings.

50 deg F to 65 deg F = this is the beginning of cold stress. Tomato plants in this range grow slowly, often produce anthocyanins (turn purple), and become pale green from loss of chlorophyll function.

32 deg F to 50 deg F = This is the range where normal tomato plants show severe cold stress. Leaves shrivel, turn yellow, wilt, stems lose turgor, roots stop absorbing water. Rubisco is deactivated by free radicals with byproducts accumulating which causes the leaves to die.

28 deg F to 32 deg F = This is the maximum range most tomatoes can withstand without freezing. Note that if frost forms on the leaves, then the leaves will freeze and die. The plant may live and can form new leaves, but the stunting effects take quite a bit of time to overcome. The time a plant can stand at this temperature is very short, in the range of about 6 hours in a 7 day period. If the temperature remains below 50 deg F on average and if the temperature dips below freezing a couple of times, the plants will deteriorate rapidly.

22 deg F to 28 deg F = This is the range that a few select varieties can withstand for brief periods of time but stipulating that frost on the leaves will still kill them.

15 deg F to 22 deg F = This is the range that a few Russian cultivars are reported to survive, again only if frost does not form. The reports I have read indicate that this tolerance is only for a limited time period, in other words, repeated low temps for 3 days or more will still kill the plants.

0 deg F to 15 deg F = A few Russian cultivars are able to handle temps this low for brief periods of time. This is the low end of the range that wild tomato species S. Habrochaites, S. Chilense, and S. Lycopersicoides can withstand.



clipped on: 01.12.2013 at 01:48 pm    last updated on: 01.12.2013 at 01:49 pm

RE: tomato disease prevention methods (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: carolyn137 on 04.13.2012 at 02:51 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

How I wish that I still had the link to a study done where tissues were taken from plants with BER fruits that showed that there was plently of Ca++ in the tissues and still BER fruits, whether external or internal BER.

But that link went dead several years ago.

But that doesn't disagree with what was said about root uptake and stresses.

I love Mt Magic F1, I really do. Randy sent me a boatload of seeds for MM F1, Plum Regal F1, which I didn't like, and Smarty F1, which I also liked, and I offered seeds for all three for an SASE in an offer elsewhere.

I was sent a few seeds of Plum Lucky this Spring, can't find much about it, and am not growing it since I had other priorities.

Carolyn, whose backup hybrid for this season is an all time fave of mine, Jet Star F1 bred by Harris Seeds, and I still like their Supersonic F1 as well. Along with Ramapo, either the F1 or the OP I developed, I think those three are the tastiest hybrid varieties I've grown. And they happen to be three of the earliest ones bred. So much for me going for the latest and newest this or that when I find what I like I stick with them.


clipped on: 04.14.2012 at 09:29 pm    last updated on: 04.14.2012 at 09:29 pm

RE: Top heart varieties (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: carolyn137 on 01.20.2011 at 09:53 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Helen, I know Jeff Casey very well and I don't think his prices have anything more to do with his climate than anyone else and you're the first person who has ever said that he doesn't send many seeds. ( smile) so when I have time I'll have to go back to see how many seeds he sends for the money.

How did we get onto White Queen, which is the best large so called white I know, as well as Cherokee Green, one of the green when ripes that's near the top of my list, of the large ones, when the question was about heart varieties? LOL

I still think that anyone wanting a minimum of 15 seeds for one dollar should go to The Sample Seed Shop where Remy has a fantastic listing of tomato varieties but I didn't count the heart varieties therem, and as for heart varieties I still think the following sources probably have the most hearts and some of the best hearts:

Tania's site
Marianne Jones
Jeff Casey, yes, I'll add Jeff since he has some great hearts that others don't. This past summer I grew Hays'from him since I'm a great lover of varieties from Bulgaria and when I find a Bulgarian Heart, well, that's it. LOL

But like everyone I have my own opinions about seed sources and feedback from same figures in my opinion.

Again, the above mainly for heart varieties, the subject of the thread. otherwise I'd add to that list I just gave.

Carolyn, up late b'c she was up earlier and who never did mention Fish Lake Oxheart, Bobbie and many others she loves b/c the initial question was really slanted towards what Tania lists and what other places might also have some great heart varieties, at which point I added Glecklers. LOL


clipped on: 01.21.2011 at 12:13 am    last updated on: 01.21.2011 at 12:14 am

RE: Top heart varieties (Follow-Up #23)

posted by: carolyn137 on 01.20.2011 at 04:45 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Sue, I think Danko and Anna Russian are two of the earliest hearts I've grown to date so you might consider them.

Now this may not sound nice, but if it were me I'd replace Early Girl with anything I could. LOL Last Spring I was offering seeds for PSR-37, an OP EG that was developed by Tim Peters, formerly of Peters Seed and research, and some folks thought it was better than the F1. And it also turns out that EG was bred in France and has a PL variety in its heritage and that's know b'c of the newer EG Improved, Ha' F1 since folks are getting PL plants with saved F2 seeds and even with some F1 seed as I recall.

Helen, I was referring to this comment that you made:

(This fellow has Kosovo. He doesn't send many seeds because his cost is high due to his climate, but you don't want many.)

Perhaps I misunderstood you b'c I don't know of anyone who sends few seeds b/c of where they grow their tomatoes.

As for Kosovo, I mentioned in my first post here saying that it seemed to do well for almost everyone.

As for shipping costs, Sandhill has some of the lowest around. With over 400 varieties listed if you buy just $10 worth of seeds there is NO shipping cost. But Glenn doesn't list Kosovo although many other sites do as the link below shows.

Tania has not completed up dating sources for 2011 yet but I'm sure that most of the places noted for 2010 would still be listing it for 2011.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kosovo Seed Sources


clipped on: 01.21.2011 at 12:14 am    last updated on: 01.21.2011 at 12:14 am

RE: Top heart varieties (Follow-Up #26)

posted by: carolyn137 on 01.20.2011 at 09:15 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Sue, I grew Early Girl when I was, OK, I was going to string you along with a faux story, so I'll just say that I grew Early Girl just a couple of times in the late 80's and never wanted to grow it again. LOL

A replacement for EG?

Moravsky Div is very early, see the Sandhill comment about that and it was very early for me as well. Seeds to me from Andrey in Belarus and I've distributed seeds widely. Tania should have the seed sources listed. Call it a largish cherry, red, kinda blocky shaped, but one of the best tastes I've found in an early.

Others you might consider include:

Kimberley, bred in Canada
Bloody Butcher, bred in Holland
Matina, a look alike for Stupice but better tasting IMO
Sophie's Choice, from Edmonton Canada

And both Tania and Jeff Casey have places at their websites where they list some earlies. One at Jeff's site that I haven't grown but looks good to me he calls something like Sion and________, named for his kids. Some background.

Years ago Stanley Zubrinski in Canada sent me several crosses he'd done, crossing Brandywine with Glacier or Stupice and I can't remember the other two now. He was trying to get some taste into an early, b'c most of them don't have it.

he sent me F1 seeds. I saved F2 seeds and distributed them to folks who at that time were subscribers to an international newsletter about heirlooms written and published by Craig LeHoullier, he of Cherokee Purple, and myself.

I also distributed those seeds in several seed offers, initially at GW and then elsewhere. Jeff says he got the seeds from me, I think he worked with the Brandywine X Stupice one and finally got a selection he liked, stabilized it to an OP and listed it.

So it might be worth looking at it as a replacement for EG, although I still think Moravsky Div is the way to go if you can live with about maybe a 2-3 oz fruit, which I can.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn with no TV, some notice about a multi-dish switch being bad and I sure hope it can be fixed in the house and Joe doesn't have to climb up to the field though the deep snow where the dish is, so no music, radio reception is blocked where I am, and of course heading into the second week of the Australian Tennis Open and I'm a tennis nut. So I am not a happy camper tonight. Yes, I was a Girl Scout and camped. LOL


clipped on: 01.21.2011 at 12:15 am    last updated on: 01.21.2011 at 12:15 am

RE: Waking up old seed? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: fusion_power on 12.27.2010 at 12:47 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

The common methods of reviving seed are:

1. Roll the seed in a damp paper towel and place in a ziploc bag with lots of air. Place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the ziploc bag and place in soil trays in an incubator at 85 degrees with LOTS of light. Note that this is warmer than most recommendations. Note also the requirement for light. The seed should be just lightly covered over with very fine seed start mix (less than 1/16 inch).

2. Soak the paper towel as above in a dilute fertilizer solution such as miracle grow 15-30-15. The intent is to pump some nitrogen into the seed so it has an incentive to grow. Dilute means 1/4 teaspoon in 1 gallon of water.

3. Do the overnight soak as above, then remove the ziploc from the fridge and fill it with oxygen. No oxygen? No problem, get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a package of dry yeast. Add 1/2 cup peroxide to a pint jar and stir in 1 tablespoon of yeast. Place the ziploc bag mouth over the jar. It will rapidly fill with nearly pure oxygen. Do NOT get the peroxide on the seed, they don't seem to like it. Leave the seed in a warm place at about 80 to 85 degrees for 3 days, then start checking the seed daily for germination. When you see a sprout, remove that seed and place it in seed start mix to grow.

4. Some have reported results with lightly microwaving seed for just a few seconds followed by germinating as above. I do NOT recommend this, just putting it in because you will probably find it online.

5. Soak the seed overnight in various tea mixtures. One that works fairly well is plain lipton tea at about 1/10th normal strength. This appears to work because the tannic acid in the tea stimulates growth. You can make a similar tea from crumbled oak leaves that is effective.

6. Be patient. Often old tomato seed take up to 6 weeks to germinate. Keep the soil mix moist but not soaked, give plenty of light, and wait.


Here is a link to a faq on the pepper forum that is worth reading.
Byron's tea wake up recipe


clipped on: 01.24.2011 at 12:44 am    last updated on: 01.24.2011 at 12:44 am

RE: Waking up old seed? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: carolyn137 on 01.23.2011 at 04:07 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Californian, what's apparently important with the K nitrate is the nitrate b'c it's known to be important in seed germination. I've contacted a couple of seed physiologists and they can't tell me at what step it does so or how.

And yes, years ago I used to soak the old seeds in K nitrate, the recommended concentration is 0.2% which works out to about one tsp/gal, but doing controls without K nitrate didn't show a great deal of difference. And at that time I'd also water the seeds in the seed mix with the same concentration.

Soaking in just plain water with added blue stuff like MG or Peters or adding a few drops of liquid seaweed or fish, does supply that needed nitrate.

In the other thread that's been referred to here I described a number of different ways that both Craig LeHoullier and I have used in the past to try and wake up old seeds but with my increasing age, ahem, I'm convinced that old seed dehybdration is the major problem.

When it was still possible to get seeds out of the USDA many varieties that were sent had no viability or less than 5% so there were lots of seeds to practice with, and as I've said here several times in the past it really is critical to use controls so that you know if what's you're doing significantly increases the germination percentage.

Again I see no sense in using some of these methods unless the variety you're working with is RARE or almost impossible to find.

My current record is waking up seeds of September Dawn that were 22 yo and the current DOCUMENTED record is waking up 50 yo seed that had been stored in a file cabinet at a precursor of the USDA station at Cheyenne WY, when everything there was transferred to Ames, IA.

The age of the other seeds I was able to wake up were those that Joe Bratka found in a tool shed from varieties his father had bred, in glass jars with the names already on them; Joe couldn't germinate any of them so sent them to me and I was able to germinate:

Box Car Willie
Mule Team
Great Divide
Red Barn
...... and it's my feeling that REd Barn is one of the best but is seldom grown. There were three that I couldn't germinate and I aways wondered what they might have been.

Finally, all current seed for the variety Magnus, a PL pink that was on the cover of the 1900 Livingston catalog came from ONE plant of that variety, seeds received from the USDA many years ago.

You have no idea how I coveted that one plant, that seed took almost two months to germinate and some day I can tell you the story of what happened to the first fruits that started to ripen up. LOL



clipped on: 01.24.2011 at 12:47 am    last updated on: 01.24.2011 at 12:48 am

RE: What is your favorite big pink beefsteak? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: carolyn137 on 03.23.2010 at 07:37 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Tennesee Britches
Large Pink Bulgarian
Omar's Lebanese
Heatherington Pink
Dr. Neal
Olena Ukrainian
Tidwell German
Sandul Moldovan
Ste. Colombe name a few off the top of my head so I'm no doubt forgetting some other good ones. The above not in any special order.



clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:08 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:16 pm

RE: What's the Best Green-When-Ripe? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: carolyn137 on 01.23.2011 at 04:32 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I love the green when ripes and have probably grown close to 20 plus varieties over the years. Several of us predicted that the next fad group after the so called blacks would be the GW Ripes and that has happened. I love the spicy sweet flavor that most of them have.

For large fruited ones these are some that I like:

Cherokee Green
Green Giant
Malachite Box ( too lazy to look up the RUssian name)
Charlie's Green
Grandma Oliver

Small fruited ones:

Green Doctors or Green Doctors Frosted ( clear epidermis), which many folks are now growing instead of Green Grape. Also Verde Claro ( also clear epidermis and bred by Tom Wagner) but seeds not all that available, to date, which I plan to do something about.



clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 09:56 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 09:58 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.06.2005 at 09:53 am in Harvest Forum

That's it, Patris!! I'll send a jar of my salsa to Oprah and she won't be able to resist us. Bwahahahahahah.....

And it only took me five YEARS and countless batches before I got it to the point where I love it. Piece of cake.

Here's the recipe. Note that I cut the vinegar way, way down and pressure cook mine. If you want to HWB it you may, but the vinegar will have to be increased to one cup. You can also sub lemon juice or lime juice for the vinegar for a different flavor (although I tried taking out the cider vinegar altogether and that wasn't right either).


8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints.

Makes 6 pints

Enjoy this, and happy canning.

Annie (blushing)


clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 08:03 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 08:03 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.06.2005 at 12:40 pm in Harvest Forum

Earl, I always use cider vinegar, because I like that flavor. A couple of my friends use white vinegar because they don't like the cider vinegar flavor. (shrug) I guess it depends on what you like. Only one person said they liked lemon juice better, but there's always that option too.

As for store bought or homemade, it depends what I have on hand. I never make tomato paste, so I always buy that, but the tomato sauce is often my homemade stuff. I hated to add the store bought stuff, but the texture isn't right without it. Then I figured, what the heck, I buy pectin for my jam so what's the difference, really?



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 08:04 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 08:05 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #34)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.11.2005 at 11:17 pm in Harvest Forum

Tanya, it's fine with or without the tomato sauce/paste, I just like the consistency it gives.

I've tried it with red wine vinegar, with white vinegar, with cider vinegar. I like it best with cider vinegar, the white seemed a little "harsh" and the red wine did make a sweeter product. I finally settled on pressure canning because of that vinegar issue, I didn't like the flavor as well if I added a whole cup of whatever kind. If you like the red wine vinegar flavor (and it's 5%), and you think it's too sweet, I'd just leave the sugar out.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 08:07 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 08:08 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #88)

posted by: annie1992 on 03.05.2006 at 05:58 pm in Harvest Forum

farkee, you can certainly freeze salsa and as Carol mentioned, the amount of vinegar becomes a non-issue with frozen salsa.

I think the salsa is a little more "watery" when frozen but other than that there isn't a big difference in texture, probably because of that addition of tomato sauce and paste. Those ingredients were added only for texture adjustment and I think they buffer the effects of freezing a little bit.

Of course, if you add the entire amount of vinegar you don't have to pressure can it, it can simply be processed in a water bath canner, or any large pot that is big enough to put filled jars into and still cover the lids with a couple of inches of water. A rack can be made for the bottom, I used a towel years ago but someone here mentioned that old canning rings wired together made a great rack.

As for those "end of the season" tomatoes, I don't can them because there is a flavor difference that I can detect, but if they are still firm, ripe and sweet I'd use them if the end product will be frozen.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 08:17 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:07 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #109)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.18.2008 at 05:38 pm in Harvest Forum

You are right, Carol, I use whatever I've grown that have done well. I use my thumb to scoop out the seeds and goo because I like thick chunky salsa. I never use romas or plum tomatoes because I don't grow them, the flavor has never impressed me and they are enough smaller that I don't want to peel that many. I also chop by hand because I like BIG chunks of tomato, many smaller ones only manage to get cut into eighths.

My tomato "mix" usually includes Rutger's, Bonny Best, a few stray Lemon Boys and whatever else I have on hand when it's time to make salsa! that has, in the past, included Better Boy, something called Celebrity, beefsteak types. If I get a late frost and have to replace tomato plants, I use whatever I can get my hands on. Well, except cherry tomatoes, LOL, that would be too hard to peel and deal with. (grin) And no, I don't like it with the peel left in.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 09:13 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:13 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #123)

posted by: annie1992 on 09.30.2008 at 12:01 pm in Harvest Forum

sorry, I've been MIA here, I got married in May, Dad passed away in august and my stepdad died three weeks later. I haven't even really had time to can much, or anything else.

So, the questions. I agree, adding the black beans is going to throw off the acidity level of the finished product. The only way to assure that safety level to my satisfaction would be to pressure can the salsa at the time required for the beans and that would turn the salsa to mush, I think. Adding the beans after opening is a good suggestion.

I leave the seeds in the peppers. I usually use 3 or 4, but this year I have a jalapeno so mild that I added 7 and still didn't get enough heat, so it depends on the pepper and how hot you want the salsa. I taste as I go, but remember, it'll get hotter on standing. The heat in the pepepr is all in the seedy white veins, called membranes, so if you want less heat, make sure you remove not just the seeds, but the white membranes as well. And wear gloves, LOL.

The goo? I've added it to a pot of soup but didn't think it was all that great an addition. I feed it to my chickens, they love it and that way I don't feel like I wasted it. Compost is a good idea too.

katie, I figure you have about 7 cups of low acid veggies in there, at least, and I don't know how many tomatoes. Figuring an acid amount would be difficult, I'd go for at least 2 1/2 cups and that's just a guess, frankly. Better to freeze that batch and use something that's been tested for acidity level. My salsa recipe and most others can be "tweaked". If you like more garlic or more peppers, but fewer onions, that's OK, but keep the total amount of low acid vegetables the same as the original recipe. Things like cumin and cilantro usually don't factor into the safety issue because the amounts used are so small.

Ken, I'm sorry to hear that your health issues have gotten so bad, at least some of your little tomatoes can be enjoyed, even if only a small amount.

This was a bad tomato year here. We had a late frost, had to replace the plants, then floods, then two months with nearly no rain. Even my old standbys, Rutgers and Bonny Best, struggled. I got 14 pints of salsa and 22 quarts of canned tomatoes, 8 quarts of stewed tomatoes. Out of 65 plants.

We've had lots of discussion before about plum type tomatoes vs. regular tomatoes. I just have never had a plum tomato that I thought was worth a darn in taste, ever. I grew some, I bought some at the local farmer's market, they were just "OK". I like the flavor of some tomato varieties better than others and with Northern Michigan's short growing season some never even ripen, so I've been sucessful with certain types and that's what I use. Everyone else is welcome to use what they have, what they like and what is available in their area.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:19 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #140)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.03.2010 at 10:44 am in Harvest Forum

nd gardener, here is the recipe. I'm expecting the NCFHFP to come up with new guidelines for salsa and so I may add additional vinegar if that happens, but for now:

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process pints for 15 minutes.

Makes 6 pints

A lot of changes have been made to this recipe. Some people like lemon or lime juice in place of some or all of the vinegar, that's fine. Some people leave out the cilantro, that's fine too. Some people add more hot peppers and fewer onions, fine as long as you keep the same total measurement. Some people leave out the sugar, that's fine.

I like it a bit sweet, kind of thick and chunky and not too hot. I like the flavor of the apple cider vinegar best, but others don't necessarily.

I do scoop out the goo in the middle of the tomatoes with my thumbs when I'm peeling and chopping, so it's 8 cups of chopped tomatoes without the seeds and goo.

Have fun and happy canning.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 09:30 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:30 pm

RE: Annie's salsa mix...big hit (Follow-Up #150)

posted by: annie1992 on 08.09.2010 at 10:41 pm in Harvest Forum

The head space I use is 1/2 inch, I'm not so diligent that I measure, but it's always between 1/4 and 1/2 inch, whether I'm pressure canning or BWB.

I do sometimes use homemade tomato sauce, if I have it. I just use the recipe in the Ball Blue Book or from Preserving Food Safely, the website of Michigan State University. I've linked it below.

I'm glad you like the salsa!


Here is a link that might be useful: Preserving food Safely


clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 09:39 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:40 pm

RE: Annie's Salsa question... (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: digdirt on 01.19.2009 at 10:43 am in Harvest Forum

Here you go:


8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints.

Makes 6 pints

if I want to process in a BWB up the vinegar to one cup and process 10 minutes in BWB.

You can safely leave out the cumin abd/or the green peppers but do not increase the cilantro

NOTE: To repeat what Annie said, the Extension agency no longer recommends canning in quarts or pressure canning her salsa (probably because they don't have the resources to test it). For those who have made it in the past, the pressure canned recipe called for a smaller amount of vinegar.

So, to update, make Annie's salsa with a full cup of vinegar, can only in pints and boiling water bath for 15 minutes. (From Carol)

Use the Harvest forum search at the bottom of the front page not the GW-wide search at the top of the page.



clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 09:26 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 09:27 pm

Annie's Salsa Recipe and Notes 2012

posted by: malna on 07.21.2012 at 02:36 pm in Harvest Forum

Since it's salsa season, I thought I would post some additional notes I've made since the 2009 thread.

As far as I can tell, the NCHFP hasn't done any additional testing, so I am "assuming" this is the most current recipe and acidity requirements.

Please feel free to add any other notes - I've tried to address most of the other commonly asked questions.

Annie's Salsa Recipe

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2-1/2 cups onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped
3 - 5 jalapenos, chopped
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar
2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce
2 cups (16 oz.) tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes.

Makes about 6 pints.

Additional Notes for Ingredients and Processing:

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
*Any type or color of tomato may be used (paste, canning, beefsteak, a combination of different types, etc.) The paste types will be meatier, the canners such as Rutgers are somewhat juicier than paste types and the beefsteaks the juiciest of all.
*Some prefer, as Annie does, to remove the tomato seeds and gel sacks. Some don't remove the seeds - this is personal preference.
*Measure after peeling, chopping and draining.

2-1/2 cups onion, chopped
*Roughly a 1/4" chopped size (this is the size used in the NCHFP testing - a little larger won't matter, but try not to have the pieces larger than 1/2" maximum).

1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped
*Roughly a 1/4" chopped size.

3 - 5 jalapenos, chopped

**Pepper Notes: Any combination of green, red, whatever color peppers is fine. 3-5 jalapenos equates to roughly 1/4 cup, so total peppers cannot exceed 1-3/4 cups. For a spicier salsa, you can decrease the sweet peppers and increase the hot peppers by the same amount. Or you can use hotter peppers (such as habaneros or serranos) but the TOTAL amount of peppers cannot exceed 1-3/4 cups.

6 cloves garlic, minced or finely diced
*Do not increase. Small differences in size of cloves should not matter.

2 teaspoons cumin
*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

2 teaspoons ground black pepper
*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely. Any dried ground pepper such as cayenne may be substituted for a portion of or all of the black pepper.

2 tablespoons (same measurement as 1/8 cup) canning salt
*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
*Can be reduced or left out entirely. Do not increase. Dried cilantro or other dried herbs may be added, but not more fresh herbs (fresh herbs change the pH - dried herbs do not). Add additional fresh herbs only after you open the jar.

1/3 cup sugar
*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar
*Can use any flavor vinegar (white, cider, etc.) as long as acidity is at least 5%.
*However, you can substitute bottled lemon or lime juice in any proportions according to taste (for example, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup lime juice) as long as the total equals one cup.

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce
*Can be reduced slightly. See "Density" notes below.

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato paste
*For texture only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars leaving 1/2" headspace, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes. Adjust for your altitude (see below).

Makes about 6-7 pints (I always seem to get 7 pints).

You may:
Process in pint jars (either regular or wide mouth) or smaller (12 oz., 8 oz. half pints, or 4 oz. quarter pints). Process all smaller sizes at the same processing time for pints.
You may NOT:
Process in larger jars (24 oz., 32 oz. quarts or 1/2 gallon jars). Testing was done only in pint jars.

The recipe for pressure canning originally specified 1/3 cup vinegar and copies of that recipe are still available on the Internet. Pressure canning salsa has not been tested, therefore it is not officially recommended.

If you wish to pressure can the salsa, you must include full 1 cup of vinegar. Processing time that is currently used by some is 10 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes. Adjust for your altitude (see below).

Because salsa is eaten out of the jar without heating and includes low acid vegetables such as garlic, onions and peppers, it is one of the riskier products to can at home due to two factors: the pH or acidity level (the normal cutoff point for boiling water bath vs. pressure canning is a pH of 4.6 and salsa can edge very close to that) and the density of the product.

The salsa should be thin enough for the liquid portion to thoroughly suspend the chopped vegetables so the very center of the jar heats up to the same temperature as the outer portion next to the glass during processing.

If you want it thicker, puree it AFTER you open the jar. DO NOT puree before processing - this would affect the density. Or add a thickener such as Clear Jel or cornstarch AFTER you open the jar.
DO NOT add other low acid vegetables before processing, such as corn or black beans. Only add them after you open the jar.


If you live above 1000' in elevation, you need to calculate your altitude adjustments for both boiling water bath (BWB) and pressure canning (PC). As your altitude goes above 1000 feet the atmospheric pressure is reduced. This causes water to boil at temperatures lower than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

For safety in water bath canning, you must bring the contents of your jar to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for the lower boiling temperature at altitude, you must increase processing time.

For this salsa recipe, BWB times at altitudes of (per the Ball Blue Book):

Up to 1000 ft. Processing time is 15 minutes.
1001 - 3000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 5 minutes to 20 minutes total.
3001 - 6000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 10 minutes to 25 minutes total.
6001 - 8000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 15 minutes to 30 minutes total.
8001 - 10,000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 20 minutes to 35 minutes total.

Adjustments for pressure canning can be found in the Ball Blue Book or on their website.

Do make sure you know the altitude where you do your canning. People that live in Denver know they are in the Mile High City and have to make adjustments, but portions of cities like Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Oklahoma City are all above 1000' and it may be something you're not aware of and need to be compensating for.


The pH scale runs from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline).

Each increment from 0 to 14 is 10 times more acidic/alkaline (remember the "magic" number of pH 4.6 for BWB vs. pressure canning). pH testing on fresh lemons ranged from 2.20 to 3.20, so one variety of lemon or even an individual lemon grown in a different orchard might be 10 times LESS acidic than another. Bottled lemon juice, which is processed to a standard acidity, is used for testing in recipes and is also pasteurized, therefore it also will not create any further enzyme reactions in your canned goods (per the folks at ReaLemon a couple of years ago).

Note: Bottled lemon or lime juices are only called for when canning borderline pH foods (tomatoes and salsa usually). If you are making jams and jellies with high acid fruits (any fruit excluding Asian pears, bananas, mangoes, figs and melons), feel free to use fresh lemon or lime juice.

Do I personally like using bottled lemon juice? Not particularly, but when a canning procedure SPECIFICALLY CALLS FOR IT, I use it without questioning it.

A very good explanation is in this publication from North Dakota State University - "Why add lemon juice to tomatoes and salsa before canning?"

Especially note the different pH values of individual varieties of tomatoes (and there are thousands more varieties).

and for the more science oriented, this 2004 paper from the NCHFP:

Studies on safe acidification of salsa for home boiling water canning

Hope this helps :-)


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 12:44 pm    last updated on: 08.12.2012 at 10:18 pm

RE: Auntie Annes salsa (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: digdirt on 06.06.2014 at 11:15 pm in Harvest Forum

Annie's Salsa

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
3 to 5 chopped jalapenos (for milder leave out seeds and ribs)
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin (optional)
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro (optional)
1/3 c sugar
1 cup cider vinegar (see note on subbing lemon or lime juice option)
16 oz canned tomato sauce
8-16 oz canned tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process pints for 15 minutes.

Makes 6 pints.


A lot of changes have been made to this recipe over the years. Some people like lemon or lime juice in place of some or all of the vinegar, that's fine. Some people leave out the cilantro, that's fine too. Some people add more hot peppers or fewer onions, fine as long as you keep the same total measurements. Some people leave out the sugar, that's fine.

You can scoop out the goo in the middle of the tomatoes with your thumbs when I'm peeling and chopping for a less seedy version, so it's 8 cups of chopped tomatoes without the seeds and goo.

Most who make it regularly as well as Annie recommend using a variety of different slicing tomatoes, not paste types, for best flavor and consistency.

There are literally over 100 discussions here about is but it can get very confusing reading through them as some of them make suggestions for un-approved changes. Stick with the original as posted above.



clipped on: 08.23.2014 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 08.23.2014 at 12:22 pm

Can I can this tomato salsa recipe?

posted by: sue_ct on 08.24.2009 at 12:43 am in Harvest Forum

I made this tonight and really enjoyed it.

2 medium tomatoes
2 Tbl chopped red onion
1 chopped Anaheim pepper
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice (misread this and used 1-2 tablespoons, still good)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespooons chopped cilantro or parsley

The peppers and parsley were also from the garden, if that matters.

By the way, does anyone know if lime juice can be used to raise acidity in place of lemon?



clipped on: 08.08.2011 at 06:54 pm    last updated on: 08.08.2011 at 06:55 pm

RE: drying hot peppers (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: digdirt on 10.04.2011 at 01:48 pm in Harvest Forum

Peppers: Wash, stem. Remove core and seeds. Blanch 3-4 mins. Cut into 1/4 to 1/2" strips Dry for 8-12 hours until tough to brittle.

That's the general guidelines from NCHFP documents and basically what I use for mine. But the smaller the pieces the better and faster they dry and the longer they store so keep that in mind too.

Personally I wouldn't do halves of Anchos. Still so big that it will take a couple of days in that particular dehydrator. That long not only costs in electricity and wear and tear on the machine but gives plenty of time for bacteria to settle in.

Try a few quarters and see how long it takes and then go from there would be my suggestion.


PS: also if you don't dry them completely, just 1/2 way or a bit more, then you can freeze them for indefinite storage. I still use from 2009 bags in the freezer.


clipped on: 10.06.2011 at 08:43 pm    last updated on: 10.06.2011 at 08:43 pm

RE: drying hot peppers (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: david52 on 10.04.2011 at 08:06 pm in Harvest Forum

With drying for grinding, I wash them off, slice them in1/4 - 1/2 inch rounds or half-rounds depending on the size of the pepper, then put them in at 135F.

You can seed them or not, some peppers have way more seeds than others, and if you want the heat, its concentrated in the seeds.

Here, they're usually crispy dry in well less than 24 hours, but we rarely have high humidity to slow the process,


clipped on: 10.06.2011 at 08:44 pm    last updated on: 10.06.2011 at 08:44 pm

Sungold Tomato Sauce (reprint from old thread)

posted by: kathyb912_IN on 09.05.2013 at 07:19 pm in Harvest Forum

While combing through the Harvest forum for cherry tomato ideas, I found an old thread from 2005 (linked below) with lots of great suggestions. About 2/3 through the thread, CindyLouWho posted this recipe for Sungold Tomato Sauce. Cindy, I don't know if you're still around the forum but THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! This is seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten. I nearly melted into a puddle on the floor after having it with pasta for dinner tonight.

I know many of us are struggling to use all of our cherry tomatoes this time of year -- mine are taking over my kitchen! -- so hopefully no one will mind my reposting this recipe to give more of us a chance to enjoy it.

From CindyLouWho's original post, Aug 15, 2005:

I use this recipe for Sungold's because there is virtually no prep. I just rinse them and dump them in the pot (don't even cut them):

2.5 cups sungolds
1 stick butter
3 Tbs celery finely chopped
3 Tbs onion finely chopped
3 Tbs carrots finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar

Add all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. Let cool slightly and blend to a creamy consistency (I use a stick blender right in the pot).

So easy and unbelievably good. It's actually so decadent that sometimes I halve the butter and use oil instead, but it's not nearly as good.

It freezes really well and I use it for everything--pasta sauce, pizza sauce, dip for veggies, etc. Sometimes, we even eat it as a "cream" soup.

Back to me: This recipe made about 1.75 cups of sauce, and I figured out the calories at 75 calories per 1/8 cup. (An 1/8 cup nicely covered a serving of cooked pasta, kind of like an alfredo sauce - a little goes a long way.)

Thanks again, Cindy!


Here is a link that might be useful: Original Cherry Tomato Thread


clipped on: 08.23.2014 at 01:53 pm    last updated on: 08.23.2014 at 01:54 pm

RE: Unsafe practices (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: digdirt on 07.31.2012 at 12:12 pm in Harvest Forum

I tripled the recipe on the NCHP website. What's wrong with that? Otherwise, it would take me forever to process a half bushel of peaches.

There is nothing wrong as in "unsafe" with doing that since it is a high acid fruit. With low-acid foods doubling or tripling can lead to all sorts of problems.

But with jams it is just a quality issue as very often doubled jam/jelly recipes won't ever set and many folks end up with nothing but a tripled batch of syrup. That is why doubling or tripling jam and jelly recipes isn't recommended.

You want to see bad canning? See YouTube.

Amen to that! Its lack of quality control does a real dis-service to home canners.



clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 11:52 am    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 11:52 am

For Bill Vincent

posted by: sandsonik on 08.15.2008 at 06:20 pm in Kitchens Forum

Sorry to take up another non-kitchen post...

But here's the picture of the fireplace we were talking about. One from straight on and one showing the brick going inside the box...

any ideas as to best layout? It's about 49 5/8 wide across at top and 7.5" on either side of the fireplace. It's 10.5 inches vertically in the center from the mantle to the opening, and another 39 inches total from the mantle to the floor on the sides.

As you can probably see, there's a few paint drips from the mantle being painted but the brick has never been painted.

Did I understand you correctly that it should be skim coated to even out the mortar lines and left to dry? For some reason I thought I could just get away with putting thinset thicker in those places while tiling.

When I've seen this done on television or online, they usually build a support board and start above the fireplace and then return to do the rest once that first row has set. Is that what you would recommend?


clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 03:25 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 03:26 pm

RE: For Bill Vincent (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bill_vincent on 08.15.2008 at 06:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

This is easy. Center the pieces across the top, with the center of a tile falling on the center of the fireplace. The tiles that fall about an inch or so past the side edges of the opening, cut them so that the joint falls flush to the edge of the opening, so that the pieces up the sides will flow smoothly. As for the sides, Cut the bottom pieces at 2 13/16" (based on the tiles being exactly 12"). That will take into account (3) 1/16" grout joints, and bring the full tiles up to meet the tiles coming across the top.

As for the skim coating, you're right-- you CAN do it all at one time. But it'll work better for you if you skim it first.As for the support board, You're right. That's also how I usually do it.

One thing you might want to do, though. I'm noticing in the picture there's some soot on the brick and mortar joints above the fireplace. See about getting some TSP (trisodium phosphate) from HD, Lowes, or any other hardware store. It's about the best greasecutting cleaner you can find, and it'll take care of that soot pretty easily.


clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 03:26 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 03:26 pm

RE: For Bill Vincent (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: bill_vincent on 08.15.2008 at 08:12 pm in Kitchens Forum

How about that inside portion of the firebox, that three inches or so where you're looking at the side of the front brick? Would you tile that also?

Aesthetically speaking, I'd say yes. You want to cover all traces of the brick. Mechanically speaking, I don't know how those pieces, especially across the inside of the top, would handle that much heat. I don't know about you, but I've had fires in my fireplace hot enough to make the cast iron log carrier glow red. I don't know how the thinset would handle that. One way to find out! :-)

And would you use a tapcon into the brick mortar to brace the support board or some other kind of clamp?

Place the board across the opening, against the area where the top inside piece would go. Measure the distance to the floor from the bottom of the board. Add about a 1/2" to that measurement, and cut two pieces of wood that measurement, and wedge them in under the board. That'll hold it in place until the tiles dry.


clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 03:27 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 03:27 pm

RE: Tile Back Splash (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: bill_vincent on 10.30.2008 at 11:25 pm in Kitchens Forum

Tell ya what-- how about if I put em all in one place? (or atleast copy em from one place to another!)

Q) What are the different types of tiles you can use in a bathroom and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

A) There are several types of tile available. They fall into two general groups: ceramic and natural stone. I'll take these one at a time:

Ceramic tile-- For purposes of this discussion, there's glazed conventional, unglazed porcelain, and glazed porcelain. All three are good tiles for bathroom use, but the porcelain is a better choice only because of its density and lack of water absorbsion, which makes upkeep and cleaning easier. Also, with reference to steam showers, you DO NOT want to use natural stone, being that the steam would tend to permeate into the stone even more readily than liquid water, and could end up giving you algae problems, as well as mold and mildew problems, unless you don't mind being tied down to your bathroom.

Natural Stone-- There are several types of stone that are used in bathrooms. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all GOOD IDEAS for bathrooms, expecially the softer (and more absorbant) stones, such as slate or limestone. Now, I know I'm going to get a world of flack about this from epople who have bathrooms finished in these materials. I know they CAN be used.... so long as you're aware of the extra upkeep involved. But if you're someone who doesn't like to keep after things, you may want to pick an easier material to maintain. Generally speaking, the softer the stone, the more the upkeep. Limestone being the softer of the stones, and that would include travertine, next would be many slates (although some would actually be harder than even most marbles, such as brazilian and british slates), then marbles, with quartzite and granite rounding off the list as the harder and more dense stones that you could use.

Q) What should I be sure to look for when choosing tile for a bathroom?

A) Short answer-- something that you like! The bathroom is the one place that just about anything the showroom has can be used. The only limitations are basically the upkeep you want to put in, and slip resistance on the floors of your bathroom and shower. Now, although ceramic tile is basically maintenence free, you don't want to use something with a texture to it that will catch all kinds of junk in the shower, making it more difficult to keep clean. At the same time, you don't want to use a polished stone or bright glazed ceramic tile for the shower floor, either. These both CAN be used, but again, it comes down to upkeep for textured wall tile, and doing something to rectify the slippery floor.

Q) Where should I use tile and where not?

A) Tile can be used on every single surface in the bathroom, if that's what you like. This is all a matter of taste... for the most part. About the only place where there's a requirement is any place there's a showerhead involved. If tile is to be used either in a shower or a tub/ shower combo, The tile MUST go up to a minimum of 72" off the floor. Past that, it's up to the disgression of the owner.

Q) What size tile and what layout patterns to use in various areas?

A) Again, this is a subjective question that can really only be answered by the owner. The ONLY place where there's a recommendation for mechaincal reasons is on a shower floor. TCNA recommends that mothing bigger than 6" be used on shower floors due to the cone shape of the floor's pitch. In addition, most installers will request no bigger than 4", and prefer a 2x2 tile to work with on the shower floor. This is also advantageous to the homeowner who'll be showering in there, because the added grout joints will add more traction to the floor.

Now, I've heard many times that you shouldn't use large format tiles in a small area like a powder room floor, and if you have a wide open bathroom, you don't want to use real small tiles. My response to both is the same-- HORSEHOCKEY. I've done bathrooms both ways-- 24x24 diagonal in a 3' wide powder room, and 1" hex ceramic mosaics in an open 100 sq. ft. bathroom floor. The rule of thumb is if you like it, it's right!

Q) How do I find/choose someone to install the tile?

A) Many people will tell you to get names from the showroom you get your tile from. This is no good, unless the showroom is willing to take responsibility for the installer by either having them on payrool, or as a subcontract. Then they have something to lose if they give you a bad installer. Many people will also tell you to get references and to actually check them out. This ALSO doesn't work. I've been in this work for just under 30 years now, and I've yet to find a single installer who ever gave the name of someone they had a problem with. They say even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. The same can be said for "fly-by-nights" and good work.

So if you can't trust recommendations, and checking references is a lost cause, what do you do? REVERSE THE PROCESS!! Instead of finding an installer and getting references, get references, and thru them, find your installer!! No matter where you live, if you drive around, you'll find constructions sites and developements. Stop and ask who the GC uses. Get a name and phone number. Sooner or later, after asking around enough, you're going to find that the same names will begin to show up time and time again. THESE are the guys you want to use. But don't expect a bargain price, and be prepared to wait, because these guys will be in high demand, even in the worst of times, and they may demand a bit higher price, but they'll be worth every penny, if for no other reason, just because of the peace of mind they'll give you in knowing you're getting a good quality installation. Ask anyone who's gone through this experience, good or bad-- that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Q) What are the proper underlayments for tile?

A) There are several, and I'll take them one at a time:

CBU (cementitious Backer Units)-- This is the term that generally covers all cement boards (such as Wonderboard or Durock) or cement fiber boards (such as Hardibacker). This is the most common used tile underlayment. Generally speaking, it comes in two thicknesses-- 1/2" and 1/4"-- and each has its use. !/2" must be used for wall installations, due to the fact that the 1/4" is way too flimsy with nothing to back it up, and would flex too much to last. Besides, the 1/2" CBU will usually match up nicely to most sheetrocks. The 1/4" is used for floor installations, unless the added height of the 1/2" is needed to match up to other floorings. Being that neither has very much structural strength, so long as the subfloor is 3/4" or more, the 1/4" CBU is all that's needed. Keep in mind that even though it's basically fiberglass reinforced concrete, the only thing it adds to the floor is a stable bonding surface, so the 1/4" will do just fine. One place where alot of contractors will try and shortcut is by using greenboard instead of CBU for shower walls. This is expressly forbidden in the IRC (International Residential Code) by the following code:

IRC Greenboard Code:
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) states in
Section R702.4.2 that "Cement, fiber-cement or glass mat
gypsum backers in compliance with ASTM C1288, C1325
or C1178 and installed in accordance with manufacturers
recommendations shall be used as backers for wall tile in
tub and shower areas and wall panels in shower areas."

The 2006 IRC also states in Section R702.3.8.1 that
"Water-resistant gypsum backing board [Greenboard] shall
not be used where there will be direct exposure to water."

Membranes-- There are several around that work well over many different surfaces. Most of them are what's called "Crack Isolation Membranes". Just about every manufacturer has one, from trowel ons or roll ons, such as Hydroment's Ultraset or Laticrete's 9235 or Hydroban, to sheet membranes such as Noble's CIS membrane. All will give the tile a little more protection against movement than just going over CBU. However, there's another class of membranes called "uncoupling membranes" of which the most popular by far is Schluter's Ditra, that are made from bonding two layers together, usually a fabric fleece backing and a plastic sheeting with dovetailed waffling to "lock" the thinset in place ( as opposed to accepting a thinset BOND). These membranes will, as their name implies, uncouple their two layers in case of movement, to save the floor, and for thinset floors, it's the most protection you can give your tile floor.

Plywood-- This is one where I get the most flack. I'm one of a dying breed that still believes in tiling directly over plywood. However, I can very well understand the reluctance of the industry to embrace this installation method, even though the TCNA DOES approve of its use for interior installations (Those with a handbook can check Method F-149). The reason I say that is it's a very "tempermental installation method. You need to be very familiar with what you're doing, or you risk failure. There are even many pros I wouldn't trust to tile using this method. Everything you do is important, from the species of plywood used, to the direction the grain is laid with relation to the joists, to how it's gapped, and a host of other specs, as well-- many of which won't be found in the handbook, and if you miss just one of them, you're flirtin with disaster. All in all, when people ask me about it, I tell them that with the membranes available, there's no need to go directly over plywood. There are other methods that will give you just as long lasting a floor, and aren't NEARLY as sensitive.

Mudset-- This is the oldest, and still, after THOUSANDS of years of use, the strongest installation method available. In a mudset installation, a minimum of 1 1/4" of mortar called "drypack" (mixed to the consistancy of damp sand) is either bonded to a concrete slab, or laid down over tarpaper or 6 mil poly with wire reinforcement, packed, and then screaded off to flat level (or pitched) subfloor. This is what most people see when tiling a shower pan. Initially, the mud will be a somewhat soft subfloor. But over time, if mixed properly, it'll be stronger than concrete.

Q) What are the proper tile setting compounds?

A) This is one where I could write a book. It all depends on what kind of tile you're installing, and what the underlayment is that you're going over. I'll give a generalized list:

Polymer/ latex modified thinset: For all intents and purposes, this is the "cure-all". For almost any installation the modified thinset, which is basically portland cement, silica sand, and chemical polymers added for strength, will work. There are some that are specialized, such as the lightweight non-sag thinsets (such as Laticrete's 255 or Mapei's Ultralite), or the high latex content thinsets (like Latictrete's 254 Platinum or Hydroment's Reflex), but with the exception of going over some membranes, there's a modified thinset for every installation.

Unmodified thinset: This is the same as above, but with no polymers added. It's usually used in conjunction with a liquid latex additive, but will also be used mixed with water for going over some membranes. It's also used as a bedding for all CBU's.

Medium Bed Mortars-- This is a relatively new class of setting mortars, used mainly for large format tiles, where the normal notched trowels just don't put down enough material, and with thinset, it would be too much, causing too much shrinkage as it dries, causing voids under, and poor bond to, the tile, but at the same time, there's not enoough room for a mudset installation. This mortar is usually used with either a 1/2x1/2" or 1/2x3/4" notched trowel.

Mastics and Premixed Thinsets: THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! Let me say that again-- THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! They work well for vertical installations, where the tile used is 8x8 or less, and it's not a wet area. ALL THREE of those conditions must be met!! I know just about every pail of type 1 mastic says it can be used in showers except for the floor. DON'T BELIEVE IT!! Also, both mastic and premixed thinset (which is just mastic with a fine sand mixed in to give it bulk) claim they can be used for floor installations. Unfortunately, for the amount of material needed under virtually all floor tiles to bond to the subfloor, neither of these will fully harden. I had a personal experience where I helped a sister in law across country, telling her husband exactly how to do his main floor, what to use, and how to use it. Unfortunately, he went to the big box store to get his tile and materials, and they talked him into using premixed thinset. I didn't hear about it until SIX MONTHS LATER when his tile and grout joints started showing cracks all over the floor. When he called me I asked him what he used for thinset, and sure enough, this is when he told me. I told him to pull one of the tiles, and SIX MONTHS LATER, IT WAS STILL SOFT!!! DOn't let them talk you into it!! Use the proper thinset, and don't try and shortcut your installation. You're spending alot of money for it to be "just practice"!!

Q) How do you deal with different thicknesses of tile?

A) Whatever it takes. I've used membranes, built up the amount of thinset being used, I've even doubled up tiles when it worked out that way. Whatever it takes to get the two tiles to be flush toeach other.

Q) What are the typical tools required to lay tile?

A) Generally speaking, this is a list for just about all installations. Some may require specialized tools, but this would be for all:

Proper sized notched trowel
measuring tape
chalk line
margin trowel
high amp low speed drill and mixing paddle (best would be 6 amp or better and less than 400 rpm)
several buckets
score and snap cutter for straight ceramic cuts
4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade for ceramic, anything other than straight cuts
wet saw (can be used for ALL cuts, ceramic or stone)
grout float
hydra grout sponges (2-- once for grouting, one for cleaning)
24" and 48" levels (for vertical work)
heavy duty extension cords
screwgun or nailgun (where CBU will be used)

Q) What about tile spacing and types of grout?

A) According to Dave Gobis from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Pendleton, South Carolina, there will finally be a new standard for ceramic tile next year. The tolerances are shrinking. There will also be a standard for rectified tile. Along with that, there will be a revision to the installation standards that will specifically recommend a grout joint no less than 3 times the variation of the tile. For rectified tile the minimum grout joint width will be .075 or just over a 1/16".

As for grout, there's only one thing that determines whether you use sanded or unsanded grout, and that's the size of the grout joint. Anything less than 1/8" you use unsanded grout. 1/8" or larger, you need to use sanded grout. The reason is that the main ingredient in grout is porland cement, which tends to shrink as it dries. In joints 1/8" or larger, the grout will shrink way too much and end up cracking ans shrinking into the joint. The sand give the grout bulk, and the sanded grout won't shrink nearly as much and therefore, can be used in the larger joints.

What is the difference between a water based sealer and a solvent based sealer? How do you know which one to use?

There are two important differences. First, the solvent based sealer is a "breatheable" sealer, while the water based is not. What that means is that the solvent based sealer will let moisture transmit back and forth , so as not to trap moisture in the stone or grout, while the water based sealer will not. The reason this is a good thing is that you don't want moisture getting trapped inside of a surface, and growing mold or mildew INSIDE. That's actually even a tougher situation to remedy than if it just grows on the surface.Secondly, both are what's called "penetrating" sealers, meaning they do their job by penetrating into the stone, and stopping solids from getting into the pores of the stone, thereby curtailing stains taking hold. Water based sealers will not penetrate NEARLY as far into the surface as the solvent based sealers will, and as a result, have to be replaced much more often. About the only time I'll use a water based sealer is if I'm installing something like terra cotta tile, or soft limestone, where I need a pre-grouting sealer to stop the grout from adhering to the face of the tile. Any other time, I'll use solvent based.

Q) What's the difference between ceramic, porcelain, and rectified porcelain?

A) Actually all porcelain IS ceramic. The difference is that porcelain is a much denser clay, fired at a much higher temperature, which makes for a much more durable (and less absorptive) tile.

As for rectified porcelain, the main difference is that all other tile is stamped out or cut to size BEFORE it goes into the kiln, where during the firing process, the tiles will experience some extent of shrinkage. Unfortunately that shrinkage is never uniform, and results in the sizing you always hear about. This is why the larger grout joints (3/16"- 1/4") are required for most tiles. With rectified porcelain, the clay is fired in sheets, and then the tiles are cut to size AFTER they're baked, which results in much tighter tolerances, and the ability to use much smaller grout joints.

Q)I read in this forum to use unmodified thinset under the cementboard for our floors before tiling, but DH read the instructions on the board to use modified. Just wanted to confirm that we are to use unmodified and also to ask why?

A)That's kind of a controversy in the industry. Most manufacturers say modified. TCNA (Tile COunsil of NOrth America) says unmodified works best, but then they defer to the manufacturer's instructions. The way I see it, the thinset under the cement board isn't supposed to bond the two surfaces. Matter of fact, you don't WANT them to bond. That's what the screws are for. It's there only to bed the cement board to take out vibration between the two layers, so the unmodified thinset makes alot more sense to me.

Q)Why don't you want them to bond? He asks," Aren't the screws there to hold the thinset while it dries?"

A)Once you bond the two layers together, you've for all intents and purposes, formed a new, thicker, single layer, and you've lost all the benefits of double layering the floor, that being the allowance for the slightest bit of lateral slippage between the layers to allow further isolation of the tile installation from structural movement.

This is the tile FAQ I did for the Building a Home Forum. There may be a couple of places where it gets a little repetitive, but for the most part, it's different questions:

1) Can I lay tile over lino/VCT/VAT?

Answer: There are those who say you can, and in some instances this is true. The problem is in properly investigating whether or not your particular case is one of those instances. There are so many variables, and ANY ONE of them could make your floor fail-- is your vinyl cushioned or not? Is it adhered well? In the case of lino, is it perimeter glued, or fully glued? Was there an underlayment used, or was it laid directly over the subfloor (ALL underlayments used for lino are no good under tile-- any one of them will make a tile floor fail)? When it comes down to it, it's a very risky proposition, and when dealing with the time and money investment required to install a new floor, why gamble with it? You're much better off to do it right and take out the vinyl, as well as any underlayment that might be involved, and then start your installation from the subfloor. This way you KNOW it'll be done so that it lasts.

2) How good is premixed thinset?

Answer: Premixed thinset is nothing more than organic adhesive (mastic) with a fine sand mixed in to give it some bulk. For wall applications where mastic is appropriate, It's fine, although I don't see any advantage over traditional mastic. But for the use it was intended, that being replacing portland cement based latex modified thinset, it's an extremely BAD idea, for several reasons. First, ALL mastics are formulated to be used in very thin applications. The thicker it's used, the longer it takes to dry, and for some of the heavier notches that are used in flooring installations, it never completely dries. I personally know of one case where premixed thinset was used on a floor in april, and the following november, it was STILL soft. ANY kind of pliability will cause flex in the tile, which will cause the tile floor to fail, allowing either tile tile, grout, or both to crack. Seondly, even if it's used in a thickness that WILL allow it to dry, all it takes is a little moisture. All mastics are water based, and any moisture will allow the mastic (or premixed thinset) to re-emulsify, again, causing a failure in the floor.

3) Can I tile right over plywood?

Answer: Yes, you can, and it's done on a daily basis. However, you really need to KNOW what you're doing. There are additional steps you need to take care of, as well as pitfalls to watch out for that either don't exist, or aren't as important when using backerboard (CBU-- cementitious backer units) as your underlayment. The thinset you use, how you lay your plywood down, how you SCREW it down, even the species and rating of the plywood used, all make a difference. HERE is a good article that might be of interest. (hyper link the word HERE to,,131422,00+en-uss_01dbc.html )

4) Do I really need thinset under my backerboard?

Answer: The short answer is ABSOLUTELY. The manufacturer requires it, and if, for some reason, there's a problem with the floor afterward, you've immediately lost any kind of warranty protection. Now, there's a big controversy in the industry right now concerning the TYPE of thinset to use. The manufacturers, for the most part, recommend latex modified thinset, whereas the Tile Council of America (TCA) recommends UNmodifed, or dryset thinset. The reason is that the thinset isn't there to bond the backerboard to the subfloor. If it were, then the modified thinset would make a difference. In reality, it's actually there to fill the paper thin voids between subfloor and backerboard, thereby eliminating another source of flex, or movement, and extending the life of your floor.

5) What size trowel do I need?

Answer: This all depends on the size and thickness of the tile, as well as how smooth or rough the substrate is, and how deep the embossed pattern on the back of the tile is. For the most part, 3/16" v-notch for ceramic mosaics (1x1 and 2x2) or mastic walls, and either 1/4x1/4 square notch or 1/4x3/8 for just about everything else. There ARE some exceptions though. If there is a question as to which you should use in your particular case, your best bet would be to go to and ask one of the pros there. You'll be sure to get a good concise answer.

6) Do I spread thinset on the tile, the floor, or both?

Answer. Either or both. Usually floors are gridded out, and then the thinset is spread on the floor. It's alot easier and quicker. However, for those who would rather backbutter the tile, that's fine, too, as long as you flat trowel thinset onto the floor to "burn" it into the floor. In other words, you want to make sure you get a good bond by pushing the thinset into the "grain" of the floor, be it concrete, backerboard, or plywood.

7) Can I tile right over my brick fireplace?

Answer: Yes, you can. You might want to make sure the brick is clean and free of any contaminants, such as dust or soot (TSP-- trisodium phosphate works well for this). If the brick is painted, it needs to either be sanded, or if this is a renovation, sandblasted. Do NOT use any kind of chemicals to remove the paint, as they tend to leave behind residues that will inhibit the thinset bond later. Once the brick is clean, your best bet would be to flatcoat the brick with a latex modified thinset. This will do two things for you. First, it'll give you a flat surface to tile over, and secondly, it'll show up any errant bricks that might be sticking out too much, and they can be addressed before the tile is going up. Once the flat coat dries, you can take a rubbing stone to take care of any ridges in the thinset from the trowel.

8) Can I tile over sheetrock?

Answer: So long as it's not a wet area (i.e.-- tub enclosure, shower area, tub deck), yes, you can. Even stone tile will adhere well.

9) My tile's/ grout's cracking! What's happening? Can I just replace it?

Answer: ANY time tile or grout cracks, it's a symptom, not a problem, and just repairing the tile or the grout will not take care of it. Until the REAL problem is found and rectified, the same tile or area of grout will continue to crack, no matter how many times you replace it. 99% of the time, it can be attributed to seasonal movement in the structure, either under, or surrounding the tile in question, and the tile needs to be isolated from that movement. Sometimes it can be as simple a fix as adding soft (caulk) joints. Other times, it may be necessary to either add joisting, or beef up the existing joisting to minimize the deflection of the floor. What the fix is depends on the individual problem, but in all cases, again, the problem has to be identified and resolved before the cracking will stop.

10) Do I really need to seal my grout?

Answer: There are alot of contractors who will tell you yes, and still others who will tell you no. The reason for sealer is to make cleaning and maintenence easier. There has been a trend in recent years to use light colored grouts in the main floors of the home in order to match lighter colored tiles, and a sealer is used to prevent "wear paths"-- darkening of the grout joints in areas of main traffic in the home. Unfortunately, sealers will not prevent this. You're much better off to use either a medium or darker colored grout. As for using sealer in the bathroom, sealer WILL help, but again, over time, grout will discolor somewhat, or "age", and cleaners will be, for the most part, just as effective, with or without sealer. (Obviously, I'm one of those who doesn't believe in them)

11) Should I seal my tile?

Answer: Most tiles should NOT be sealed. Most glazed tiles, as well as porcelains, will not allow the sealer to absorb into the surface, and as a result, it dries on the surface as a white haze, which is a BEAR to remove. The only tiles which should be sealed are most natural stone tiles, quarry tile, or terra cotta.

12) What is "preslope" in a shower pan, and do I really need it?

Answer: In a shower pan, the slope is the pitch from the perimeter to the drain. This allows 90% of the water to run down the surface of the floor and into the drain. Preslope is for that other 10% of the water that seeps into the floor's surface to be caught by the shower pan (floor) liner. It's a slope that goes UNDER the pan liner so as to make sure that any water that gets through the surface will seep down the liner to weep holes surrounding the drain underneath the shower floor, where again, it will be directed to the drain's pipe. Without this preslope, the water sits in the bottom of the shower pan, where it can become a major area for mold, mildew, and bacteria to fester and become a bad health problem. So, yes, you really need it.

13) Can I use mastic in my shower, or over my tub?

Answer: Although on just about every pail of mastic it says "approved for wet areas", no, you can't. Mastic is used extensively in commercial projects for these kinds of areas-- places such as hotels, apartment buildings, college dorms, all use mastic in wet areas, because it's so much faster to install the tile, thereby reducing budget costs. However, they also have maintenence staffs, not to mention that these buildings get renovated every 5- 10 years, and from the contractor's standpoint, the work only has to be warranteed for one year. After that, it's not their problem any more. A home is a different story, though. You want your tile to last for years and years. Once it's up, you want it to STAY up, and last. The problem with mastic is that it's water emulsive, and even after being up for a while, it can still reemulsify, become soft, and even wash out, causing your tile to fail. It's one of the leading causes of tile failure in wet areas.

14) Is tile or grout waterproof?

Answer: No. Even with a grout sealer, most sealers used these days are "breatheable", meaning the moisture can transmit through it, both in and out, so even sealer won't make it waterproof.

15) How long do I wait before sealing?

Answer: This depends on the sealer being used. Because of the different formulations, different sealers require different wating times, anywhere from 3- 28 days, and the best advice I could give you is to check your particular brand of sealer for its recommendation. Generally speaking, there are two types of sealer base-- water and solvent, and the solvent based sealers generally require the shorter waiting period, but they're also much more expensive.

16) Should I use an isolation membrane?

Answer: To use an isolation membrane just as a general rule, it's not necessary. If you have any question at all as to whether or not there would be too much movement in your subfloor without it, then yes, it should be used, whether it be over concrete or wood frame. NOTE-- isolation membranes will greatly decrease the chance of your tile cracking if your movement is lateral (side to side-- in the case of concrete cracks, ones that open and close). However, there's not a membrane made that will address the problem of vertical movement. If you have cracks in a slab where one side of the crack is higher than the other, or in wood frame, where an addition meets the original structure, you'd be much better off to put in an expansion joint that that point.
17) Height of TP holders, towel bars, coat hooks etc etc.

Answer: The best advice is wherever they feel comfortable to you. About the only one that would be somewhat difficult to figure out when it's time to install is the toilet paper holder, and the general rule is about 24-30" off the floor, and 18-24" forward of the toilet flange. AS for the soap dish, you'd want to locate it somewhere where it won't be in the direct line of the showerhead spray, even though the traditional location (middle of the back wall, 6" from the tub) puts it right there. Putting it in the "line of fire" just gives water a chance to work its way behind the soap dish and shorten the life of your shower wall.

18) What kinds of tile can be successfully used outdoors (ie: on porches, patios) and any needed techniques for installing.

Answer: There are two types-- Vitreous tile, which has virtually no absorbsion, and porcelain, which only has approximately .05% absorbsion. As for installation techniques, the biggest differences are:
1), you want to use a thinset that gets mixed with a liquid additive, as opposed to one that's already modified.
2) you want to make sure you use either a polymer modified or epoxy grout.
3) You need to make sure the surface to be tiled is pitched atleast 1/4" per running foot, to make sure water doesn't sit on the tile.
4) In the case of wood frame structure (for something like a deck) you want to make sure you use a good quality waterproofing membrane made for exterior applications. Noble's Nobledeck ( ) is a good example of this.
5) In the case of slab, you want to honor all expansion and control joints, making sure that you either position your layout so that a grout joint falls over them, or cut the tile along these joints, and either way, caulk them with a good urethane caulking. Latex or silicone won't be strong enough.
6) If there are any cracks in the concrete, or in the case of slab on grade, if you have alot of sand or clay in your soil, or any other kind of ground that's prone to minor shifting, and isolation membrane designed for outdoor applications would be a real good idea.
7) You want to make sure that you do the installation at a time of year where the temp(both air and surface) stays over 50 degrees F. Otherwise problems could occur.

19) Are there different kinds of sealers for different locations, such as bath/shower, floor, kitchen counters?

Answer: When it comes to protectant type sealers, any penetrating sealer can be used in all places. The differences come in the finishing sealers. Do you want the wet or dry look? High gloss, or satin (matte) finish? Smooth or nonslip?

20) Should granite countertops be sealed? If so, how do I do this?

Answer: Some should and some shouldn't. Your best bet would be to ask your distributor (or installer) whether your particular granite should or shouldn't be sealed. As a rule, though, if you put a wet sponge on granite, and when you remove it, it leaves a wet spot, it should be sealed with a good penetrating sealer, which can be wiped on with a soft absorbant cloth.

21) What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile? Which is best for indoor flooring and why? How do I know when I am buying a good quality, durable tile--are there ratings I need to be aware of?

Answer: In all actuality, porcelain IS ceramic tile, just made with a much denser clay, and fired at much higher temps. As for which is best, all around porcelain is the answer. It's harder, will take much more abuse, and won't chip scratch, or stain as easily as most others. In addition, it'll stand up to much higher and lower extremes temperature wise. However, especially for residential applications, most glazed floor tiles will stand up to whatever you have in mind. There are two indicators to the quality of the tile you're interested in, when it comes to glazed tile-- first, the PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating, which rates the hardness of the glaze on a scale of 1-5 as follows:
CLASS 0 - Tiles technically unsuitable for floors
CLASS 1 - Residential and Commercial wall and bare foot traffic
CLASS 2 - Wall and Residential bath floor, soft soled traffic
CLASS 3 - All residential floors and Light Commercial
CLASS 4 - Medium Commercial, Light Industrial and Institutional, moderate soiling
CLASS 5 - Extra heavy traffic, abrasive dirt, chemically more resistant
Secondly, although some may disagree, and there ARE exceptions, price is a good indicator. For the most part, you get what you pay for, and although two tiles may look exactly alike, there may be a big difference in the hardness of the glaze, as well as the density of the bisque, or body of the tile.

Q) We are having porcelain tile installed in our foyer (13"x13" tiles) and in our powder room (6'x6" tiles). Both are heavy traffic areas. Is there one grout that is better for these areas than another grout? New to my vocabulary - "sanded grout" and "unsanded grout"; "Portland grout"; "epoxy grout".

A) Although there are others, for all intents and purposes, there are two kinds of grout-- portland cement based, and epoxy. The portland cement based grouts are the conventional grouts that have been around for millenniums. Although in the last few decades, they've been modified with latex and other polymers to make them stronger and more resistant to mold and mildew, they're basically the very same grouts that have been used since Greek and Roman days. There are two kinds of portland cement based grouts. One is sanded, and the other unsanded. The only difference between the two is, as their names imply, the sand. The ONLY thing that determines which grout should be used is the joint size. NOT the glaze, NOT aesthetics, NOT the material (ceramic vs. glass or polished marble), NONE of those. I'll repeat-- the ONLY thing that determines which is used, is the joint size. Anything under an 1/8" takes unsanded grout. Anything 1/8" or bigger, you use sanded grout. If you use unsanded grout in larger joints, the cement in the grout will shrink way too much as the water evaporates out of it, and the joints will end up shrinking and cracking bigtime. If you try using sanded grout in smaller joints, the grains of sand will literally clog the top of the joint, and not allow the grout to get down INTO the joint, and the grout will flake off in a matter of days.

As for the Epoxy, most epoxy grouts use a much finer "sand", and therefore can be used in any size grout joint. Further, epoxy grouts are everything people say they are. They're much easier to clean, practically stainproof, and also extremely expensive. Most epoxies will cost atleast 4 times the cost of conventional grouts, and the installer will also usually charge a premium of between 1.50- 2.50 a foot for the use of epoxy grout. There are alot of people who will disagree with me, but my own opinion is that for most residential installations, epoxy grout is bigtime overkill. The ONLY times I'll recommend epoxy grout is first, if you're installing a tile countertop, and two, if you have animals in the house that either aren't housebroken, or are prone to accidents. In either of those cases, epoxy might be worth the money. For anything else, though, conventional grout is more than good enough.


clipped on: 10.31.2008 at 12:38 am    last updated on: 10.31.2008 at 12:39 am

RE: Can't clear up pond water, have tried everything! (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: pat_c on 05.19.2008 at 05:48 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Here's an old trick Horton taught me years ago. Take a clean tall kitchen trash can. Cut a series of holes in the side at the bottom. Do this on only one side of the trash can. Get a box of poly batt at walmart. Unwind it and stuff it in the bottom of the trash can and set the trash can at the edge of the pond with the side with the holes facing toward the pond. Then run a hose from your pond to the top of the trash can. The water will fill the can and run down thru the batt and filter. Then it will run out the holes in the can back into the pond. Run this for 2-3 days and I promise the pond will clear. You will have to clean the Batt evry so often but it will trap all that suspended algae. I only had to do this once and my pond cleared and stayed clear.
I do agree with the others that rocks on the bottom only invite trouble. They look good for a week and then spoil the pond beacuse they WILL get covered with algae. Then, you can't see them anyway so what's the point?
The only other product I ever had good luck with is ALgaefix. But Once I used the Horton method, I no longer had to use that! Good luck, we have all been where you are.


clipped on: 06.07.2012 at 01:46 am    last updated on: 06.07.2012 at 01:46 am

floating island planters

posted by: koijoyii on 07.26.2009 at 12:26 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

I hosted my daughter's baby shower yesterday and my pond was the main attraction. The "belle of the ball", however, were my floating planter islands. Here are some pics.





Thanks, Lisa (Goodkarma) for sharing this wonderful idea. The islands I planted are all impatiens. Do you see the one you made me? In the top pic it's the one in the middle to the left of the pic. My fish push them all around the pond but can't hurt them. You are a genius.



clipped on: 06.07.2012 at 12:12 am    last updated on: 06.07.2012 at 12:12 am

RE: floating island planters (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: koijoyii on 04.06.2010 at 08:14 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Hi BT:

I am attaching the link again fyi. If you look at Lisa's pics I believe the size is on the wrapper. If I am not mistaken they are 20 X 25 X 1. You will notice in the pics you don't cut the bottom filter at all. You cut holes in the top filter according to the size plants you want to put in them (I cut 12 holes in each of my impatiens islands. 2 islands accommodated 1 flat of flowers). Then you sandwich the 2 furnace filters together using Great Stuff. Just be careful not to use too much Great Stuff or you will fill up the holes you cut. The Great Stuff also works as a float to keep the furnace filters from sinking. You need to use enough for bouyancy, but not too much that you fill up your holes. I rinsed the dirt off of the impatiens roots and placed them bare root in the holes. Once the roots took hold nothing could knock them out. The koi would flip the entire island over. When I flipped it back everything was intact but I had impatiens petals all over the pond. They won't eat the petals. They just like to flip the islands. Maybe they were trying to get to the tadpoles that were living on the islands when I broke the pond down for the winter.

Hope this helps. Good luck with you pond.


Here is a link that might be useful: Goodkarma's floating plant islands


clipped on: 06.07.2012 at 12:17 am    last updated on: 06.07.2012 at 12:17 am

How to Make THE Floating Island

posted by: goodkarma_ on 04.09.2009 at 06:18 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Floating Islands are very expspensive. The size I wanted was $189 at the Garden Center. So I made a pretty good replica - the biggest difference is that mine are blue and the Islands are black. You can paint yours if it matters to you. I used a little green spray paing to cover the great stuff that showed.

The materials: Washable furnace filter from Home Depot, Small Cable Ties and Great Stuff Window Foam (Not the Gaps and Crack filler- it is not as good). Spray paint - color green or black.


Take TWO furnace filters ($5 each) and use the cable ties to hem them together. Add two in the middle some where as well. Next cut out circles where you want the plants to go. Then use the Great Stuff and fill it in avoiding the holes. I finished Islands with one can.

Take the spray paint and hit the great stuff that shows thru. I used green. Next add plants and an anchor to keep it from going in your skimmer. I used Savio Springflow, but fishing line would work too. I want my fish to avoid the line so I like that they can see it.



clipped on: 06.07.2012 at 12:26 am    last updated on: 06.07.2012 at 12:26 am