Tomatoes have been the one constant crop grown in our vegetable garden over the years. Even when we did not have a garden there were tomato plants in containers. This article is not a detailed “how to” but more of a why you should try to grow tomatoes. Also included are some hints on what has worked for me over the years. It’s all rather basic. This fruit (we call a vegetable) is our favourite; we pick and eat tomatoes daily from mid summer unto the end of November. Tomatoes are one of the most productive and popular vegetables to grow in your gardens.
Facts about the Tomato
- The tomato is a member of the (deadly) nightshade or Solanaceae family
- Tomatoes grow well and are compatible with parsley, basil, chives, onions and garlic
- Tomatoes and Brassica don’t grow well together
- Organic tomatoes have more Vitamin C than commercially grown tomatoes
- The tomato is known as The Love Apple named for its supposed aphrodisiac properties
- Unheated greenhouse tomato fruit ripen about 2 weeks before outside plants
- Some people with arthritis may have sensitivities to tomatoes
- China India USA & Spain are top world producers
The Incredible Tomato
- Good Soil with lots of compost – it may take a few years to build excellent growing soil for tomatoes
- Mulch for your tomato plants. Tomatoes are a warm loving plant and like an even temperature
- Grow organic – no added toxic chemicals – use natural pest controls such as Garlic and soap sprays
- Grow a suitable variety for your area. In Northern B.C. I always grew the early Sub Arctic variety successfully. Visit your local nursery and choose a variety suited for your area
- Watch the weather. Minimum night temperatures should be 10 degrees Celsius or higher otherwise the plants will not grow. In the Fall, watch out for heavy rains which can cause wilt.
Why You Should Consider Growing Tomatoes
- It is a very productive and financially rewarding crop to grow
- Tomatoes can be grown in the home garden without chemicals. A health benefit for your family and the environment, including pets and wildlife such as birds
- There is always space for a tomato plant. In a container, hanging upside down, in a box or in a bag, on a roof or on a porch
- Tomatoes have high nutritional value including; lycopene, anti oxidants such as 9-oxooctecadienic acid, high vitamin C, A & K, B3 and B6 and trace minerals manganese and potassium
- With all those nutrients in them there are many health benefits of the tomato – a seemingly endless list including: anti aging properties, breast cancer protection, bone mass increase, diabetes prevention, heart disease (lowers cholesterol), lung cancer protection, osteoporosis and prostate cancer prevention and immune system support
- Growing in a chemical free garden with healthy, rich soil there has been relatively little or no disease. Blight and Wilt are the two diseases to watch out for if there is a lot of rain in the Fall. When growing in the greenhouse there should always be good cross ventilation which helps prevent mildew. So far insects have left our healthy tomatoes alone.
- There are so many different kinds of tomatoes to grow and there are over 1,000 varieties of tomato. They grow in many colours including black and yellow; different shapes and fruit sizes, growing on dwarf to 8 foot giant vines. Every year there are more new varieties to try
- Easy to preserve for sauces, salsa and freeze whole or dry
- Recipes galore. The tomato is used extensively in all types of cooking from home comfort foods such as tomato soup and pastas to gourmet dishes. Tomatoes are a salad staple. It is widely used with diverse uses and it is surprising how often we eat tomatoes in one form or another
- Simply grow tomatoes for the fun of if and the fragrance and taste. The sense of accomplishment when you pick your first ripe red tomato of the season – nothing compares.
Last summer (2015) we ate fresh, chemical free tomatoes off the vine for four months, well into our Fall. We are now able to eat our own fresh tomatoes almost daily for longer, thanks to climate change and our greenhouse. Definitely a wonder food with lots of nutrition packed into a small fruit. Nothing in the world tastes as juicy and delicious as a just-picked, succulent vine ripened tomato.
The tomato is very beneficial in many areas of health prevention, and easy to grow in a home garden. Hope these reasons have convinced you why you should consider planting your own tomatoes this summer.
PS You really don’t need a reason to grow your own organic tomatoes!
Links & References:
- Tomato production & consumption by country
- Tomato nutrient data
- John Seymour “The Self Sufficient Gardener”
- Rodale’s “Encyclopedia of Gardening”
- The Tomato Handbook from Harrowsmith, Ed. J. Bennett, 1990
- “Carrots Love Tomatoes”, Louise Riotte, McKenzie, 1985
Caramel and Parsley Gardening links :
- Dads favourite tomato recipe has changed over the years
- Use home canned tomatoes or sauce to make vegetarian lasagna
- Fresh picked tomatoes a healthy addition to your carrot juice
- 12 Reasons to Grow your own Food
- 15 spring cleaning tips for garden
- Portable pollinator pots are great for moving around to repel specific insects i.e. aphids with pots of mint and chives
- What to do with all the leftover squash. Make spaghetti squash with tomato sauce