Save money growing fresh
Being frugal is an important part of saving money, especially if on a budget. Frugal Gardening is no different; we still have to look for simple ways to have a great vegetable or flower garden without costing us the earth.
These days there are so many varieties of tomatoes on the market that it is confusing as to which ones to buy. Should you buy tomato seeds, as they are cheaper, or the plants that will give you a head start, produce quicker, and cost you more? This will depend on how quick you need freshly grown tomatoes.
To be honest, I like to buy two different types of these plants at the beginning of the season. If possible, I buy new varieties that I have not grown before. Then I plant my seeds that I have dried out from last season’s best tomatoes.
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Types of tomatoes to grow
Sweet Bite Cherry tomatoes look great and quick to use in salads. They make a great addition to any summer garden producing masses of clusters of little sweet tomatoes. The children will love to eat them straight from the bush, although, you may not have any left when you need them.
Other brands of Cherry tomatoes: Tommy Toe, Gardener’s Delight, Tiny Tim
Apollo improved tomatoes keep longer than some other varieties. These are larger fleshier tomatoes, great for use in salads, sandwiches, stews or for making tasty sauces and preserves.
Other large fleshier tomatoes: Yellow Delicious, Rouge de MarmandeCredit: TPhotos
Roma tomatoes look different to the normal rounded ones, so you can pick their oblong shape out from others. This is a tasty tomato with solid red flesh. Use in sandwiches, salads, and a variety of sauces. If you love to can and dry your tomatoes and store in the off-season then you will love these.
Yellow egg: is similar in shape and great for juicing.
Choose healthy green plants; avoid plants that look yellow and flowering too early. Buy plants when the weather warms up after last frost. You can sow indoors before last frost to harden them up.
Plant out in wind protected, sunny but not blazing heat conditions. Use compost and well-rotted manure in soil before planting and fertilize regularly. Trim leaves and extra shoots from base of plant. This will encourage top growth. Pinch out extra side shoots up the stems between finger and thumb.
Bury a water bottle or plastic tubing next to tomato to water through this and promote root growth. As your plants grow, stake and tie to prevent breakage of branches from weight of tomatoes. If short on space, you can train your plants to grow along a fence. This makes it easier to see and pick the fruit.
Tomato Growing Tips
Holes in fruit: This is often a sign of snails and caterpillars. Pick as soon as you see this.
Blossom rot: Base of fruit looks brown. Often sign of calcium deficiency. Apply lime and water.
Blight: Water roots of plant never the leaves. This can also happen during the wet season.
Split skins: Regular watering prevents this, if you let them dry out, then water heavy, skin may split.
Aphids: Plants like Nasturtiums, Marigolds and poppies planted nearby, attract insects to eat the aphids.
Green Tomatoes: These will still ripen if picked when skin is glossy. If you prefer, use the rest to make chutney and pickles, so there is no need to waste any.
Tomato Planting: Plant your tomatoes in different places each year. Never plant in the same area.
Save seeds from healthy tomatoes
If you find a tasty tomato with plenty of seeds then place the seeds on a piece of paper towelling and leave to dry out in a window. Store in a safe place for next year, this will save you money by not buying new plants. Maybe, ask your neighbors to save you some of their great seeds from years of gardening.
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Recipes for all those extra tomatoes
Barbecue tomato Sauce
- 30 g margarine or butter
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp malt vinegar
- 1 large finely diced onion
- 1 cup seeded, peeled, fine chopped tomatoes
Heat butter in a saucepan and lightly fry onion until golden brown. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve sauce, hot or cold with barbecued steak, sausages, and chops or in hamburgers.
Tomato and Pumpkin Soup
- 1 rasher of chopped bacon
- 1 large chopped onion
- 2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
- 20 gr margarine or butter
- 3 cups beef stock
- 400 gr cooked or can tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1 cup milk
- Chopped, fresh chopped chives and parsley, for garnishing
Gently fry bacon, onion in butter in a large pan until onion is transparent. Add pumpkin, tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Mix to form a purée in a blender. Return to pan and season with salt and pepper. Add the cloves and milk and simmer for a few minutes. Then serve and garnish with parsley and chives.
Refreshing Tomato Drinks
Minted Tomato Juice
- 2 Cups tomato juice
- 1 tsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
- Rind and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp fine chopped mint
- Salt pepper and nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients and chill. Remove lemon rind before serving.
Sherry Tomato Juice
- 1 tsp dry sherry
- ¾ cup tomato juice
- Salt and pepper
- Tabasco sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Lemon wedge for garnish
Chill the tomato juice, and then season with the salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Before serving, stir in sherry and few drops of Worcestershire sauce to taste. Garnish with a thin wedge of lemon.
Too many tomatoes
Cut them up and cook on low heat. Do not add water, as there will be enough juice from tomatoes. Add favorite spices (basil, oregano) onions or anything of your choice. Leave to cool, then bag in plastic bags. Make sure you remove any extra air. Lay flat and put in fridge to cool, then stack flat in freezer until needed. These will keep for six months.
Whatever types of tomatoes, plants or seeds that you decide to grow, enjoy eating home-fresh grown and free from chemical tomatoes.