Growing Tomatoes plus a Great Salad Recipe
By: J. Marlando
Not twenty minutes ago my wife and I were sitting together and I mentioned how wonderful our tomatoes tasted compared to those we have bought at the supermarket. My wife agreed and added, “You just don’t know how much money our tomato plants have saved us.”
We only grew two plants this season but they have kept us in the juicy, tasty red fruit for weeks and weeks. We have a third plant that we planted later so we could count on a second crop before fall. Since we eat quite a few tomatoes at our house, we have saved a virtue ton of money by growing our own. And, if you take a bite out of a home grown and a bite out of most store-bought tomatoes, you will note a world of different in taste. I guess the supermarket is charging mostly for convenience because that’s about the only true value you get. In fact, most hothouse tomatoes you buy—and that’s what you generally buy at U.S. Supermarkets—have been ripened indoors and shipped in from (primarily) Canada, Israel and the Netherlands.
What you might not know is that tomatoes are the first genetically engineered food approved by our “dear” FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Mainly what these “scientists” did was to alter the ripening seed in tomato seeds so when they were finally ripened they’d nicer longer during the long distances they are shipped. Yes, your right, not many people really know what they are eating these days or…feeding their kids. (I’ve gotten a little into that subject in another article).
Fresh tomatoes however are good for you unless, of course, if you have an allergy. In fact, a nice red, ripe tomato has 360 milligrams of potassium, 1 gram of daily fiber and the daily values of 20% vitamin A…40% C….10% and 2% iron. And, it is all but a given that eating tomatoes and tomato based food provides a lot of protection against many types of cancer. This information arrives from Harvard Medical School. In fact, the antioxidant properties found primarily in tomatoes have prompted scientists to go as far as to say that tomatoes “may” truly be a food with anticancer properties.
Okay, with all this aside let’s talk about growing tomatoes.
Farming in the City
Most people run off to the store because they don’t have the time or space for gardens. Well, guess what, tomatoes can be grown in pots if you don’t have ground space. Where I live, for example, we do not have ample sun for growing tomatoes so I grow mine in containers next to the driveway because that’s the only place we get morning sun and, trust me, tomatoes desire that morning sun.
In fact, tomatoes love the hot weather.
If you are going to grow your tomatoes in pots, however, I suggest you use starter plants as opposed to growing from seed. When I used to grow my gardens in the ground, I always grew from seed but growing in pots is not the same thing. Okay, with that said, just about any pot will do as long it has lots of drainage. Some people say that even 3 inch deep pots will do but I don’t. You want your tomato plant to have plenty of room to grow healthy roots and, as far as I am concerned, even 5 inches isn’t enough to grow tomoatoes in. And so, my suggestion is gallon-size pots are best.
Speaking of pots—the truth is I don’t use them anymore. I grow a lot of vegetables in what are called “earth boxes” and have the greatest growing success growing all kinds of vegetables in them. Since I’ve turned into a patio farmer these days and do not have the sun or the space to grow a garden in my yard, these boxes are truly the next best thing. You can easily find them on the internet and I strongly recommend that you check them out.
While tomatoes do not need great soil to grow great in, I do not use garden soil for growing them in pots because garden soil can develop drainage problems so I use potting mix. Potting mix feeds plants and always drains as it should. The only other thing is, along with heat—lots of sunshine—tomatoes are heavy drinkers and so especially if you’re growing in smaller pots, you have to water daily. This is usually not true if you’re growing in the ground but still you can never neglect tomatoes for very long.
That’s about it. Tomatoes are easy to grow as long as they get sun and water. Growing them truly saves you money with today’s supermarket prices as high as it is, and you won’t have to eat those cardboard tasting things they call tomatoes in the store. With this in mind, here’s one of my favorite salads—the recipe is simple.
Choose a medium to large tomato
Open a 7 oz. can of whole Ortega peppers (Note: Unfold the peppers and stretch out on
paper towel to drain. Do not neglect to take a second
paper towel to drain top. You want your Ortega
peppers be free of any and all of the “gook” they’re
soaked in or else they lose taste dramatically.)
Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces
Chop the Ortega peppers into bite size pieces
Mix in bowl
Pour in Olive Oil
Add sea salt to taste and a pinch of garlic salt
Mix again and you have a simple but great treat in store.
(I like to add two or three splashes of wine vinegar too but this is optional).
The above recipe is for one serving. Just double up for two and so forth.