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Growing Tomatoes Guide

16:36 Mon 24th May 2010 |

We all know that the quality of your cooking relies heavily on the quality of the raw produce. One way to get the freshest produce is to do it yourself. Growing your own food can one of the best ways to keep a complete control over what you eat – knowing exactly how your food has been treated can be invaluable.

Tomato History – You say Tomato; I say Wolf Peach.

Tomatoes are of the flowering plant family “solanaceae,” – which they share with the likes of the potato. They also share a family with henbane, mandrake and deadly nightshade – a reason why, when they were introduced to England, that many refused to eat them.

In Germany at this time there was a strong link between the use of Deadly Nightshade and the practice of lycanthropy –thus it gained the name “Wolf Peach,” which is equally unappetizing.

Of course, that was then, most of the western world cannot get enough of tomatoes now!

Tomatoes Bursting With Flavour

History aside there is a knack to growing really good tomatoes. They are easy to grow and they do tolerate a varied range of soil types – but this is no reason to leave them to fend for themselves!

Start your seeds indoors, tomato seeds will tend to germinate best at around 20 degrees centigrade. Use a high quality seed raising mix and water gently with a spray bottle. This is so you do not disturb the seed.

Expose them to sunlight as soon as possible to help them grow strong – this gives them the best chance when you begin to pot them individually. In these pots make sure the soil gives good drainage as really soggy soil will be an issue. Use some sulphate of potash, watering it in, once a week will help keep away pests, disease and encourage flowering.

It takes about six weeks before they can go into the garden. Make sure you are prepared – if you are growing tall vines have stakes ready spaced where you would like the plants to be. This was you don’t harm any roots by putting the stake in afterwards. Also, you must plan where to have your tomatoes because of their need for full and direct sunlight.

The tomatoes will have many fibrous roots underneath the soil – these should be protected from drying out by applying mulch to the surface of the soil. Seaweed is known to be particularly good mulch. Continue to water in sulphate of potash (about a tablespoon per plant) to make sure you have happy tomatoes!

Harvesting for the Perfect Tomato

For the perfect tomato – pluck them from the vine when they are pink. This way you can allow the warmth of the house to ripen them. It is not the sunlight which turns them to the beautiful red we like to see – it is in fact the warmth. Put your tomatoes in a bowl, somewhere dry, warm without sunlight.
When these tomatoes are bright, lush red then it is, of course, time to eat.

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