T is for Tomato

You might already know that one of the tastiest and sweetest varieties of tomatoes is an orange tomato called Sungold.  A relatively new red cherry tomato called Sweet Aperitif also scores highly on the "brix scale", which measures the sweetness of fruit.

 "Sugardrop" is a newcomer claimed to be sweeter than a peach, but for now only sold commercially by supermarkets - nothing to stop you drying the seeds for next year, though, is there? 

Want free tomato plants? Normally you pinch out the extra stems which grow on your plant, but you can let them grow a bit bigger, then nip them off and plant them immediately in soil. It does work, and you get a free tomato plant which will also produce fruit. This can be done again and again and again.

Are they good for you?  YES! Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which helps protect against cancer, and this effect is even stronger when they are cooked.  Please note this doesn't mean eating more pizza, however! 

Tomatoes also help maintain bone mass and can slow the onset of cataracts and macular degeneration - they're a no-brainer if you want to eat your way to health.

For beef tomatoes, try growing the large "Marmande"; for plum tomatoes try "Rosa"; and there is always the tried and tested "Gardener's Delight". But let's not forget "Black Cherry" and heirloom varieties like the multi-coloured "Cherokee". Lots to experiment with and also EAT!

Your tomatoes are ready to harvest when they come off the vine easily without tugging. If they need ripening further, pop them in a brown paper bag with a banana. Don't put them in the fridge - this impairs their flavour.

Finally , did you know Heinz Tomato Sauce is manufactured so that it pours at exactly 0.028mph? Now you do!  

Enjoy growing tomatoes this year, everyone!
 ​Did you know tomatoes were originally yellow, not red?  And they’re really a fruit, not a vegetable?

Tomatoes are from the same family of plants as potatoes – the nightshade family – and because both are susceptible to blight, it’s not recommended to plant them together.  

You can grow tomatoes in a greenhouse, on a windowsill and even outside, especially if your plot or garden gets a lot of sun.  I find cherry tomatoes are best for growing outside as the smaller fruits are quicker to ripen.  Use canes to support your tomato plants, as a vine they will scramble along horizontally if left to their own devices.

Just like potatoes, tomatoes originate from central and South America, and were brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 1590s. 

At first they were called 'golden apples', but we know them today as 'tomato' due to their Spanish name derived from the Aztec 'Nahuatl'.  To begin with they were grown in Europe mainly for their decorative appearance, and incorrectly thought to be poisonous. In fact, the leaves are poisonous, but you know and I know the fruits taste great! 

After you see flowers emerge on your plants they will need weekly feeding with something like Tomorite. It's also very important to water your tomato plants regularly, they do not like to be left to dry out for a few days then flooded. Little and often is best.

The red tomatoes which are now so familiar to us all came about due to the discovery of a mutation which would make tomatoes ripen evenly – but in producing an even red colour, the original sweetness and taste of tomatoes was reduced.  Thanks to experts this has been corrected and there are now 10,000 varieties to choose from.