All you green thumbs and plant whisperers, this is for you!
On the first veggie night, the Miller Family gave each of us a special heritage tomato plant. The Tomato Challenge is on to see who can produce the prettiest, the largest or most creative tasty tomatoes in London.
Give your plant a cute catchy name, nurture it, water it, and eat it, but before you do, send your photos in throughout the summer to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your description and your progress to enter the contest. Winner will be announced come September 1st. Winner will receive one of my giveaway cookbooks.
What is your favourite tomato name? Either being tantalizing, intriguing or just plain tickles the funny bone, I am partial to Jethro-Tall or Ruby Red, or how about “Tom-Tom the Tomato Mawn” (Jamaican accent required..). If you could name a tomato variety yourself what would it be?
It seems tomato plants need to move and sway in the breeze, to develop strong stems. Provide a breeze by turning a fan on them for 5-10 minutes twice a day.
Tomatoes love heat. Cover the soil area with black or red plastic or mulch. Mulching does conserve water and prevents the soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on the plants. Those extra degrees of warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes.
Bury tomato plants deep in the planter than they come in the pot, all the way up to a few top leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems.
Once the tomato plants are about 3′ tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1′ of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them. Spraying weekly with compost tea also seems to be effective at warding off fungus diseases.
Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.
Water your potted tomato plant daily when it is fully mature and on warm summer days. Stop watering when you see liquid emerging from the bottom of the pot into the plastic tray beneath the pot. Give plants a gentle shake when blooms begin arriving to encourage pollination.
Liquid Fertilizer. Some gardeners create their own liquid fertilizers by soaking bags of aged compost in water and straining the resulting liquid. Garden centers also offer organic liquid formulas based on fish emulsion or seaweed. Liquid fertilizers are especially useful for feeding vegetables by applying it to the plants themselves rather than the soil. The method, known as foliar feeding, quickly delivers nutrients to the plants through its leaves. The Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening recommends liquid fertilizers for container-grown vegetables and for mid-season feeding of vegetables, such as pole beans and tomatoes, that bear crops over a period of several weeks.
Periodically position the limbs of your tomato plant over the appropriate part of the cage as your plant grows. Control pests by mixing 1 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp. liquid dish detergent. Mix with 1 cup water and pour into a spray mist bottle. Spray this mixture every 10 days to control aphids, mites, scales and other insect pests.
SPAGHETTI WITH FRESH TOMATOES
- 8 medium tomatoes
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 T chopped fresh parsley
- 1 small bunch basil
- 1 tsp salt
- spaghetti for 4
Peel tomatoes. Chop and seed. Let drain. Combine oil, garlic, parsley, basil and salt. Add tomatoes and mix well. Cover and set aside at room temperature. Cook spaghetti. Drain, place in pasta bowls and pour tomato mixture over, toss well. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Good Luck Everyone! L.L
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