Today, I have a contribution from a freelance writer named Jackie. It is all about growing tomatoes. Even if the Amish don’t farm vegetables for profit, most have a garden to feed their family. This information could be helpful to many of you who are interested in gardening for yourselves.
Tomatoes: A Guide to Growing the Healthiest of Foods
The humble tomato forms a part of a great many of our meals from the base ingredient in pasta sauces including pizza sauce, to a raw ingredient for salads. It’s a key ingredient in Italian and Mexican dishes to name just two global cuisines. It also happens to be one of the healthiest vegetables in the world and is even healthier than the apple. They are low calorie, full of antioxidants, and are full of both potassium and vitamins. Furthermore, they are a fairly easy to grow vegetable you can plant and harvest in pretty much any part of America – well, Alaska might be a bit tricky.
Siting Your Tomato Patch
The most important element to growing tomatoes is siting – get it wrong and they just will not grow. Tomatoes require a combination of warm sunshine, regular water, and good loamy soil with an acidic ph value. Some of these elements can be manipulated by growing indoors, using growing lights and with irrigation. However, when you site your tomato patch, it’s best to pick an area which receives over 6 hours of sunshine a day during the growing season.
Planting Your Tomatoes
When you plant your tomatoes will depend upon which region of America you live in. The ideal time is 6 weeks prior to the last frost of the season, which can be difficult to predict and will vary from location to location. Plant them indoors or in a greenhouse if you live in one of the colder regions of the country or outside in direct sunlight if you live in a warmer, southern region. After initially planting the tomatoes, water them more heavily for 2 weeks and ensure they receive 2 inches of water each week thereafter.
Complementary Plants & Pest Control
All plants attract bugs and insects. The tomato plant, for example, is not just delicious to us, but also to aphids, white flies, mosquitoes, flea beetles and blossom-end rot. Balancing these problems and the environment is a tricky dilemma, however, there are complementary plants which can achieve this. For example, basil will repel most of these tomato eating pests. You can also grow tomatoes with lettuce, mint, chives, and carrots for example. Even marigolds are a good pairing. In doing so, you not only protect your tomato plant, but you grow herbs and vegetables for delicious meals.
Growing Sustainable Tomatoes
During the growing season, it is possible to use pesticides and fertilizers if you wish. However, as noted in the above section, there are healthier, more ecological alternatives. Growing your own tomatoes is one small part of changing how we grow and consume food. The documentary, Sustainable, goes into more depth about how this works, but in short, a good use of biology and traditional ideas about growing crops can make food more local, less expensive, and healthier for us. Seasonal is good, having bread with just 5 ingredients instead of 60 chemicals, is even better. Growing your own tomatoes could be a great way to start something amazing.