Here are some REALLY good reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes. Read “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook. Or be convinced by these excerpts from the NY Times book review…
Daniel Barry for The New York Times
“South Florida, where nearly all of America’s winter tomatoes are grown, is nearly…(an)…alien…environment for farming. It’s insane that tomatoes are grown there at all.
“Florida’s sandy soil, Mr. Estabrook writes, is as devoid of plant nutrients as a pile of moon rocks. “Florida growers may as well be raising their plants in a sterile hydroponic medium.”
He continues, witheringly: “To get a successful crop, they pump the soil full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.” Migrant workers are coated with these chemicals too. The toll that’s taken on them, in the form of birth defects, cancer and other ailments, is hideous to observe and should fill those who eat Florida tomatoes with shame.
And all this for what? Hard, tasteless, uniform green balls that barely dent when they fall off a truck at 60 miles per hour and that must be gassed to achieve the sick-pink hue they present in supermarkets.
Each month we want to share with you a fabulous and easy recipe that will allow you to use your own homegrown vegetables! It can be so satisfying and delicious to use your own home-grown vegetables and fruit in a recipe! And even if your vegetables aren’t planted yet, pick up some fresh veggies at your local farmer’s market or local produce stand!
Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup
• 4-6 cups of cherry tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 medium sized onions, cut into large pieces
• 2 large garlic cloves, minced
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2/3 cup heavy cream
• ½ cup fresh basil leaves, divided
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp. dried oregano
• 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the cut onions, cherry tomatoes, oregano, ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves (whole) and salt and pepper to taste on a small roasting pan. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes, onions and herbs, and toss to coat.
Place the pan in the oven and roast about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and blistered. Remove from oven and pour into a medium to large size sauce pan. Turn the burner on medium-low. Add the minced garlic and chicken stock, and remainder of fresh basil.
Using a counter top blender or an immersion blender, blend the vegetables to the consistency you prefer – chunky, thin, or in between. Once its blended the way you like it, add the parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Stir to blend and heat through. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Although some parts of the U.S. are still experiencing winter, other parts are seeing signs of cool spring weather on its way! So what are some suitable vegetables to start planting first?
Radishes, lettuces, beets, peas and carrot seeds are just a few you can begin to plant 2-4 weeks before the last frost. For the north this would be around early May and for the south mid-April.
Parsnips, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage and onions are other veggies to consider planting. Grow dark greens such as Swiss chard, kale, collards, and spinach.
What qualifies a veggie as “cool-weather?” Most can withstand light frost and nighttime temperatures above 40 degrees. However, hot temps above 80 degrees will cause them to taste bitter.
If you have a small space for planting, such as a deck or patio that receives plenty of sunlight – these would be great spots for container gardens. Use any type of container you wish as long as there is a hole(s) on the bottom for drainage. Also, don’t use any old dirt, use a good bag of soil mix that contains fertilizer and one that holds extra water.
Once the weather becomes warmer reuse your containers to plant warm-season veggies such as tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
Not ready to abandon the pleasures of gardening just because fall is approaching? Here are a few ideas to keep your hand in and to make sure your green thumb stays green.
Planting Bulbs in the Fall The most obvious solution is to consider planting bulbs in the fall for flowers that will bloom in the spring. Dormant over the summer months, bulbs break dormancy during low temperatures so that growth can resume in fall and early winter. As a general guideline, you can plant your bulbs between mid-August until the soil freezes depending on the species.
Planting Vegetables in the Fall Planting a vegetable garden in the fall may even be easier than gardening during the summer. Think about it: none of those perspiration-drenched days during hot and Continue reading →
Would you like to make growing your own fresh vegetables easier? Then give a thought to raised bed gardening. Gardening in contained soil higher than surface soil provides a number of advantages over growing plants in level ground.
Easily Managed Plots Raised bed gardening means planting vegetables within smaller sized plots of contained earth.These smaller bed layouts are great for those who have limited room and can be more compatible with today’s busy lifestyles. Rectangular raised beds approximately 3 feet in width make all areas of the bed easily accessible. The length of the bed depends on your needs and your landscape. For more yield, some gardeners plant multiple raised beds with paths between them to allow for easier reach and easy Continue reading →
These days, many households are growing their their own fresh, seasonal vegetables in their very own gardens. If you’re contemplating starting your own vegetable garden, here are some basic tips you ought to know.
Grow what you like to eat. Plant a garden that will yield the homegrown vegetables that you know you and your family can enjoy. Don’t over plant. Don’t spend your time and effort growing things you’ll just give away.
Know your vegetables. Do some research. Match what you want to grow with your area and climate for best results.
If you have plenty of time and space, a manageable garden is about 10 feet by 10 feet. Design your garden with long rows or partitioned into grids. Sketch a diagram where Continue reading →
You’ve decided you want to try your hand at vegetable gardening. Probably, your first instinct is to grow something you like to eat, something that tastes best when it’s fresh, and something you’d like to have in abundance.
Congratulations. You’ve already taken the first step toward a successful vegetable garden. Grow only what you like.
Pick a location. Vegetables need lots of sunshine, so look for an area that receives plenty of morning sun and more sun than shade all day.
Check the soil. Prepare a plot of flat ground that will receive full sun nearly all day. If you’re planting in your backyard or anywhere outdoors, you need to find out what kind Continue reading →
Even gardeners who aren’t gardeners love to plant tomatoes! Seeds and seedlings are readily available. Tomatoes are easy to grow in large and small backyard plots, or in a pot on a balcony. Perhaps it’s because tomatoes appeal to almost everyone…in a fresh salad, in spaghetti sauce or just atop a cheeseburger.
So, here are some basics Tomato plants can send out roots all along their stems. Strong roots are a good thing, so you should plant seedlings deeper than normal; as high up as the top set of leaves. These extra roots will help the plant grow quickly. Dig a hole deep enough to bury most of the plant. Some gardeners even dig a tunnel or trench and lay the plant sideways Continue reading →
Herbs are easy to grow, indoors and out, winter and summer, for decoration, aroma or for cooking. The biggest problem you may face in growing herbs is deciding what you want to grow.
Herb Types As a gardener, you need to know that herbs are either annual, biennial or perennial. Annuals bloom one season and then die. Biennials live for two seasons, and bloom the second season only. Once established, perennials bloom each season.
Annuals include anise, basil, chervil, coriander, and dill; parsley and caraway are biennials; perennials include chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, tarragon, and thyme.
Herbs for Cooking If you’re interested in culinary herbs, but not sure what you might want to grow, survey Continue reading →
It’s probably no stretch to assert that the most popular vegetable to grow is the tomato. There must be literally tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of tomatoes grown at home across the US every year… in large and small backyard plots, on suburban decks and patios, on city balconies and rooftops. It’s probably because seeds and seedlings readily available, relatively easy to grow, and appeal to everyone from the amateur to the avid gardener.
But just growing them is not the point, is it? Tomatoes are great to eat in so many ways. You can find nearly 2,000 recipes on the internet from the cultures of countries around the world. A summer staple when fresh, tomatoes can be enjoyed year round through preserving by canning and freezing, in sauces from barbeque to spaghetti, Continue reading →