Red alert: May looks set to get pretty juicy with British Tomato Week starting from 16th - 22nd May.
So let's celebrate our favourite vegetable/fruit/whatever-it-is in all her fine glowing glory. Are your veg growing skills leaving you red in the face? Maybe you just want to eat a bit healthier without sacrificing your taste buds?Here’s some top gardening tips, tricks, and random tomato facts so you won’t be looking like a squashed tomato.
- The infamous fruit or veg debate
Let’s start with the inevitable: just what on earth is a tomato? It’s succulent, sweet, and juicy like a fruit but you can’t top your cereal with it or have it on ice cream (gross). Oddly enough this argument eventually reached the US supreme court in 1887! So why all the kafuffle about the identity of a tomato? The reason behind it was money: if our fave red tommy was seen to be a member of the veg gang, they would be eligible to be taxed when imported. They’re technically classed as ‘fruit of the vine’ like peas, cucumbers, and beans. Whatever tomatoes are, the most important thing is they’re one of your healthy five-a-day foods and super tasty.
- They’re full of all the good stuff
Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, E, and C as well as being rich in potassium which makes them perfect for topping up your energy levels. Scientists have been studying the positive outcomes of a diet rich in tomatoes for years, after it became apparent that they may be linked with reducing blood pressure, preventing cancer, and off-setting heart disease. While most scientists say the studies are still ongoing, they all seem to agree that we all should be eating more tomatoes. Talk about plant power!
- They’re tricky to grow
These little toms need plenty of sunlight to grow tall and often require support from rods to prevent their vines straining under their weight when they start to ripen up more. British weather is a harsh mistress to our tomatoes, with temperatures spiking up and falling down. Conservatories, greenhouses, balconies, and very sunny window sills (without curtains) are perfect for helping tomatoes sprout up. They need temperatures to be roughly 15 degrees Celsius at night and a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius during the day to flourish so it’s easy to see why so many decided against growing these delicate flowers. However difficult they may be, the versatile tomato will give you so much more freedom with cooking than any of your other crops. With the right research and gardening equipment, you’ll be producing the richest, reddest, and ripe tomatoes in no time!
- They’re the bee’s knees
Tomato plants LOVE bees.Those little fuzzy flying mini beasts pollinate these crops in particular to help them to grow in to tasty, tangy toms. Having trouble convincing the bees to help out with your gardening? Plant a variety of seeds which will blossom in to the types of flowers they’re most attracted towards, to direct them towards your red beauties.
- They make food so much better
Never has there been a plant as versatile as a tomato. You can eat them raw in a sandwich with some cheese, you can chop them in to chunks to go on top of a pizza, or slice them thinly with a coating of garlic and cook them slow for a sundried effect… the possibilities are endless. Tinned tomatoes are a great base for making your own pasta sauce from scratch while cherry tomatoes make a sweet little snack with some salad or when cooked, a nice filling for a stuffed mushrooms recipe. Is it just me or are you now feeling hungry too?