Grow Your Self Podcast
Published June 10, 2020 by Nicole Burke

Episode 22: Truth About Tomatoes

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Learn the Truth About Tomatoes in Episode 22 of Grow Your Self Podcast

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How do you fix a broken tomato?

Tomato paste

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing you shouldn’t put it in a fruit salad.....

humor is doing it anyway.

The Truth About Tomatoes on the Grow Your Self Podcast
Truth About Tomatoes on the Grow Your Self Podcast by Nicole Burke

Hello!

Summer is here, it is time to grow yourself.

Don’t let another season pass without starting your kitchen garden, go check out the Kickstart Your Kitchen Garden Workshop and dig into our entire Gardenary site while you're over there.

We have tons of exciting things happening this month, we are celebrating the official launch of Gardenary. You're going to meet coaches and see all of the garden coach businesses around the country. We hope you’ll be inspired by our amazing articles and resources — go check it out at www.gardenary.com. Now, let's find out the truth about your tomatoes.

When you go through Lowe’s, Home Depot and other stores you see tomato plants out there and they're going to be absolutely tempting for you to buy them, and continue to grow them.

But, let me start with a little reading from a special book; “Kitchen Garden Revival," have you ever heard of it? I wrote it and it's out right now, go grab it. 

In the book, I teach you the unique way to classify your plants, by plant family. I'm going to tell you more about the Solanaceae family, I'm going to read from the book right now. 

"If you've seen a garden photo you've almost certainly seen a picture of this family, the quintessential kitchen garden harvest always includes loads of tomatoes, for good reason. They’re the crown jewel for the kitchen gardener.

Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae family which also includes; eggplant, peppers, potatoes and tomatillos. These plants love to grow in warm to hot temperatures and receive loads of sunshine. They have deep roots, so they prefer a bigger garden, nearly all of them need support, the plants in this family are hungry for loads of nutrients they'll take whatever your soil gives them, and still want more, and then some more. Thank you.

Most are also in need of pruning, and weekly care during the growing season. So, don’t plant these veggies just before you head out of town for three months, no matter how much work they require time, and today on the Grow Yourself podcast, you're going to find out why you might want to grow some yourself." 

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Tomatoes Are in Almost All American Recipes

Let's dig into this super interesting topic, I joke with my kids that basically every meal I cook for them has tomatoes in it; pizza, hamburgers, spaghetti, tacos, nachos, BLT’s and chicken nuggets with ketchup. It's like we have tomatoes, carbs and dairy in every meal, and I know some of you guys might be hating on me for some of those things I just listed, but you know what, that's what we eat.

We love our tomatoes, but they're usually packaged up — so you're going to find out why in this episode. Tomatoes are one of the world's most consumed vegetable crops. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, around 340 billion pounds, or 170 million tons of fresh and processed tomatoes were produced around the world in 2014. The harvested area covered is 12 million acres of farmland. The world production of tomatoes has consistently increased over the last 20 years since 2000, growing more than 54% from 2000 to 2014. 

Can you guess which countries produce the most? 

China is on top, followed by the United States, and then India. Other major players are in the European Union and Turkey. These top five tomato producers supply 70% of the global production, this is key and you'll find out why. Mexico is actually the largest exporter of tomatoes in the whole world, followed by the Netherlands, and Spain. These three countries account for a quarter of the world's total tomato exports. 

The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Where Tomatoes Are Grown Around the World

Let's dig into this super interesting topic, I joke with my kids that basically every meal I cook for them has tomatoes in it; pizza, hamburgers, spaghetti, tacos, nachos, BLT’s and chicken nuggets with ketchup. It's like we have tomatoes, carbs and dairy in every meal, and I know some of you guys might be hating on me for some of those things I just listed, but you know what, that's what we eat.

We love our tomatoes, but they're usually packaged up — so you're going to find out why in this episode. Tomatoes are one of the world's most consumed vegetable crops. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, around 340 billion pounds, or 170 million tons of fresh and processed tomatoes were produced around the world in 2014. The harvested area covered is 12 million acres of farmland. The world production of tomatoes has consistently increased over the last 20 years since 2000, growing more than 54% from 2000 to 2014. 

Can you guess which countries produce the most? 

China is on top, followed by the United States, and then India. Other major players are in the European Union and Turkey. These top five tomato producers supply 70% of the global production, this is key and you'll find out why. Mexico is actually the largest exporter of tomatoes in the whole world, followed by the Netherlands, and Spain. These three countries account for a quarter of the world's total tomato exports. 

The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Where'd the Word, 'Tomato' Come From?

Where's this word tomato come from? 

Tomatoes came from South and Central America. I referenced this in my book, the word tomato comes from the Aztec word; tomatl. There’s been many names for the tomato. To the French the tomato was called une pomme. So there are several theories about that name and some say that the tomato was confused with the Mandrake, and the Mandrake was an aphrodisiac, as far back as the Bible, at least that's what they thought. I think you're gonna find a lot of times people thought foods were aphrodisiac’s. It's like people were crossing their fingers like, “please let this work the magic,” so they thought that the tomato was the apple of love. It was also called the Pomodoro in Italian which is a golden apple. This may suggest they think that perhaps the first tomatoes that came to Europe from South America were yellow.

Tomatoes are generally good for you, there have roughly 18 calories and 95% water. You get a little protein, carbs, sugar, and some fiber, all in one fruit. One tomato has about 30% of your daily intake of vitamin C, along with potassium, and vitamin K, which is great for your bones and for your blood clotting. Tomatoes give you the folate, vitamin B9 and something called lycopene, it's been studied for special health effects. Along with beta carotene, that's usually more associated with carrots, but it's in tomatoes too. 

No bad things, and tomatoes, just good things and some things that you can only get in tomatoes. The In the United States, approximately 35 billion pounds of tomatoes were produced in 2015, 8% was the total production for fresh tomatoes, those have much higher prices. More than 92% of those tomatoes were processed tomatoes, meaning becoming your pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, or salsa. The total in the US was 1.2 billion for fresh tomatoes and 1.39 billion for processed tomatoes. 

That's a lot of tomatoes!

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The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

How Good are Tomatoes for You?

Here are the nutrients in a small (100-gram) raw tomato

  • Calories: 18
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams


Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C. This vitamin is an essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
  • Potassium. An essential mineral, potassium is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart disease prevention
  • Vitamin K1. Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health.
  • Folate (vitamin B9). One of the B vitamins, folate is important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It’s particularly important for pregnant women
  • The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:
  • Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects
  • Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
  • Naringenin. Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice
  • Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels and

Nutrition facts from: (1Trusted Source)

The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

How Are Tomatoes Produced in the United States

Can you guess where most tomatoes are grown in the US? They're mostly grown in Florida and California. These two states account for at least 70% of the whole US tomato production. California alone, accounts for 95% of the processed tomato production, so the sauces and salsas you’re buying most likely came from California. 

Florida actually holds the ranking for producing the most fresh tomatoes, the state is going through a pretty big decline in terms of how many tomatoes they're producing for the US. Starting in 2000 production had fallen consistently so they were doing 1.5 billion pounds, it dropped to 950 million pounds in 2015, a 40% decrease. The harvested acreage in Florida dropped from 39,000 acres to 33,000 acres. The average yield in Florida was about 40,000 pounds of tomatoes per acre. But, that dropped down again to 28,000 pounds per acre. This lower production was attributed by banning a fumigant, it's called methyl bromide — they don't allow them to use that anymore with tomato production, which is not necessarily a bad thing. 

In 2015, 2.7 billion pounds of fresh tomatoes were produced in the US, most of those were being used inside the Country, but more are still being brought in from other parts, like Mexico and Canada. 

In California, the fresh tomatoes are produced from February to October. Then, the fresh tomatoes are grown in Florida from October to June, peaking from April to May and again from November to January. This is also our peak time for my company, “Rooted Garden,” in Houston. Other top producing states are; Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. If you notice these states are more southern so they get more sunshine and more heat.

Florida still ranks first. There's been an incline in Mexico, over the last few years we've had a lot of competition with Mexico, and this is part of the reason why less tomatoes are being produced in the US. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), eliminated the trade barriers and made year round imports possible from Mexico, around that time, the Mexican government did some smart things on their end to increase the production. They supported a lower cost of production, and basically made Mexican tomatoes more competitive in the US market. If you're finding tomatoes in the winter in your store they’re probably all from Mexico. 

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The History of Tomatoes

Let's get into the history of tomatoes, I love knowing where my food's coming from or at least I'm starting to love it. I think it makes food more interesting and less about just eating, you know what I'm saying?

Tomatoes originated in the Andes, what's now called Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador they grew wild. 

I talked about this in my Soil Chapter in Kitchen Garden Revival. Tomatoes were growing wild and being eaten with no fear, these people knew what they were doing with their tomatoes so 700 A.D. — a long, long, long time ago, and then around the 16th century, 1000 years later, when Europeans showed up in South America they were like; “Oh wow! Shiny, bright fruit,” and they took them back to Europe. 

So throughout Southern Europe they started growing them but people didn't quite know what to do with this new plant, I thought this was so interesting and really speaks to the human situation, a lot of people didn't know what was poisonous or not. Tomato plants were first seen as an ornamental, they’re pretty right? That's one of the reasons why we love growing tomatoes, and they have held on until the enlightenment to cold. Botanist relied on a 1000-year-old categorical framework in Europe established by a guy named, Galen, a Physician who lived in ancient Rome. He had kind of categorized everything, but then all of a sudden they started seeing all these new plants, especially from the Americas; corn blueberries, chocolate and the naturalist said these don't belong anywhere in our system.

The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Why Did People Think Tomatoes Were Poisonous?

Galen's system that they trusted as a perfect source of truth made them scared of tomatoes. It also made them question the Ancients, that they hadn't actually known everything — which meant the world was in some sense, unknowable. The fear of tomatoes being poisonous was somewhat accurate, the leaves, stems and all other parts of the tomato are in fact poisonous. They also have a similar appearances to the Mandrake, which is also poisonous.

A couple funny things happened along the way. One is that most people in Europe during that time, wealthier people especially, were using plates and flatware that had lead in them. So, as they were eating their tomatoes, the acid on the plates would interact with the plates and release the lead, this would poison the people eating them.

This made the Europeans think the tomato was poisonous, when really it was the plates. Interestingly enough, the poor people and people with less money who didn't have these fancy plates were actually not harmed, so they'd be eating their tomatoes from a wooden plate and loving it. Only the lower income groups in Europe were the ones who got to enjoy tomatoes.

They also has another fear, assuming that tomatoes turned people into werewolves. If you watched witch trials or other things from that time, they’d be accusing all these women of being witches and they had created the story that women would eat tomatoes and it would turn them into werewolves.

So, in case you're ever blamed for being a little vicious you can always just say was, it's not your fault, it’s just the tomato.

As they begin to grow, especially in the United States they started seeing the tomato hornworm, which if you've experienced this is in fact a little evil and scary. This horrible, ugly, huge Caterpillar loves to eat tomatoes. When they saw these they decided okay, sure poisonous. All of these things combined made people a little bit scared of tomatoes until the the mid-1800’s. 

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Rising Popularity of the Tomato

Some of the change happened because of the five letter word P-I-Z-Z-A!

Is there a better invention in the world? Pizza came about in the 1800’s thanks to the amazing Italians, and made its way into the US thanks to Italian immigrants. There is a story, created by a restauranteur in Naples, to celebrate the visit of Queen Margherita, the first Italian monarch since Napoleon conquered Italy. The restauranteur made the pizza from three ingredients that represented the colors of the new Italian flag; red, white and green. The red was the tomato sauce, the white was the mozzarella cheese, and the green that was the basil topping. The margarita pizza was born and is still the standard for pizza.

Pizza in Italy clearly made tomatoes worth eating and taking the chance of being poisoned. But, even over here in the US before pizza, Thomas Jefferson was growing tomatoes in the 1700’s on his Monticello plot. He was okay with growing them, even though most people considered them poisonous at the time. In 1820, a New Jersey Colonel by the name of Robert Johnson was trying to win over skeptics, he stood on the steps of the courthouse in New Jersey, ate a tomato and stood there long enough so people could see that he in fact, did not drop dead. All of these things came together and by the 1850’s, pretty much everybody was convinced in the US that tomatoes were worth dying for.

By the 1890’s, Joseph Campbell, you know, Campbell Soup — he found that tomatoes canned well and began marketing condensed tomato soup. That’s why we have all that amazing artwork. All of this is coming together to make tomatoes wildly popular. Now we have tomatoes everywhere.

The Truth About Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Are Tomatoes a Fruit or Vegetable?

By definition, a fruit is the edible plant structure of a mature ovary of a flowering plant, usually eaten raw; some are sweet like apples, but the ones that are not sweet such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. are commonly called vegetables. Botanists claim that a fruit is any fleshy material that covers a seed or seeds where as a horticulturists point of view would pose that the tomato is a vegetable plant. Until the late 1800's the tomato was classified as a fruit to avoid taxation, but this was changed after a Supreme Court ruling that the tomato is a vegetable and should be taxed accordingly.

When it is all said and done, the history of the tomato has classified as a poisonous beautiful plant, a tax-avoiding fruit, and a taxable vegetable. Nonetheless, the tomato is the most popular vegetable in America and enjoyed by millions all over the world.

What's the Difference Between a Conventional and Organic Tomato?

A study where they weighed out and checked on conventionally grown tomatoes versus the organic kinds showed that the organic tomatoes were 40% smaller than those grown by conventional techniques. They also had accumulated more compounds like sugars, vitamin C, and their pigment molecules, like lycopene. Even though they’re smaller, they were packed with more nutrients. What’s interesting is that those are stress related resistance compounds and nutrients. Essentially, what's happening here is that the tomatoes that are being grown organically are getting attacked more, so they're having pests attack them, they're having to fight weather, they're having to push through situations with less fertilizers, or less strong outside sources to help them grow. What happens in those situations is that the plants themselves are responding to that stress, and they're creating more sugars, more vitamins, more lycopene, and more antioxidants. How cool is that? 

When you eat those plants that are grown organically, you get those good things. I love this because it's also a sign of the goodness we get when we go through hard things it's kind of like lifting weights, right?It’s like when you build your muscles, you do really hard work and then in turn your muscle in response to that stress grows stronger. So, that's what happens when we eat organic tomatoes we're literally getting to benefit from the stress that those plants have been under because they've had to fight organically. So cool right? I think so.

And here's another reason to eat organic tomatoes because they are number ten on the EWG’s dirty dozen, the Environmental Working Group does a dirty dozen list every year, and in 2020 tomatoes were number ten. That means they found the highest traces of sprays, residues, fertilizers, and herbicides on those fruits. When you're eating them and they haven't been organically grown that’s what you’re getting, all that stuff in your body, too. It's kind of a bummer when you're trying to eat something good for you and you get bad stuff for you at the same time, don't you think? 

Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List for 2020

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

What's the Difference Between Processed and Fresh Tomatoes?

Now, let's talk about fresh versus processed. This is really intriguing to me, most of the processed tomatoes are all grown in California and then the fresh ones are grown around the US. 

One of the first and most important things to know is a processed tomato is going to be harvested ripe and red, with a very short window to pick it. They have less than six hours before the tomato is in the can. They have a very streamlined process to let the fruit get to the best ripeness, the best taste and then boom in six hours that thing has to be in the can, ready to ship. 

When you’re getting fresh market tomatoes, those red tomatoes that you're seeing at the store in the produce section — those were almost always picked green, not ripened on the vine. Then, some are even gassed with this natural ripening hormone called ethylene to promote consistent ripening. If you've ever grown your own, you know that tomatoes don't all turn red at the same time, they slowly change at different paces. They now have tomatoes that say, “vine ripened,” we don’t know if that’s actually true to process.

If you live in California, you can be going down the freeway, passing tomatoes that are carrying tons and tons of tomatoes. So how do we get those tomatoes, even if they're not gassed, let's say they are picked pretty ripe. How do they get them from the farm to the store? 🏬

Tomatoes have been selectively bred for over 50 years, and they're really different than the kind that you would grow in your own garden. They've really narrowed it down to which tomatoes can make it over this long journey and this is pretty true for almost all trucked vegetables. They have to go to certain varieties that have thicker skin than fresh tomatoes and that can hold up under a lot of stress, and hang on with shelf life. 

Thicker skin tomatoes can actually survive the weight of 25,000 pounds of tomatoes, without suffering much damage. Tomatoes get piled up in trucks during the height of the season, California tomato growers can produce 2 billion pounds of tomatoes per week. That's 40,000 tomato trucks, each carrying 300,000 tomatoes, which is crazy. They harvest them in the summer, and don't cover the trucks, which would be great for watching.

More information about how tomatoes are transported in this article.

Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae Plant Family

Tomatoes are in the Solanaceae Family (or Nightshade)

This Solanaceae plant family, I like to say is for someone who has graduated out of like beginner gardener stage. Most people I think jump to tomatoes right away because they're so beautiful and the crown jewel of the garden. But, in general, tomatoes are more difficult because it’s kind of like running a marathon versus running a mile. In the garden, the leaves are the first things that come from all plants, so I find it's much easier to start with things like; kale, spinach, romaine, or herbs like basil and oregano. Start with those because you get to harvest the earliest thing which usually pops up in 30 to 40 days. Tomatoes are growing for about 65 to 90 days before you can harvest. When things take longer there's a greater chance that things can go wrong and there’s more work involved. 

Don't worry, I haven't given you all these scary statistics to not give you the step-by-step to grow your own. There's two types of tomato plants, there's the determinant, and indeterminate and this is kind of true for most vining plants, you can compare this also with cucumbers and beans, etc. 

Truth about Tomatoes on the Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Two Types of Tomatoes

The indeterminate basically means never ending. These are the vining type, a tomato that's going to produce tomatoes over and over again until frost comes. If you've seen the cover page of my book, Kitchen Garden Revival, or my garden, throughout that book you'll see my vining tomatoes going across my arch and throughout the three or four months of them growing in Chicago they almost reached from one side of the garden to the other. We're talking 10- to 15-feet or more of growth in one season. In Houston, where we rarely get frost we've had tomatoes that just never stop. They'll go all the way up a trellis and then back down. 


The other type of tomato is called a determinant, or non-vining, or bush tomato. These are planted center and grow to a certain height, probably five or six feet, and then they will stop and they'll produce their fruit all at once. This is generally a great kind of tomato to grow if you want to make tomato paste, tomato sauce, or salsa, because you can get a bunch of tomatoes all at once. Then you can harvest and prepare them all at once. I'd typically love to grow the vining types because I'm not a big kitchen person as you know, so I don't want to spend a lot of time doing processing, canning, and stuff like that. I just want to enjoy them fresh. With a vining type, I can pick a little, let it keep growing, pick a little bit more, etc. I might make a couple of jars of salsa along the way, but nothing too intense. You can decide which one is best for you and I'll talk about the supports for each, next. 

How to Grow Organic Tomatoes

So the Solanaceae family, as you heard this originated in South America so you can guess it likes warm and hot weather. The best temperature is ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You definitely don't want to plant a tomato before frost, I tried my hand at doing that here in Chicago and I lost two of my plants. In general, most gardeners that are conservative and don't have a greenhouse or cold frames will wait until all chance of frost has passed, and then they'll plant that tomato. 

I recommend starting directly in the garden with a plant, it can either be a plant you started yourself indoors or a great plant you buy from a local farmer or grower. Most plants you'd only plant up to the neck of the plant, meaning where the stem breaks from the roots, and that's where you place the soil line, but with tomatoes, you can actually dig a really deep hole and plant, even the leaves so the really neat thing about the leaves and the stem of the tomato is they will keep producing roots off of those. You can bury them the first one or two levels of leaves, then if you dig it up, you'll see that all those have produced new roots from them so get this really nice strong structure at the base, which you want because this plant is going to be producing a lot of fruit for you. 

Plant your tomatoes deeply, and the first thing you want your plant to eat is nitrogen, the nitrogen is going to give you a nice strong plant with good strong green leaves. You want to have a really nice main stock on your tomato plant, if a plant is already flowering and it's still tiny at the main stem, you definitely want to pinch those flowers off and give it time to get nice and strong in the center before it tries to do any production. 

When that main stem is really nice and thick you can start and you can start to see flowers, then you can start to feed your plant, phosphorus rich fertilizers. I've found the most success in tending my tomato plants at least once a week as they start to flower and fruit, giving them a little bit of phosphorus rich fertilizer right at the base, watering them really deeply, and then pruning a little bit. I prune from the bottom up taking the oldest leaves away, so that the plant can really focus on fruit production, which is the goal. 

Some organic phosphorus fertilizer sources are things like rock dust or soft phosphate, or even bone sources like bone meal or fish bone meal, generally the mineral sources are going to be cheaper and will last longer. Rock dust is really a great thing to use, I have also used chicken manure, I know not everybody is into doing animal products in the garden. But as you'll read in my book, I kind of think that's just the way nature works so I'm okay with it. You're going to feed and water your tomato plants well, and then let's talk about support. 

Should You Use a Tomato Cage?

If you're growing a bush tomato, you can use tomato cages. I personally don't love tomato cages because it makes it very hard for me to get in and tend the plant. I'd rather have my plants on the outside of a support structure so that I can get in there and prune, tend it and pick it. But if you're going to use a tomato cage, or you already have some, the only kind of tomatoes I would use them for would be bush tomatoes because those are only going to grow to say five or six feet. You definitely want to buy the biggest tomato cage you possibly can, even for the bush types. My preference, as you know, is metal trellises, I love using paneled trellises or arch trellises for my vining tomatoes. Reason being is I get to grow the plants on the outside of the trellis instead of a tomato cage, then I get to train the plant up the trellis. I'll just tie it up every single week when I tend it with water and fertilizer and prune it, and then just let it continue to grow up and be supported by the trellis.

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Grow Tomatoes on an Arch Trellis

So many people ask me about my arch trellis and I hope that you go forward if you are thinking about growing tomatoes around an arch trellis this summer. It's so fun and I think it's so beautiful. I didn't even mean to be known for doing that, I just thought it was a fun thing to do. But, in my book you'll see tons of tomatoes growing over arch trellises and a lot of our gardens especially mine. For my particular garden, especially the one pictured in the book, I have black cherry, sun gold, and Juliet tomatoes all growing in the front arch. Those are all cherry or grape tomatoes and personally, those are my favorite types of tomatoes to grow. Like I said, I'm not a big person on preparation for my kitchen duties.

I love cherry tomatoes, I can harvest a ton of them and cut them up and use them just like I would a big tomato, but I don't have to wait around so long for that big tomato to farm. That is another really cool, fun way to grow tomatoe

Grow Tomatoes Using Florida Weave Trellis

Another fun way to tomatoes is called a Florida weave. This is where you're going to set up a panel along the middle of your tomato plants, and then you'll plant tomatoes on either side. Then, you just weave the tomatoes in and out of twine or the panel itself as it grows up. I did this when we were in Houston and had tons of success, I grew 26 tomato plants or more and it grew tons of tomatoes. It was so fun, I love that method I just don't have the setup here to do it. If you have like a little bit more casual look to your kitchen garden the Florida weave is a super fun way to pack in a ton of tomato plants. 

The Truth about Tomatoes on Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke

Food Fight: Peppers Versus Tomatoes

Let’s finish up with a food fight we're going to have tomatoes versus peppers. Which one do you think is better for you? Do you have an idea? Well, let me tell you — both of them of course are very good for you, one has more sugar. Can you guess which one it is? It's pepper! The pepper has more sugar than the tomato, 50% more calories than tomatoes. It's just got more sweetness than tomatoes, it can't help itself. Tomatoes, actually have less fiber than peppers, peppers have 50% more fiber. So, they've got more sugar but also more fiber. Peppers have eight times the amount of vitamin C and beta carotene, and 15 times the vitamin E. So, when you add all that up, it sounds like the pepper is better than the tomato. However, the tomato has the antioxidant lycopene and as you learn today, the organic tomatoes have tons of it. So, if you want to have more antioxidants then tomatoes are going to be your thing. If you want to have less sugar and calories, then tomatoes are going to be your thing. But, if you want to have more fiber, then you’ve got to go for the pepper. 

Here's my free advice, personally, I think peppers are easier than tomatoes. Peppers are going to take up a lot less room, they don't demand quite as much, you don’t have to feed them quite as much and you don't have to trellis them as extensively. You do need a support for your peppers, but you don't have to trellis train and prune nearly as much as you do for your tomatoes. 

If you're looking for a quick win with tons of nutrition, I would say the peppers win, but if you're looking for a complete stunner in the garden, and something that is absolutely Instagrammable and super fun to learn how to grow, then I say go for the tomatoes. 

That's my unsolicited opinion, for the food fight. 

There you have it, tomatoes versus peppers — I would say probably a toss up on which one is actually healthier given the sugar content versus all the vitamins. Clearly, they're both really good for you. You get to decide if you want to grow both of them or just one of them. If you want to go for the more practical easier plant to grow, or the more stunner, the crown jewel of the kitchen garden, the tomato. 

Tomatoes are super fun to watch happen in your kitchen garden and like you've heard here today, it just makes sense to grow a little bit, your self. 

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Thanks so much for listening to the Grow Your Self Podcast.

Don't forget the three things we told you to do: 

  • Eat seasonally
  • Buy locally
  • Grow naturally. 

I hope that now you feel encouraged to do those three things when it comes to tomatoes. When tomatoes are in season in your town buy them up, especially from local farmers, and eat as many as you can when they’re in season. Learn to grow a little bit yourself, it's going to help you appreciate all those tomatoes you consume throughout the winter, when you're having pizza, hamburgers, tacos, and all that good stuff. Have a bigger appreciation for this thing that's so popular, and yet sometimes so under appreciated. There's a lot that goes into these little red fruits. They don't turn us into werewolves, they're just so good for us, especially when they're grown organically, when they're harvested and when they're cared for the way they should be. 

So, grow a little bit of tomatoes yourself, be inspired and the next time you're at the farmers market or you meet somebody who knows how to grow tomatoes, you better give them a serious fist bump and tell them, they’re amazing, because now you know that it's pretty difficult to grow tomatoes. 

Don't forget that it is not too late, no, no, no, not too late to start your kitchen garden so go check out the Kickstart Your Kitchen Garden workshop here. This is a super affordable fast way for you to learn all the things you need to set up your kitchen garden the right way, right away. 

Please come over to the www.gardenary.com website and celebrate the Grand Opening. Is there such a thing? The Grand Opening Celebration of Gardenary.com, there's so much for you to check out, and so many great garden coaches with tons of resources that are going to help you grow your self in a new way. Thanks again, and I'll see you next time.

Truth About Tomatoes on the Grow Your Self Podcast with Nicole Burke