If there’s something everyone should grow it’s the most tenacious and easy to grow precious little annual, the self-seeding yellow or red cherry tomato…
And it all begins with a few seeds spread on a piece of kitchen towel to dry. This little paper can then be placed in a tray of moist compost-rich soil and covered with a light layer of soil and kept moist, and literally, within a few days, sturdy little tomato plants emerge. It is that easy and that quick.
And as soon as the little plants are big enough to handle, plant them out in well-dug, richly composted soil in full sun, but keep the little plants shaded with leafy sprigs shielding them from the heat of the summer sun until they are strong and vigorous.
I find a support frame for the young shoots is vital, as if the branches are lifted off the ground they immediately send out little sprays of flowers and, when next you look, tiny tomatoes are starting to form.
Infinitely rewarding, you will find yourself checking your ripening little cherry tomatoes daily, watching for the bright jewels before the birds get to them!
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a valuable antioxidant that is a protection against heart disease, lowers the risk of cancers of the skin, breast, lungs, colon an prostate, as well as degeneration of the eyes and cataracts by neutralising the free radicals.
One of the world’s favourite plants, tomatoes are vital for rebuilding the blood, cleansing the liver of toxins and fighting infections, and eating your own organically grown ones is something we will all benefit from.
Start the magic today and make your own tomato sauce and tomato juice, and dry your own cherry tomatoes, cut in half and placed on a stainless steel tray in the sun, for the deliciousness of sundried tomatoes.
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 6-8 cups of cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons crushed Himalayan salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons crushed coriander
- 2 tablespoons honey
Fry the onions in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stainless-steel pot until golden. Add the tomatoes and stir fry, pressing down well for a few minutes. Then add all the other ingredients, stirring well. Simmer for 10 minutes and keep stirring. Stand covered off the stove for 10 minutes and then use a hand blender to whirl the mixture into a smooth paste. Add a touch of boiled water if needed. Pour into sterilised screw-top bottles or jars and keep in the fridge in hot weather.
Once you’ve made your own tomato sauce you’ll never want to be without it. It is addictive!
Celery and Parsley
Grow celery and parsley alongside tomatoes, with basil and spring onions, and eating 10 cherry tomatoes daily you’ll become aware of their wonderful health boosting properties: vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, beta carotene as well as the precious lycopene.
Look at planting big pots of cherry tomatoes all around your braai area for quick pickings, and teach the children to grow their own, and tie them up on frames.
We have Peru to thank for this jewel of a food, as well as Christopher Columbus who took the first seeds back to Spain. The rest is history, and the precious tomato is a plant that made history.
For more info
Note: Margaret Roberts has a fine selection of plants and seeds available from her nursery. Her shop stocks a wide variety of their health products that can be posted to you.
Words: Margaret Roberts
Photographs and Styling: Sandy Roberts