Tomato Tips

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  • This year has been very dry so when my Roma Tomatoes died I thought it was the drought. However, I’ve just been reading a book on Edible Mexican gardening and discovered that tomato varieties are either determinate or indeterminate. Have you heard this? After the fruit has set, determinate tomatoes grow little or not at all – i.e. you apparently get one crop and then the plants die. Roma tomatoes are determinate. Other varieties such as Oxheart, Beefsteak and so on are indeterminate and continue to grow and set fruit all season. I borrowed this book from the Mt. Coot-tha Library at the Botanic Gardens. I can recommend a visit to this library as it not only has lots of good books but also a good collection of magazines. The above book is one of a series by Rosalind Creasy – Edible Mexican Gardening 635CRE Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. 2000 Singapore. Others are Edible Asian, Heirloom, Salads etc. and they include recipes as well as horticultural notes. Ref: Gretchen Evans
  • Fresh isn’t always better. The often held view that fresh tomatoes are healthier doesn’t hold for all nutrients, Germany’s Test magazine reports. When it tested canned tomatoes, whole and in pieces and pureed tomatoes (passata) it found that the processed product contained more lycopene and beta-carotene (antioxidants that may help protect against cancer) than fresh tomatoes. In fact the higher the processing level, the more lycopene the product contained – cutting and heating the tomatoes apparently opens up their cells, making the lycopene more readily available. Pureed tomatoes had the most (14mg per 100g) tinned tomato pieces around 11mg and tinned whole tomatoes almost 10mg. Fresh tomatoes on the other hand have on average up to 5.8mg of lycopene per 100gm.  Ref: Choice Magazine – March 2006
  • Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes  It’s not caused by disease organisms so it’s not contagious and no fungicide or insecticide helps. It’s caused by a number of environmental factors affecting the supply of water and calcium to fast-developing fruits. For example, if you hoe too close to the plant and break some roots, this may diminish the supply of water with calcium dissolved in it, resulting in end rot. Planting tomatoes too early in cold soil also can cause end rot and so do periods of hot, dry weather with not enough watering. I’m not sure why occasionally one of our tomatoes turns up with the problem. Our garden is watered with a sprinkler, so maybe the tomato plants are absorbing water through their leaves and that water may not contain the calcium that soil-water would.  Ref: