Growing Great Tomatoes

It’s balmy 7 degrees here today on the island. Tomatoes do not recommend the island for growing. In fact they give it a 1 out of 5 stars. But I do it anyway. And it works for me. It only took me 10 years to learn how.

And because I love you, I’m gonna give you my tips for growing tomatoes on a windy, cold-right- till- June -through-September island or just about anywhere  :

Start with healthy vigorous transplants, started inside under light, 8 weeks before the last frost date.

Put some crushed eggshells in the hole before planting for added calcium which prevents end blossom rot  (some people claim this doesn’t do anything, I claim it can’t hurt)

I grow tomatoes under cover here, as we are prone to a lot of moisture, rain and blight, and it’s always a little cooler here.

Entirely in need of a pruning

Use ground watering, either with drip hose irrigation, or just a watering can watering at the roots. 

Try not to overhead water. If the leaves yellow, you are watering too much.

Stake or give support indeterminate tomatoes, like Amish paste, when you plant. And then continue to snake the plant up the trellis or use old sheets cut into strips as ties to a wire cattle panel.

Plant a variety of indeterminate (will produce all season),, cherry (ripens faster), and determinate (all usually ripen at once) for various harvests throughout August and into September.

Harvest any remaining green tomatoes before the first frost, usually around the third week of September here. Store inside a dark spot wrapped individually in newspaper as they will ripen over time. You can eat tomatoes into December this way.

If you freeze them , just pop them into warm water in the sink and the skins peel right off . No scalding!

Wash, and freeze tomatoes in freezer bags to process later if you are overwhelmed.

Here’s my favorite picante salsa recipe to save when you can’t eat one more fresh tomato.

 Picante Salsa

4 ½ lbs ripe tomatoes, scalded, peeled and chopped

1 large spanish onion or 2 med yellow onions

1 medium red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

3 -6 jalepeno peppers, chopped (for extra heat include seeds)

5 ½ oz tomato paste 

¾ cup fresh lemon juice 

2 Tbsp brown sugar 

1 Tbsp coarse pickling salt

2 tsp paprika

2 cloves minced garlic

Optional:fresh cilantro 

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer on medium heat for 60 minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Close to the end of cooking, taste to see if it is hot enough, if not you can add more jalapenos.  

Pour into hot, sterilized 500ml jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (15 min for 1L jars). Take the lid off and let set for 5 minutes before removing jars. Let jars sit 24 hours before storing.

Love Jenn xx

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