This week is British Tomato Week. No one grows tomatoes quite like the British, and this week is the perfect opportunity to celebrate a wonderful fruit loved by much of the nation (yes it’s a fruit).

Tomatoes are easy to grow and have always been a popular addition to meals, from sandwich fillings to salads and sauces to soup.

Health Benefits

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E. Tomatoes contain minerals, such as potassium, which has been linked to lowering blood pressure and calcium, which is vital for healthy bones and teeth.

The vitamins and antioxidants found in tomatoes are thought to fight the harmful effects of free radicals that cause cell damage – a precursor of conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Grow Your Own

Tomatoes are easy to grow and are becoming an increasingly popular fruit to grow at home. A couple of tomato plants will produce hundreds of these little red wonders and should keep you in stock from mid-summer right through to early Autumn.

Since now is the time to start sowing your seeds, here’s some interesting facts about this prolific plant to nurture your interest:

  • Tomatoes originally came from Peru, where their Aztec name translated to plump thing with a navel
  • The scientific name for tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum – meaning wolf peach
  • Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene which is important for the health of the prostate gland in men.
  • They were first brought to Europe in the mid-1500s
  • A tomato is a fruit. The confusion arose after the 1890s when the US supreme court named them a vegetable for taxation purposes. A fruit is the edible part of the plant containing seeds, a vegetable is stem, leaf or root
  • There are over 10,000 varieties of tomato, these come in a variety of colours including pink, purple, black, yellow and white

Van Hage

Why not head to Van Hage in PE1 this week to get started in growing your own tomatoes? They have plenty of gardening goodies and tip top tomato supplies in-store to begin your journey.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 growing bag
  • 2 x tomato plants per bag
  • Sharp knife
  • Tomato food
  • Watering can
  • Garden twine
  • Bamboo canes

What to do:

  • Using the sharp knife, cut several holes in the sides of the growing bags for drainage. Then cut two evenly spaces planting holes on the top
  • Put the tomato plants in the bags and support them with bamboo canes
  • Tie the stems to the cane with twine (not too tight) and then drain well
  • Remove the shoots that appear between the leaf and the stem as the plant begins to grow. Once four clusters of fruit have grown, remove the main shoot from the top of the plant as well
  • Harvest the fruit when it is ripe (approximately 12 weeks)

We’d love to see photos of your tomato plants in situ, or any dishes you make using this versatile fruit! Simply post any pictures to our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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