Tomato season is in full swing now or at least heading that way. Copious amounts of these fruits are consumed raw, cooked and in drinks but what do we actually know about them. Does our knowledge of tomatoes stop short at the supermarket or do we consider home grown is best. My own thoughts without a doubt, has got to be home grown. We know what we put into growing them and if you want to be very sure, then it has to be organic all the way.
Picking a ripe tomato straight off the vine, is a delight on it’s own. It’s hard to believe it is related, even remotely, to deadly nightshade. For the past two summers, I have sown seeds from plants originating from various countries. Pipiche and Papalo are both used extensively in Mexican cookery. Oca, French Beans, Cape Gooseberry, Guava (Chilean), Cucamelon, Squash and Tomato all have their roots in South America. Cucumbers originated in ancient India and when the Romans got hold of it, it was used to treat bad eyesight and scare mice but I can’t be sure if the mice were afraid of eating it or they feared being bludgeoned with it. Women who wanted to have children wore them around their waists, which probably meant mice never came near them, but we can only hope, Lucina the goddess of childbirth, liked cucumbers.
Perhaps a little confusing is the delightful Indian Mint (Satureja douglasii), which according to some suppliers is neither a mint, nor does it come from India although used in Indian cookery, apparently it’s from North America. This little plant excels in looks and fragrance and makes an excellent plant for trailing or ground cover. As a perennial which tolerates our colder weather, it can be cut back in autumn, leaves dried for tea and the following year it comes back.
It really surprised me when I thought of the origins of what I am growing in my little garden. Besides knowing a bit more about their ancestry, I know if I grow them, they are not contaminated with chemical pesticides or herbicide, nor are they genetically modified. I don’t stick strictly to purely organic fertiliser because I don’t always know the finer points of the fertiser used, it doesn’t all come in a bottle. As well as using organic seaweed fertiliser, I also make an adle of cow manure so although it’s a natural product, I don’t know what cattle feed they have been given.
The next time anyone thinks they are eating healthily with a diet of salads and fruit, think again. Pesticides cling to fruit and vegetables and washing doesn’t always remove them. A head of celery can contain an average of 64 difficult-to-wash-away chemicals. It may even surprise you that peaches are in the same league as celery. I don’t care what size or shape my fruit and vegetables are, I will be happy to pay extra to know there is less likelihood of organic produce being a chemically enhanced crop.
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