Getting A Little Healthier Eating Tomatoes

tomato caloriesMy younger brother John couldn’t eat tomatoes without getting sores in his mouth and all over his lips. But I never heard him complain.

Back then we were just kids and I didn’t really understand what he was going through and I had no problems eating all the tomatoes he couldn’t eat. I couldn’t get enough of tomatoes. Raw, cooked or baked into other goodies, it was all good.

We were kids, we had no idea tomatoes were actually good for us. I was an eating machine and didn’t like eating things because were good for me. I ate them because they taste good and I had a bottomless stomach.

Heck I’ve been eating tomatoes like there’s no tomorrow for more than 50 years and still love them. If I was told they were good for me I might have stopped eating them. Only in the past few years have I learned that tomatoes have benefits for those who consume them.

We grow more tomatoes every year and just this past season I started preserving tomatoes for those long cold winter months and will preserve even more next year.

Tomatoes are right up there with potatoes when it comes to the most consumed vegetable in our home and I just read that tomatoes are THE MOST CONSUMED vegetable in the U.S. I think tomatoes may win out because we have tomatoes with rice as well as potatoes, so there are days that we don’t have potatoes but seldom a day without tomatoes.

Moving Tomatoes To A Container Garden

We have been growing our tomatoes in our vegetable garden but next growing season we are going back to container gardening our tomatoes like we did before we had space for a garden.

Keeping our tomatoes in a container garden or maybe raised bed gardens will allow us to grow more vegetables in our veggie garden without having towering tomato plants casting shadows on the smaller vegetables.

Tomatoes Are Low In Calories

tomatoes peppers for salsaI didn’t eat tomatoes my entire life because I was thinking of my health but I have learned that they are very low in calories and that does matter to me now that I’m 60.

I didn’t know, or really care about the number of calories I would get from a medium size raw tomato or a cup of dices or stewed tomatoes. Once I became interested I found quite a few sites about tomato calories.

Tomatoes, Health Benefits And Antioxidants

Not only are tomatoes fat free as well as low in calories they are filled with antioxidants as well. So I know I can eat them when I feel hungry and not have to think about the harm adding pounds can have, especially at my age.

The antioxidant I am referring to here is called Lycopene which is one potent antioxidant that helps your body fight ‘cancer cell formation’. It is also responsible for the tomatoes’ red colour.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are important in both humans and plants and may help prevent cell damage that can be caused by oxidative stress. I would suggest you check out Wikipedia to learn more about Antioxidants.

Now that you know tomatoes are good for you maybe it’s time you started growing tomatoes. If you don’t have the ground available to start a garden think about container gardening. It’s how Jenny and I were able to start gardening long before we had a home of our own.

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container garden on stepsNot too long ago all we had was container gardening if we wanted to grow anything indoors or outdoors.

However, now that we have a property to call our own we have a vegetable garden, a couple of raised bed gardens and yet we still do container gardening.

Many people with gardens today don’t use container gardening but I see it as a way to extend our gardens. So we don’t only use containers to start our plants from seed but we also use containers for our indoor plants and herbs.

This year we bought our first bleeding heart and have it in a big container along with a ring of Nasturtiums as a border. We haven’t quite figured out where we want it so this gives up time make up our minds.

Containers come in every shape and size you can think of from tiny cactus containers to dwarf fruit tree containers that are too big to move around when they are full. We even use window box containers to grow Jenny’s cute Petunias.

Many Start Herbs Container Gardens

It’s a really common thing to see people with herbs growing on their kitchen windowsills. We like to grow a few herbs indoors such as chives, parsley, thyme, summer savoury and basil.

Our First Veggie/Fruits Were Tomatoes

Before were had a place we could dig up for a home garden we started with containers. Jenny started with Petunias, of course, and I started with tomatoes. Later we added strawberries in containers to the mix.

We’ve found that the tiny or cherry type tomatoes do well in containers so we still grow tomatoes in containers even though I have a few rows of tomatoes in our vegetable garden.

Maybe we will actually get to do some preserves this year. We wanted to last year but with all the rain and drowning’s my plants went through we didn’t get enough but plenty for the entire summer.

Try Topy Turvy Planters For Strawberries

topsy-turvy-planterThe Topsy Turvy Planters are container, just ones that hang instead of sitting on the patio, lawn or drive. We have a few house plants that are in hanging containers. Years ago I tried doing macramé and made a bunch of cool plant hangers.

We haven’t tried the strawberry topsy turvy planter we bought last year. I had a few projects, one being our raised bed for strawberries and kind of forgot I had the planter.

I’ll try again next year, but my friend Jamie has a few of them and even grows cucumbers in them. I might still give them a try for some lettuce this year and then go with strawberries a little earlier next year.

Grow Dwarf Fruit Trees In Containers

Trees In containers are common as well. We actually have a money tree a friend gave us. What a cool looking tree. Right now it’s about 4 feet tall. It could likely go outdoors in the summer but we wouldn’t want to have it infested with insects so we don’t put it outside at all.

Container gardening was our way of doing a little gardening even though we had no place to dig a garden. One of our neighbours here in Moncton have grown tomatoes in containers and had enough containers to go from the sidewalk all the way to their front door, on both sides of their sidewalk. Pretty cool looking.

Growing Potatoes in Containers

Last year I grew potatoes in some big containers so we could have early new potatoes without disturbing our in ground potatoes. Although we have been know to dig a few early potatoes in our garden, just to thin them out so the rest would grow bigger.

This year we grew all our plants from seed. We did the same thing last year but it was kind of a disaster as we don’t get enough direct sunlight in the house. The fact we have a mini greenhouse now helped us to start our seeds outdoors. We could put the greenhouse outside during the day and back in the garden shed for the nights.

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vegetablesWhen you think of a vegetable garden you probably picture rows upon rows of corn in a field, or a traditional home garden that has a variety of squash and zucchini growing from the ground.

However vegetable gardening can be done in a variety of different ways as well as in a lot of different places that make it feasible for just about anyone to start their own garden. I started my first gardening indoors and then on a balcony.

square-foot-gardening1. Square-Foot Gardening – Square-foot gardening is perfect for people who are vegetable-gardening beginners that are strapped for space. The garden is typically constructed in a 4 foot by 4 foot container that is broken into 16 different sections.

Each section has a certain crop designated for it and the soil is a very specific kind, making it easy for vegetables to thrive.

container gardening2. Container Gardening– Another option that is perfect for people who have less than the ideal amount of space, container gardening is basically growing vegetables in traditional plant pots.

The size of the container determines what type of vegetables you can grow in them, so the more vegetables you want, the bigger the pot you need to buy.

One thing to note: potted plants will need to be watered more often than those grown in the ground.

raised bed strawberry garden3. Raised Bed Gardening – Raised bed gardening is similar to square-foot gardening in the sense that it is done in a container above ground; however it is not broken into square-foot sections.

The soil is usually more suited for vegetables because you add it into the garden bed versus planting it in the ground. It’s also easy to pick vegetables from the garden because you don’t have to worry about walking over the plants or bending down to pick them.

windowsill plants4. Indoor Gardening – If you live in an apartment or town-home without a yard for gardening it doesn’t mean you can’t have your own little vegetable garden.

With a little planning you can actually grow an indoor garden instead of having one outdoors.

Indoor gardening is nearly identical to container gardening, but because you’re doing it inside you have to be vigilant in making sure that the plants are always getting enough sunlight and water.

5. Gardening in Rows – Planting vegetables in rows in a garden is the most traditional way of growing them. You have a standard gardening bed in the ground in a yard and you plant the seeds an appropriate amount of space apart from each other in carefully organized rows. This method requires ample space and regular weeding and watering.

No matter where you are or what sort of space you have, you can grow a vegetable garden. Each type of gardening method will allow you to grow vegetables that will thrive, and you will be able to enjoy fresh produce on a regular basis.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of nanny payroll.

She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @

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growing great tomatoesHome gardening, especially vegetable gardening has become a big part of life for Jenny and I. Now that we have a bigger place and actually have the space to grow a vegetable garden and all the flowers, shrubs and trees we’d like.

Our first attempts at vegetable garden was through container gardening which is pretty similar to gardening in the ground other than your soil tends to dry out much faster. But we didn’t go much beyond that, although the interest was there.

growing tomatoes In A Container Garden

container garden on steps

I was walking through Moncton last year and saw a place with tomatoes in containers that went right from the sidewalk by the street all the way up to their front door. What a great welcome to a home. They even went right up the front steps with tomatoes in containers.

All we had when we were growing tomatoes in a container garden was our paved driveway. It got pretty hot there and we nearly lost our first year of tomatoes because we couldn’t figure out how to keep them from drying up too fast and over-heating the root system.

A little trick I learned online was to raised the containers at least an inch off the driveway and to put something between the pots and the pavement. We found some fake turf someone had put by the road for garbage pickup. Well I love recycling and it did the trick.

I put the artificial turf on the pavement and set down two boards that helped lift the containers up off the driveway so that air could circulate under them. What a huge difference that made.

It even helped with the drying out aspect of container gardening so we had less problem with watering. They still dried out a big and looked sad when we would get home from work but nothing like before.

If I were still in that situation with little to no space to grow a vegetable garden I would have been looking into other methods of water such as drip irrigation. I’m even thinking about that for our in ground vegetable garden.

We have an in ground vegetable garden and grow tomatoes in it but we also continue to grow tomatoes in containers but now we can place them around the yard, on the lawn and they don’t get overheated.

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Tomato Container Gardening Quick Access

tomatoes in containersContainer gardening provides an opportunity to grow flowering plants, vegetables and herbs when space is limited. Passionate cooks always appreciate having a container garden or a kitchen garden that will allow them to easily access some fresh ingredients.

What can be one of the easiest, most used and versatile vegetable that can grow well in containers are tomatoes. What is great about tomato container gardening is the fact that the limited container space plus a mini trellis can encourage its upright growth.

1. Start a tomato garden by picking the right kind and size of your garden containers and prepping them. The size of the pots may determine the variety that can be planted. The big varieties of tomatoes can better survive when planted in the ground. The ideal pots are containers of 5-gallon capacity with good drainage holes. I also add gravel to keep drainage holes from blocking up. Use good potting mix to fill  about 3/4 of the pot. Planting some marigold can biologically control insects.

2. Find out the kind of tomato seeds you like most. Big fruiting tomato varieties like Husky Gold Hybrid, Husky Red Hybrid, and Patio Hybrid are common favourites. A few of the preferred middle-sized varieties are Mountain Pride, Mountain Delight, and Celebrity. Favoured cherry tomatoes that grow well in pots are Yellow Canary, Cherry Gold, Red Robin, Tiny Tim, and Pixie Hybrid.

3. For the tomatoes to survive the conditions of tomato container gardening, adequate supplies of food, water, and  sunlight as well as proper pruning are important. The plants need nutrients every two weeks at least. Organic fruits can come from mixing bone meal and compost. Daily watering is advisable but avoid getting the pots waterlogged. Prune extra growths. Expose the container garden in areas with sunlight from 6 to 8 hours.

4. Put stakes and trellis to support the branches with fruits. Using a cage can provide support from all sides. Stakes stimulate upward growth. The best time to place these support is when the plants are still young.

It doesn’t take too much to have a fruiting tomato plant. It is good to harvest the fruits as frequently to remove the weight on the branches and to encourage more fruits to grow. Anyone can have enjoy fresh tomatoes daily with tomato container gardening.

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Choosing The Best Container Gardening Pots

container garden on stepsAlmost anything can be grown in container gardening pots – beautiful flower-bearing plants, vegetables, herbs and even a mini forest of bonsai trees. For people living in urban areas, container gardening is a practical way to purify the air and to green one’s home.

Jenny and I grow flowers in hanging baskets which are containers plus we grow tomatoes in containers and train them on a trellis or tall stakes. We also like to keep a herb container garden near the backdoor for use in the kitchen.

For people in impoverished nations, container gardening is being taught to women in the context of food security. While for some it can be a hobby that brings vibrancy and color to a home, it can be more than that when vegetables are grown in pots.

What makes container gardening such a wonderful thing are the ideas that one comes up with. While each garden is unique, there are  common practices that gardeners can do to ensure the survival and growing of their plants.

1. What determine the container gardening pots, the  plants species and the size of the garden is the purpose or the design that the gardener wants to create. Choosing of pots can be based on how it will be used or the way it looks. The use of personal preference is usually acceptable yet one’s choice must never depart from the basic concept of suitability.

2. This is an artificial environment, so check the elements and keep them in optimum levels. Choose the right size of the garden by deciding on the container; provide enough space to prevent competition. Avoid being waterlogged with the use of containers with a drainage system like drainage holes or a layer of gravel  1 to 2 inches thick at the bottom. To prevent the garden from drying out, do not use garden soil but good potting mix.

3. Picking plants with similar needs in terms of water  and sunlight requirements is strategic when doing combination or companion planting. To give the garden some harmony, choose plants with sizes that are suitable to the size of the pot and with preference to plants that can stand aridity. Do not plant active spreaders.

4. Maintain the garden with enough sunlight, water and food. Despite the convenience of  commercial fertilizers, going organic especially for vegetables for personal consumption. Using composts from one’s own biodegradable waste is best.

There are challenges in container gardening yet it provides the chance to learn much by trying new concepts. Having the jitters at the start is normal for all beginners, get started  with the right container gardening pots.

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Creating The Best Vegetable Garden Space

home veggie gardenAs you stand on your porch, looking out over the “lower 40”. Okay, if you’re a vegetable gardener, it’s most likely you don’t have a “lower 40,” and be happy you don’t. Agriculture is really a hard life, requiring farm gear, hired labour, chemical substances, and most likely a government subsidy, just to help keep it all going.

I for one remember all too well the long days and hard work growing up on a 100 acre farm. I also remember how Dad would be up for hours before us and would be in the barn working before we ever crawled out of our warm beds.

Home Vegetable Garden

our vegetable garden

Today Jenny and I have a little garden plot about 16×10 feet. We get the unbelievable taste of home grown vegetable but without all that hard work and pesticides that gave me such horrible migraines.

Develop fruit and veggies that functions very best in your soil and climate. Don’t bother with land intensive plants like corn, leave that towards the farmers. However, in many places you can develop ice box melons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and other truck farm fruits.

Plan Your Vegetable Garden

Start off having a diagram of one’s garden plot. Account for as numerous variables in the diagram as possible. The space, the fencing required to keep out critters, the irrigation, how numerous and just how much of every type of veggie, decrease it all to paper. Figure in your terrain, and access to sunlight as important elements.

For example, because of the rockiness of the area, or the way it’s situated within the back yard, you might be better off thinking about two 5×5 plots, instead of 1 10×10. If there’s a boulder back there, you may be much better off attempting to function around it, instead of face the expense and labour in removing it.

I like to figure some component of my veggie plot is going to become in containers. Take tomatoes, everyone desires them, they are component of the salad duet of lettuce and tomatoes, they’re versatile for sandwiches, and some people eat them alone. But they may require more sun than the garden plot part of your property receives, and they might need to begin in containers anyway to keep them going. So what’s going to become in containers ought to be part of one’s diagram, too.

Determine what you want and how much of it you can devote to your garden plot. Half a row of carrots or perhaps a entire row? Will all the plants in my veggie plot deal with water the same? Simply because what I truly wish to do is lay the garden hose in one end from the plot and have it water every thing equally.

We have grown both melons and zucchini and soon found they threw runners to bear fruit. These runners make them take up a little extra space. Our second year we planted them separate from our vegetable garden.

You also don’t want these runners to wrap themselves around more delicate plants and strangle them. Maybe a separate region could be much better for them if available?

Fruit or root plants–tomatoes, and peppers, for instance, thrive in complete sun. But there are plenty of leafy plants including broccoli, beans, and cauliflower, that do well having a couple of hours of sun, and mostly shade. So, in the event you currently have trees in the yard that will form a all-natural shade canopy, and still let in the requisite amount of rays, think about planting these by the tree.

But don’t anticipate your veggies to grow in total shade.

Container Herb Garden

herb container gardenAs with the containers, think outside the plot. Can I make use from the porch for an herb garden that grows in a box or two?

Taking the time to diagram the garden prior to planting, and to determine which parts from the yard or porch are best for which purpose, will save time and cash in comparison with trial and error methods.

After you have a diagram, you are able to refine it, or take it with you to the local nursery where the specialists can assist offer the seeds, tools as well as other gear very best suited for your veggie garden.

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herb container garden-137351-mMost of us who love cooking as well as gardening should take up herb container gardening. We love it as it enhances our cooking and makes our meals all the better.

Once you’ve tasted what a little herb does to a meal and learn how easy it is to grow a container herb garden you will definitely want your own herb garden.

I think it was Magellan who headed out into the unknown in search of spices to add pizzazz to their cooking. Trust me it’s a whole lot easier to grow your own herb container garden that to trek around the globe to find them.

There are only a few things you need to keep in mind when starting a container garden.

1. Choose Good Looking Containers

If you feel you would like to have herbs in individual containers you could select a variety of small containers that look good together. On the other hand if you buy large containers you can do some companion planting.

The thing to keep in mind is to NOT go with containers so big you won’t be able to move them if you feel the need.

Check each container to make certain they have the right sized drainage holes. This will keep your herb container garden from drowning the roots of your herbs.

2. Go For Herbs That You Enjoy

Don’t make your herb garden for other people. If you are going to eat them I would suggest you plant herbs you and your family enjoy. This doesn’t necessarily mean you only grow herb you like to eat. Many people enjoy planting herbs in containers, for their aroma or their look.

Some of my favourite herbs to grow in my herb gardens are:

  • parsley
  • basil
  • mint
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme

3. Try Doing Some Companion Planting

Companion planting is a great idea in herb container gardening for plants with similar needs. Herbs that like water are parsley, chives, and marjoram. Conversely, herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme like the soil dry. Spreaders  like mint will do better when planted alone. The solo planters can be grouped for better visual appeal and expediency.

To make your herbs thrive you should provide them with lots of direct sunlight, start with a good potting mix, water as needed and even provide them with some plant food. When I talk about sunlight I would say at least 6 hours a day.

Of course if the sun is very intense it’s a good thing to move your herbs to a shadier spot which is one reason container gardening is so cool, no pun intended.

Today is a perfect day to start your herb container garden, I’m starting an indoor herb garden today, while preparing for our outdoor herb container garden. It’s always a surprise when you grow enough to share your herbs with friends and family, even your neighbours.

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Today We Are Growing Vegetables In Containers

vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Home gardening has become a great hobby for Jenny and I over the past 6 years. How time flies when you’re having fun growing stuff. We started our first vegetable garden by growing our vegetables in containers.

Our first concern about buying vegetables at the grocery store is knowing where our vegetable and other produce is coming from. How much does it cost to get those veggies to us and what have they gone through in order to make the trip. Add to that the fact the cost is continually growing and it was time to start growing our own vegetables.

The vegetables and produce you are getting may be grown in the good ole US of A, maybe Mexico, or perhaps as far away as China. It’s not always the distance they are coming from though. With modern shipping methods today your veggies can still arrive appearing as fresh as the day they were picked, but they aren’t and the cost of getting them here, well I’ve already mentions that one.

I grew up with migraines and suffered regularly for more than 40 years before it was determined to be what was being sprayed on my food before I received it. Poisons kept me unhealthy and sick for most of my life but not any longer. For one reason we now know to wash our food thoroughly before eating or cooking and it’s made a huge differnce in my life and health.

The beauty of growing vegetables in containers is the proven fact that all of these factors are under your control. If you want, you can grow them organically from seed to harvest. If you prefer, you should purchase the seeds and pot them yourself in your own compost mix. However you wish to grow them, you’ll get an improved product when put next to grocery store produce.

Vegetable container gardening is not tricky. All you need is a pot, some potting soil, and some seedlings. When selecting your container, be sure there aren’t any noxious preservatives employed in the wood, or lead in the ceramic boxes. Five gallon containers are good for upright plants like peppers and tomatoes. Long containers, 24″x36″x8″ deep are a decent size for root vegetables such as carrots, beets and turnips and onions. Containers 12″x48″x8″ deep are a reasonable size for climbing veggies like cucumbers, peas and pole beans. This container can be placed against a wall and with added string or wire will give the vegetables a place to climb.

The best part of vegetable container gardening is the indisputable fact that you select the crop time. The produce in shops was picked for the benefit of the grower and seller. This fact produces vegetables that are often about indecorous. When was the last time you had a ripe, bursting with flavor, truly red, ripe tomato? If you want to add a gourmet experience to your mealtime, just add some truly fresh, ripe, flavour bursting plants to your menu. Once you start growing your own veg, you’ll find it’s an addictive experience.

For some more info on how to grow vegetables and a listing of veggies suitable for container gardening, check out l The proper way to Select Plants for Growing in Pots; Heirloom Flavour or Hybrid Yield? You’ll find all that you need to know about vegetable container gardening at Guide to Container

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Image via Wikipedia

Vegetable gardening is no longer just a passion. Veggie gardening has turned into a clever and healthier approach to help deal with flucutations in the economy and to combat the rising cost of living.

It wasn’t long ago we went through a recession here in Canada which made it tough to make ends meet. We were so grateful that we had started learning about vegetable gardening as it has saved us a lot of money on the grocery bills. More and more each year as we increase the size of our vegetable garden.

We Got Our Friends And Neighbours Involved

It’s wonderful having vegetable gardening friends who bring fresh vegetables right to our front door. Barb, one of my guitar playing friends would even bring over extra preserves she made herself. Mmmm, so good.

Now we share vegetables we can consume fast enough, although this year we are planning to have Barb show us how to preserve vegetables for the winter.

Grow Things That Are Easy To Grow

Our first vegetable garden was a container garden as we didn’t have permission or space to dig up in the yard we rented.

When we started growing tomatoes in containers we really didn’t realize how many tomatoes we would produce. So many we had to give most of them away before they spoiled.

We were definitely saving some money on the grocery bills by growing our own produce but it gets better. The following year we got together with a few friends and planned how we could benefit each other.

What did we do? Well each of us grew things we could share with each other but we grew different things. Friend one would grow buckets of tomatoes in a variety of kinds and another would grow something different we could all share.

It’s amazing just how much produce we had that we didn’t even grow and still saved on the grocery bills.

This year my wife and I are growing tomatoes in abundance, enough to share but also enough to keep for preserves next winter. Tomatoes are a big part of our diet as we put tomatoes in everything, pretty much.

We learned that we don’t want squash in our main vegetable garden as they tend to grow through everything else so we created a new location for squash and we’re growing enough to share with our team.

Take your time learning about vegetable gardening and you can start saving money every year just like we are doing with our vegetable gardening experience.

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