October 20th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
It’s all over, another garbage tomato in the books. Five months ago, I planted a little tomato on a pile of smelly garbage; lots of banana peels, avocado husks, watermelon rind, corn cobs, rotten lettuce, apples core, and a lot more.
And that’s what I do every year when my tomato is all pooped out. I chop it down, dig all the very black fertile soil out, stuff what’s left of the plant in the hole, and cover it up for next year. And in the spring, this plant will be nothing but a memory.
Now to sum up this year’s growing season. I have to admit, it wasn’t as good as last year. I had only about half the tomatoes, but the weather sucked, too much rain, so it’s okay. Plus I got a little acorn squash that sprouted up out of the garbage as a bonus.
Overall, it was fun. It’s an easy way to grow organic tomatoes, and they taste awesome! As for next year, hopefully I won’t be doing another, with any luck I’ll be out of the suburbs of New Jersey, and in New York City. Fingers crossed!
Read More:Garbage Tomato 2 – Monday 10.20.09 – That’s All Folks!
October 16th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
While it’s approaching 90° today, with gusts of hot Santa Ana winds, the last two days have been a different story: rain and blasts of cold air. In my home, this means it’s soup weather.
For a rustic appetizer that pairs beautifully with a variety of main courses, try our weekend recipe: Roasted Tomato Barley Soup. Prep time is only 10 minutes, while cook time is 40 minutes. Add an additional 25 minutes to roast the tomatoes before you prep the soup.
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Roasted Tomato Barley Soup
Makes 8 servings
1 can (about 28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 large onions, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Heat oven to 425°F. Drain tomatoes, reserving the juice.
- Place the tomatoes, onions and garlic in a 17” x 11” roasting pan. Pour the oil over the vegetables, and toss to coat. Roast for 25 minutes.
- Place the roasted vegetables into a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in the reserved tomato juice, broth, celery and barley, and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
- Cover and cook for 35 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Stir in the parsley.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Swanson Organic Broth
Read More:Roasted Tomato Barley Soup
October 5th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
My garbage tomato got its butt kicked this week. Just look at it. The end of days is near. Half of it is on life support, but somehow the right side is hanging tough. Those tomatoes are actually growing and getting fatter.
I’ll give them to the end of the week, but this weekend I’m packing it in for the year. I already pulled a dozen green tomatoes off the left side. I have them all lined up on my kitchen windowsill. So they’ll ripen in the coming months.
Read More:Garbage Tomato 2 – Monday 10.5.09
September 21st, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
No doubt. It’s officially the twilight phase of this year’s garbage tomato. You can see its looking a little crispy. And it took a beating this week. Some more crazy wind and rain nailed it, and snapped a branch. No worries, I buried and mourned the loss.
No red tomatoes this week either and it is unlikely I’ll get anymore ripening on the vine, but that acorn squash is almost ready. Apparently it is okay that the leaves all died off. That’s just what they do. I’ll pick it soon and use it to drive nails with.
Read More:Garbage Tomato 2 – Monday 9.21.09
September 7th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Fall weather is starting to creep in. It’s getting a little cooler and darker in New Jersey, but that didn’t stop my garbage tomato this week. I picked 10 tomatoes, but my mother stole them all, hell hath no fury like an Italian woman making pasta sauce.
Despite the weather starting to change, my tomato keeps growing, still plenty of yellow flowers and little green tomatoes popping up. So I should be picking for at least another month, plus by then my stowaway acorn squash will be ready too.
Read More:Garbage Tomato 2 – Monday 9.7.09
August 2nd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The FDA has published three draft guidances designed to help growers and others in the food supply chain minimize or eliminate microbial contamination in tomatoes, leafy greens and melons.
“These new food safety guidelines will facilitate the development of enforceable food safety standards and ensure a safer supply of fresh food for all Americans,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD.
The guidances will be made final after a public comment period and “will be followed within two years by enforceable standards for fresh produce,” she says.
The recommendations are based on three fundamental food safety principles:
- Prevent harm to consumers
- Use good data and analysis to ensure effective food safety inspections and enforcement of the law
- Quickly identify outbreaks of foodborne illness and stop them
The guidances include recommendations regarding produce growing, harvesting, packing, processing, transportation and distribution. Recordkeeping requirements are also included to enable the FDA to rapidly determine the source of future outbreaks.
The actions taken “will result in safer food in our country, which means healthier children, longer lives and less costly healthcare,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“We commend the FDA for moving forward on initiatives to improve the safety of fresh produce,” adds Jim O’Hara, director of the Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University. “The proposed guidance documents put out for comment address three of the highest-risk commodities, and we hope that the agency will finalize these documents quickly. We also look forward to the agency’s next steps regarding produce safety: issuance of proposed regulations. Science-based, risk-based, enforceable safety standards will restore consumer confidence in foods that are key components of a healthy diet.”
To view the actual draft guidances, follow these links:
Read More:FDA Drafts Guidances on Tomatoes, Leafy Greens, Melons
July 13th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Eating locally produced food has advantages. It helps the environment, such as no transporting food across long distances and burning up fuel.
It’s great for the economy too. Local growers and businesses get eager customers, ready to snap of homegrown goodies.
And this Fourth of July, Kitchen Gardeners International, the folks who led the efforts to plant a garden on the White House lawn, encouraged governors from all 50 states to declare their food independence and eat more local food.
A spokesperson for the group said buying food grown close to home helps cut the United States’ dependence on foreign producers and growers.
Here’s an example. Most of the garlic used in the U.S. is grown in China. So buying local garlic might encourage more domestic farmers to grow it and eventually drop our dependence on Chinese garlic.
Lucky for me, I just got some organic garlic from my CSA.
And local food tastes better. One expert says most tomatoes in the United States are picked green and are not bred for flavor or nutrient quality, but rather for uniform shape and color. That’s why I grow my own giant tomatoes!
Via Eat, Drink and Be Healthy.
Read More:Local Food, Declare Your Food Independence
June 12th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Organic tomatoes are plentiful this summer, one of the mainstays on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of top seasonal produce picks.
They’re also a nutritional best bet: A 1/2-cup serving of cubed tomatoes contains only 20 calories and provides 40% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake.
Our weekend recipe was adapted from Young & Hungry: More Than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone, by Food Network host and celebrity chef Dave Lieberman (more on Dave tomorrow).
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 pound)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Handful fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 pinches salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut off tomato tips and top cores. Halve tomatoes lengthwise. Toss halves together in bowl with oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Lay tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up, and pour over them any seasoned oil left in bottom of bowl. Roast until skins are shriveled and tops are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature, and then gently pinch off shriveled skins. Serve at room temperature.
Note: These tomatoes freeze well by wrapping small quantities in freezer wrap to keep freshness in and air out.
6 Additional Tomato Recipes
- Tomato and Onion Salad
- Gazpacho Salad
- Cherry Tomato Salad With Tarragon and Chives
- Fresh Tomato & Zucchini Salad
- Tomato and Roasted Red Sweet Pepper Soup
- Corn, Tomato & Vidalia Onion Salad
Recipe and photo courtesy of Hyperion Books/Glad PressN’ Seal
Read More:Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes
April 17th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
It happens to us all. You buy some fruits or vegetables, you don’t eat them quick enough and they go bad. Most people throw them out or if they plant a garden they toss them in their compost pile and use that as fertilizer, but you don’t NEED to compost, there’s another way.
L. A. Rotheraine of McKean County Biodynamics in Bradford, Pennsylvania grows tomatoes like that giant one in the video on a mound of garbage. It’s simple. You dig a whole and pile it high with rotten fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, dead plants, manure, pretty much anything that rots. Then plant a tomato on top and watch it grow to gigantic proportions.
Trust me, it works and you don’t need to live in the country or be an expert farmer to do it. I’m hardly an agricultural guru, actually I’m kind of a moron, and I managed to do it. Last year, I saved up a bunch of garbage and raised a big tomato. This Spring I’m doing it again. I’ve already got sprouts growing on my windowsill and three boxes of rot and counting.
Read More:Growing Tomatoes on Garbage…
February 17th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Chefs, gardeners and gourmets are passionate about organic heirloom tomatoes. Now, anyone can successfully grow them with hardy plants, a growing kit and just the right amount of guidance.
Windowbox.com is shipping organic heirloom tomato plants nationwide, with complete directions and a 100% guarantee. A single plant costs less than a pound of store-bought heirloom tomatoes and can produce 30 lbs. of tomatoes over the entire summer ($25.99 per 6-plant pack).
“Those mealy red things in the supermarket aren’t tomatoes,” says Windowbox CEO Ben Swett, a dedicated gardener. “Real tomatoes have full flavor and can look really weird, with their unusual colors and shapes.”
If you’re new to organic gardening, you may struggle when deciding which varieties to plant. Windowbox.com attempts to make life easy by offering three flagship collections:
- Flavor Kings (the best-tasting heirlooms)
- Windowbox Wonders (which thrive in containers)
- Candy Box (bright-colored and extra-sweet cherry tomatoes, which are fun to grow with children)
These all-in-one kits include extra-hardy plants, special tomato food, plant markers, and printed and online care instructions to ensure customer satisfaction.
To be considered an heirloom variety, a tomato must have been available for at least 50 years and must have a distinctive quality and traceable heritage. Heirlooms have other benefits: They’re good for you. Tomatoes are high in vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium and the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to a reduced risk for gastric, prostate, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.
Read More:Grow Your Own Organic Heirloom Tomatoes