Night Shade Plants

To properly grow tomatoes they need to have a good amount of water, be supported, and get plenty of sun, Potatoes are just the opposite…
How can they be related?

If it’s late spring you may notice that gardener’s conversations have turned suddenly to potatoes and tomatoes. It’s that time again! What could potatoes and tomatoes possibly have in common? Nothing! Guess again, they’re actually cousins - both from the Night Shade Family and both native to South America. If you’re not an expert on vegetable families, your naked eye might notice the similarities in their leaves. After that, I’m afraid that’s where the similarities end.

Tomatoes are actually a fruit.

If you haven’t already figured it out, tomatoes are my favorite plants to grow. Tomato seeds are fragile and need to be started indoors, then, planted in your garden in mid-spring. Whenever you see a cluster of flowers growing you can start harvesting. It can be as little as 65 days for early blooming varieties or as long as 95 days for late tomato varieties.  I love tomatoes because of their fresh flavor, juiciness, rich red color, and their amazing versatility in the kitchen.

I speak about heirloom tomatoes so often because they are the most delicious and they are the exact opposite of what you find in the supermarket, which is usually genetically modified tomatoes that are bred for size and color, not taste.  Tiffen Mennonites, which I’ll show you in the video, on the other hand, are like the delicacy of the tomato world. Their seeds are hand-picked and passed down from generation to generation, where only the best seeds are replanted for the coming year. Tiffen Mennonite tomatoes can grow into a huge plant, bearing close to 2 pound single tomatoes!

Tomato plants need support and there are three ways to give them what they need: Look at the video and see my visual demonstrations of: 

All of these methods work well; it’s just your preference and the way that your garden is structured. To properly grow tomatoes they need to have a good amount of water, be supported, and get plenty of sun.

Surely, you know how good tomatoes are for you.  They contain Lycopene which is a powerful anti-oxidant that has been known to aid in preventing cancer. Lycopene is a very acidic and potent substance which makes tomatoes divine for some and causes an allergic or inflammatory reaction in others. If the acidic nature of tomatoes is too much for you, you may consider planting yellow or orange tomatoes (yes, they exist) which are far less acidic but still very tasty.

Now let’s talk about potatoes – the cousin whose leaves are similar to the tomato but that’s about it! The two plants couldn’t be more different.  Potato plants need to be mounded with soil. You can use hay or mulch but the key is to make sure that no light can get thru to any part of the plant.  The seed potato should have at least two eyes on them and they need to be planted deeply below the ground.  The tubers are the storage root of the potato. The tubers that form above the seed are the actual potatoes that we know and recognize. As they grow, the potatoes need to be mounded with straw. The video gives a good overview of how it’s done.

Just when you think you know all there is to know about gardening, you learn something knew!

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