Monday, March 26, 2012

Nutritional Tomatoes

“Homegrown tomatoes ripened all the way on the vine have about 1/3 more vitamin C than artificially ripened supermarket varieties; and organic tomatoes – those that get their nitrogen fro manure and compost – are higher in antioxidants than conventionally grown tomatoes fed on commercial fertilizers... A study conducted at UC, Davis found that organic tomatoes contained nearly twice as much quercetin and kaempferol – flavonoids with potent antioxidant activity – as their conventionally grown cousins.”
Rebecca, Rupp, How Carrots Won the Trojan War

Our last frost date in So Cal is 3/31, so we have already selected and started our warm season seeds for the Veggie Garden. I happened to be reading Rupp’s book a month ago when we began planning our summer veggie garden.

Rupp’s book goes on to mention that some tomato varieties have been specially bred for high nutrient content. So, I went online searching for nutritious tomatoes, and particularly the P20 Blue tomato and the Health Kick. Solana Seeds in Quebec had the P20 seeds (pricey at $0.30 each), and we got the Health Kick seeds from Burpee.

Since this is the first season we’ve selected tomatoes to plant based on nutritional recommendations, I also made up an informational sign with the part of Rupp's book quoted above that will be posted next to our nutritious tomatoes.

A bit more research on the P20 reveals it’s a challenge to get the tomatoes to stay purple because the color is "light-sensitive" i.e. the more sun, the better. The Oregon State University FAQ was written a few years before the seed became commercially available, but it includes the interesting information that OSU bred this seed from a rare that is one of the few that has not only blue skin but blue meat in the center. I'm not sure if I'm ready for purple tomato sauce.

We have bought a few heirloom starts from local nurseries to get us up and running as soon as the rain stops. But we are trying to start most of our tomato crop from seed this year, something we’ve not done for the last few years. Since last summer’s weather worked against a bountiful tomato crop, we have high hopes for this year. Let’s hope the weather cooperates.

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