by Ruth T Hill – THE DISCERNING GARDENER
One of the most rewarding and healthy edible plants to grow in the garden is a cherry tomato plant. Every garden should have a cherry tomato plant, at least one.
I like to have them in or near a place that I spend time in the garden, so that I can snack on them regularly. Also, I like to place them where I walk regularly, perhaps on a path or by a door, for regular snacks, or taking a supply inside or on the road. Of course, this can be done in an organic garden, only.
Just the act of gardening, alone, is good for our health and state of mind. Anything that slows us down, forces patience, sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is excellent for our BALANCE and health, and working the earth for our own food adds to that value. Tomatoes, especially, are great for our health, which is why they are on every Top 10 Superfoods list that I’ve seen. Cherry tomatoes are even better than regular sized tomatoes. Tomato skin is rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that stops the buildup of inflammatory compounds, which are linked to depression and many other problems. Cherry tomatoes have more skin, meaning more lycopene, so are even better for our state of mind. This makes cherry tomatoes a GOOD MOOD FOOD.
I like to grow several colors and varieties, as I prefer different flavors at different times, plus I just love to see a bowl of different colored cherry tomatoes. They cheer up any dish in appearance, as well as flavor. I’m adding a dark or black cherry to my mix this year, for its more complex flavor, as well as color contrast with the red, orange, and yellows. If you grow your own from seed, there will be a much wider selection of varieties.
It might be a little late in many areas to order seeds and start them, but you can also order organic seedlings by catalog. Or, go to your local garden center or farmer’s market to buy some organic seedlings. (Warning: Big box store plants can be very disease prone, and most certainly have been grown with toxic chemicals.) Pick a variety that is crack-resistant, as that can be a problem with cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomato plants are very easy to grow, though they do get large, so need to be caged and staked well. The plants are good in containers, large ones that will hold at least 4 to 6 gallons of potting soil. Use a wooden barrel or ceramic pot, rather than a plastic one. When moving either the seedlings that you’ve been nurturing or purchased ones, plant them so that the first set of leaves is covered by soil. If they have become leggy, because they have not been able to be planted as soon as preferred or have not received enough light, then you can plant them deeper, as roots will form all along the stem that is covered by soil. They can take 2 to 3 months
to bear fruit, but are earlier than regular sized tomatoes, and much earlier than heirlooms. Any variety is prolific, which allows for frequent snacks or harvesting.
If using a large barrel or pot, then herbs, such as basil, chives, and thyme, grown around the base, are not only perfect combinations with tomatoes, but are also beneficial in helping to deter harmful insects.
Oregano is another good mood plant that goes well with tomatoes. It requires less water, and it spreads, so it might to better in its own container (at least 12″ diameter) or in the ground nearby. Oregano is rich in cafin caffeic acid, quercitin, and rosmarinic acid, all of which combat depression, fatigue, & anxiety.
SO, even if you don’t have space or are not able to dig a garden, you can always put a barrel/pot in a sunny spot on a patio, balcony, or path that you walk by regularly. Summer (and into fall)will be that much more rewarding, as you’ll be able to grab a few good mood snacks whenever you want. EVERY GARDEN SHOULD HAVE A CHERRY TOMATO PLANT! or 2!