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Friday, 30 October 2020

Ollas Save Water in the Garden and Grow Green Tomatoes

 THE GOOD EARTH

What About Ollas?

Gardeners already know how to save water in the garden because dry times can happen at any time of the year, not just summer.
Saving water in the garden could be anything from mulching to using drip irrigation and creating wicking beds.
The whole idea is to make water last longer in your garden, whether it is from rain or using garden hoses.
Tip: Make sure your soil can absorb a lot water.
Check if it is water repellant (hydrophobic).

Add a lot of organic matter to improve the water holding capacity.
 If you're using dripper hoses, cover them with mulch so the eater doesn't evaporate rapidly.

But did you know that ollas have been used to irrigate gardens for thousands of years?
You might be now thinking what are ollas exactly?
Let’s find out.
I’ve amtalking with Margaret Mossakowska sustainability educator at moss house of 


Ollas reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, especially in hot dry climates.
The tip is, ollas are buried in the soil before you do your planting.
When planning your garden, know that water leaving the olla is approximately equal to the radius of the olla.
If you have a particularly large garden, you will need a larger olla or several small ollas spaced evenly.
If you have questions or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Green Tomatoes even when ripe
This segment won’t be complete without mentioning tomatoes at least once every year, because there’s always so much to be said about them.
  • Tomatoes, are Lycopersicon esculentum.Being in the Solanaceae family, they’re related to eggplants, capsicums, chillies and potatoes.
  • Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, or to be even more accurate a berry, because they are pulpy and have edible seeds.Other botanical fruits that we call vegetables include squash, cucumbers, green beans, corn kernels, eggplants, and peppers.
In Australia, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables, with potatoes being no.1
A Bit of History
The tomato is native to South and Central America, and the first tomato was thought to bear a yellow fruit and grown by the Aztecs.
  • Did you know that it’s thought that people were growing crops of tomatoes at least around 500 BC? 
  • In the mid 1500’s, tomatoes were only grown amongst flowers in Italy.They certainly weren’t eaten. How things change.
  • As late as the 18th century, physicians thought tomatoes caused appendicitis, and stomach cancer from tomato skins sticking to the lining of your stomach.
  • Europeans then refused to eat tomatoes because they were thought to be poisonous, and no-one was volunteering to be the first.

We like to grow our own tomatoes because store bought tomatoes have little taste? But why have store bought tomatoes become tasteless?

In the mid 20th century breeders discovered a tomato that ripened evenly.
So it was  then cross-bred  with just about every tomato variety, to produce attractive red fruit without the typical green ring surrounding the stem on uncross-bred varieties.
Before this hybridisation, tomatoes were able to produce more sugar during the process of ripening and were sweeter and tastier.
Usually, tomatoes turn red when ripe, but some varieties stay green.
These are the ones that we will concentrate on.

But how do you tell when green tomatoes are ripe?

The colour green will change from a very bright green to a greeny-yellow tinge.

  • It’s a subtle change but once you’ve seen it you’ll know that it’s a reasonable difference.
  • If you’re still not sure how to tell if a green tomato is ripe and not just an unripe fruit,  close your eyes and feel it; if it's soft, it's ripe.
Some varieties for you to try are Green Zebra. Here's a photo of these being held by my friend Steve.
Green Zebra produces lots of tomatoes, about 5 cm’s round that ripen to a beautiful amber gold with dark green zebra-like stripes over the amber background.
Inside, the flesh is a beautiful, sparkling green.
When those stripes appear, then you know the tomato is ripe.

Aunty Ruby’s Green, is a luscious green big  sweet beefsteak type.
Great for slicing.
A gorgeous green-when-ripe colour, and is said to be the very best tasting green.
For the novice gardener this one you might need to tell by feel if it’s ripe though.
Another favourite is Green Grape.
This one has an olive green skin, but is very sweet with a hint of lemon zest.
It even won the tomato taste test at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney. A very compact plant ready to eat fruit in 10 – 12 weeks.
When to Grow Tomatoes?
There’s a tomato for every type of climatic condition and generally they’re a warm season fruit even though we call them vegetables.
In temperate climates you can plant them until December, hopefully some of you started them in early September to get the jump on fruit flies.
 In sub-tropical and tropical areas, this week it’s your turn to win, and yes, you can plant tomatoes all year round.
In cool temperate districts you have from October until December, and in Arid areas from August until March, so nearly all year.

What Do Tomatoes Like?

  • Tomatoes prefer full sun but if you live in very hot climates, you’ll get sun scald on your tomatoes, so afternoon shade of some sort is essential. Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.
  • Tomato seeds can be planted into the ground as soon as the soil temperature reaches 200C.
TIP:When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot-that way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.

  • At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant.
ANOTHER  good tip is to put some hydrated or fluffed up water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole, especially if in your district it’s very hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them.
  • Ever seen black bottoms on tomatoes? That's blossom end rot
They actually need lots of water to prevent this problem (“blossom end” rot), when they get a black bottom. Which also means a lack of Calcium. 

Spacing Your Tomatoes
  • Don’t crowd your tomato plants because they need good air circulation around them so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.
  • When your tomato plant has four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant.By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.You could do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into producing larger fruits.Plus you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.
  • Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind.
  • Once the flowers have formed, you need to feed weekly with tomato fertiliser or a general fertiliser but add a side dressing of sulphate of potash.
  • Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.

HINT: tomato plants will only set fruit if the temperatures don’t drop below 210C.
  • Did you know that a tomato picked at first sign of colour and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine?
VERY IMPORTANT: 
Prune off the lower leaves to allow more light, improve air-circulation and prevent the build-up of diseases.
For some listeners, fruit fly will be a problem.
There are lures and preventative organic sprays that contain Spinosad.
 I intend to trail fruit fly exclusion bags. As soon as the fruits appear, on they go.
WHY ARE THEY GOOD FOR YOU?
First the good news, there have been studies done which show that eating tomatoes lowers the risk of some cancers. Possibly because of the chemical lycopene that is found in tomatoes and makes them red.
Cooked tomatoes are even better because the cell walls get broken down releasing something called carotinoids. Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat, like some olive oil in a salad, allows the lycopene part to absorb better.
Tomatoes are highly nutritious and sweet because of natural sugars – sucrose and fructose.
If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A.
Now the bad news….there is anecdotal evidence that something called glykoalkaloids contribute to arthritis symptoms.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

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