Common Name: Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Seed Saving Level: Easy with self-pollinating flowers, but they can cross-pollinate by insects so separate varieties or a taller blocking crop, or stagger planting.
Varieties: Small to medium sized varieties do best in our desert climate. Try cherry, pear or romas if you’re just getting started.
Planting: Start seeds inside in January and July and then plant in March and August. Sun is essential to tomatoes, plant in an area that receives at least 6 hrs daily — preferably morning sun. Water near the roots, not the leaves. Soil-borne diseases can become an issue if the leaves get wet. Water especially when plants are producing flowers and fruit. Mulch to keep soil moist. Fertilize with mild, organic fertilizer every 2-3 wks until flower and fruit production begins. After fruit production is complete, resume with fertilizer.
Harvest: Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible until very red, firm and plump, regardless of size, with smooth, glossy skin.
Seed Saving—the Fermentation Method: Choose from your healthiest, tastiest, most vigorous plants. Squeeze seeds and pulp into a container with a little water, cover and let ferment for 4-6 days,shaking occasionally. Pour off “filmy” pulp and floating seeds, keeping seeds that have settled on the bottom, rinsing thoroughly in a fine mesh colander. Spread seeds on a cotton cloth or screen to dry for 2 wks.
Sources: The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert and Cheryl Gough, Arizona Cooperative Extension: ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/pubs/0103/bountiful.html , almanac.com.
Books and ebooks:
Recipe: Quickie Marinara
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup minced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp Italian herb blend
¼ tsp ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
Fine sea salt, to taste
Heal the oil and onion in a medium sauce-pan over med heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, herb blend, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 min, until the garlic is fragrant, but do not brown it. Add the sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasonings. The sauce may be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Gently reheat over low heat if refrigerated. Yields: 1 3/4 cups
Source: Vegan Finger Foods (2014) by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes .