Guest Post

A Home Gardening Experiment: Harvest

By Chrisanne Sikora
Social Media Coordinator

Let me get this out of the way first:  I have tomatoes!!!

Tomato plants (give or take an oak tree)Okay, now I’ll back up a bit.  Last time I checked in, I’d just transplanted my seedlings from the kitchen greenhouse to the backyard.  That was back in early June, and almost immediately afterward we had a little cold spell.  My tomato seedlings went into shock and of the ten that were planted only about three looked like they were going to make it.  Though that was a little disappointing, there wasn’t much I could do about it – can’t control the weather after all.  What I did do was spread some mulch over the garden bed to protect the roots, and watered.  Every day.  If I’ve learned one thing it’s that tomatoes are thirsty little things.

Delicate yellow flowers

As it turns out, most of the seedlings recovered from the cold snap and I soon had about a half dozen thriving tomato plants (and one oak tree trying to pass itself off as one.  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see it hiding in the middle of the pack).  Right before I went on vacation in July, I noticed a few little yellow flowers popping up on some of the vines – a good sign that tomatoes were not far behind.

Young green tomatoesSure enough when I got back home there were still a few yellow flowers here and there, and a number of little green tomatoes.  The vines had also grown another several inches while I was away and they’re now peeking up over the bottom of the deck.  Amazing how they went from scrawny not-sure-they’re-going-to-make-it seedlings to a mini jungle in about a month and a half.

So after a few false starts, I’d say my home gardening experiment was ultimately a success.  A few tomatoes have already started turning orange, and there’s enough young fruit that I expect to have home grown tomatoes in my salad for the rest of summer and into the fall.  Hmm, what should I try growing next year?

Tomato harvestGot any good tips for a newbie gardener, or a suggestion for my next gardening  adventure?  Leave me a comment below.

Nutrition, recipes, Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient Is…The Tomato

Three Tomatoes on a vine

Since last month we profiled an exotic whole grain, this month we decided to focus on something a bit more well known. This time around we’re profiling what is possibly the most popular and versatile vegetables…or is it a fruit?  Actually, it’s a little bit of both. 

Scientifically, the tomato is considered a fruit because the seeds are held inside edible flesh.  Think of it as the “fruit” of the tomato plant, the same way an apple is the fruit of the apple tree.   But when it comes to cooking, tomatoes are considered vegetables since their flavor is better suited to savory dishes rather than dessert (eggplant and squash are other examples of fruits usually thought of as vegetables).

Regardless of whether you consider it a vegetable or fruit, fresh tomatoes are low in sodium and good sources of vitamins C, A and K as well as potassium, a crucial nutrient for balancing the body’s fluids and maintaining a regular heart beat.  Tomatoes are also excellent sources lycopene—an antioxidant that may help protect against some types of cancer (it’s also what gives tomatoes their bright red color).

Tomatoes vary in size and shape from small round cherry tomatoes, to oval shaped plum tomatoes, to large globe tomatoes most often sliced for use in sandwiches and burgers.  You can find fresh tomatoes at the grocery store (along with many tomato products like pasta sauce, tomato puree, salsa and ketchup) and your local farmers market.  Or, you can grow your own—tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow at home, and since they don’t require much space (just water and plenty of sun) they can be grown almost anywhere.  

Whether you grow your own or buy them from the market, your tomatoes will taste great in this recipe.  Use it as a side dish or as a topping for fish or poultry:

 Sweet Balsamic Tomatoes


2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix oil, vinegar and honey and pour over tomatoes. Roast tomato mixture for 8-10 minutes. 

Yield: About 4 servings


SODIUM: 8 mg
FIBER: 1 g
FAT: 7 g Sat Fat: 1 g

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo Credit: Zsuzsanna Kilian )