Did you know that it’s National Tomato Week (NTW) this week? Yep, along with Baby Massage Week, Real Nappy Week, National Vegetarian Week and…er…National Week Week…(OK we made that last one up.) it’s a whole week dedicated to our favourite pasta sauce ingredient.
In honour of NTW we’ve been getting the lowdown on our favourite fruit/veg hybrid from Dolmio’s tomato expert Marco Goebers.
Firstly, they’re super healthy. “Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A, B and C,” Marco explains. “Plus, they’re packed with antioxidants, fibre and folic acid.” (And yes, ketchup does contain a fair few tomatoes!).
And they’re really easy to grow yourself and a great introduction to gardening and healthy eating for little ones. So we asked Marco his top tips on growing your own:
- No space too small! Tomatoes are great for small spaces and you all you need is a sunny spot to help them grow. Lots of sun will help make your tomatoes extra tasty
- Don’t go mad when sowing the seeds – Most of your seeds are likely to grow into healthy plants so don’t scatter too many or you’ll be eating tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and tea! Scatter them thinly on the surface of some damp compost
- Cover with dry compost – Put about 6mm of dry soil on top of your seeds and cover the box or plant pot with a plastic bag to keep them warm. Pop them on the windowsill in the bag to catch a little bit of light. It should be about one to two weeks before you see the first shoots
- Avoid sunburn – As much as your tomatoes love the sun, when they’re little, the hot rays might burn them so keep them in a well lit place but out of direct sunlight
- Don’t forget to water them – The soil should always be damp to touch. If it’s dry, your little plants will already be very thirsty!
- Give them their own pot – Once they look big enough to be handled (particularly by excitedly clumsy little fingers) transfer them into individual pots
- Big enough? – When they’re 20cm high, put them in their final growing position. If you have a garden or balcony, they can go outside. If not, find somewhere where they can grow tall and get lots of sunshine.
Then just enjoy watching them grow! Remove any side shoots so the plant doesn’t loose any tomato growing energy making unecessary branches. Pick carefully and avoid bruising or cutting the skin as, Marco Goebers tells us, this can really impact the flavour. But then, your little one will probably be far to excited about cooking with home-grown ingredients to really notice.
Of course if you’re not quite the green fingered type, you can always buy a tomato sauce for your spagbol.
Marco is Dolmio’s “Tomataster” and makes sure all the tomatoes that make their sauces are up to scratch. DOLMIO® Bolognese is made with 100% Natural Ingredients