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All about tomatoes

Plus, Movember moustache month, and a carrot cough remedy

Don’t know whether Theresa Tanguay from Austin, Manitoba impressed the neighbours, but she sure impressed the Singing Gardener. Even her husband Armand Tanguay commented, “one slice of that tomato fills a sandwich and easily covers a slice of bread.” Armand’s the sheep farmer in the family and during 47 years of happy marriage he still leaves gardening duties to his wife.

Ganti tomato – no blemishes, no cracks

Theresa’s Ganti tomato has Hungarian ancestry and she describes the flavour as appetizing and mild. “I’m always trying something different for the first time. I bought a packet of Ganti heritage tomato seeds and have saved my own for next year. My plants got no special attention where they grew in their raised bed at the south side of the house — only sunshine and lots of water. No fertilizer and no staking either.”

I, Ted, had the honour of determining weight. It tipped the scales at a handsome two pounds, two ounces (963 grams). As if that weren’t enough, Theresa harvested an even larger Ganti from her raised tomato bed that yielded four cups of tomato juice. Almost sounds like growing tomatoes for Theresa is on “Easy Street,” especially when a lot of tomato growers face challenges. She began gardening as a youngster under the guidance of her mother.

Movember means moustache month

Not much wonder after such a pleasant encounter that I broke out into my song promoting prostate health and wellness — and yes, you guessed it — “O It Must Be the Tomatoes.”

November is now promoted as Movember. This annual month-long event encourages each man to grow a moustache in support of raising funds for associated charities, plus an awareness of prostate cancer and other cancers that affect males. Of course, there are lots of guys all across this great country that already sport moustaches of various designs with names such as “the trucker, wisp or regent — the rock star, connoisseur or the after eight.” The Movember Foundation style guide will settle any uncertainty. See www.movembercanada.com.

The ferris wheel tomato

Are you among my family of readers who can recall those days when going for a round and round ride on a ferris wheel was an experience not to be soon forgotten? It was a common occurrence back then, especially during annual agricultural fairs and exhibitions.

Of course today, many ferris wheels are bigger than ever and more sophisticated. Those circular high-in-the-sky, up-and-down, round-again thingamajigs got me to thinking about a really old fruit of the vine called Ferris Wheel tomato. Humans are living to 100 years and well beyond — and yup — believe it or not, there really is a historical variety called Ferris Wheel tomato that’s been around for well over a century. This is also a heavyweight among the oldies. Pink fruits sit flat and have great-tasting meaty beefsteak interior. Read on and find out more about heritage also called historical and heirloom tomatoes.

One of the largest tomatoes

… ever grown by another gardener was back in 1987. It weighed a whopping 7-3/4 pounds. A year earlier, another tomato grower boasted a cherry tomato plant that reached a staggering nine metres (28 feet) tall.

Call them heritage; call them heirloom,

In each garden, set aside some room,

Coloured yellow, red, and pink,

Purple, orange and cheeks that wink,

Some are scalloped, some are flat,

Others striped with this or that.

We owe the Amish, Germans, Italians, Ukrainians, Russians, Mennonite and other folks a huge debt of gratitude for keeping old tomato seed strains alive. There’s an endless selection of heritage tomato varieties of all shapes, sizes and colours still available.

Show your national homespun pride as there are also tomatoes with Canadian roots. For example, one such variety is called Flin Flon tomato. This one-pounder is a vining beauty with pinkish flesh and potato leaf foliage that was grown north of ’54 for many years. I can associate to that city’s name as I wrote a song called: “Flin Flon’s Rock Garden.”

I also played the big bass fiddle when the late Irvin Freese recorded “The Flin Flon Song” in his living room at Mafeking, Man., for the Quality record label decades ago.

Tomatoes developed for our Prairie conditions include Bush Beefsteak and that well-known Manitoba tomato. Other Canadian tomato introductions are Moira and Quinte from Ontario and Canabec Super, Dufresne #2 and Petitbec from Quebec.

What many home gardeners long for

… is natural appearance, more tomato flavour, and best nutrition possible. Heritage tomatoes, ripened on the vine are deemed to be the most delicious of all and are grown for their taste instead of appearance, uniformity or long shelf life. Interest in heirloom tomatoes continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Selection of seeds that are not chemically treated and not genetically modified are in high demand. Let’s do our part to promote Canada as a nation of organically grown heirloom tomato seed savers. It’s the natural alternative alongside of only hybrids.

Carrot cough remedy

Wondering what you can do with brown sugar and a raw carrot? Join Ted on the Singing Gardener page and find out what he’s got up his sleeve.

Wondering what you can do with brown sugar and a raw carrot? Join Ted on the Singing Gardener page and find out what he’s got up his sleeve.
photo: Ted Meseyton

Have you ever encountered the words cheap jack and cheap john? They are old expressions attributed to long-time-ago street sales people who sold all sorts of goods by apparently fixing prices high to begin with and then gradually lowering them to effect a sale. Home elixirs and medicines were a popular commodity of the day.

I am convinced that carrots are a rock-solid contributor to health and well-being in so many ways. Here’s just one suggestion for how to be frugal as a cheapskate. I’m about to tell you how to make a cheap “Ted carrot cough syrup” using only a fresh carrot and some brown sugar. You may want to prepare some, when or if you ever come down with a cold and/or sore throat. Sooner or later, most folks do. This home remedy really works but remember, it’s not meant to displace a visit to the doctor when or if deemed necessary.

Scrub a carrot of good size with a stiff vegetable brush and then slice the entire carrot as thinly as possible (no need to peel it). Place carrot slices in a soup bowl and sprinkle ordinary brown sugar over the top and leave to sit overnight. (Do not refrigerate.) By morning the combo will have formed a brown syrup. Take a tablespoonful of the liquid as often as required to stop any tickling in the throat and ease a cough. Kids usually don’t mind the taste, meaning no problem to get them to take it. Discard old carrots slices into the compost heap. Make a fresh batch daily and continue to use until symptoms subside. This is a cheap way to deal with a tickle and cough before bedtime, or in the middle of the night. It won’t make anyone drowsy and you cannot overdose on it. Note: Not recommended for those on a sugar-restricted diet without doctor supervision.

About the author

Columnist

Ted Meseyton

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.

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