Year after year, tomatoes are the most popular home garden crop and it’s not hard to understand why. They are delicious, relatively easy to grow, and amazingly versatile. Whether you use them for sauces or soups, add them to a summer sandwich or just snack on one straight off the vine, tomatoes are amazing.
But tomatoes don’t just taste good; they’re also good for you.
Tomatoes are chock-full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It’s an organic pigment that gives tomatoes their bright red color and protects them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Similarly, they can help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also have potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients.
Because of that, tomatoes promote health by boosting your immune system, lowering levels of LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad type), and are good for your heart. They can even help shield you from sun damage from inside your body – but you still need to slather on the SPF 30 to avoid a sunburn.
Despite northern Arizona’s short growing season, it is possible to have lush tomato plants gracing your garden with their beautiful lycopene-filled red bulbs. Scientific selection has helped make tomatoes hardier, but you’ll need to get them planted soon to reap the benefits.
A few of our favorites at Warner’s Nursery include Better Boy, which could also be called “Big Boy,” as it often produces plump, juicy fruits that weigh more than one pound; Celebrity, which is known for its taste as well as its resistance to disease; Early Girl, which provides nice 4-to-6-ounce fruits extra early in the season; and Siberian, which can withstand cool conditions and germinates at slightly lower temperatures.
When you are considering your tomato plant accessories this year – like cages or stakes – please also think about getting season extenders. These tubes of water will surround and protect your tomatoes by absorbing the heat of the sun during the day to keep your plant warm at night. Remember, the days are lovely right now, but evenings can still be frosty!
During Memorial Day weekend, Warner’s Nursery will hold its traditional Tomatopalooza, our annual celebration of all things tomato. Stop on by to pick up some plants or ask our experts about cultivating these amazing – and very healthy – edibles.