We need to ask for a moment of silence for the unfortunate end that has come to one of Ohio’s most adored.
According to Bloomberg Business and Food Science, mayonnaise has moved into the No. 1 slot as the most popular condiment in the U.S., passing tomato-based salsa, and ketchup. All right, well it may not correspond with your favorites and not all of these surveys are alike. Many rank condiments nationally and others internationally. But one thing is known for sure, tomato-based condiments are always better left served than sitting on the shelf.
The tomato. I keep saying that there are many fruits and vegetables that stand out in the summertime but I would be remiss if I did not take the time to talk about tomatoes.
Did you know that the tomato is the state fruit of Ohio?
Did you know that the United States is one of the world’s leading producers of tomatoes, second only to China?
Did you know that fresh-market tomatoes are produced in every state in the Nation, and Ohio is third in terms of area planted.
It is almost unheard of to plant a garden without tomatoes. It’s probably the one thing that you cannot mess up. Success is (almost) guaranteed.
Tomatoes in Ohio seem to thrive in the heat of July and August, and yet earlier planting makes better sense for some varieties. And the cool thing (excuse the pun) is most will grow all the way till the first fall frost.
As I drive the highways and byways of this great state and visit as many roadside markets as I can, I always buy tomatoes — and the variety that’s out there continues to amaze me. The quality, freshness and juiciness of each one. I can honestly say I have never been disappointed.
Mom and Dad used to eat tomatoes like apples, with a dash of salt, or make tomato and butter sandwiches. For me I’ll take a BLT every day in the summertime and twice on Sunday, or maybe with a slice of cheese, tomato and onion, a little pepper, and boom! Or one of my breakfast favorites — egg and tomato sandwich— got me through two-a-days during football season.
Barbara Arnold is a senior horticulturalist and “In Ohio Country Today” proclaimed tomato expert with the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus. She has been there over 20 years and enjoys speaking to various groups about public gardens. “The tomato is so easy to grow. Most people love them, but there are few who do not like tomatoes. Packed with vitamins, it is a fruit that you don’t have to cook before you eat, just pick, rinse and they’re ready to enjoy.”
We asked Barbara for some tips when planting and growing Ohio tomatoes:
• Don’t refrigerate tomatoes. Tomatoes stored at less than 50 degrees lose their flavor and texture.
• Tomatoes and their family members (eggplant, peppers and potatoes) should never be planted in the same place two years in a row (three years is better). There are soil-borne diseases that affect these plants that can over-winter in the soil.
• Stake or cage the plants at planting so you don’t disturb the roots and the foliage later.
• Water often and be sure to soak the soil at least 6 inches deep.
• If you want to grow BIG fruit, remove the side suckers. If the number of tomatoes produced is what you care about, just let the suckers stay.
• In the fall be sure to clean up tomato plants and any residue to help with controlling insects and diseases the next year.
• If growing tomatoes in a container, you will need the container to hold at least 5 gallons of soil per plant.
So, although tomato-based condiments aren’t No. 1 among some polls, they remain one of the most widely used on my breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, and we hope yours. too!
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is the owner of Wilson 1 Communications. He is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for over 30 years and the co-host and producer of “In Ohio Country Today,” a nationally recognized television show, and offers radio commentary and ag reports including locally for 92.1, the Frog WFGF Lima.