Gardening is both a science and an art. Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits (yes, it’s technically fruit!) to grow in your summer garden. Known for its history and education in agriculture, we got some great tomato tips from Michigan State University.

To Grow Your Tomatoes:

Tomatoes take a long time to grow, so you’ll want to use high quality “transplants” in your garden. When buying your transplants, look for dark green, stocky plants 6-10 inches tall with stems the thickness of a pencil. Avoid ones that are flowering and fruiting, as those won’t be big producers.

Plant your tomato transplants in a place that gets full sun for eight or more hours a day. Make sure they aren’t within 60-70 feet of a black walnut tree. The roots of black walnut trees contain a substance called juglone, which will kill the tomato plant if it comes into contact with it. You’ll want to plant the transfer in the evening or when it’s cloudy to reduce transplant shock.

Pick the tomato when it’s fully ripe. The fruit will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, possibly with some yellow remaining around the stem. Do not refrigerate the tomatoes, as it will reduce the flavor.

To Enjoy Your Tomatoes:

There are so many delicious ways to prepare and enjoy your tomatoes. This fruit is rich in vitamins A, B and C. You may find that your plants are producing more tomatoes than you can eat! Here are a few creative ways you can share your summer snacks with family and neighbors!

Host a Pizza Party.

You can make some homemade pizza sauce from your tomato stash. Invite family over for a pizza night. The ingredients you need for the sauce are likely already in your kitchen. You just need your tomatoes, water, olive oil, sugar, white vinegar and garlic salt. Here is an easy recipe that will give you fresh homemade pizza sauce in an hour!

Jar Up Fresh Salsa.

When you think of making salsa, it seems like it would involve a lot of chopping. But as long as you have a blender or food processor, you can have fresh salsa within 15 minutes. Here’s a quick step-by-step to get you started.

Make sure to get a pack of mason jars from your local grocery store (this is cuter packaging than tupperware containers, especially if you are gifting your salsa). Your fresh salsa will last for about a week in the fridge. Mark the date on the lid so you remember!

Brunch with Bloody Marys.

While you have the blender out for the salsa, you may as well whip up some Bloody Mary juice from scratch! With nine simple ingredients, you’ll be enjoying your favorite brunch drink made from your very own garden! Here’s a fun Spicy Basil recipe to try!

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