How To Make Homemade Tomato Sauce

When you’re an Italian and your name is Anthony and you’re living in New Jersey, it’s a given that you should know how to make tomato sauce from scratch. So here’s my recipe for how to make homemade tomato sauce.

It’s a shame about the whole carbs are bad thing because I could eat pasta or pizza every day of the week. And besides the carbs, both pasta and pizza and have one thing in common that makes them delicious, it’s the tomato sauce. This is post is about how to make homemade tomato sauce for pasta. It’s a meat sauce and it’s great on lasagna or baked ziti or even just plain spaghetti. If you’re goal is to make pizza sauce, you probably don’t want to use this recipe. Now you definitely could use it for homemade pizza if you’re only alternative is something out of a jar. This will be much better than that. But if you do, then add a little oregano when you spread the sauce on the pizza dough and you’ll be fine.
canned tomatoes
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Tomato Seedling Care

thinning tomato seedlings

I planted 20 tomato seedlings in my basement about 2 months ago. The seedlings germinated under my shop lights and are doing well. Sometime in July I’ll be making delicious tomato sandwiches but today I’d like to talk about a few important things when it comes to tomato seedling care.

cutting tomato seedlings
Sorry little guy but you didn’t make the cut

How to Thin Tomato Seedlings

When I plant tomato seeds, I usually put 3-5 seeds in each container. I like to do this in case there’s a few seeds that don’t sprout. Doing this improves the odds of having more tomato plants to put outside. Just double or triple up the seeds counts in each cup. Sometimes you have older seeds from years ago that saved or never got around to planting. Or if you buy from big box stores, who knows if those seeds where in a 100 degree truck going across a dessert or something. You never know if your seeds will germinate.

Even with my 3-5 seedlings per cup of soil, I still had 3 that didn’t sprout anything. Hey it happens. But still that’s a pretty good percentage.

So once the seedlings sprout and start to grow you’re going to want to murder some of them. Survival of the fittest is my motto for thinning tomato seedlings. Keep the healthiest looking plant, growing well, not too spindly, good leaves and then cut the rest with a scissor. You don’t want to pull out the seedlings because that will disturb the roots of the plant that you are keeping. Just cut the extras with a scissor as close as dirt level as you can get and that will do it. The plant is just a baby and doesn’t have the strength to recover from such a drastic pruning.

Its like the vegetable version of Survivor. The tomato plants that don’t make a name for themselves get voted off the island. And on Tomato Survivor the losers are actually killed. Yikes!

How to Fertilize Tomato Seedlings

Another thing that’s important to tomato seedling care is fertilization. When the tomato seedlings have their first true leaves (that’s the second set of leaves that you’ll see) they should be fed. A small dose of liquid fertilizer can be added to your watering can and that should do it.

How to Harden off tomato seedlings

And the last thing to consider with tomato seedling care is hardening off. If you’re growing your seedlings under florescent lights like I am it really isn’t bright enough for the plant to mature to the flowering stage. In fact it’s kind of not enough light. Now you don’t want to take these tiny little plants and plant them outside on a sunny day only to see them wilt and perish. When it’s warm enough to move them outside, you should do so but ease them into the full sun over a week’s worth of time. But them in a shady spot at first which is going to still give them more sun than under regular shop lights. Then move them to spots that get more sun. You should start with a spot that gets some morning sun and afternoon shade and ease them into it.

So these are tips for tomato seedling care. I’ve been starting tomato seedlings at my current house for 17 years this way. If you follow these instructions you should have some success too.

Growing Tomatoes – The Tomato Tower

Tomato Tower
Tomato Tower
Tomato Tower In-Progress – After two weeks the tomato plants are already a lot bigger

Whenever I see pictures of Supersweet 100 tomatoes in seed catalogs I’m always jealous. I love growing tomatoes but In the catalog pictures there’s these long chains of tomatoes that are perfectly uniform and red. It’s almost like they were manufactured or something.

The catalog description says, “The scarlet, cherry-sized fruits are produced in long pendulous clusters right up to frost. ” Well count me in, just let me look up that pendulous word and oh it means “hanging down loosely“. Great, consider me still counted in for the Supersweet 100 tomatoes.

Space is at a premium in my raised beds. So last season (2014), I decided to put the cherry tomatoes in a big old metal tub of a planter. I built a big trellis from a few 2×4 that I ripped into 2″ x 1/2” pieces and I was expecting the entire thing to be covered with tomatoes. In the past some of my indeterminate tomato plants have grow over 6 feet tall so I was expecting a giant tower of tomatoes.

Much to my wife’s horror, you can see the tower from my dining room or from around the pool. I told her not to worry that soon it will be filled with pendulous clusters of tomatoes. She didn’t look up pendulous but it didn’t matter because year one of the tower was a bust.

Last year’s growing season wasn’t great, lots of rain, lots of fungus, then crazy hot humid temps. The tomato tower that I planned turned out to be a lot smaller and less productive. A better name might have been the tomato bungalo or the tomato colonial. The vines only grew to about 3 or 4 feet and the metal tub was always dry even when I watered it every day. Those conditions let to a few tiny little tomatoes that I wound up leaving for the chipmunks.

But I learned from the experience and I’m trying it again this year.

I’m trying again because I want to eat tomatoes everyday in August. And also because it was really heartbreaking to hope for something awesome, do the work and get basically nothing from it. It’s like wasting my time in the garden. And once again we can talk about my wife’s horror, if I spend all that time in the garden and we don’t get a crap load of vegetables out of it, then it’s wasted time that could be spend doing something from the HoneyDo list. And I can’t give her any more ammunition in that argument. So I declare 2015 the year of the tomato tower II.

I’ve even thinking about doing some wood burning on the trellis and letting everyone within sight distance of it know that I have officially named it the “Tomato Tower”.

Self watering seemed like the way to avoid the watering issue. This way, the plants could drink all they wanted and if I had to skip a day in the garden, they’d be okay.

The way these self watering planters or seed trays work is that there’s water underneath and there’s a cloth or a compartment that’s in contact with the soil and the water and there’s a wicking action like the soil is drinking up the water.

First I had to plug the holes in the container because what good would a water chamber be if it didn’t hold water. A little bathroom chalk did the trick.

To make the compartment that will hold the water and keep the soil out, I cut 4″ sections of drainage pipe and fit them into the bottom of the tub. I wound up cutting a few extras because I forgot that I needed to leave room for the trellis in there too.

Then I got an old cotton shirt and put it over the pipe pieces. Next came the soil and I had a self watering planter ready to go.

I also cut the bottom of a milk container off and put that in there for easy watering. I just pop the top and fill it up with the hose. I can even put fertilizer in there. Last step is to drill a couple of holes in the sides for drainage. This is In case we get crazy rain that fills the container and turns the soil into a soupy mess. With the drainage holes, this shouldn’t happen.

As long as the top doesn’t dry out (probably because the soil and water lose contact) it will suck up the water from underneath.

And my tomato plants are still pretty small because it’s only May but they’ve been doing pretty well since I planted them.

I’ll definitely post some tomato tower updates in the future, whether the experiment is a success or failure.

Tomato Tower Pool
Yes, you can see the tower from my pool

Update: June 27th

Note that the picture above with the pool in the background is from June 3rd.

The tomato seeds were started indoors in March and transplanted outside on May 16th.

Tomato Tower
June 27th