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I’m writing this garden article a little different than my past ones. This is more about curiosity or a question on whether you can actually supercharge your tomatoes during a thunderstorm, making them bigger and better. In addition, I thought I would end this article with a recipe for an Italian Salsa that I acquired from garden friends before we moved to South Carolina. It’s worth sharing for those supercharged or not, tomatoes!
My friend, Jerre in Williamston told me about a natural tomato fertilizing technique she read about and tried in her vegetable garden. As a curious gardener, I decided to do a little research and here is what I discovered.

In general, if you look at your garden after a thunderstorm has passed you will notice that the plants looked brighter and greener. I always thought it was the rain and cooler temperatures that made a difference and it does. But lightning is known to be a major factor in naturally fertilizing tomatoes and all other plants, too.

Not getting too technical, this is how it works. Air consists of 78% nitrogen (N) and about 20% oxygen (O). Nitrogen is an element that plants need for foliage development and overall growth and is usually the main ingredient in fertilizer. However, the nitrogen in the air is not in a usable form for most plants

So, how do plants get that supercharged dose of available nitrogen in the air? VERY simply put lightning’s intense heat and electrical charge can separate nitrogen from the air. Raindrops can now carry this natural fertilizer to the ground in a soluble form that plants can absorb. This much more complicated process is called atmospheric nitrogen fixation where lightning creates fertilizer in the sky.

Now some believe that you can go a step further in supercharging your tomato plants by collecting ‘static electricity’. When a bolt of lightning leaps to the ground we get a sudden demonstration of static electricity. Jerre collects it directly to her plants and roots with metal stakes and ties the plants with stockings. Both help to collect static electricity giving her tomatoes an extra charge. So, did it work or not…I have to admit her tomatoes looked bigger and prettier than mine!

So, when the storms come you can love lightning for more than just the show of lights. You can love it for those nitrogen-charged raindrops that fall from the sky as fertilizer for ALL plants. And as Jerre does, you can even super-supercharge your tomato plants!

This is the ITALIAN SALSA RECIPE…served on homemade or store bought crostinis…it’s always a big hit!

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup Feta cheese with tomato & basil or more
Salt and Pepper
Mix well and let stand at room temperature. Taste for seasoning and serve on crostinis.■

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