Actress turns to farming heirloom tomatoes and a show is born

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Paten Hughes has a lot to dish out about a gorgeous fruit known as the heirloom tomato.

"Heirlooms are all sizes, all shapes, all colors. They're definitely more fragile. You have to eat when you buy them. The sugar content is little richer," Hughes explained.

Hughes, an actress, got her tomato education when her garden of 43 varieties had a bumper crop.

Instead of casting calls, she made cold calls to local restaurants to sell.

"I'm selling 200 to 300 pounds a week," she stated.

At a time when many have seen their plants fizzle, she maintained that it's about planting early and late crops.

"California in general can see through Nov. 1 with your tomato plants," Hughes said.

But once they're done, rip them out when the soil is dry as heirlooms are especially susceptible to soil disease and blight.

Other tomato tips include using a serrated knife and to cut sideways to keep it looking good with flavorful juices intact.

"You want one that might be a little ugly," Hughes said. "That isn't picture perfect. Kind of soft and ready to go."

Hughes reminded to not put tomatoes in the refrigerator. She also recommended storing tomatoes bottoms up because that's where they're the most fragile.

Hughes made her crop work even harder for her this year as she produced and starred in a tomato tale called "Heirloom."

"I had all these adventures growing tomatoes," Hughes explained. "We thought it'd be fun to make a romantic comedy."

A fun, flavorful, fictional film series that's currently free to download.

"And you'll have to watch the series to be able to find out what they are," said Hughes.

There will be nine episodes, each nine-minutes long, available on Vimeo on Sept. 9.
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