What To Do If You Take A Tomato Plant Home
Where possible, dig a hole deep enough so that the tomato stem is covered up to the first leaves or even higher. This will help these large plants quickly create a big root network. Most of the tomatoes are "indeterminate", which means the plants will keep growing from the tips.
The Journey Of The Tomato Plants At The Hort's Plant Fair 2023It's a sunny cool day in early February as I write, so of course I'm thinking about starting tomato seedlings. Not just yet, mind you, but some time in March. The blooming witch hazel, the hellebores, and the buds on the snowdrops and crocus in my backyard incite me to gardening frenzies at this time of the too-long winter.
Witch hazel blooming in Clement's backyard
Those who saw me talk about my Tomato Wall in September may remember that I suggested we have a tomato contest this year. I'm keen on making this happen at our September 25 meeting (once again, we overlap with high holidays - this will be Yom Kippur. Sorry, Jewish friends!). If enough of you express interest, we can have a mini-harvest festival and judging contest (appearance, taste, etc.) at the church, featuring tomatoes you grew and photos or stories of how you grew them. Perhaps someone will bring basil and great olive oil and some mozzarella buffala? You never know...
If you want the biggest head start you should of course buy large plants from professional growers such as Urban Harvest. But as a way of expanding your options, we've located two greenhouses that will kindly allow us to keep potted seedlings under glass in April and May, to be sold at the Hort's May 27th Plant Fair. Although I don't want to count my seedlings before they sprout, I do have packets of interesting tomatoes awaiting my heated kitchen floor in March.
I have seeds on hand of:
- Peruvian tomato (Solanum peruvianum) from Joseph Lofthouse: pale green to purple cherry-size fruit have sweet flavour and plants tolerate mild frosts. Good for a garden up north? "Clusters of big flowers are carried above the foliage producing a bold flower display."
- Wildling Panamorous tomato from Lofthouse. "Ridiculously diverse [plants] from crosses between domesticated tomato and two wild tomato species...Fruit color might be green, pink, red, yellow, white, or purple. Some fruits are striped prior to ripening. Mostly cherry tomatoes, though some fruits in later generations are expected to attain 8 ounces." Some plants may have cold tolerance from their Andean parents.
- Neandermato (Solanum habrochaites) from Lofthouse: "Closely related to domestic tomatoes, and can act as a pollen donor to them...has done very well in both spring and fall frost/cold tolerance...has huge showy flowers, and looks great in a flower garden."
- Minsk Early: "One of the earliest tomatoes you'll ever find. We're eating them by the handful come July every year."
- Zapotec Pleated: No cold tolerance but doesn't mind drying out. Good for hot balcony gardens or walls? "This spectacular scalloped tomato was found in the dry mountains of Mexico, where it's grown by the Zapotec Indians. It's sweet tasting, very ornamental, and it loves dry heat."
- Brandywine. Amish heirloom with large pink beefsteak fruit.
- Pineapple. Yellow beefsteak-size with red streaks and nice, fruity flavour.
- Purple Calabash. Ruffled and ribbed purple heirloom fruit with great flavour. Later season, needs some heat.
- Chocolate Stripes: "One of the "Top 3" "best tasting" tomatoes in several years of TomatoFest events...a plentiful crop of 3-4 inch, mahogany colored with dark, olive green-striping (similar to black zebra). Fruits have delicious, complex, rich, sweet, earthy tomato flavors."
- Black Cherry. Delightful plant which enthralled the kids upstairs. Good flavour and produces until frost.
- Hillbilly. Large heirloom with orange-yellow fruit streaked inside with red. Delicious on my wall.
I've ordered seeds of Brandysweet Plum, LYC 859 El Salvador, Verdal, Barry's Crazy Cherry, Berkeley Tie-Dye, Lucid Gem, Indigo Apple, Pink Boar, and Brad's Atomic Grape.
I'll be sprouting as many of these as I can in late March, growing them on a few weeks, and then asking for some volunteers to help repot them and get them to the greenhouses.
Start planning your pestos and salads now!
Zapotec Pleated tomato
Neandermato (Solanum habrochaites) from Lofthouse