Vine tomatoes need support in the garden

Indeterminate vine tomatoes need support in the garden

 

Tomatoes are one of my favorite plants from the summer garden. So it’s not surprising that of all the seed catalogs that I get each spring, the Tomato Growers¬† catalog is one of my favorites. It offers 60 full-color pages of mostly tomatoes, but also peppers and eggplant varieties, a listing of equipment and supplies (for example tomato strainers), and books for gardeners. See, http://www.tomatogrowers.com/

 

I voraciously read all the catalog copy about each type of tomato and pepper and then note the seeds I want to grow. Experimenting with different varieties enables me to experience new flavors, new textures, and other unique characteristics of each variety.

 

In early spring when my neighbors rush off to garden centers for seedling tomatoes shipped to local nurseries by growers, I begin the process of planting my tomato and pepper seed in cell flats. The flats remain in the warm kitchen until the plants have emerged and have four sets of leaves. Only then do I place them in the garden to allow them time to acclimatize (harden off).

 

Removing the plants from their cell packs, I plant the seedlings in a basin or hole with native soil mixed with chicken manure or vegetable food. In that basin, the tomatoes benefit from the warmth of the sun and deep watering after transplanting. I do not plant the peppers in basins.

 

Stressing the tomato plant by withholding water yields tomatoes higher in flavor but can reduce the size and quantity. Too much water, however, can leach nitrogen and other nutrients from the soil and cause the plant to produce lots of leaves but fewer blossoms and fruit.

 

 

These peppers are known as "Fooled You"

Fooled You peppers provide great taste without the searing heat measured in Scoville units

 

Near the heat-loving tomatoes in my garden, I always tuck in a few bell peppers, pickling peppers, and hot chili peppers. The Serrano peppers are pungent like jalapeno peppers and measure roughly 5,000 Scoville units of heat. Other peppers such as the Trinidad Perfume and the Fooled You peppers have no heat but are prized as seasoning for dishes requiring peppers.

 

A word of caution about growing tomatoes. Don’t plant them in the same area of your garden more than three years in a row. Experts say move them around as tomatoes are heavy feeders and putting them in depleted soil or soil in which you’ve grown tomatoes that have become sick can infect your new plants.

 

If you are interested in the pros and cons of dry farming tomatoes (meaning reduced watering) for intensive flavor and higher sugar content, check out the interesting article on the Growing For Market newsletter. See,  http://www.growingformarket.com/articles/Improve-tomato-flavor

 

 

 

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