The Tomato Whisperer


These tomatoes were planted in our garden in late April

There are over 3000 known varieties of tomatoes. If I could, I would plant one of each! That's how passionate I am about growing tomatoes!

There is only one reason to grow your own tomatoes...the taste!

Not even Farmers Market compares to home grown to my palate.

Supermarket tomatoes are picked green and ripen on the way. This causes them to lose almost all of their nutritional value.

Wherever I have lived, I have grown tomatoes. My whole family grows tomatoes!

So, let's talk TOMATO:

There are 2 types of tomato. Heirloom, which must be at least 50 year old seeds. ( you can save these seeds)

And Hybrid, which are bred by crossing varieties to achieve better disease resistance and higher yield. Hybrids typically are earlier to produce, 50-60 days and are good for a second fall crop as they will mature before frost if you time it right.

There are 2 styles of tomato:

Determinate is a Bush tomato that stops growing when fruit sets on the top bud. This crop comes in all at once and then is done. They do well in cages. Some varieties are Roma, San Marzano, Amish Paste, Celebrity, Marglobe and Rutgers.

Indeterminate Tomatoes grow until frost and can get 12' tall. They benefit from staking and pruning lower leaves below the first bud for air circulation. Most Heirloom tomatoes are Indeterminate. Some varieties are Rose Amish Heirloom, German Johnson, Hillbilly, Mortgage Lifter, Beefsteak.

I like to choose some of each for their particular properties.

Let's talk SOIL:

Tomatoes like sandy soil and loam, just what we DON'T have in NC. You already know about amending soil ( thanks Debbie!) so I will skip that. I do add Black Kow and Black Hen to my amended soil, our own compost and top dress with peat moss as a mulch.

Have your soil tested for PH. Tomatoes prefer neutral PH 7.

To lower PH add acidic fertilizer, lime. To raise PH add alkaline fertilizer, ammonium sulfate.

Tomatoes also benefit from potassium and phosphorous.

Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as you will get lovely bushy plants, but little fruit.

I like to add crushed eggshells around the plants for calcium and those pesky little slugs don't like to crawl over the sharp edges..a twofer!

If you don't grow from seed, choose plants with the thickest stem, not the tallest plant. Think pencil thick.