No garden would be complete without tomatoes. They tend to be the pride of the garden for a lot of people. Tomatoes are very diverse in their flavors and appearance, and have an endless number of uses.
Tomato plants require a lot of direct sun, and most require warm temperatures to thrive, so select a spot in your yard that gets the most direct sunlight that it can possibly get. You will also want to plant your tomatoes in soil that is well aerated and drains well. Incorporate several inches of compost into the top 6 to 8 inches of your soil. It is a good practice to water your tomato plants consistently and deeply, while not letting the soil dry out between watering. Hand watering will keep the water off of the tomatoes themselves, which will help you avoid splits in the tomato skins. Watering during the morning helps avoid fungal attacks.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and they need a lot of nutrients to thrive. Using a liquid fertilizer is perfect, it will make the nutrients available to the tomato plant immediately. You can use fish emulsion, compost teas, or commercially available products. Look for fertilizers designed for either growth for the early development of the plant, and one designed for blooms for the later part of the growing season. For example, Earth Juice Bloom and Earth Juice Grow.
There are two different growing styles of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomato plants grow to a specific size when mature, generally no bigger than four feet. Indeterminate tomato plants will continue to grow taller through the season reaching heights of 6 feet. Indeterminate plants do not require pruning or the removal of suckers, but with their size they can tend to get unruly if left to grow without any maintenance.
Tomato plants from Teal Creek Farm, run by Sloan and Keith, have become a staple in the LifeSource plant world. They consistently supply us with an excellent selection of tomato plants. Their knowledge and experience when it comes to tomatoes gives me a lot of confidence in their plants. This year they are hoping to have as many as 61 different varieties!
The ever growing popularity of some of the OSU developed tomatoes has made it difficult to find their seeds. As a result we will not have any Willamette or Early Cascade tomatoes this year. Sloan and Keith have selected the Moskvich to replace the Early Cascade. It is an indeterminate heirloom variety with a great flavor and 4-6 oz. fruits. The Moskvich is cold tolerant, making it an excellent variety to grow in the Northwest. The Oxheart will be a new heirloom variety for us as well this year. This tomato is a great producer of 8 oz. meaty, deep pink fruits. Another new heirloom to us this year will be Kellogg’s Beef Steak (replacing Kellogg’s Breakfast). Kellogg’s Beef Steak produces 1 lb. delicious golden orange fruits. New to the cherry tomato line up are the Sweetie and Tomatoberry varieties. The Sweetie has an incredibly sweet flavor, and produces red fruits in clusters all season. The Tomatoberry produces unique deep red strawberry shaped fruits that are sweet and meaty.
The season is upon us and it’s time to get the plants in the ground. Be sure to shop early for the best selection! Supplies are limited for some varieties, and others are just so popular that they fly out the door quickly.
Photo by: Ajith_chatie