In a few short weeks the tomato seedlings we transplanted in the greenhouse this week will be ready to plant in your garden. The first crop of tomato plants were transplanted earlier this year, and we have been selling them for a couple of weeks. After selling out in a few days, I was looking at our seed inventory and decided to start a crop for early May when we typically have dozens of var ieties to select from. Just to reassure you, the stores have a great selection of our favorite garden fruit in stock now!
As I was transplanting the seedlings, the aroma of the tomato plants took me back to my teenage years working at the garden center. We sold maybe 30 var ieties back then, keeping the hybrid var ieties on the east side of the greenhouse and the non-hybrids on the west. I’m not really sure why though. Glamour, Sioux, Beefsteak and Large Red Cherry are just a few of the var ieties we sold.
There is something special about that aroma. I'm sure it’s something most gardeners have experienced. In an attempt to get a description of the aroma, I "Googled" it and ended up finding something much more interesting on phys.org:
"Tomato plants emit an aroma in order to ward off bacterial attacks. This volatile compound is hexenyl butyrate (HB), and according to testing by researchers at the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, it has great potential for protecting crops from infections, drought, etc."
That explains everything now!
A couple of questions I am frequently asked about growing tomatoes are, ‘What var iety do you recommend?' and ‘What fertilizer do you use?'
First off, I ALWAYS plant the Jet Star var iety. It out produces anything else I’ve ever grown. With an indeterminate growth habit, it grows best in a tall cage. Its 4-5” fruit is perfect for slicing. I also plant several other var ieties. The heirloom var iety Cherokee Purple has flavor like no other tomato. Italian var ieties such as Roma are great for cooking and cherry tomatoes are great in salads. You can’t go wrong with planting several var ieties. Here is a link to our Tomato Variety List which will help you in your selection. You can even order them online now for parking lot pick up.
I always fertilize with a starter plant food such as ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting Plant Food. Decades ago, my dad always had us water in with liquid starter fertilizer, as it gets plants off to a fast start. For this, I’m also going to use FoxFarm Tiger Bloom which is formulated to build buds and blooms. Throughout the growing season, I’ll use ferti-lome Gardener's Special Plant Food on a monthly basis.
Hopefully we are done with any late freezes. Usually, we are done with killing cold weather by mid-April. We still have plenty of time to garden. I wouldn’t hesitate planting tomatoes this week, and covering them at night to retain some of the heat from the day. The plants will get established faster, which means earlier Home Grown Tomatoes!!
"Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon & lettuce & home grown tomatoes"
- Guy Clark Guy Clark - Homegrown Tomatoes
Your friend in the garden,
Marty Johnson Owner - Johnson's Garden Center