We have listed the diseases to which select hybrids have been bred to be resistant~one of the true benefits of improved hybrids.
V: Verticilium Wilt
F: Fusarium Wilt
F1: Fusarium Wilt Race 1
F2: Fusarium Wilt Race 2
A: Alternaria alternata
L: Septoria leafspot
TMV: Tobacco Mosaic Virus
Tomato Sowing Instructions
Days to Germination: 6-15 days
It’s best to raise Tomatoes as transplants. Sow Tomato seeds in sterile seed mix 6 to 8 weeks before the danger of frost has passed, water lightly and provide bottom heat. Grow seedlings at 60° to 75°F in a brightly lit, well-ventilated area. (Windowsills are not bright enough; the plant will get leggy and flop over.) Fertilize lightly as needed, increasing the pot size as needed. After the last spring frost, place outdoors for a week to harden off and to introduce to stronger sunlight. Prepare fertile Tomato beds in full sun with lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure. Transplant, burying seedlings deeper than initially grown, incorporating organic fertilizer under each transplant. Support with Tomato cages or tie plants loosely to rough wooden stakes, using soft cloth. Feed occasionally as needed. Keep Tomatoes well-watered by soaking the soil and not the leaves. Harvest when ripe!
Green Means Go
If you're wondering if your Tomato plants (or any annual crops) are getting the soil fertility they need, keep an eye on the "seed leaves". This is the first pair of leaves to emerge when a seed sprouts. They remain at the base of the stem as the plant grows. If the seed leaves stay healthy and green, you're doing something right with the soil in that row. If they are pale, yellow or withered, you need to prepare the soil more carefully next time you plant.
The more water a vegetable contains, the more water you need to give it in dry, hot weather. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Celery are especially thirsty. If you can, group them together and run a soaker hose through the patch.
According to the theory of companion planting, Tomatoes and Basil benefit one another when grown in the same plot. Certainly, they cause each other no harm, for we have often interplanted the two in a row, especially when we're training Tomatoes vertically on strings. There's plenty of space in between them for bushy Basil plants. After all, they keep excellent company in the kitchen, whether you're serving fresh Tomatoes strewn with the pungent green Basil leaves or cooking both up into a luscious sauce for pasta. It's handy to be able to pick the two together. And who knows? Perhaps the Basil's strong scent repels insect pests that might otherwise prey on the Tomatoes.
The better your Tomato crop, the more important it is to support those heavy, leafy vines laden with ripening fruits. Our favorite system is to train them in circular cages~and we don’t mean those flimsy ones you buy at the garden center, which are neither tall enough nor strong enough to support the weight of indeterminate (vining) varieties. Instead we purchase sheets of concrete reinforcing wire, which is sold at hardware stores in flat rectangular sheets of heavy duty metal grid, with 6" X 6" openings, just the right size for reaching in to pick. Each sheet, cut in half, will make two 5' tall cylindrical cages. Cut the sheet in half with wire cutters, leaving stubs of wire that can be twisted around the opposite sides to form a cylinder about 18" in diameter. Also snip off the horizontal wire at the bottom, leaving more stubs you can poke into the earth to hold the cage steady. As the Tomatoes grow you can train them a little, removing the bottom suckers up to the first fruiting branch, and guiding each uppermost tip to stay within the cage as it grows. But most of the time the vines will simply rest their elbows on the wire, so to speak, as they climb, remaining staunchly upright.
Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Cooking Tip: Variations on a Theme
At the height of Tomato season, platters appear on the table regularly, and we never seem to get tired of them. But it’s nice to vary the dressing. Sometimes it’s just a simple vinaigrette. Sometimes its a heavier balsamic vinegar dressing with olive oil and honey. Sliced red Onions are often part of the mix. Basil, either with the leaves whole or cut into ribbons, is a frequent player. And sometimes we make a pesto with our Lemon Basil and some good olive oil--maybe a little extra lemon as well, and some parmigiano cheese. It stays a brighter green than other pestos, and is wonderful spooned over the Tomato.
There's always too many Tomatoes and there's never enough time to can them all. Here's an easy way to freeze them instead. Wash the Tomatoes and cut out the little core at the stem leaving as much of the good flesh as possible. Then, simply fill one-gallon plastic freezer bags with the fruits. They do not need to be blanched and can be used by just dropping them into soups or sauces. If you prefer them skinless, just thaw them and the skins will slip right off. Paste Tomatoes (like Milano Plum Tomatoes) are fleshier and work the best, but you can use other types if that is what you have.
The Tao of Tomato Sauce
Although we tend to eat with the seasons, there’s one summer crop we're never willing to part with when frost threatens: Tomatoes. The trouble is, we're often too busy or lazy for the hours we'd need to can them or cook them down into sauce. Fortunately we've found a way to let tomato sauce “just happen”. When frost is predicted we pick all of our ripe Plum Tomatoes, rinse them off, cut out the little core at the stem end, and place them in 1-gallon sealable plastic bags, in the freezer. Whenever we need them we can take them out individually or by the bagful. We quickly slip off their skins by holding them under hot tap water for a few seconds while they’re still rock hard. This way, much less of the beautiful, nutritious pulp clings to the discarded skins. Once skinned they can be tossed into soups and stews, or turned into a completely effortless sauce. To make it, we just set the frozen Tomatoes in a steamer or colander, over a pot, and let the liquid drip through the holes into the pot as they thaw. This water, which is nearly clear, can be added to another recipe or discarded. Meanwhile, while we're off doing something else, the Tomatoes have become a little pile of rich, concentrated goodness~in other words, a sauce. All they need is a little olive oil, Garlic and herbs.