Tomatoes...Are they in your garden?
To be completely honest I never realized the diversity, as well as the value of a delicious fruit/veggie until I started working at Veseys. This possibly challenging, yet delicious, fruit/veggie is now one of my favourite crops to continue with further research, source new varieties and also to grow. From my years of working with Veseys, I have seen this proven time and time again as many gardeners also feel the same love in growing them as I do. I aim to continue to offer as much information as possible to continue with improved growing successes. You may be wondering why I refer to a tomato as both fruit and vegetable? This question has been discussion for many gardeners for years, however in the botanical world it is considered a fruit simply because it has seeds.
Tomatoes are packed with multitudes of nutrition value, versatility in recipes when cooking sauces, soups,canning, or simply chopped fresh into a salad. I fondly recall many days at harvest walking through our trials and picking a sweet cherry variety and popping it right in my mouth. Yummm!... and they taste better then candy! Gardeners are amazed and "get a kick out of" some of the varieties such as "Tomato BerryGarden" that is actually shaped like a strawberry as seen below:
or our famous beautiful glossy, brown tomato called "Chocolate Cherry". Yes this tomato is better then chocolate..., at least to some gardeners!
Now don't get me wrong, there are many medium and larger varieties that serve great purpose in the garden as well, just be sure that if you are going in for a taste test, that you try the larger varieties first!
Of course the tomatoes just can't magically appear in our gardens without a little bit of "leg" work first. Being in a cooler climate such as ours, tomato seeds need to be started indoors first. Taking into consideration of how quick they can grow be sure to follow proper timing of planting. If planted to soon, tomatoes can possibly result growing in a leggy form. This can especially happen if new seedlings are without an opportunity to grow with proper light conditions. I would recommend planting tomato seed indoors no earlier then 4-6 weeks before last frost. Gardeners have their favourite method and type of containers or seed trays to grow them in when starting indoors.
I have tried many different sizes of trays, but what I found is most important in growing tomato seedlings successfully is with using a quality growing medium as well as providing proper temperatures and light. It makes perfect sense, that if you choose to grow them, it is worth the effort of these methods right from the start. Since I bought my own grow light stand and learned about proper watering techniques, my tomatoes are much healthier and better able to stand the transplanting and introduction to the outdoor world.
Of course with all the excitement and enthusiasm in growing tomatoes, I could keep going on, and trust me, many people who know me would agree! I'm going to promise that I will make this short and sweet but informative to help you also further share the success of growing tomatoes.
I'm sure you all have you been faced with a few challenges with growing these plants prior to harvest and please don't despair or give up trying...it is the challenges that make growing them so fun and worth it. If you have any questions further to this blog, please feel free to comment below.
When we refer to determinate tomatoes, this just simply means that the plants are non-staking, shorter, bush types that will set a great yield of tomatoes within a two to three week period. Determinate tomato varieties are ideal for growing if you prefer to include them for cooking in soups, sauces and ever delicious and popular salsa. This type of tomato is available in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours as well. Both indeterminate and determinate types include heirloom/open-pollinated varieties that are also so yummy!
Tomatoes can also be hungry little guys,but be sure not to overdo by applying too much nitrogen.Too much of a good thing for "these guys" will result with gorgeous, dark green foliage but little to no fruit. I like to use earthworm castings mixed in with growing medium when first incorporated outdoors. By adding this at planting time, it seems to grow tomatoes quite successfully. Once they start setting a bloom, they can also benefit from a side dress of compost. Gardeners may find that even as seedlings start to grow and have established their first and second set of true leaves before being transplanted, application of fertility added at seedling base will encourage a thicker and stockier stem. Please try not to "overdo it with kindness" when it comes to over fertilizing or over watering. Allow them to slightly dry between waterings, as well as water at base of plant instead of overhead, is best.
As I mentioned, tomatoes enjoy the heat and will benefit best when planted once night time temperatures have consistently reached double digits. Many gardeners have their own successful way in how they prepare them for being planted outdoors such as "hardening off", light preferences, fertility as well as other methods. In our trial gardens right here on our own Veseys property, we find our tomato crops grow best in a full sun location that is sheltered. We first apply a good amount of fertility to the soil and cover it with biodegradable mulch such as Bio-mulch. This will increase the temperatures as it draws the sun to the plant, maintains moisture at root base and no weeding is required, a gardeners dream...right?!? The right amount of moisture will continue to reach the plant at the root where transplant was first inserted through the mulch.
I know that many of you are aware of the risks, mostly disease pests such as late blight, that can occur when growing tomatoes. This tends to be a more common issue then insect pests, but please don't let this deter from growing tomatoes as each year will vary. I am happy to list excellent lateblight resistant varieties that are so tasty and reliably available in all sorts of shapes, sizes and types.
Another attribute that I love about tomatoes is how easily they can be grown in containers. Taller tomato varieties can certainly make quite a statement as an ornamental, edible mini tree to grow right on your very own deck. Makes harvesting so easy and close at hand, and you can get more creative by adding solar lights!
There are even types of tomato varieties that are bred for containers for hanging baskets. You could trade in your flower baskets for a hanging tomato plant that can serve both purposes, or at least mix your containers half and half!
So let me know what you think...is a tomato a fruit or vegetable? What are your favourite types and how do you prefer to grow them? Please comment below and be sure to contact us at Veseys anytime as your reputable and reliable gardening resource.
Thanks for reading and FYI, I totally enjoyed writing this blog at my favourite coffee shop, a place that always inspires me! Thanks guys!