August 2nd, 2012

Three Tomato-Growing Lessons

I have grown ‘Green Zebra’ tomatoes for a while and they are one of my favorite varieties. If you leave them on the vine to ripen they will go a yellow-gold color and be quite sweet. Personally, I like them a little greener so they are a bit tarter. Interestingly, ‘Green Zebra’ starts to soften before it turns yellow; I like them just as they start to soften.

Yesterday I picked ‘Pilcer Vesy’, another of the tomato varieties we’re trialing. It has been my most vigorous grower this year and loaded with large fruit. However, I’m not so certain I like that neon yellow color. Something in my biological makeup warns me against eating neon-colored foods. I’m thinking that about ‘Indigo Rose’, too, but will make judgement on both when I taste them. I already have two wonderful yellow slicers I grow every year so ‘Pilcer Vesy’ will have some stiff competition.

My main planting of tomatoes are doing very poorly this year. They are on ground that I’ve only had developed for 2 years, and despite my efforts to build the soil they are very stunted. My other regret is that I went away for 2 weeks mid-June with my drip system just set up and we hit 2 weeks of unseasonably high temperatures. When I came back my heart fell as I could tell immediately that they hadn’t been getting enough water. Interestingly, even though I have pygmy plants this year most are loaded with fruit. I wonder if the water stress triggered fruit production over vine growth? Anyway, three lessons learned:

1. Get my drip set up at least 2 weeks before going on holidays. (Hah, I’ve been saying this for years. Maybe it’s better not to go away on holidays till July…)

2. Divide and conquer. My paste tomatoes located elsewhere in the garden (on soil I’ve been gardening and enriching for longer) are looking super.

3. Put your tomatoes on your best soil. Next year they’re going back on my more well-developed soil. Even though that area is a bit more shaded they’ll be wonderful, leafy 9-foot giants by this time next year.  —Tracey Parrish, Boulder, Colorado

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