Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Blessings, Darlings!

My tomato seedlings are up and growing! This year I'm only growing one type, Rutgers. They are a home-canner-friendly tomato: 2.5-3 inches around, nice flavor, lots of fruit and determinate. For those of you new to growing tomatoes, determinate tomatoes have fruit that ripens pretty much all at once - great for harvesting all at once and canning. Indeterminate tomatoes have fruit that ripen one or two at a time, over a longer period of time.

Rutgers are also a heirloom tomato, and not a hybrid. It was developed during the depression at Rutgers University. The credit, of course, goes to the professor in charge, and his work was funded by Campbell's (of soup fame). I expect that the WORK was done by poor grad students, spending their days playing bee/cupid to the tomatoes, moving pollen from one of the parent varieties to the other, then between all the offspring of the parent varieties.

I'm not saying that Rutgers is the most flavorful variety of tomato I could grow - as you might have guessed by who funded its creation and my point about canning, it's a great tomato to PROCESS. A PRACTICAL tomato. That's what I'm all about in the garden this year, practicality. I'll blog on my favorite tomatoes for flavor some other time.

Right now I'm thinking I'll put in 6 to 8 plants, and that I'll sink the plastic jugs from gallons of milk between every few plants. I can then use the jugs to water the tomatoes deeply, reducing evaporation and being more efficient with water use. I'll also have to heavily mulch the tomato beds, because my area used to grow tobacco.

Which brings up an interesting point - it's REALLY useful to know the history of the land you live on/grow your food on. I grew up in the midwest - the land was lovely sand loam, you almost had to TRY to fail at growing anything. On the whole nothing nasty had built up in the soil - not even nematodes. Here in Marlboro Country, the soil is clay and acidic, and had been mostly horse breeding stables or tobacco farms. Tobacco farms have left the soil full of tobacco mosaic virus, and that can really mess up your tomato plants. Many varieties are RESISTANT to the virus, but it's still good practice to mulch so that during rain no virus is splashed up from the earth onto the plant leaves. At the organic CSA farm I volunteer on they grow their tomatoes under a shelter and have underground lines for irrigation to avoid the virus problems.

Catch you later!

1 comment:

  1. Mazel tov on the tomato plantlets! May they be fruitful and multiply!!!