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 TOMATOES

BY BRUCE ZIMMERMAN

The love apple of the 17th century is one of the most misunderstood fruit.  First, the tomato is a fruit not a vegetable and as a member of the solanacea; it was believed for centuries to be poisonous. Later it became the love apple of the very rich and a symbol of fertility and love.
Today it is part of everyday cooking. What would Italian cooking be with out tomatoes, especially the world’s most perfect food Lasagna with green noodles of course? 

CARE OF TOMATOES
I like to seed my Tomatoes directly into four-inch pots and thin by pinching out the weak seedlings. The seeding occurs from six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area.  The Tomato varieties that grow to an indeterminate height I start at the six-week period because they have a tendency to grow and stretch too long very quickly. The determinate varieties of Tomatoes, which attain a specific height and stop growing I start at the eight weeks period.  If you are growing them in sunny windows then you are at the mercy of the weather to provide adequate light, which it usually does not.  Therefore you should grow your seedlings under grow lights maintaining a height of four inches above tops of the plants and leave them on fourteen to sixteen hours a day.  A light fertilizing of your Tomato plants with a 15-30-15 or 10-52-10 fertilizer will help keep your plants shorter, stockier and begin the process of moving them to the outdoors. 
If your Tomato plants are still too stretched then you can remove the leaves to be buried and plant them outside deeper or on their side with the growing tip turned up. 
Tomatoes are moved outside after the last chance of frost the weather has stabilized and the soil is warm.  In our area, this is usually the 28th of May. If you wish to plant earlier then use the old fashioned idea of covering them with colthes. I use the Earths Friend Inc. Powergrow Greenhouse with great success.  The soil should have a pH of 6.5 to7.0.   Your rows should run north and south because this allows for better ripening. 
During the growing season feed them with a granular or Water soluble Tomato food.  Do not over feed your Tomatoes because this and infrequent watering are the major contributors to Blossom End Rot. (Black bottoms on your Tomatoes)  Do not ever get water or splash soil on their leaves, as this will encourage many diseases.  Inconsistent watering will also cause cracking which can cause diseases to set in and attract many unwanted insects.  Cat Face Tomatoes are those with many deep folds emanating from the bottom or the Tomato (extremely ugly).  This caused by unfavourable growing conditions and is a more common problem among the Heritage varieties of Tomatoes.  If Diseases are a problem in your Tomatoes then grow only varieties that have resistance to Tomato Mosaic Virus; Fusarium Wilt Race1 and 2; Verticillium Wilt.  It is also better if you raise the plants off the ground by staking.  There are many methods but I find that 8 foot 2x2 inch stakes and old cotton T-Shirts cut into strips work well but my favourite method is to use concrete reinforcing steel with a 4 to 6 inch grid pattern rolled into and 18 inch circle forming an 8 foot tall tube that the Tomatoes can grow up inside. The large grid pattern allows you to reach through and pick your Tomatoes. 

SUCKERING: TO SUCKER OR NOT TO SUCKER
This is an argument that has been going on for a very long time with no resolve in sight.  The argument is that suckers only take away form the plant while giving nothing back.  This is true but on some varieties in my garden, they do produce fruit.  In addition, in seasons where Sun Scald is a problem the suckers do help to provide enough shade to prevent Sun Scalding on the Tomatoes.  Therefore do what is best for your crop.

SOME OF MY FAVOURITES
These cherry type Tomatoes are listed according to my wife and daughters preferences.

HEALTH KICK:
Extra High Naturally in antioxidants

Tomato Health Kick A Good Health

SUNGOLD:  To date the best cherry tomato. It is best picked when the fruit is a dark gold.

My Favouite Cherry Tomato
SWEET MILLIONS:  The previous best cherry tomato.  More resistant to cracking though many people say it is thicker skinned than Sweet 100.
SWEET 100:  Excellent for those who like thin skin sand average tomato taste. 
GOLDEN CHERRY: This Golden Japanese variety is said to be superior to them all including Sungold
SUN DRIED TOMATOES: I have grown these and the dried pieces will explode with flavour in your mouth

BALCONI YELLOW OR RED:   
Superior for container growing on decks, patios and balconies.
THOMPSON & MORGAN 1-800-274-7333

Beautiful colour and good flavour.

Please try these ones also from Thompson and Morgan 

AVIRO: Orange plum high in Beta Carotene, Vitamin A and C

Aviro Orange Tomato

PANNAVOY HYBRID: 
 
RHS winner high yields excellent fruit quality

Pannavoy Tomato

TIGERELLA: 
(Heritage variety)  early striped fruit

Tigerella Tomato  A Tiger With Only A Little Bite

GREEN GRAPE:  Large green grape clusters of sweet tomatoes. (unusual)

Just plain unusual - remember when apples used to have to be red.

THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF VARIOUS TOMATO VARIETIES I LIKE AND HAD GOOD SUCCESS WITH 

FIRST LADY II, ULTRA GIRL, BIG BEEF, YELLOW PEAR, BEEF HEART, HUSKY GOLD, HUSKY PINK, PONDEROSA (LATE) AND GLAMOUR.

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