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Thursday, June 11, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Edibles

Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding edible plants you can grow you can grow in your garden. A single plant can produce kilograms of tasty, juicy fruit in mid to late summer. They are easy to grow, can be grown in the garden or in containers and come in hundreds of modern and heirloom varieties.

Heirloom Tomatoes Variety

Choosing a Tomato Variety

Tomatoes come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes. In fact, there are hundreds if not thousands of different tomatoes you can grow, most of which will taste and look better than those tasteless, watery, polished red globes from the grocery store. While the most popular are the cherry tomatoes and the large slicing beefsteaks, growing your own tomatoes is all about trying something new!

Tomatoes are classified as either Heirloom or Modern varieties. Heirloom varieties are generally older and are open-pollinated. They are grown for historical interest, for saving seeds year after year and for variety. Modern varieties, or hybrids, are generally newer and do not come true from seed.

Growing Tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes

To grow well, Tomatoes need three things. First, lots of sunlight, 6-8 hours a day is preferred. Second, leave some space around each plant to ensure good air circulation. Finally, Tomato plants need lots of water on a regular basis. As we mentioned, tomato plants can be grown in the garden or in a container. When planting in containers, choose a large, deep one as tomatoes seem to prefer it.

Planting Tomatoes

Before planting a tomato, gently remove any branches near the soil, leaving some larger ones higher up. We do this because Tomatoes are one of the few plants that benefit from being planted deeply. Dig a hole that is between 1/3 to ½ the height of your plant. Sprinkle Bonemeal into the hole. This organic fertilizer encourages root growth and fruit development. Put the tomato plant into the hole. Along its main stem are small hairs. When these hairs make contact with soil, new roots will develop. These new roots will give the new tomato plant a great jump start and hopefully produce more fruit. Back fill the hole with soil and pat down to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly.

Tomato Planting

Tomato plants are heavy feeders and will benefit from regular application of fertilizer. Apply an organic or manufactured fertilizer with a high middle number. This nutrient, Phosphorus, encourages the production of roots, flowers and fruits, all of which we need for a good tomato crop. We particularly like Gaia Green and Orgunique products as well as our in-house GardenPro brand.

We plant lots of different types to test them and nothing is worse than forgetting which one was which. Take our advice, if planting more than one variety, take the time to label your plants!

Bush vs Vine Tomatoes

Tomatoes are either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate or bush-form tomatoes are bred to be smaller and have a more controlled growth habit. They stop growing when the terminate or top bud sets fruit. Do not prune these varieties as it may limit the crop size. Indeterminate varieties or vine-type are scrambling, reaching plants that will keep on growing if allowed to. They will continue to grow and set fruit until frost. Vining tomatoes will benefit from staking and/or the use of a tomato cage to keep the plant upright. This will help keep the leaves and foliage from touching the soil.

Water Regularly

Tomatoes require lots of water on a regular basis. Water in the morning and try to avoid getting the leaves wet. Wet leaves can lead to disease and plant health problems. Tomatoes respond well when watered on schedule – try to keep the soil evenly moist. The worst technique is watering irregularly. Stick to a schedule – but don’t allow the plant to dry or become soggy.

Tomato Sucker

Pinch and Prune for More Tomatoes

Refocus the energy of the tomato plant by removing suckers that develop in the crotch joint between two branches. These branches will not bear fruit and take away energy that could otherwise produce more fruit. Avoid excessive pruning or leaf removal as the plant needs the foliage to produce fruit.

Common Tomato Problems

Common Tomato Problems

Blossom End Rot

A very common problem when growing tomatoes is blossom end rot. This disease manifests itself with a large brown soggy spot on the bottom end of the tomato. Throw those tomatoes away as they will not be pleasant to eat. The best way to prevent this issue is to plant your tomatoes with added Calcium. Our GardenPro Tomato Food already includes calcium to help prevent this problem.

Cracked Tomatoes

Tomato cracking occurs because of irregular watering. When over-watered, the tomato will grow faster than the skin can keep up to – resulting in cracks. Cracked tomatoes are still edible, but pick them right away to prevent pests and disease from moving in.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellow leaves on a tomato plant are a symptom of 1 or 2 problems. Either the plant needs nitrogen or it is being over-watered. To solve the problem apply a tomato or all purposed fertilizer and get your watering under control.

Tomato Blossom Die and Fall Off

Tomato Blossom Drop occurs for a variety of reasons. It may be caused by using fertilizers with an excess of Nitrogen, dry windy conditions or temperature variation. Tomatoes are sensitive to temperature when they bloom and set fruit. If the temperature falls below 55F or above 75F at night, or reaches over 90F during the day, the pollen in the flower becomes non-viable and the flower falls off.

My Tomato is Tall and Scraggly

Tomato stems have hairy fibres that when they come in contact with soil will form new roots. If you have a tall, scraggly tomato plant, mound soil around the stem. If you do this, remove any foliage that would come in contact with the soil other than the stem.

At Art's Nursery, we carry a great selection of tomatoes from April through late Summer. Drop by and visit us, pick up a couple and plant them today!


Thursday, April 16, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Edibles

When it comes to gardening, nothing has been more popular in the past several years than edibles. While vegetables, fruit trees and herbs have always been hot, new varieties have taken over centre stage. Check out these 8 new and unusual edibles for 2015

Brazelberry Pink Icing Blueberry

Brazelberry Pink Icing Blueberry

One of the newest additions to the Brazelberry lineup is ‘Pink Icing’ Blueberry. It features breathtaking spring and fall foliage colours. Springs new growth has varying shades of pink mixed with blue and deeper greens. In the fall and into winter, in mild climates, Pink icing foliage takes on stunning iridescent turquoise blue hues. Very impressive when planted en masse. It is an excellent blueberry for decorative patio pots or for planting into the landscape. Berries are large, sweet and have a robust blueberry flavor.

Pink Icing prefers to be grown in full sun and moist, but well drained acidic soils. Fertilize each spring with a fruit and berry or rhododendron type fertilizer. This variety produces new canes each spring and fruits on the previous years canes. Once fruiting is complete, prune canes that have fruited leaving new canes to fruit the following season. Annual pruning promotes plant growth and berry production. Grows 3-4ft in height with a mounded, slightly spreading habit.

Brazelberry Blueberry Glaze Blueberry

Brazelberry Blueberry Glaze Blueberry

Blueberry Glaze plants are unlike any other blueberries. They have a small stature and incredibly glossy, dark green leaves. They are similar in appearance to boxwood and can also be sheared as such. White with pink spring flowers beautifully contrast the deep green foliage colour. Small dark blue, almost black berries are present in little bundles in mid-summer. Berries have an intense, almost wild blueberry flavor that is packed with anti-oxidants. Super aromatic too! Blueberry Glaze is an interspecific hybrid that is hardy to Zone 5. Add it to your landscape as an accent planting or prune it into an informal hedge. It is also perfect for patio planting in decorative containers.

Blueberry Glaze prefers full sun in moist, but well drained acidic soil. Fertilize each spring with a fruit and berry or rhododendron type fertilizer. Prune the same way as Pink Icing. Grows 2-3ft tall in a compact, bushy mound.

Aloha Berry, Pineberry

Aloha Berry Strawberry / Pineberry

Fragaria ‘Aloha Berry’

The Aloha Berry is a strawberry variety with white-skinned fruit and red seeds.Not only is it interesting looking, it tastes and smells like a cross between pineapples and strawberries! It is also known as a ‘Pineberry’. This variety is self-fertile, ever-bearing and produces fruit from June through the summer.

Grow Aloha berries in the full sun in average to moist soils. Available at Art’s Nursery in mid-to late May.

Goji Berry / Wolfberry

Goji Berry

Goji berries or Wolfberries is the fruit of Lycium barbatum, a plant related to potato, tomato, eggplant and chilli peppers. It is a deciduous, woody, perennial plant that was first cultivated in parts of China up to 600 years ago. More recently discovered in North America by the masses, it has rapidly garnered attention for its nutrient value and anti-oxidant content. Flowers are bright, violet coloured while fruit is bright red an oval in shape. Grows 3-10ft tall and wide. Prefers full sun and moist, but well drained soils. Fertilize in spring before new growth begins. Prune to remove broken of damaged limbs. Extremely cold hardy to zone 3.

Fuyu Persimmon Tree

Fuyu Persimmon Tree

Diospyros kaki 'Fuyu'

Persimmons are deciduous trees that bear large, reddish-yellow fruit with firm sweet flesh. This very ornamental tree has large oval, waxy dark green leaves that fall in autumn exposing attractive edible fruit. Self-fruitful non-astringent variety. Can be eaten fresh – many other varieties require being ripened before eating. Best grown in full sun and moist, but well drained, slightly acidic soil. Grows to 30ft tall and 20ft wide. Harvest in October to November. While hardy in the Pacific Northwest, Persimmons will benefit from some winter protection from cold winds and extreme temperatures.

Ketchup and Fries Grafted Vegetable Plant

Ketchup & Fries Plant

An incredible innovation in vegetable growing. Originally from Thompson & Morgan in the UK, this unique grafted vegetable produces cherry tomatoes on top and potatoes underground. Tomatoes for snacking, salads, sauces or ketchup. Potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed, roasted or cut for chips or fries. All natural, non-GMO. Grow it in a patio container or in your garden.

It is expected to be available at Art’s Nursery in late May or early June depending on its growth rate.

Cathedral Gem Sausage Vine

Cathedral Gem Sausage Vine

Holboellia coriacea ‘Cathedral Gem’

This durable easy to grow vine has thick, glossy evergreen foliage (in warmer climates) and abundant clusters of white buds that emerge in late winter. They open to highly perfumed pendulous blossoms of cream to dusky mauve. Large pink sausage like edible fruit are displayed in summer. Ideally suited for an arbor or trellis near pathways, patios or garden entrances so the attractive flowers and intoxicating fragrance can be enjoyed up close. Best grown in full to partial shade. Grows vigorously with stems up to 25ft long. Needs winter protection. Hardy in USDA zones 7-10

Dwarf Pomegranate

Dwarf Pomegranate

Punica granatum ‘Nana’

Dwarf Pomegranates are a showy dense deciduous shrub that displays attractive orange-red single flowers at an early age followed by colourful fruit. Excellent for containers or for use in the garden. A wonderful bonsai plant. Needs full sun and moderate watering. Grows 3ft tall and wide. Needs winter protection in our climate. Treat as a tender tropical, hardy in USDA zones 7-11

As always, call ahead, 604.882.1201, to confirm availability, as our selection is always changing and quantities on some varieties may be limited.


Saturday, September 13, 2014
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Edibles

I am new to winter vegetable gardening. This year I’ll be trying a few greens and possibly some radishes in a large container against the south side of the house under the overhang. I have some old glass squares for a bit of a cover if needed. For 10 years I’ve been meaning to do it but I’ve finally got the spot and a few little seedlings all ready to go. I’ll share with you some of the winter veggie garden basics as it really is pretty easy.

Kale | Winter Veggies

Planting Location or Container

Any good draining spot or container that will get 6 or more hours of sun a day. Against a South wall is best if you are planting in a large container or somewhere you will not get too much winter wind. If you do have a windy spot, you can build a wind break with hay bales or bags of fall leaves. Raised beds are ideal especially with our rain. We’ve got one on wheels at the store for you to check out!

For winter protection you can build a low plastic tunnel with pvc piping and poly, or you can use bales of shavings if you are in an area with very wet winters or bales of hay if you are in an area with cold and dryish or snowy winters (wet mouldering hay is not a fun fragrance) and top with old windows or plastic. Basically you can spend many happy hours on Pinterest looking up cold frame or cloche designs and find one that meets your budget and area.

Winter Veggie Guide

What to plant?

There are many wonderful winter vegetable books at your local library, also some great online catalogues. Our awesome catalogue… both online and in the store is the West Coast Seeds Planting Guide for Fall and Winter Harvests. It lists the veggies as well as when to plant, when to transplant and the best part…when to harvest.

Winter Vegetables

When to Plant

Summer is the best time to plant your winter crops such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, Turnips and Cabbage. Your little seedlings need some sun and heat to get started. If you have time in the summer leave a bit of an area clear for your winter crop. If like me, you blinked and your summer was over, there is still time to plant both by seed and seedlings. There is still time for Mesculun Greens, Chives, Cilantro, Radishes and Turnips among others.

Do I fertilize my winter vegetable crop?

Why yes you do! Before planting work some good compost or well rotted manure in to the soil especially if you’ve just pulled out the summer crop. Then you can add a good all-purpose fertilizer to the soil and I like to add some rock phosphate and then get cracking with the planting!

I am really looking forward to this!! I think the veggies will continue at a more sedate pace and I won’t be in too much of a panic over watering in the heat and beating back the weeds. I will also really enjoy those greens on my toasted French bread and fancy cheese - very civilized!!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Edibles

There is no comparison to fresh off the vine tomatoes. There are some, like Black Krim with that smoky slightly salty taste that I carry the freshly buttered toast out to them while others I like to toss into the kitchen sink salad that my family likes. I love the complex taste of them and the pungent scent of their leaves when you brush by. To me, tomatoes are summer.

Tomato On a Vine

My garden space is less than perfect. The best spot with excellent slope, heat, shelter and sun is…unfortunately, my driveway. After the tomato glut of 2006, when I had 22 very large pots of tomatoes…which I hand watered, all summer. I decided that 3 large pots of tomatoes is an acceptable number. Choosing the 3 is pretty agonizing and this year, I STILL don’t have any yet.

I thought I’d brush up on tomato care and feeding as the extent of my tomato care repertoire consists of water, fertilize when I remember and eat if I am lucky enough to get a crop. This year I am not going to leave it to luck because I want lots of good, tasty tomatoes on the three plants.

Planting

Planting and positioning – very important to choose a spot that you will get at least 6 hours of sun. More is better. Tomatoes are a tender plant and absorb a heckuva lot of water once they’ve got a crop on (where did you think the juiciness came from), so you want to have a fertile, deep, soil. When planting a new tomato, bury it deep. I usually plant it at least several inches deeper than the soil level of the pot. Those hairy stems all become roots when exposed to soil.

Good Drainage

If you want your plants to live past a week you better have good drainage too. Because I plant mine in black plastic pots that I’ve recycled from the nursery, I use a slightly lighter mix than if I was planting them in the ground. I mix some sunshine #1 mix with some manure or Sea Soil or worm castings and if I am lucky enough, some of my compost. I use a good 2 inch layer of gravel and a circle of landscape fabric between the soil and the gravel to keep the soil from gumming up the drain holes.

Planting Tips

Good air circulation will prevent all kinds of ills but a high wind area will make your watering job a lot harder to keep up with as the plants lose moisture through their leaves.

I do remember my Mom saying to plant them on an angle and I’ve read from other sources that you can plant them deeply…up to the first set of true leaves. At the same time you plant, position your stake or tomato cage. I cannot stress this enough. Learn from my mistakes, I’ve broken soooo many branches by trying to put the cage on after. The darn things grow FAST!

Indeterminate and determinate and how do I prune?

Determinate tomatoes are bush type plants. Their height is determined and they will grow to that height and start to produce. Indeterminate tomatoes are vine type tomatoes and some can actually grow to 9-10 feet if you support them, but I don’t even like picking my apples from a ladder so why would I pick tomatoes from one. Sheesh.

You actually don’t have to prune either but especially don’t prune or pinch back the bush or determinate varieties unless you need to because that will limit their production. The vining tomatoes or indeterminate ones can be pruned if you like, not necessary, but you certainly can pinch back side branches if they are outgrowing their space. I find if I go overboard with the pinching back, I get a lot of sunscald on my tomatoes and that really chaps my hide because I get all excited and count my tomatoes and imagine the BLT’s or the sauces and salads I’ll create and then BAM, one less tomato or one that is delegated to the sauce pile.

Pollination

The tomato flowers have both male and female parts and are self fertile…however, this is different from self-pollinating. The best pollinator of tomatoes is the humble bumble bee. Not because you need the pollen to transfer from one flower to another but because the bee’s vibration when it lands on the tomato flowers causes the pollen to shake loose from the anther( male part of the flower) in the flower to land on the pistil (female part of the flower). Other insects can help this as can wind. You can also help by giving your plants a little (gentle) shake or tap when you walk by once they’re in flower.

Watering Tomatoes

Water deeply to encourage deep rooting but allow the soil to become somewhat dry to the touch at the surface of the soil in between watering. If you are planting these lovelies in a pot, you’ll be busy watering once a day in the heat of summer. Avoid watering the leaves but if you are less than perfect in your watering, at least water them in the morning rather than the evening so the leaves have time to dry out before evening.

Dry out you say? What about my tomatoes in the garden? What if it rains? Well, I like to have my tomatoes under a roof, period. If you have a plant or two in the garden, think about building them a little roof to keep them dry and to avoid losing the whole darn plant and all the fruit to blight almost overnight!! You can even go to the dollar store and get them one of those little plastic see through umbrellas or place a clear garbage bag over the tomato cage and roll it up in good weather and roll it back down when rain is called for.

Fertilizing

There are some lovely home-made recipes on line as well as fertilizer teas. Have a go and experiment. I am a pretty lazy gardener and have found a good organic tomato fertilizer I like.There are a large number to choose from and I would just suggest you go with one that has micronutrients as well as the N-P-K ratio. Apply according to the directions.

Harvesting Tomatoes

Harvesting

This will take a bit of trial and error. Softer tomatoes like the afore mentioned Black Krim should be harvested a little on the firm side, though when I carry my buttered toast out to them I do pick a nice softy one. If you are not going to be using them right away, do pick firmish tomatoes. You’ll have to be your own taste tester for this question though, everyone has their faves…my Grandmother liked her fried tomatoes and she picked them green for that.

Tomato Collage Photo Credit: www.rareseeds.com

Cool Tomato Varieties

Now I am going to have to choose three amongst this lot and these varieties are just the tip of the iceberg!! Yikes.

Blue Berries – 75 days. Indeterminate, small cherry type. A deep dark purple fruit with an intensely fruity and sweet taste.

Cherokee Purple – 80 days. A dusky purple pink very large tomato with a sweet, old time tomato flavour.

Berkeley Tie Dye – 70 days. Indeterminate. Deep burgundy red with bright green streaking. Great sweet tomato flavour.

Costoluto Genovese – 78 days. Indeterminate. Large lobed red fruit. Robust, tangy flavour fantastic in sauce and paste.

San Marzano - 80 days. Indeterminate. Cylindrical fruit. Dryer and less seedy and acidic. Strong and sweet considered the best canning tomato and the only one allowed on a True Neapolitan Pizza.

Black Krim – 80 days. Indeterminate. Actually almost brownish green when ripe. Large tomato with a smoky flavour with a hint of salt.

Sweet 100 – 70 days. Indeterminate. Long clusters of bright red cherry tomatoes hang from this plant. Cherry tomatoes have a bright, tangy, old fashioned tomato flavour. Highly productive.

Better Boy – 75 days. Indeterminate. Big luscious red tomato with the sultry sweet-tang of the classic old fashioned tomato flavour.

Black from Tula – 80 days. Indeterminate. Brownish red with a full bodied almost spicy flavour. Excellent.

Green Zebra – 75 days. Indeterminate. Light yellow overlaid with green striping. Bright, fruity, sweet and tangy.

Sun Sugar – 75 days. Indeterminate. Golden orange yellow cherry tomato. Full bodied, tangy and incredibly sweet. Highly productive.


Friday, June 14, 2013
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Edibles

Introducing: Red and Yellow Jelly Bean Grape Tomatoes. These sweet, little gems are really like garden candy: no one will be able to resist plucking them off the vines and popping them into their mouths.

Jelly Bean Tomatoes

Clusters of 15 to 30 crack-resistant Jelly Beans are borne on vigorous, disease-resistant(VFFAST), indeterminate vines.

Jelly Bean Tomato Plant

Easy to grow, they are small grape-shaped tomatoes that are incredibly sweet with a firm texture.

We are so happy to bring you both the red and yellow Jelly Beans! Children of all ages love them. Ripesn in 60-70 days.

Supplies are limited so hurry in or call 604.882.1201 to confirm availability.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

We pride ourselves on providing high quality plant, expert advice and an exceptional gardening experience.

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