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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!


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.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Vegetables
grafted tomato

Grafted tomatoes are the most exciting thing to hit the herb and veggie business in a long time. These unique vegetables (fruits?) are made by attaching the top of one plant (called the scion) to the root system of another type of plant (called the rootstock).

When the union is complete, the resulting plant reaps benefits from both parents. The rootstock contributes vigour and disease resistance and the scion (the top) is choosen for the fruit type, flavour, yield and quality. The end result should be a healthier plant, more tomatoes and fewer issues with disease.

While grafting has been used on trees, shrubs and many other types of plants for centuries, it is relatively new for tomatoes and soon other plants like peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers.

As grafted tomatoes are new to the Pacific Northwest, we look forward to growing them this year and seeing how they perform in our climate. Plant a few yourself and let us know how they are doing!

Benefits of Grafted Tomatoes

  • Increased vigour
  • Improved quality and quantity of fruit
  • Greater disease and environmental tolerance
  • Larger harvest over a longer period of time

Growing Grafted Tomatoes

Unlike traditional tomatoes, do not plant grafted tomatoes deep. They should not be planted any deeper than they are in the pot. Otherwise, treat them as you would other tomatoes. Plant in full sun, water regularly and apply a tomato fertilizer as required. Stake varieties as required.

This year Arts Nursery is proud to offer an attractive selection of grafted tomato varieties. Quantities are limited so hurry in and get yours today...


Saturday, May 7, 2011
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Edibles

TomatoesTomato growers unite! Perhaps one of the most popular plants at this time of year is the plain old tomato. No other vegetable/fruit gets the masses excited more than these tasty little gems.
Growing tomatoes is actually quite easy. Just plant and follow these 10 great tips:


  • Choose healthy plants suited for your space.  Plant when ground is warm, above 15 degrees Celsius, and with at least 6-8 hours of sun per day is best.
  • Use fertile rich soil, mix in compost or consider amending earth with Sea Soil  to improve nutrient value. We sell it by the bag and the tractor scoop.
  • Mix an organic well balanced fertilizer into soil, prior to planting.  It is known to increase yield. Bonemeal added when planting, can also reduce the chances of blossom end rot - a common problem where the bottom of the tomatoe goes brown.
  • Plant tomatoes deep.  Strip lower leaves and plant the stem up to the uppermost top cluster of leaves.  Tomatoes have the ability to form roots along their stem.  Doing this will create extra roots  to help anchor the plant and provide more opportunity for water and nutrient uptake.
  • Water regularly and evenly.  Even moisture will create a healthier plant and tomatoes. This too will help prevent blossom end rot.
  • Stake or cage plants early (depending on variety) to avoid damaging roots.  Keeping the tomatoes off the ground helps prevent fruit rot and makes plant more productive.
  • When flowers appear, continue to fertilize and consider spraying with blossom set.  Use an organic fertilizer and consider a kelp foliar spray.  It will increase health & prevent disease.
  • Pick tomatoes when they are firm, full size, and fully coloured.  If it gets very hot, pick some fruit early (green) and let it ripen off the vine.  Too much sun can cause sun scorch and turn tomatoes soft.
  • If in pots, keep tomatoes sheltered from too much rain to avoid blight.  If in the open, pick ripened or nearly ripened fruit prior to heavy rains as these tomatoes are more prone to splitting / cracking.
  • Take note of varieties that worked well, and if desired save seed for next year!

Visit Art's Nursery today  for a fantastic selection of contemporary as well as heirloom tomato varieties.


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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!

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