Tomatoes A to Z
Get to know the Tomato ABCs!
Amend the Soil - Tomatoes like rich, well-drained soil. Before you plant, amend your beds with at least one inch of B.O.S.S. or other organic compost.
Blossom End Rot - A common tomato problem caused by calcium deficiency. Learn more on our Ask A Gardener page.
Cracking - Anther common tomato problem caused by fluctuations in temperature and water. Find out how to prevent cracking on our Ask A Gardener page.
Determinate - Determinate tomatoes grow in compact bushes. All growth stops when flowering begins. All the fruit on a determinate tomato plant will ripen within a week or two of each other, making for a large one-time harvest.
Espoma Tomato Tone - One of the best organic tomato fertilzers out there. It's specially formulated for tomatoes and contains extra calcium and mychorriaze to help grow strong healthy roots. Every two weeks, apply 3 tablespoons of Tomato Tone to each tomato plant.
Fertilizing - Fertilizing should be done every 2 weeks. Use higher nitrogen until mid-June. Use lower nitrogen for the rest of the summer to promote fruit rather than plant growth. Always follow product instructions.
Growing in Pots - Container planting is a great solution for limited space. Most tomato varieties can be used, though smaller tomatoes typically result in greater success. For best results, use pots with a diameter of at least 18". Remember that all container tomatoes will require more water and fertilizer than those grown in gardens.
Heirloom vs. Hybrid - Heirloom vegetables are old-fashioned varieties that have been handed down, unchanged and un-hybridized, from one generation to the next. Some heirloom plants have been grown the same way for over 100 years. Heirloom seeds are also "open pollinated," which means they are pollinated by insects, wind or other natural means. Heirloom vegetables are mostly prized for their flavor. Many people will tell you that once you try an heirloom tomato, you'll never go back to the store bought kind.
Hybrid vegetables are a combination of two or more plants that bring out the best features of their parent plants, like better disease resistance or higher yield. Hybrid tomatoes, it should be stressed, are NOT Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). They are hybridized through natural cross-pollination. Hybrid tomatoes often give more reliable, uniform results than heirloom seeds and can be grown organically.
Indeterminate - Indeterminate tomatoes grow on vines that can get very big. The vine keeps growing through the growing season, producing fruit until the first frost. This leads to smaller harvests throughout the season.
Jam - Tomato Jam? Sure! Try this recipe:
4-5 Tomatoes Grilled (8-10 minutes) until skins split, peeled and chopped
1 Med Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and grated
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1.Combine tomatoes, apple, pepper, ginger and garlic in a microwaveable pan.
2. Microwave for 12 minutes.
3. Add sugar and lemon juice until dissolved.
4. Microwave for 3 minutes and stir.
5. Microwave for 3 minutes and stir.
6. Microwave for 3 minutes and stir.
7. If jam is not thick enough, microwave at 1 minute intervals until ready
Keeping - Tomatoes are one of those foods you should never refrigerate. It spoils the texture and taste of garden fresh tomatoes. But tomatoes do freeze well. Just core the tomatoes and place them
whole in freezer bags. The skins will slip off when they defrost. And check out this CSU Fact Sheet on canning!
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off HQ
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" - The immortal Gershwin tune that demonstrates the two pronunciations of the word, 'to-may-to,' and 'to-mah-to." Incidentally, both are correct, with speakers from the British Isles say 'to-mah-to,' while we Yanks say 'to-may-to.'
Mulch - Mulch around the base of your tomato plants to retain moisture and block weeds and bugs. We have a bunch of different wood mulches available for $5.99 or two for $10.
Neutral, Alkaline or Base - Tomatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH level of around 6 to 6.8. You can test this with home soil test kits. They aren't as accurate as lab tests, but they give you a good idea of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Use compost, organic materials and sulfates to improve nutrition and adjust the pH level .
Organic - We carry a full line of USDA approved organic tomatoes and vegetables grown locally by Welby Gardens.
Paste - Paste tomatoes take less time to cook down and preferred for making tomato sauce, chili sauce or salsas. The oldest paste tomato is La Roma, but there are other varieties, too. Check out Amish Paste, Hungarian Heart, Red Plum, San Marzano and Viva Italia.
Questions? - Got tomato questions? Just call, email or stop by the store, we're here to help!
Ripe - The Old Farmer's Almanac describes the perfect tomato for picking as, "firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft."
Spacing - Leave about 2 feet between determinate tomatoes and 2 ½ feet between indeterminates. Try to plant at least 2 tomatoes within 4 feet of each other for pollination.
Tomatillo - Tomatillos are not actually tomatoes, but they are part of the same nightshade family. They are often used in sauces in Mexican and Central American Cooking.
Ultimate Tomato Fight - La Tomatina is a four day tomato fight that takes place the last Wednesday of August in the Spanish town of Buñol. Over four days, revelers heave 90,000 pounds of squashed tomatoes at each other. Just for fun.
Vegetable or Fruit? -This problem once reached the highest court in the land. According to NPR, in the 19th century vegetables we subject to a 10% import tax, while fruits were tax free. A tomato importer brought a case to the Supreme Court arguing that since tomatoes are actually fruits they should therefore be exempt from the tariff. The court ruled that while botanically tomatoes are fruits, most people in everyday life consider them vegetables. Under customs law, tomatoes were ruled veggies and the importer had to pay up.
Wall-O-Water - Wall O' Water allows you to start cold sensitive vine crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons up to two months early. 7 - 10 days before y ou plant, place your Wall O' Water on level ground around a 5 gallon bucket. Fill each tube ¾ full of water and gently remove the bucket allowing the Wall O' Water to come together in a "teepee" shape. When you are ready to plant, gently open the teepee and plant your seeds inside. As the plant gets taller, fill the Wall O' Water tubes full. Keep the Wall O' Water around your plant at least 30 - 45 days after the last average frost date. To remove, just squeeze out the water and slide the Wall O' Water over the plant.
Xitomatil - The word for "tomato" in the Aztec language Nahutil. It loosely translates to "plump thing with a navel."
Yellow - Red isn't the only color tomatoes come in. There are also yellow, gold, white, cream, black, purple, pink and orange colored tomatoes.
Zebra - Striped ones, too!
For more Tomato Info, check out our Growing Tomatoes Fact Sheet and our brand new Tomato List!