Growing the perfect tomato can be a challenge in the Seattle area, particularly if the summer stays cool. New for 2012 is our homegrown crop of grafted tomatoes, which create improved vigor and disease resistance, and most importantly superior fruit production. Grafting of tomatoes has been popularized internationally in commercial ventures, but is just now finding its way to our home gardens. A grafted plant is one in which the top of one plant is attached to the roots of another type of plant. The root type selected for our tomatoes is disease free, pest free, and grows more vigorously than that of the typical tomato, creating a super productive plant.
‘Cherokee Purple’ is an heirloom variety that grows large fruit from 8 to 12 oz. with rich, full flavor. Typically we have dissuaded area gardeners from growing heirloom types, because they are disease prone and often do not have time to mature in our short summers. In 2011 grafted specimens of ‘Cherokee Purple’ grew beautiful fruits here in Issaquah despite the very cool temperatures we experienced. We have included this old time favorite in our crop of grafted tomatoes. Additionally you will find a more modern variety, ‘Big Beef’ with its tasty 1 lb. fruits, in our grafted crop. The vigor of this plant will allow it to get to maturity more quickly, and will also provide you with a longer more abundant harvest.
When planting a grafted tomato we recommend you plant directly in the ground, or if you must use a container, insure it is wine barrel size or larger. You must insure that the graft is well above the soil level when planted. Essentially this means that the soil level of the tomato you purchase will match the soil level in your garden. Do not plant them deep! Remove any suckers or roots that form above or below or above the graft. Because the varieties listed here are indeterminate (the plant continues growing all season) we recommend that you selectively prune out foliage throughout the summer, to allow more energy to be placed into fruit production.
In addition to grafted tomatoes we are also growing standard tomatoes and a full line of summer vegetables. Grafted tomatoes will be ready for sale in early to mid May, as will gallon pot size standard tomatoes. Standard tomatoes in smaller pots are available as soon as you are ready to plant. Here are the tomato varieties we are growing today:
Standard Tomato Varieties
|Celebrity||Large tasty fruit|
|Champion||Very large, beefsteak type|
|Early Girl||Medium sized, quick to maturity|
|Lemon Boy||Yellow 7 oz. size|
|Lizzano||Cherry fruit, compact habit|
|Red Robin||Clusters of fruit on petite plant|
|Sungold||Sweet tropical flavor, golden cherry type|
|Sweet 100||Sweet, red cherry tomato|
Grafted Tomato Varieties
|Big Beef||Very large, meaty, flavorful|
|Cherokee Purple||Heirloom, purple. Rich flavor|
When will the Sweet 100s be ready for sale?
Our crop of 4″ pot Sweet 100’s is ready each spring in late April, while the gallon pots are ready closer to mid May.