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"Exotic & Rare Gourmet Square Tomatoes"

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Growing Great Tomatoes
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Tomatoes grow fresh in summer, but are available year long in the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store. Canned tomatoes are a convenient alternative to fresh tomatoes for recipes, making them a stable in many kitchen pantries.


Tomatoes are the second most popular veggie in the US. Tomatoes plus peppers, potatoes and eggplant belongs to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. Tomatoes are warm season perennials that are grown as annuals in cold climates. Plants may be determinate, semi determinate, or indeterminate. Determinate plants are more compact and produces all fruit at once. Indeterminate plants are vining and flower over an extended period of time.

   TOMATO SERVING IDEAS

Tomatoes are delicious served fresh in salads, on sandwiches, or eaten "as is." They can be stuffed, stewed, fried, baked and used in sauces, casseroles and soups. Click now for Health Tip of the Day

   NUTRIENTS IN HEALTHY TOMATOES

Vitamin C for healthy gums, skin and blood.

Potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure.

Antioxidant lycopene may prevent certain types of cancer.

   How to Plant Tomatoes so they Grow Fast and Healthy

  • LIGHT: Sunny
  • SOIL: Well-drained, loam
  • FERTILITY: Medium-rich
  • TEMPERATURE: Warm (70° to 80°F)
  • MOISTURE: Moist, but not waterlogged
  • PLANTING: Transplant after all danger of frost is past and when the soil has warmed.
  • SPACING: 18 to 36 inches by 36 inches if staked or caged. Tomatoes thrive in full sun
  • HARDINESS: Tender annual.
  • FERTILIZER NEEDS: Heavy feeder. Use starter solution for transplants. Side dress one to two weeks after the first hand or cluster of tomatoes begin to develop with 3 tablespoons 33-0-0 per 10-foot row. Side dress again two weeks after the first ripe tomato with a balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-5; rinse and repeat monthly.

   Cultural Practices

Tomatoes are valuable garden plants because they require relatively little space for large production. Each standard tomato plant can yield 10 to 15 pounds or even more.

Choose varieties with disease resistance bred in for best results, as listed below:

  • Fusarium Wilts Race
  • Early Blight
  • Fusarium Wilt Race 1 and Race 2
  • Bacterial speck Pseudomonas
  • Root-knot Nematodes
  • Septoria leaf spot
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus
  • Stemphylium Gray leaf spot
  • Alternaria Stem Canker/Crown Wilt

The varieties of tomato plants available may seem overwhelming to a new gardener; ask gardening friends for the names of their favorites. This will give you a good idea of what grows well in your area.

   Tomato characteristics

  • Midget, patio, or dwarf tomato varieties have very compact vines best grown in hanging baskets or other containers. The tomatoes produced may be, but are not necessarily, the cherry type (1 inch diameter or less). Some produce larger fruit. These plants are usually short-lived, producing their crop quickly and for a short period.

  • Compact or determinate tomato plants refers to the plant habit of growing to a certain size, setting fruit, and then declining. Most of the early ripening tomato varieties are determinate and will not produce tomatoes throughout summer.

  • Indeterminate tomato plants are the opposite of the determinate types. The vines continue to grow until frost or disease kills them. These are the standard summer tomatoes most people like to grow. They require support of some kind for best results, since otherwise the fruit would be in contact with the soil, thus susceptible to rot.

   Tomato Varieties

  • Cherry tomatoes have small, cherry-sized (or a little larger) fruits often used in salads. Plants of cherry tomatoes range from dwarf (Tiny Tim) to seven-footers (Sweet 100). One standard cherry tomato plant is usually sufficient for a family, since they generally produce abundantly.

  • Beefsteak type tomatoes are large-fruited types, producing a tomato slice that easily covers a sandwich, the whole fruit weighing as much as two pounds or more. These are usually late to ripen, so plant some standard-sized or early tomatoes for longest harvest.

  • Paste tomatoes have pear-shaped fruits with very meaty interiors and few seeds. They are less juicy than standard tomatoes and are without a sizeable central core. Paste tomatoes are a favorite for canning since they don't have to be cut up and since they are so meaty.

  • Color of tomatoes include orange, yellow, pink, or striped, and often the only way to get a specific one is by growing your own. Most are heritage varieties obtained through seed-saver groups. Tests have shown that there is no relationship between color and acidity of tomatoes.

  • Winter storage tomatoes are a relatively new item for gardeners. The plants are set out later in the season vs most other tomatoes and fruit are harvested partially ripe. If properly stored, they will stay fresh for twelve weeks or more. While the flavor does not equal that of summer vine-ripened tomatoes, many people prefer them to grocery store tomatoes in winter.

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