Look at nightly temps to see if they are consistently 64ºF or higher. If so, transplant tomato starts outside into their forever home outside and fertilize.
If you’re looking to grow really big — I mean REALLY BIG — tomatoes… the kind you might even break a state record size of tomato, you’ll need to start with good seed DNA. There are certain tomato varieties that tend to grow to a larger size when given proper nutrients, pH, and pruning.
At the time of publication, the current 2021 Guinness Book of World Records for the heaviest tomato was grown by Dan Sutherland (USA). His monster tomato was of the “Domingo” variety and weighed 10 lb 12.7 oz (4.896 kg) when measured in Walla Walla, Washington, USA, on 15 July 2020. The achievement was authenticated by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC).
It had a circumference of 33 in (83.8 cm), contributed to by a number of outgrowths on the fruit known as “dingleberries” — something that can be common among giant tomatoes. This is the second time that Sullivan has held this Guinness record. He grew a 3.906-kg (8.61-lb) tomato in August 2016. According to Guinness, “the mother seed for this new record-breaker was derived from the previous record plant.”
No matter if you’re wanting to grow a record breaking monster-size tomato to win titles or simply wanting a nice big tasty slicer for your summer time BLTs, these are the varieties that typically grow larger in girth.
|Big-Zac (hybrid)||8 pounds|
|6-Pound Giant||4 pounds|
|Phil’s Fantastic||4 pounds|
|Big Wixom||4 pounds|
|Italian Sweet||3 pounds|
|Beef Steak, Old Fashioned||3 pounds|
|Florida Pink||3 pounds|
|Orenberg Giant||3 pounds|
|Verna Orange||3 pounds|
|Chocolate Stripes||3 pounds|
|Burpee Supersteak (hybrid)||3 pounds|
|Big Rosy||3 pounds|
|Pomodoro Farina Gigante||2 pounds|
|Big Red||2 pounds|
|Omar’s Lebanese||2 pounds|
|Todd County Amish||2 pounds|
|Believe It or Not||2 pounds|
|Giant Belgium||2 pounds|
|Neve’s Azorean Red||2 pounds|
|Dinner Plate||2 pounds|
|Champs of New Jersey||2 pounds|
|Garden Monster Leader||2 pounds|
|Jerry’s German Giant||2 pounds|
|Brandywine, Sudduth Strain||2 pounds|
|Mortgage Lifter, Red||2 pounds|
|Great White||2 pounds|
|Large Pink Bulgarian||2 pounds|
|Watermelon Beefsteak||2 pounds|
|Polish Giant||2 pounds|
|Ponderosa Pink||2 pounds|
|German Red||2 pounds|
|Big Rainbow||2 pounds|
I like to know if a seed has germinated before it ever goes into soil or a piece of hydroponic Rockwool. There’s an easy way to know if you have viable seed and that is through a technique that simply requires a sheet of paper towel, a container with a lid, water and a consistently warm location 72ºF-76ºF. You can learn more about how to set up these pre-germination conditions on our blog here, but if you’re already familiar with this method, here is a quick visual of what you’re looking for with pepper seeds and when to transfer them to either soil or Rockwool (Rockwool is used for soilless hydroponic / aeroponic growing systems).
The seed that is circled in green is ready to gently transfer to soil or Rockwool using a sanitized tweezer. (To sanitize your tweezer, simply clean with rubbing alcohol.) The seed circled in yellow shows swelling and indicates that you should probably check it the next day as the root is getting ready to emerge.
The other seeds are slightly swollen showing that they are still in the process of germinating. Do not give up on seeds that are slower to germinate — sometimes they can take up to 10 days even when you are providing ideal conditions. Check moisture daily and if paper towel smells funky, swap out for a new paper towel and rewet and put back into germination chamber container.
Below is a photo showing germinated seed that has been placed into Rockwool (see number one below). If you are growing in a hydroponic growing system such as a Tower Garden or Aerogarden, you’ll want to place your seed in Rockwool instead of soil. (Coco Coir is also a good alternative growing medium for hydroponics or aeroponics assuming it has support to hold material together such as in a mesh net.)
I like to cover my seeds with vermiculite. Some hydroponic growers insist that this step isn’t necessary, but I like to make sure my seeds receive adequate moisture throughout these early stages of growth especially. Strong healthy seedlings, make for strong healthy plants. I use this process for pepper, tomato, and eggplant seeds and any seeds that are not super small. Remember, some seeds need light to germinate (like lettuce), so be sure to reference our cheat sheet before starting seeds to know if your seed needs light, no light, or if it doesn’t matter.
Rockwool is a fantastic growing medium as it has air pockets and is good at holding water. Keep moist, but not sitting in water.
Hope that helps! Remember, we have a great assortment of hydroponic-adapted tomato and pepper seed available in the seed store. Be sure to check it out!
Grow Your Health Gardening (GYHG) Seed Co. has been identified as February Star Seller on Etsy for the second consecutive month of 2022 and received a perfect score of 100 percent in every category for exemplary customer service.
To achieve “Star Seller of the Month” status, orders had a perfect score offering on-time shipping guidelines 100% of the time (a one day turn-around with USPS tracking on every order), communication response within 24 hours was 100% of the time, and Grow Your Health Gardening Seed Co. received 100% 5-Star Ratings from customers who received their seed orders. We provide the same wonderful service on our online store! (Which is our primary store.)
Here’s some of what our customers are saying about Grow Your Health Gardener Seed Co.’s service and quality grow with organic methods seeds:
“These small seeds arrived in great shape. I planted just a few of them right away. They are already coming up! I am so happy with these rare tomato seeds!” — Sully
“My seeds came perfectly marked with a lovely thank you note and a helpful chart of past repelling plants. I could not be happier with my purchase and cannot wait to plant my little seeds with my kids and watch them grow. Thank you!!!” — Crystal
“Got here really quickly! Would buy form again! Can’t wait to start growing ^_^!” — xstiney
“Wonderful seed company with lots of information that comes with your seed order. Also check out the website. They have tone of wonderful seeds and information on it.” — Royal W
To purchase hydroponic-adapted seeds and seeds grown in the soil in the Southeast Zone 7B, you can order on Etsy.com or better yet, for the latest updates and product releases visit Grow Your Health Gardening‘s online store.
The Star Seller badge is Etsy’s way of recognizing sellers with a proven record of providing a great customer experience. To become a Star Seller, your store must meet certain criteria for messages, shipping, ratings, orders, and sales. If these core fundamentals of delivering great customer service are achieved, a shop may receive a badge that shows buyers that a shop has consistently provided an excellent customer experience.
I’m scheduled to give a “Tomato Talk” to a local group of community members who are interested in growing their own tomatoes from seed in the next 10 days and in the process for preparing for this talk, I thought I’d do a little soil test for what makes for a strong seedling and share it with y’all as things grow so that you can grow your health through gardening and learn tips for what I learn along the way. 😉
I took four (4) 4-pack planting trays and used the same batch of sifted soil for all four packs. The control 4-pack is straight up soil only. The second 4-pack I amended the soil with worm castings only. The third 4-pack I amended the soil with activated charcoal from a company I heard about and am trialing their product before bringing it to sell in our store and online. The fourth 4-pack soil is amended with the same ratio of worm castings as the second 4-pack as well as the same ration of the third 4-pack of soil with activated charcoal (so this final 4-pack has both amendments in it.)
I then repeated the same amendments in another batch of similar soil, but put it in a soil block and amended certain soil blocks with worm castings only and activated charcoal castings only and a mix of both worm castings and activated charcoal. I also included rock wool just to compare growth of seed in this substrate as well. The rock wool will need to have kelp diluted and added to it as the seedlings grow as the rock wool is pH neutral and is devoid of nutrients.
For plants, I chose seed that was from the same lot, same harvest, same parent plant. All seed is our homegrown line of seed that we’ve saved and developed season after season, so I am confident that we have good strong seed stock to run the test. I chose to plant microdwarf tomatoes, because we are in the middle of winter here in Atlanta, Georgia and I can grow micro-dwarf tomatoes indoors under lights and evaluate results before our busy season of the summer harvest begins. We selected different micro dwarf tomato cultivars including Florida Petite Microdwarf Cherry Tomato, Rosy Finch Microdwarf Cherry Tomato, Aztek Microdwarf Cherry Tomato and Venus Microdwarf Cherry Tomato.
To gauge results, we will weigh all produced fruit and count the number of blossoms and the number of final fruit set by each tomato plant. I will do my absolute best to give equal amounts of water by first measuring what each plant is given and offering the same amount to each plant.
My hypothesis is that the air pruning action of the soil blocked starts will produce stronger seedlings for transplanting in the long run because when that root hits the air, it will signal to the plant to produce roots on the interior of the soil elsewhere. More roots will mean the plant has more opportunities to take up moisture and nutrients in the long run. I also think the soil block with BOTH worm castings and activated charcoal will perform the best because the worm castings will further any biological activity that may be happening within the soil and “cling” to the activated charcoal which the plant can tap as it needs.
That’s my best guess, but I could be wrong! We shall see what plays out in our little science experiment. What do you think will perform the best and why? Tell us in the comments below!
Happy New Year! As we look forward to the year ahead, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of nutritious food can be grown!
We’ve wrapped up our trials from 2021 and data and out of all the many cultivars grown of tomatoes, I’ve settled on these being my favorites to try in 2022.
When growing tomatoes, it’s always a good idea to think about HOW you plant to consume and use them. It will be a big help to you to evaluate this as it will determine what kind of tomato you should grow. And the BEST part of growing tomatoes is you can enjoy great taste as well that surpass anything that can be found at your local grocery store!
Here’s Erin’s tried and tested picks:
- Casady’s Folly Paste Tomato (Sauce or Slicing)
Why Erin chose it:
“This variety is from tomato and potato breeder, Tom Wagner, of Washington State. It is a fantastic producer and beautiful on and off the vine. It is super versatile as well… you can slice it and add to any recipe that asks for a chopped tomato. It excels for making sauce. When compared to equal number of plants, it even out-performed 3.65x times the popular similar Speckled Roman paste variety. Casady’s Folly had more bud production and peaked in mid-July, but just kept pumping out the tomatoes until the end of September earning its spot as my top pick this growing season.”
- Cancelmo Family Heirloom Paste Tomato (Sauce or Slicing)
Why Erin chose it:
“Cancelmo Family Heirloom Paste Tomato is a wonderful oxheart-type tomato variety. It steadily produces good size meaty fruit making it a wonderful option for great tasting sauce, but can also make a nice slicer for BLT sandwiches as the size fits a slice of bread well and has low seed/pulp ratio. Because doesn’t produce as many seeds, we may swap in another variety once we sell out of our inventory with another variety that also performed well, so grab it while it’s part of the collection while you can.”
- Charlie Chapman Heirloom Tomato (Slicing or Stuffer)
Why Erin chose it:
“I was originally attracted to Charlie Chapman Heirloom Tomato for it’s ruffled mid-size appearance and that it was touted as a good stuffing cultivar. I think part of the fun of growing food you can’t find in the store is using it in new ways in the kitchen. It’s a great way to add interest to what you’re eating and delights younger children as well. It did not disappoint and actually produced well throughout the growing season. This is a red tomato, but an orange-tinted red. I love how they look like miniature pumpkins.“
- Cherokee Purple Tomato or Paul Robeson Tomato ((Sauce or Slicing)
Why Erin chose it:
“Cherokee Purple is one of our favorite tasting tomatoes. It’s not our biggest producer, but I chose this variety based on its flavor profile. Our seed comes from local stock and has been adapted over several generations. In fact, when I compared my seed to other seed providers, our seed was larger and more plump — these are traits that World Guinness Book Record holder, Charles Wilber, recommends looking for in seed with good DNA.“
- Wagners Salad Green Tomato (aka: Green Elf) (Sauce or Slicing)
Why Erin chose it:
“We love fried green tomatoes and this determinate variety just pumped out nice firm green tomatoes much to our delight. The multiple buds it produced and actually set was amazing. I did have to prune it a bit for the Southern climate and for airflow, but I loved the thick sturdy stalk it had and the amount of production we got out of it. It’s a versatile tomato that looks pretty when added to red varieties in diced salsas or topping tacos or salads as well. “
- Nostrano Grasso Italian Tomato (Sauce or Slicing)
Why Erin chose it:
“I was drawn to this variety because of the rariety of it in the United States as an Italian variety. I also thought the slight ruffled look of it was pretty and it did not disappoint. The production was wonderful and the tomato taste true Italian tomato flavors rang through checking all the boxes for me for a fantastic cultivar to grow. “
- Blue Cream Berries Cherry Tomato (Salad Topper or Snacking)
Why Erin chose it:
“This is a most unusual tomato. It looks unimpressive on the vine, but I always love to share it with my guests that come to the garden, just to see their look of surprise when they taste it. Your mind thinks it’s going to tart, but it’s not. It’s unlike any other tomato I have tried to date and the fact that it is known to also have those purple shoulders containing anthocyanans, well, it’s a tomato we should all be enjoying on salads or for snacking. What’s interesting is that the second year of adapting this variety the first fruits that came on where actually bigger than the previous year. This will be one I continue to grow out and adapt through hydroponics in the Southeast.“
- Black Cherry Tomato (Salad Topper or Snacking)
Why Erin chose it:
“Our entire family loves the Black Cherry Tomato variety. Cherry Tomatoes are also easier to grow in the Southeast, so it’s a good starter tomato for anyone who hasn’t grown tomatoes before from seed. Like our other cultivars that have been adapted through hydroponic growing conditions, Black Cherry Tomatoes were larger and super tasty — especially early on in the season. These can be used for snacking, salads, sliced for tacos, or even sun-dried. “
- + Bonus: Naughty Marietta French Marigold (Co-planting and other beneficial uses)
Why Erin chose it:
“I wanted to include a marigold to encourage new growers to think of co-planting beneficial plants near one another. The marigold is fantastic for keeping some pest pressure down. You can grow and place in-between and around your plants that are growing, but the real benefit will be if you harvest some leaves and petals and make a biological tea and spray on your tomato plants once a week as a pro-active pest deterrent. “
If you want to learn more about this collection, feel free to click here. We wish you the best and a wonderful 2022 Growing Season! Be sure to let us know in the comments below what your favorite tomato variety was from your last growing season. We all learn from each other through sharing!
We are loving eating BLTs (Bacon, Lettuce + Tomato with Mayo on a slice of bread) fresh from the garden with tasty hydroponically-grown heirloom tomatoes! (So juicy!)
And this rare variety from Russia called Beauty Lottringa makes a tasty AND beautiful plating! Can you believe that each tomato has less than five seeds in it?! WOW! I personally love how each slice looks like a red flower.
I’m still debating on whether to sell this variety because of the low seed count, but I may end up doing a giveaway, so be sure to visit store.growyourhealthgardening.com and sign-up for our email updates and tips to be the first to hear when our new hydroponically-adapted line of seeds release or if we do a give-away on this particular variety.
Do you love BLTs as well? What is your favorite slicer variety?
We have been busy seeding tomatoes this week inside in preparation for the 2021 growing season and we look forward to bringing you hydroponic adapted seeds once our trials have completed. I search far and wide for unique varieties that cannot be found at the grocery store or big box gardening centers and even from large seed producers. We even have some rare varieties we are excited to try and share with you if they do well in our trials.
Every season, I feel it’s important to have FUN while you grow food for you and your family, so here are some of my personal FUN goals…
In particular, this year, I think I’m going to try and tackle growing the largest tomato I’ve ever grown. I’m thinking like, state fair size. My seed stock for this challenge comes from a private grower in Italy and we shall see how it adapts to our growing region.
I’m also focusing on more plum varieties this year, so we can make some amazing sauce and preserve it for the winter to feed our family of seven. I did some extra research and selected varieties that were favored by other tomato connoisseurs.
I’m also particularly excited about our new line-up of micro-dwarf tomatoes that don’t require a trellis and have usually one or two flushes of tomatoes before they complete their growing cycle. Because of their compact habit, they are ideal for growing in the vertical Tower Garden and for those who want to grow in small spaces like in the Aerogarden, Farm Stand, or even in a pot on your back patio or deck.
Our seed is adapted to hydroponic growing conditions in Zone 7 just west of Atlanta, Georgia. I share this info not because tomatoes are a perennial (which is typically the reason for looking at growing zones), but instead to help our home growers know where their seed is grown, so they can match it to their own growing conditions for success. Our tomatoes are all grown outdoors in heat and humidity and hand-pollinated with the exception of our micro-dwarfs which are grown indoors to limit cross-pollination.
We give our mature tomatoes a PPM range of 1400-2000 and a pH of 6.0-6.5 for maximum nutrient uptake. We recommend using the Tower Garden Mineral Blend for healthy plants and maximum growth. If you’re wondering what grows well with tomatoes in a hydroponic system, we encourage you to visit this page on our Grow Your Health Gardening Web site for more information.
If you wonder why tomato seeds can cost more than other seeds, know that tomatoes are very time-and-labor intensive to grow and require a lot of personal management with seed starting, pruning, scouting for any pest pressure, or any efforts to boost immune system through foliar application of comfrey tea and molasses tea (which helps to bring out flavor).
15 Slicer Tomato Variaties:
- Apricot Brandywine Tomato
- Black Passion Tomato
- Big Rainbow Tomato
- Delice De Nevilly Tomato (Rare)
- Genovese Tomato (Rare)
- Great White Heirloom Tomato (Low-Acid)
- Green Elf (Tom Wagner Variety)
- Merveille Des Marches Tomato (Rare)
- Nostrano Grasso Tomato (Rare)
- Orange Orangutan Tomato
- Paul Robeson
- Pineapple Tomato
- Pomodoro Gigante Farina Tomato (Rare)
- Thornburn’s Terra Cotta Tomato (Rare)
- Wagner Blue Green Tomato (Tom Wagner Variety)
8 Paste Tomato Variaties:
- Black Plum Paste Tomato
- Cancelmo Family Ox Heart Tomato
- Cassidy’s Folly Plum Tomato (Tom Wagner Variety)
- Cream Sausage Plum Tomato (Tom Wagner Variety)
- Dwarf Sneaky Sauce Micro-Dwarf Plum Tomato
- Goatbag Plum Tomato
- San Marzano Plum Tomato
- Speckled Roman Plum Tomato
8 Cherry Tomato Variaties:
- Black Cherry Tomato
- Blue Cream Berries Cherry Tomato
- Brad’s Atomic Grape Cherry Tomato
- Green Doctor’s Frosted Tomato
- Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato
- Red Pear Cherry Tomato
- Sweetheart Cherry Tomato
- Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato (Low Acid)
24 Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomatoes:
- Annie’s Singapore Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Bonsai Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Dwarf Suzy’s Beauty Tomato
- Gold Pearl Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Fat Frog Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Florida Petite Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Hahms Gelbe Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Hardins Miniature Micro-Dwarf Tomato
- Inkspot Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Kookaburra Cackle Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Little Red Riding Hood Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Mo Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Monetka Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Olga’s Round Chicken Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Peachy Keen Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Pigmy Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Purple Reign Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Regina Red Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Regina Yellow Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Snegirjok Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Vilma Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Wherokowhai Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
- Willa’s Cariboo Rose Micro-Dwarf Tomato
- Yellow Canary Micro-Dwarf Cherry Tomato
What do you look for in a tomato? What are your tomato aspirations for the upcoming growing season? Drop us a line in the comment section below!
I was listening to a podcast by one of my favorite market growers from Alabama, Noah Sanders, and he had a guest on from Kaleva, (Northern) Michigan, Craig Shaaf, from Golden Rule Farm who mentioned that he put red dye in an empty soda bottle and it helped his tomatoes mature earlier than anyone else’s tomatoes in the area while also sighting a Clemson University Study.
So, being that we drink a lot of sparkling water in our house, I had an empty liter lying around (we typically repurpose these for terrariums in cold hardy annuals but that’s a something to discuss for another day), so I filled it with some water and added several drops of red food coloring to it and sat it on my indoor Tower Garden near some micro dwarf unripened cherry tomatoes I was growing. Low and behold, two days later, the cherry tomatoes closest to the red-colored water began to ripen from the bottom up!
Red reflective Far-Red light encourages tomatoes to ripen.
Studies using Red Plastic Selective Reflecting Mulch (SRM) Show Increased Yields for Certain Plants
Research originally started during the 1980s and led to development of SRM-Red, a selective reflecting mulch that has been available commercially since 1996. Plant physiologist Michael J. Kasperbauer, who retired from the Agricultural Research Service‘s (ARS) Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center at Florence, S.C. found that plastic colored-mulch’s controlling factor is not the colors themselves, but how the colors adjust the amount of blue light and the ratio of far-red (FR) to red light that plants receive reflecting from the ground upwards.
The studies used a red plastic mulch (also referred to as Selective Reflecting Mulch, or SRM for short). It is similar to black plastic mulch used frequently by growers to help warm the soil, prevent erosion, and retains moisture. The red plastic mulch is often thinner than most black weed block and allows more light (and sometimes weeds) through it.
But red plastic mulch’s true strength is in its ability to reflect certain red light waves back onto the growing plant, thereby accelerating fruit production and increasing overall yields. Past ARS work showed that red plastic mulch produced larger tomatoes and produced 20% more than black plastic mulch counterparts and the red plastic mulch also sweeter-smelling, better-tasting strawberries.
Similar results were found on peppers and eggplants as well as with lettuce.
ARS’ also tried the red plastic mulch with cotton, carrots and basil. They found that color of the plastic mulch can affect the roots, stems, leaves and seeds, as well as the fruits, of many other food and crop plants.
Research on cotton showed that cotton fibers grew longer in bolls exposed to increased FR-to-red light ratios. Another study, on carrots, showed that concentrations of nutrients and compounds such as vitamin C and beta carotene in the roots of food crops could be changed by reflecting the right waves of color onto the plants’ leaves.
What’s more, in studies with basil, the amounts of blue, red and FR light reflected onto developing leaves affected their size, aroma and concentration of soluble phenolics. The phenolics are natural compounds, including tannins and pigments that can induce color, some flavors and odors, and antioxidant activity.
Basil leaves developing above red mulches had greater area, succulence and fresh weight than those developing above black mulch. When grown above yellow and green mulches, basil leaves developed significantly higher concentrations of aroma compounds and phenolics than did those of plants grown above white and blue mulches.
The concept of colored mulch sprouted when Kasperbauer wondered whether phytochrome was equally distributed in leaves. He became curious about what would happen if light impinged on the leaf’s lower, rather than upper, surface. “The plant response was the same, no matter which surface received the light,” says Kasperbauer. “Although that experiment seemed somewhat unconventional in 1962, it became highly relevant about 22 years later, when we determined that red and FR reflected from the soil surface could act through the plant’s phytochrome system to enhance yield and quality. That led to our colored-mulch work.”
Red Plastic Selective Reflecting Mulch (SRM) helps to Deter Nematodes
What’s more, tests done by USDA’s plant physiologist Michael J. Kasperbauer and Clemson University nematologist Bruce Fornum showed that nematode damage can be lessened by red plastic mulch. They did an interesting study where they planted tomatoes into sterile soil — some rows covered in black plastic mulch and some covered in red plastic mulch. They then inoculated both rows with 0-200,000 nematode eggs. Their findings showed the black mulch produced 8 pounds of tomatoes whereas the red mulch produced 17 pounds! That’s roughly a 113% increase in yield battling the same conditions.
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found that red plastic mulch suppresses root nematode damage to tomatoes because the light reflection keeps more of the plant’s growth above ground. The plant’s energy goes into developing fruit and foliage, rather than roots. Nematodes feed on roots. The far-red light reflection to the above-ground plant draws away nutrients from the roots – and nutrients away from the nematodes. Fewer roots mean less food for nematodes. Less food = fewer nematodes.
Things to Consider When Using Red Plastic Selective Reflecting Mulch (SRM)
- Carefully secure red plastic selective reflecting mulch underneath your plants so that there is at least a foot on every side of the plant in it’s mature stage of growth.
- Do not place the red plastic selective reflecting mulch in walking paths as it is thinner than other weed blocking materials.
- Consider placing a weed block material underneath your red plastic SRM to help limit weeds from growing underneath.
- Drip irrigation will be necessary underneath
Two other Bonus Tips for Boosting Flavor in Tomatoes:
- Place 1-2 TBSP of pure natural Molasses in a gallon of water and stir well to dilute it down and place into a spray bottle and spray your leaves. This will aid in bringing out flavor in your tomatoes.
- When your tomatoes are about 18″ tall, a little bit of stress at times can really boost flavor as well. Spray your plants about every 2 weeks with 1 standard strength 325 mg uncoated aspirin tablet mixed in a gallon of water and mix well until the aspirin is completely dissolved and then spray the tomato leaves with the aspirin solution (Salicylic Acid) to trigger tomato defenses. This will especially really beef up your Beef Steak varieties and boost the flavor profile as well.
Find Red Plastic Selective Reflecting Mulch for your Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Basil, Cotton, and Lettuce (and more) Crops
• “Colored Mulch Can Help Cotton, Carrots—and Basil, Too” by Luis Pons
September 5, 2003 https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2003/colored-mulch-can-help-cotton-carrots-and-basil-too/
• “Review: Red Plastic Mulch for Tomatoes –Does It Make a Difference?” http://www.tomatodirt.com/red-plastic-mulch.html
• “More than Meets the Eye: New Findings on How Mulch Color Can Affect Food Plants” USDA ARS Online Magazine Vol. 51, No. 9
• “Color of Light Reflected to Leaves Modifies Nutrient Content of Carrot Roots” by George F. Antonious* and Michael J. Kasperbauer USDA
• “Colored Mulch Starves Nematodes” USDA agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/ar/archive/1997/oct/mulch1097.pdf
It’s on cold wintery days like this that homemade tomato soup hits the spot. These heirloom tomatoes were from our 2019 season. I was short on time the day this bag (and another bag like this) came off the hydroponic Bato Bucket system and so I just threw it in a gallon size freezer bag for the Instapot this winter. Feels great knowing it’s pure unadulterated good food for my family.
I have four sons and a daughter and we like to watch the History Channel television show called Alone. Today we rewatched the last episode of season one. As we paused to thank the Lord for His provisions, my 10-year-old blessed the meal and I had to grin when he referenced the last episode of Alone saying, “…and thank you, Lord, that we didn’t have to struggle to find food or eat any bugs or slugs today.” Indeed. We are so blessed to be able to grow our own food. And every year we do it, we get better at it and more efficient.
Learning to grow food started when I was a little girl, helping my grandma to pick beans and bring in what would be served at supper to the farm hands and our family. I remember snapping peas into threes and dropping them kerplunk-kerplunk-kerplunk into a metal bucket. It was in Grandma’s kitchen standing for hours canning cherries harvested from her pie cherry tree for her yummy homemade pies.
And my parents had a garden for a few years. I can remember planting long rows of strawberries and we would put a fish head in the hole, fill it with water, and then plant the strawberry plant in the middle of the hole gathering the earth around it and gently pressing the earth down. But they got so busy with both working that it was difficult to keep up with the garden. I remember on Saturdays I got stuck with the inside cleaning jobs while my brothers got to go out and weed the garden and mow the lawn. Eventually the garden became grass and the grass got covered when Dad’s garage was built.
In both situations, gardening was disguised as “work” to me as a child, but now, looking back, I see how it was instilling the value of self-reliance, the importance of growing food — at least until our family got caught up with eating out and running from event to event. Beware of the busyness of life…
Fast forward almost 17 years … It wasn’t until my children were being homeschooled that I realized I had taken my experiences and what knowledge I had in gardening for granted and that we all needed to be better at knowing how to grow food. I was curious about hydroponics because I was tired of fighting the Georgia clay, so we dove into learning about hydroponics together as a family while also covering biology of plants / botany. I learned so much about hydroponics that I wanted to keep going even after the kids had moved on to other subjects. And year after year, we continue to learn and grow. (Hence the name “Grow Your Health Gardening”.) I’m proud that one of my sons has become the youngest Master Gardener in our county. He was my one child that watched me save a seed and began saving his own seeds. I love his passion!
So remember, it may look like work and seem like work, but it’s good work. And when you enjoy a meal eating the very fruit of your effort, well, it’s a great feeling.
Planning a garden does take some time and financial resources to get going, but just start with what you can manage and every year try one new thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start with what you already like to eat and
Tomorrow, I’ll post my heirloom line up for 2020 and more on why I chose them for those still planning their tomato 2020 season. 🍴👍
That’s all for tonight –