Lycopersicon esculentum 9,000 seeds per oz, 0.2 gram pkt ~60 seeds, 0.5 gram pkt ~150 seeds. Tender, cannot tolerate frost. Usually started indoors Feb–April. Minimum germination soil temperature 50°, optimal range 60–85°, ideal temperature 77°. Emergence takes 43 days at 50°, 14 days at 59°, 8 days at 68° and 6 days at 77° and 86°. 98% normal seedlings at 59° but only 83% at 86°.
Avoid using fresh manure as it causes lush foliage with few ripe fruits. Instead use generous amounts of well-rotted cow or horse manure, or compost to boost plant vigor, and crushed eggshells at the bottom of each hole for calcium. Heavy phosphorus needs. Respond well to foliar sprays.
Determinate (Det) bush varieties may be staked, should not be pruned. Indeterminate (Ind) climbing varieties are customarily staked and pruned. Tomato experts Carolyn Male and Kokopelli’s Dominique Guillet both oppose pruning, arguing more abundant foliage provides more photosynthesis.
Richard Fochtmann of Leeds, ME, laments, “Please have a Fedco person who likes acidic tomatoes indicate which tomatoes are best. Current reviewer has a sweet tooth and likes tomatoes that taste like candy. Probably drinks too many slurpies!” Richard, guilty on the Sun Golds, not on the slurpies.
For all tomatoes, days to maturity are from date of transplanting.
Good seed retains viability so we often commission two-year productions.
Organically and sustainably grown seed was rinsed with a sodium hypochlorite solution to reduce risk of seed-borne disease. This treatment poses no health risks.
A highlight near the end of each growing season is our paste tomato taste-off. Over the years, we’ve gotten the most requests for Roma, San Marzano and Opalka. Opalka debuted in our 2010 catalog and met great response. I call San Marzano the Sugar & Gold of the paste set, its formidable reputation not backed by our taste tests. We’ve tried numerous strains and all have fallen short. Apparently it needs the volcanic soils of Italy to bring out its full potential. Roma has also disappointed us.
Diseases: Bacterial Canker, Spec and Spot
Cultural controls: disinfect greenhouse materials & cages, farming tools & gloves, avoid overhead irrigation, don’t work crop when wet, rotate crops, use compost.
Material: Copper (8861-3).
Cultural controls: rotation, mulching, minimize plant wetness, staking, use compost.
Disease: Early Blight
Cultural controls: rotation, avoid stressing plants, staking, keep leaf wetness to a minimum, mulching, indeterminate varieties are more resistant/tolerant, disinfect stakes & cages.
Material: Trichoderma harzianum (Root Shield 8853) or Streptomyces lydicus (Actinovate 8851).
Disease: Late Blight
Cultural controls: Destroy cull potatoes & potato volunteers, avoid overhead irrigation.
Material: copper products.
Disease: Septoria Leaf Spot
Cultural controls: space plants for good air circulation.
Materials: copper products.
Pest: Tomato Hornworm
Control: Look for frass (droppings) and handpick. Eeeuww!
Material: Bt kurstaki (8902), Spinosad (8922-4).
Pest: Tarnished Plant Bug
Cultural controls: Floating row covers (9101), good weed control.
Material: try Pyrethrum (8925) products.
Pest: Colorado Potato Beetle
Cultural controls: rotation, control solanaceous weeds such as horse nettle, rapid flaming, suction devices, hand-picking if pressure is low, mulch before adults arrive.
Materials: Spinosad (8922-4)
Some parts of our sales area suffered from late blight again this year. Even if you didn’t, be mindful: in conditions of prolonged cool rain such as we had in 2009, in late summer 2011, and in June 2013, this disease can spread 30 miles per day.
• Destroy—do not compost—any infected plants, fruits or parts. If you compost any diseased material, do not use that compost the next year.
• Late blight on tomatoes is not seed-borne. Saved tomato seed is okay if you ferment it properly.
• Grow your own tomato plants or buy locally grown seedlings. Know your farmer!
• Do not use saved potatoes as seed stock. Purchase only new certified-disease-free seed potatoes.
Late blight usually starts at the top of the plant or on the windward side. As the earliest infection arrives on warm southerly winds, monitor the south and southeast sides of the garden carefully. Later in the season the wind can bring it from any direction. Early in the season, late blight infection shows as roundish lesions on leaves that uniquely will cross the center vein of the leaf. Later, blotches appear on stems. Still later, hard crusty lesions form on fruits.
Consult vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/ for excellent photos and information. Use services such as the MOFGA Pest Reports to know if and when blight appears south of you.
shows up as drying and dying leaves at the bottom of the plant. EB can be managed culturally, should not result in significant loss of crop.
Septoria Leaf Spot
can appear almost overnight. It is characterized by yellowing and small circular spots on older leaves. It can eventually spread to the entire plant in conditions of high humidity and temperatures. It can be spread by wind or carried on clothing and tools. Septoria can live over the winter on live tissue, so don’t compost affected plants.