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11th Annual Tomato Extravaganza and Plant Sale
By Tami Reece UCCE Master Gardener
Did you know there are over 7,500 tomato varieties? Hybrids and heirlooms are most commonly found in home gardens. Hybrid tomatoes are a cross between two genetically different tomato varieties and give the best qualities of two or more parents. The most sought after qualities include increased productivity, disease resistance, cold tolerance, consistent size and fewer blemishes. Hybrids are firm and bruise less easily than other tomatoes. However, many do claim that hybrids just don't have the luscious flavor of an heirloom tomato. Seed saving is also not a viable option as the plant will never be true to its parent.
Heirloom tomatoes, or “open pollinated” tomatoes, are varieties that can be grown from seed and will be true to their parents. Some seeds have been passed down through generations, from gardener to gardener, for hundreds of years. Heirlooms generally have lots of seeds, are unique in shape and size, and oh the flavors you will find!
When buying tomato plants, it's helpful to know the difference between indeterminate and determinant varieties. Determinant varieties will give you all their fruit at once. If you plan to preserve tomatoes, this will allow you to water bath can or dry your harvest in a day or two. Indeterminate varieties will give you tomatoes all season, so you can enjoy them in salads all summer long.
Join us at the 11th annual Tomato Extravaganza on Saturday, August 19, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Presentations include “Growing Your Best Tomato”, “Rid Your Yard of Gophers and Ground Squirrels”, and “Preserving Your Tomato Harvest”. Landscape plants, herbs, and basil will be for sale and the California Rare Fruit Growers will be on hand selling trees. The UCCE Master Food Preservers will be available for your food preserving questions and there will be children's activities, informational booths, and a food truck from 11:00 to 1:00 pm. Admission is free and seating for the presentations is limited. Visit our website to register - http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/. Stop by, learn something new and stroll the beautiful demonstration garden.
Are you interested in being a UCCE Master Gardener but need more information? Join us at the New Master Gardener Class Informational Meeting on Thursday, September 14th from 1-3 in the UCCE auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client: I noticed some leaves “browning and yellowing, maybe dying” on my Paul Robeson tomato (see photo), do you have any suggestions?
MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk. It's been a busy season for the Help Desk, and we apologize for our delay in responding to your inquiry!
We understand that you are concerned about your Paul Robeson heirloom tomato plant's yellowing and dying leaves. The photo of your plant that you provided does not indicate a reason for concern for us. Overall, the plant looks healthy. It is not unusual for tomato plants to have browning leaves (especially lower leaves which may now be shaded from the sun) as we are headed toward the end of the growing season and have experienced some extremely hot weather recently.
We do have a few suggestions on how to extend your plant's production and growing season by giving it the best cultural care you can:
- You can lightly fertilize and be careful to consistently but not over water.
› After plants have set fruit you may want to fertilize with more nitrogen every 4 to 6 weeks.
› Water plants when the soil dries in the top 2-3”. Tomatoes need regular irrigation during the growing season
- You may want to trim off the browning leaves as they won't be adding to the tomato's growth or production and could improve the plant's appearance.
- We notice that you have black weed cloth on the ground near your tomato plant. We suggest removing that cloth as it may be contributing to more heat in the soil. Instead use 2–3” of a wood or straw mulch around the plant instead of the cloth to block weed growth and keep the soil cooler. Be sure not to place the mulch against the plant stems.
We hope these suggestions help extend your tomato's production and growing season! Please let us know if you have any additional concerns or questions.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SLH)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>
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