Tag Archives: What’s Growing

What’s Growing: Tomatoes

Tomatoes 1

We grow a whole lot of tomatoes at Paper Crane.  I don’t even particularly like tomatoes.  They are just so productive, how do you not grow them?  They’re pretty easy to grow.  Drop seeds in soil under a grow light in late March.  Bring the seedlings upstairs to acclimate in mid April, then drop them outside.  As long as they get enough water and a little support, you’re soon drowning in tomatoes.

We plant by the square foot garden method.  We divide a raised bed in square feet.  Our regular 4×8 beds therefore make for 32 1 foot square planting areas.  Each one gets a tomato.  Most years we fill two beds with tomatoes.  That’s 64 tomato plants from 2 raised beds.  As I said, lots of tomatoes.

But what kind of tomatoes?  There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes to choose from, which is a big part of what makes them so compelling to grow.  There’s always some intriguing variety that you just have to try.  Tomatoes come in red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and everything in between.  Each has its own distinct flavor, as well as different nutritional qualities.  Orange and yellow tomatoes are the sweetest.  Purple tomatoes are the most vitamin rich.

Tomatoes also come in many different sizes.  Cherry tomatoes are great for fresh eating.  Plum tomatoes have less water, so are best for cooking.  Big salad tomatoes have a higher ration of pulp to skin, making them great as a topping.  We mostly grow cherry tomatoes here.  The reasons are simple.  Everyone I know who grows big tomatoes complains constantly about their perfect tomato getting eaten or developing a bad spot right before they were about to pick it.  With cherry tomatoes, we will probably get 50-100 tomatoes per vine.  I don’t get too emotionally attached to any particular tomato, since there are hundreds more where those come from.  Cherry tomatoes also store very well.  We cut them in half, fill a freezer bag with them, and freeze them for use throughout the year.  As a plus,  Cherry tomatoes are also more nutritious.

We buy most of our tomato seeds through Baker Creek, our favorite heirloom seed company.  We’re partial to Violet Jasper, Red Riesentraube, Sungold, and Black Cherry.