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Hancock Park Garden Club, Los Angeles – March 4

Our friends at the Hancock Park Garden Club have invited us to join them for a Spring Plant Sale on Saturday March 4. We’re thrilled to join them and some other terrific SoCal plant vendors and organizations to usher in the spring in fine style.

Saturday only, the sale will run from 9am – 3pm at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Wilshire Blvd. (Ebell of Los Angeles Parking Lot, 743 South Lucerne Blvd, LA 90005)

We’ll have 20-25 varieties for you to choose from, as well as some other veggie choices and a few extras that will help you have a great tomato season.

Mark Donofrio will teach a short tomato class at 10am and there will be various class offerings all through the day, so don’t miss out!

Thank you to the Garden Club for all they do to encourage good gardening in the community! We’re happy to support their efforts at the Ebell.

743 South Lucerne Blvd, LA 90005

5 Tips that could save your tomato season!

Sure, when you’re a farmer there are many things you must attend to in a given growing season – even when everything goes right!

But there are 5 key things that can get you off on the right foot or inevitably ensure a successful season in the tomato garden:

Ojai tomato field on it's way, 2014.

Move the garden!
Planting in the same spot each season invites problems. Bugs that like tomatoes and diseases that affect them may also be set up in your chosen garden area. Outsmart the bad guys by practicing rotation planting. Maybe you can plant in containers this year? Good farmers know this is a must each season. Amend liberally in your new spot to get the garden in gear.

Develop a Strategy
Yes, a strategy. What do you want to eat? What will the kids eat? When do you want to harvest? Can’t deal with a huge plant? All this can be dealt with as you choose seedlings. Pay attention to the label and know what all those instructions and guides mean!

Do you want an heirloom or a hybrid? “Days to Maturity” helps you chart your harvests, so when do you want to pick? A Determinate plant is shorter, stockier and produces more or less at one time. Indeterminate plants are larger and they produce more regularly throughout the summer. Which is right for you?

Dig Deep
Tomato roots run deep, so get that started when you plant. Dig a deep hole! Take off the lowest leaves and plant deeply in a well-amended planting hole (yes, even some of the stem!) leaving only 3-4 inches of the plant above the surface. Take off leaves that will be buried. Stem portions that are buried will root quickly and strengthen your seedling.

Water and Feed Wisely
Soak every 3, 4 or 5 days for the first few weeks, depending on your soil type, as it’s not super hot yet! Watch your seedlings and give them only what they need; water deeply and infrequently! As the season progresses the plant will inevitably yellow in places…more water won’t fix that. Avoid watering too much. Too much water dilutes taste.

Pick and use your crop when the fruit is actually RIPE!
Sounds simple enough but we do mess this up. When is a black tomato ripe? You must know that the fruit is colored up and softening – that’s when it’s right. Cherry tomatoes are the hardest to predict. Wait until they practically fall into your hand!

Get to it!

No Elephants, but the Circus IS in Town

I always did want to run away with the circus. I think it was the horse acts that most tempted me. In a way I really have.

This week our events begin in Southern California. Early for most of the country of course, but for us it’s truly been a subtle winter at best. My one rescue seedling that’s forged through the cooler months has done quite well through the last bit, though ill-timed and certainly not impressive. Yet.

And no, I don’t recommend a November planting, this just seemed, well, right.

But I digress. It’s event season, that time when dinner parties and birthdays, last minute trips and leisurely afternoons in the garden are out of the question – or more likely postponed until “after Tomatomania”! I guess I should make AT a thing.

And in their place we run around the state with fantastic tomato seedlings, greeting enthusiastic gardeners all over CA who share our zeal for that new dwarf tomato plant that offers great color and production, or the strongest tomato cage, or the newest and best tomato book on the market. (I do hope they’ll be after that one!)

I run down our extensive list and wonder if folks will rally round Sweethearts, a wonderful cherry/grape find of last season or opt for First Mate, Marz Round Green, Siletz, Lavender Lady or Captain Lucky. Yes, tomatoes all, each with a different twist that will excite and entertain us through the summer.

It’s a wonderful time for us and we hope for you too. I’m so grateful to the many people who prop me/us up and make it all go as it should and to all those (you) gardeners who inspire us each season.

Sorry we can’t provide elephants but will a new selection called Giant Buffalo Heart do?

Seedlings at Cornerstone Sonoma

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