This year I produced over 120 different heirloom tomato varieties, and more than 1000 plants total, in gallon containers. I have sold almost 600 of them so far this year, at wholesale, to local garden centers. I am attracting a growing customer base, who learn that my plants do better than plants from other growers. Commercial greenhouses are heated at temperatures that give fast plant growth, but produce soft plants that go into shock when gardeners put them out in the cool Puget Sound Spring weather. My plants are grown at cooler temperatures, so they are already well adapted.
Growing 100+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes creates such an amazing color palette!
Last year on this date my tomato plants were already showing signs of late blight. So….this year I invested in a sprayer and an organic copper sulfate preparation to battle the blight fungus. But wouldn’t you know, here is today’s forecast of late blight danger in our area. Green = no danger. Yellow or Red would signal danger. Blight likes cool humid weather, but we have had hot dry weather.
- Ananas Noir
- Bloody Butcher
- Buckbee’s New 50 day
- Burraker’s Favorite
- Earl of Edgecomb
- Eva Purple Ball
- Fred Limbaugh
- Indische Fleische
- Lahman’s Pink
- Marianne’s Peace
- New Hampshire
- Old Brooks
- Purple Russian
- Sasha Altai
- Sunset Red Horizon
- Tommy Toe
Late blight is the nemesis of tomato growers, especially in the damp climate of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Many sources of gardening advice include a lot of misinformation about managing late blight. For authoritative sources of good information, I recommend:
Managing Late Blight.
Managing Late Blight in Organically-Produced Tomatoes
- Crop rotation is essential because late blight spores survive in the soil over winter. False. Currently, in the US, the late blight pathogen can only survive on living host plant tissue. This is because blight fungi have two different modes of reproduction, only one of which is presently observed in the US. Late blight can reproduce either sexually, or asexually. Sexual reproduction requires the presence of both A1 and A2 mating types (equivalent to male and female sexes). Sexual reproduction produces oospores, which can survive over the winter, in soil for example. However only the A2 mating type (sex) exists in most of the US. Therefore, late blight can only reproduce asexually. Asexual reproduction produces zoospores, which are much less hardy than oospores, and can only survive for a few hours outside of living host (tomato or potato) tissue.
- Seeds from late blight infected tomatoes will produce infected plants. False. Late blight zoospores do not survive on tomato seeds.
- Stakes used for tomatoes must be disinfected before re-use to prevent spread of late blight. False. Zoospores cannot survive for more than a few hours on solid surfaces such as stakes.
- Late blight infection is caused by spores present in the soil, so contact of tomato plant leaves with the soil must be prevented. False. Zoospores cannot survive in soil. Zoospores are spread almost entirely by air-born dispersal of spores released by living infected plants.
In my last post I touted my cable-heated gravel bed for starting plants. Forget that – my Gro-Quick 48 Ft Soil Heating Cable failed after only one season of use. Thanks to Gro-Quick my starts are about a week behind where they should be. In the end, to get them started, I put a couple lamps with IR heating bulbs above my plants. All but two of my 126 varieties are now sprouted.
On February 26 I completed sowing 3″ pots with seeds for 126 varieties of tomatoes. Here they reside in the greenhouse on their cable-heated bed of gravel.
These are the 126 varieties of tomatoes I will grow this year.