My good friend, “Madame Z”, is counting down the days to the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21st, by Facebooking suggestions for how to spend each of these last days. I know that Madame Z is not at all serious about the Apocalypse because she recently gave me a fabulous gift: two Heirloom Seed Cards that she picked up at Tomato Festival in Ontario earlier in the fall.
The seed cards are from Vicki’s Veggies in Milford, Ontario, and each contain four different varieties of heirloom tomato seeds including: Red Current, Sarah Goldstar, Cheesmanni (two packs of those), White Currant Cherry Tomato, Tigrella, Una Hartsock, and Odd Shape (pink). Madame Z asked me to give her a few plants of each variety in the spring, so am already planning my tomato growing strategy.
By coincidence, the day after I received the seeds I read an excellent blog post about “Grow So Easy Organic: How to start, raise and grow tomatoes“. I subscribe to this blog, and I find that it is always a great source of gardening information and inspiration. In particular, I found Pat’s advice about planting the tomatoes up to the first set of leaves, pinching off the first flowers, and fertilizing with Epsom salts to be particularly helpful. (Click on the link above to read her blog post).
When I first sat down to write this post, one of my favorite clients called to ask me if I had time to edit a document. I said “Yes, I am just writing about tomatoes, but can put that aside for now”. Unbeknownst to me, my client is one of the great Western Canada tomato growers and like all great tomatoes, he has Italian roots. He offered some additional good advice:
- He recommends growing tomatoes from seeds to maintain the variety. He grew two different Italian varieties from seeds this year, one variety from his mom and the other from his mother-in-law.
- It takes an extra 30 days for seeds to grow in Vancouver weather, unless you have a green house or covered garden area to work with. Next year he is going to plant his seeds in April with a cover.
- Use mushroom manure every year or two years to ensure great blooms and fruit.
Okay, I need to stop dreaming about my next fabulous crop of tomatoes, and get back to work. Thanks to Madame Z for the seeds and to Pat from Grow So Easy Organic and my client, Mr. Italian Tomato for all the great advice!