Tomatoes have come to the OEC Demonstration Garden! Learn a few easy tips to make your crop of tomatoes a successful one.
Tomatoes. Just the word is enough to inspire visions of hot summer days and dinner al fresco. One of the most anticipated crops of the year, tomatoes were planted in the OEC Demonstration Garden this past week. A heat loving plant (in the Solanaceae family), tomatoes often need special care when grown in the Pacific Northwest. Nighttime temperatures can dip down into the low 40s and a spell of cold weather in June isn’t unheard of. To help ensure a successful crop of tomatoes, the OEC recommends several things:
1. Plant tomato varieties known to do well in Pacific Northwest climates. This year the OEC grew several determinate and indeterminate varieties including Purple Cherokee, Sweet Olive, Muscovitch, Black Plum, and (everybody’s favorite) Sungold. Determinate tomatoes fruit after a determined number of days and are bred to grow to a compact height. They also fruit for a shorter period of time than indeterminate. Indeterminate tomato varieties can grow to great heights (6 – 10 ft.) and produce fruit until killed by frost. They are often heirloom varieties.
2. Prep beds with compost and a complete organic fertilizer (COF). Like all plants, tomatoes benefit from the nutrients provided by compost and COF and well-tilled soil. Tomatoes also prefer slightly acidic soil and love a handful of vermicompost when first planted or as a side-dressing.
3. Create a hoop house with reemay or clear plastic over the length of your tomato beds. Both materials will increase the temperature in the hoop house (reemay is more permeable and will trap less heat, but works quite well) and give your heat-loving tomatoes an extra boost that will promote healthy flowers and fruit.
Enjoy the slideshow below of past and present tomatoes in the OEC Demonstration Garden! We hope it inspires you to get in the garden and plant your own tomatoes.