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Tomato Disease Codes
We have listed the diseases to which select hybrids have been bred to be resistant~one of the true benefits of improved hybrids.
V: Verticilium Wilt
F: Fusarium Wilt
F1: Fusarium Wilt Race 1
F2: Fusarium Wilt Race 2
A: Alternaria alternata
L: Septoria leafspot
TMV: Tobacco Mosaic Virus
Green Means 'Go'
If you're wondering if your tomato plants (or any annual crops) are getting the soil fertility they need, keep an eye on the 'seed leaves'. This is the first pair of leaves to emerge when a seed sprouts and remains at the base of the stem as the plant grows. If the seed leaves stay healthy and green, you're doing something right with the soil in that row. If they are pale, yellow or withered, you need to prepare the soil more carefully next time you plant.
The more water a vegetable contains, the more water you need to give it in dry, hot weather. Tomatoes, cukes and celery stems are especially thirsty. If you can, group them together and run a soaker hose through the patch.
According to the theory of companion planting, tomatoes and basil benefit one another when grown in the same plot. Certainly, they cause each other no harm, for we have often interplanted the two in a row, especially when we're training tomatoes vertically on strings. There's plenty of space in between them for bushy basil plants. After all, they keep excellent company in the kitchen, whether you're serving fresh tomatoes strewn with the pungent green basil leaves or cooking both up into a luscious sauce for pasta. It's handy to be able to pick the two together. And who knows? Perhaps the basil's strong scent repels insect pests that might otherwise prey on the tomatoes.
Variations on a Theme
At the height of tomato season, platters appear on the table regularly, and we never seem to get tired of them. But it’s nice to vary the dressing. Sometimes it’s just a simple vinaigrette. Sometimes its a heavier balsamic vinegar dressing with olive oil and honey. Sliced red onions are often part of the mix. Basil, either with the leaves whole or cut into ribbons, is a frequent player. And sometimes I make a pesto with my lemon basil and some good olive oil--maybe a little extra lemon as well, and some parmiggiano cheese. It stays a brighter green than other pestos, and is wonderful spooned over the tomatoes.
There's always too many tomatoes and there's never enough time to can them all. Here's an easy way to freeze them instead. Wash the tomatoes and cut out the little core at the stem leaving as much of the good flesh as possible. Then, simply fill one-gallon plastic freezer bags with the fruits. They do not need to be blanched and can be used by just dropping them into soups or sauces. If you prefer them skinless, just thaw them and the skins will slip right off. Paste tomatoes (like Milano Plum Tomatoes) are fleshier and work the best, but you can use other types if that is what you have.
Absolutely nothing compares to eating a sun-warmed, homegrown tomato straight off the vine. This garden mainstay is easily grown and most rewarding. Start seed in a warm, bright, well-ventilated area six to eight weeks before setting out. Transplant out after the last frost date. To encourage stockiness, sink seedlings deeper into the well-enriched soil than you grew them - soil should cover the lowest layer of leaves. Position stakes, cages or supports at that time to avoid disturbing the plants later on. Keep soil evenly moist and well-fertilized. Once harvested, store tomatoes at room temperature, as anything below 50°F destroys the enzyme which gives tomatoes their flavor.
When a variety is said to have determinate vines, it means that the vines top out and all of the fruit ripens at once. When a variety is said to have indeterminate vines it means that the vines keep growing and bearing fruit until a killing frost.
Average seed life: 2 years
#4285 San Marzano 2 Plum Tomatoes: 80-90 days|
Originating in the volcanic fields near Mount Vesuvius,
this acclaimed variety comes to us from the foremost Italian
seed house. Known as the best cooking tomato in the world,
we can not sing its praises loudly enough. San Marsano 2 is
disease-resistant and grows in bunches of five to six, large
fruits on indeterminate vines, ripening to a brilliant red
with lustrous green shoulders. Producing over a long period
of time, the crack-resistant fruit holds well on the vine.
San Marzano 2 has a wonderful, delicate taste and a solid,
meaty texture and is easy to use in the kitchen. It has an
elongated, plum-shape, only two, small seed pockets that are
easily scooped out and an easy-to-peel skin. San Marzano 2’s
high sugar content helps create its big tomato taste and
rich consistency. You had better plant loads since you will
want to make vats of herbed tomato sauce for coveted use
throughout the year. It is the only plum tomato that great
Italian chefs use in their prized recipes. It will soon be
your exclusive choice too. (VF) (OP.)
Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.25
#4290 Milano Plum Tomatoes: 60-65 days|
We’re crazy about Milano, a hybrid which ripens at least a month earlier than traditional types! It was our favorite Italian plum-type at trials last year. If you like plum tomatoes, give Milano a try, and revel in the results. Determinate, compact plants yield lots of deep red, elongated pear-shaped fruits. We import this exclusive seed from Italy, where its dense, thick flesh makes Milano a favorite of sauce-makers and sun-driers alike. Unlike many plum tomatoes, these fruits have a big rich, sweet taste. Perfect for enjoying fresh in salsas or transforming into rich, thick sauces or sun-drying. (We like to skin, seed, chop and freeze Milano Plum tomatoes
in thin, flat air-tight freezer bags for use over the
winter. Just snap off sections to use in little sauces,
soups, omelet fillings or stews. Very handy. It is also
quite rewarding to see all of the little “envelopes” lined
up in our freezer door.) (VF) (F1.)
Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.75
#4292 Speckled Roman Plum Tomatoes: 85 days|
This is one pasty tomato. A beautiful, flesh-dense gem developed by John Swenson, Speckled Roman has 3” by 5” oblong fruits with orange-yellow striped bright red skin and a dense solid-red interior with few seeds and little gel. Its exceptional off-the-vine flavor is even more notable when reduced into sauce, and its compact, regular-leafed indeterminate vines are incredibly productive. (OP.)
Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.45
#4295 Banana Legs Tomatoes: 75-80 days|
As you would likely guess, Banana Legs is an unusual tomato: a must-grow just because of its appearance, to say nothing of its taste. Shaped like a small, bright yellow banana, it is about 4" long and 1 1/2" in diameter with pale green stripes that mature to light orange. A prolific, rare, paste-type tomato, its fruit drapes from lacy, determinant vines in clusters. Its mild-flavored flesh is a bit crunchy yet meaty with only a few seeds. Banana Legs are great sliced in salads where you can show off its striking color and enjoy its great taste. (OP.)
Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.25