Growing Tomatoes

Growing tomato plants from seed can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and tomato seeds are relatively easy to grow. Only a few seeds from a packet are required to produce enough tomatoes to feed a family of four. If stored properly these seeds will remain viable for 4 to 5 years. One packet of seed can provide you with tomato plants for several years.

Tomato seedlings should be started inside in a bright location during February or March. Typically the seedlings are ready to transplant into the garden after 5 to 7 weeks. Plant these tomato seedlings out in the garden during April. Provide tomatoes with a wind-protected warm sunny spot for best results.

In the Bay Area

Growing tomatoes in the Bay Area can be tricky. Lack of heat in combination with summer fog is not ideal for growing many varieties. Most varieties require a lot of sunlight and heat until they will bear fruit. Seed packages often list sunlight requirements as days to maturity. By selecting early maturing varieties (70 days or less) you are likely to end up with more fruit. The following varieties tend to perform well in the Bay Area and are quite tasty.

Rosso Sicilian: A beautiful red ribbed heirloom variety from Italy. This compact variety requires less support than many tomato varieties. It is excellent for use in making sauce.

Japanese Trifele: A beautiful purple pear-shaped tomato. It is less prone to cracking and bruising than other tomato varieties. This tomato has an incredibly rich flavor.

Chadwick Cherry: A small-fruiting variety that is incredibly prolific and can be grown in a large container. These cherry tomatoes are not overly sweet but have that classic tomato taste.

Siletz: An incredibly early producing heirloom variety. A reliable red slicer that is nearly seedless. These sweet slightly acidic tomatoes can grow to ¾ pound.

Happy planting to all.