Hey Tomato Maniacs! It’s Tomato Mania time at your local Ace Hardware store.
Um, Pete, what’s Tomato Mania? Glad you asked. Tomato Mania is the time to come in and get all your supplies for growing tomatoes! Including great deals on tomato plants themselves.
Tomatoes are about the best vegetable you can grow in your garden. Everyone knows that your average store-bought tomato is about as tasty as plastic. A home-grown tomato, fresh from your vine, has so much more flavor, so much more nutrition, so much more of everything than a store-bought tomato.
So how to get a good start on a tomato? For one, don’t be shy when planting. Tomatoes can be planted with their stems about half buried in the soil. They will actually root faster and grow better this way. Dig down deep, loosen your soil and put the plant in deep. Don’t think you have to buy a huge tomato to get a head start on growing either. While select Ace Hardware stores have a great deal on large-size plants right now, don’t worry if all you start with are the smaller, individual pots. I have started these smaller plants and they will catch up to the bigger plants and produce tomatoes just as quickly. This is especially true when you use a good tomato fertilizer through the growing season.
There are so many varieties, which one should I grow? Don’t worry too much about this at first. I always recommend the Early Girl for the Rocky Mountain region. We can have such a short growing season, and these will produce tomatoes easily in time. Cherry tomatoes and patio tomatoes are also good varieties for our region. If you’re more advanced, start your plants early, or just like the challenge, go for beefsteak or big boys to get the large, hamburger-sized tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes are really fun and interesting to grow as well. There are so many varieties and many look a bit on the odd side, with colors being towards purple or even yellow. Oh they taste good and can make some amazing sauces.
Ask our helpful hardware folks for more tips and for anything else you’ll want, like plant food, bloom set, garden soils and tomato cages. Last year I forgot to get tomato cages. All summer long I had tomatoes running amok through the neighborhood. Okay, not really, but some tomato cage advice here as well – don’t scrimp on the cheap cages. Buy the good, solid, larger cages. The cheap ones often fall over under the weight of full grown plants and you end up throwing them away each year. The good ones support much better and last many years.
Ask the helpful folks if it’s really to-may-to or to-mah-to, and if they’re really fruits or vegetables. I’m not saying you’ll get a definitive answer, but it will make for fun discussion!
And don’t forget when those tomatoes are ripe and ready, Ace has everything you need for canning them too. More on that in a few months, let’s get ‘em growing first! Thank you Tomato Maniacs and when you visit Ace, tell them Pete Moss sent you!