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The Perfect Tomato
      from Jane Evans' talk at Oct. 2009 Meeting

Jane Evans, co-owner of Plants for the Southwest, summarized her efforts to grow the perfect tomato here in Tucson. Choose heirloom varieties with shortest time to maturity - 65/70/75 days. They'll do well and you'll have fruit before the heat of summer sets in.

Suppliers: Tomato Fest, Johnny Seed, Tomato Grower Supply.

Recommended Varieties: Black Cherry, by far and away the best cherry ever; Yellow Cherry (Gallinas); Punta Banda (good cooking, thick skinned); Flamme (Yellow/Orange, Tennis ball sized, good sandwich tomato); Porter Improved (Tennis ball sized, good sandwich tomato); Mule- team (baseball sized, similar to beefsteak). Yellow choices are Dr. Wyche's; Kellogg's Breakfast.

Order seeds early December - Plant at least 9 - 12 plants. Try different varieties to find what you like.

Seed Starting: Plant many/all seeds in pot/tray in January. Use well draining soil mix (she used cactus mix). Cover with layer of humus (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch deep), water and enclose in plastic tent to preserve moisture (mini green house). Place in good light (south window), water daily, opening tent to ventilate. When seeds germinate (approx. 2 weeks) open tent to partially ventilate for balance of growing. When true leaves appear (approx Feb 1) transplant to 2 inch pots. Grow for about 4 more weeks.

Plant in garden early March before last frost to get earlier production. Be ready to protect with row cover in case of frost. Jane planted 18 inch on center, rows 2 & 1/2 feet apart, 3 feet would be easier access.

Soil Prep / Area location: Need full sun for 1/2 day (6-8 hours). Amend soil by mixing in top 8-12 inch COIR (shredded coconut hulls), steer manure (or equiv), Kellogg's garden soil amendment, or similar with guano, microrhyzzia, chicken manure and earthworm castings.

Maintenance: Cover with shade cloth 30% max. Attach to 7ft frame over plot to allow for easy access to plants. Cover with bird netting to protect fruit- Use 4 inch layer of Alfalfa Hay as a mulch, reduces water needs and adds nitrogen to soil when plowed under. Erected 6ft high hog (4 inch welded wire) fencing behind row and tied plants to it with T-shirt strips.

Watering: approx 5gal/plant/week. 1 time every 3 days using 'shrubbler' heads to water 16 minutes in 2 / 8 minute intervals, 24 minutes apart to allow maximum absorption, no run off. Plant marigolds to deter nematodes- Plant Datura to attract horn worm moth and keep from tomatoes.

Some of these products are available at :
Magic Garden, 7909 E 22nd 885-7466,
Rascon Landscaping, 7974 N Oracle 297-8358,
Desert Trees Nursery , 9559 N Camino Del Plata 297-5664,
OK Feed, 3701 E Ft Lowell 325-0122,
Mesquite Valley Growers, 8005 E Speedway 721-8728,
Rillito Nursery & Garden 6303 N La Cholla 575-0995. 

Notes s
ubmitted by TOG member Victor Gutierrez (Thanks so MUCH Victor!!)



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