Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tomatoes Anyone?

If you want to start seedlings yet this year, it’s time to do it. If you want to start lettuce or onions or peas, you now have the choice of starting them indoors or directly sowing these cold hearty vegetables.

If you’d like to try a indoor seeding of tomatoes, you should get a move on. It’s widely recommended growing tomatoes for 4 to 6 weeks inside before transplanting.

In central Pennsylvania, the recorded last frost date is May 4th. However, we’ve had frost after that and many use Mother’s day as a safe starting point. We have just enough time to start our seed, but we have to do it now.

Can’t do it now? Not to fear. Erica Beadle, Nursery Manager at Highland Gardens said they will stock over 40 varieties of tomatoes this year. Check out their website for a list:

Both Highland Gardens and Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouse will be carrying heirloom varieties as well.

Shirley Halk, a Dauphin County Master Gardener, said people shouldn’t be afraid to try heirlooms. Halk’s heirloom tomatoes have performed every bit as well as any hybrids and taste much better.

Some of the heirloom varieties she suggests growing are:

Old German – A large tomato with a pink inside
Cherokee Purple – Flavorful rose colored favorite
Amish Paste – Plum shaped, excellent for paste and sauce
Green Zebra (not always an heirloom) – Green and yellow tomato with added spice and zing

I got the sense that Halk had grown and loved many other varieties of heirloom tomatoes and would probably discover at least one other variety to add to her list this summer.

Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses lists their tomato plant varieties at:

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