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Gardeners, foodies and cooks all crave the tender, rich, juicy tomatoes that their grandparents grew.  Heirloom varieties offer that taste memory, and it is the holy grail to grow your own.

Hybrid tomatoes are perhaps “easier” to grow as they are bred to be smooth, round, red orbs with no cracks or green shoulders, etc. If your goal is high yields, or longer storage and no unsightly attributes, then a hybrid variety might be for you. While they typically don’t have the old-fashioned taste qualities, there are some that are quite good.

This category covers the bases of growing, cooking and selecting the best plant for the intended use.

Best Time to Plant Tomatoes & Vegetables: (aka Phenology)

Old gardener stories are often based around a science called phenology. “Plant potatoes on Good Friday; prune trees on Presidents Day, and never plant anything during the full moon.” Homilies or science? The Science of Phenology – when to plant Before starting our small farm in Minnesota, I went to a number of classes, seminars …

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Pepperonata on Butternut Squash: + Romesco Sauce

Pepperonata (peh-peh-roh-NAH-tah) is an Italian vegetable dish of slow-cooked, or stewed bell peppers with onion and garlic.  Of course there are variations and some Italian cooks will add tomatoes, eggplant, or other Italian vegetables. Romesco is a low carb tomato and pepper sauce thickened with ground almonds. Pepperonata alone or combined with romesco makes a stellar …

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Characteristics of Best Heirloom Tomato Varieties: by Color

This is a summary of the flavor, growth performance and unique qualities of what I consider to be the best heirloom tomato varieties. I have been growing, tasting and testing heirloom tomatoes since 1997 and this guide is based on that cumulative experience. It includes the characteristics of each color category of heirloom varieties. What …

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Best Tomato Supports: Cages vs Staking vs Fencing

Many people who are new to  growing heirloom tomatoes in the ground start with a tomato plant, a bag of fertilizer and a tomato “cage” purchased at a garden center.  Here are some alternatives to typical tomato cages that will result in more tomatoes, a longer season for tomatoes and higher quality tomatoes. Jump to: …

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How to Get the Earliest Tomatoes (Heirloom or Hybrid)

When I sell the tomato plants at the Farmers’ markets in early spring, customers are always curious about “when” they’ll get their tomatoes.  The answer is definitely one of those, “it depends”  qualifiers.  Here are a few tips to help answer this question: Criteria for Getting the Earliest Tomatoes (Heirloom or Hybrid) In general, there …

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