December 2011 JSS Advantage Newsletter
Diversify Your Tomato Production
Tomatoes are a top crop for most fresh market farmers, so we at Johnny's are happy to introduce new products that will help you grow more tomatoes, over a longer season, for greater profits. This month, we offer some new varieties, supplies, and suggestions that will help you diversify your offerings at market next summer.
Being early, late, or off-season is one good way to diversify your tomato production. Another way is to offer tomatoes in volume to chefs, artisanal processors, and home canners. By the time most local field tomatoes hit their peak, prices have dropped considerably from early in the season. But that's when it's easiest to produce a lot of tomatoes if you planted disease-resistant, high-yielding varieties.
New Greenhouse Tomato Rebelski (aka DRW 7749) Offers Disease Resistance Package, Same Great Taste as Field-Grown Fruit
For an earlier start to the tomato season, try Rebelski (a.k.a. DRW 7749), the best greenhouse tomato we have found for the fresh market. These beautiful, slightly ribbed red slicers have the great flavor and texture of field-grown tomatoes, yet they can be produced in a hoophouse or greenhouse.
They also have an excellent disease package to keep them productive over a long period. They are resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Leaf Molds A-E, Fusarium Wilt (Races 1 & 2), Fusarium Crown and Root Rot, Powdery Mildew, and Verticillium Wilt.
Firm enough to withstand handling, yet as attractive as a delicate heirloom, they offer growers an exciting new opportunity to be the first to market with flavorful tomatoes that command a good price.
Kick Your Sauce Up a Notch with These Great Plum Tomatoes
This year, Johnny's exclusively offers two great plum tomatoes. Granadero is an Organic hybrid plum tomato that produces very high yields of uniform, delicious 4-5 oz. tomatoes for sauces, salsas, and salads.
Granadero, an indeterminate variety, has resistance to nematodes and intermediate resistance to TSWV, as well as low susceptibility to blossom end rot so the plants remain productive even under heavy disease pressure.
Paisano is a determinate, so its fruit set is concentrated around mid-season, producing a large volume of tomatoes to offer to home canners.
Tomato Grafting and Trellising Supplies
To keep your plants healthy over the longest possible season, you might also consider growing grafted tomatoes.
Growing grafted tomatoes is not as difficult as it might first appear. Utilizing disease-resistant rootstock helps to start your plants off right and keep them healthy all season long. This year we have added Colosus, an extremely vigorous and disease-resistant rootstock, to our lineup. We also have all the supplies, information, and even how-to videos to make your tomato grafting a success.
Johnny's also has the supplies you need for trellising tomatoes. At our research farm, we use a system of posts with #9 wire strung between them to hold the sisal twine that supports each plant. You can see photos of our trellising system here. We also have tomato trellis clips, tape tools, and disease control products.
Complement Your Tomatoes with Eggplants, Herbs
Another way to diversify your production is to offer products that are compatible with tomatoes, even though they may not be as high volume. Then you can cross-market the two, and increase the value of each sale. A prime example is eggplant, which is often paired with tomatoes in recipes. Eggplant is so strikingly beautiful that it pulls customers in to your stand to admire its sleek good looks. Johnny's has eggplants in every shape and color, including a few that your customers may not even recognize as eggplants. In addition to the familiar shiny, dark purple cylindrical fruits, you can grow eggplants that are light green, egg-shaped, lavender, and striped. You probably won't sell eggplant in the same quantities as tomatoes, but if you have them available, customers are likely to buy them from you while buying tomatoes.
Many herbs are also natural companions for tomatoes and eggplants, and it's particularly helpful to have fresh herbs at the end of the season to sell along with canning tomatoes. Here are essential herbs for tomato and eggplant dishes: Genovese Basil, Oregano, Giant of Italy Parsley, Rosemary, Summer Thyme, and Sweet Marjoram.
Most of these are transplant crops that need to be started fairly early (especially the hoophouse tomatoes), so now is the time to start planning for next summer's success.