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If you’re currently subscribed to our newsletter, you read the update a few weeks back from David about growing heirloom tomatoes. In case you missed it, here’s what he had to say:

“Nothing gives me more satisfaction than a customer who comes into the nursery in July, hunts me down and says “Thank you for telling me about your Heirloom Tomatoes. I’ll never plant those other ordinary tomatoes again.”

Even folks who’ve grown their own vegetables for years may be hesitant about growing heirlooms. If you’ve never grown heirloom tomatoes before, there’s something about the difference in flavor, the juiciness and even the variety of colors available that makes people choose them over traditional tomato varieties. If you’re looking to plant a few heirloom tomatoes this summer, we have some gardening tips that should help ensure these delicious summer fruits end up on your table. A variety of heirloom tomatoes

  • Pruning – Heirloom tomatoes need to be pruned more often than traditional varieties. Pruning provides better air circulation which prevents foliar diseases. Pruning also encourages larger fruit production.
  • Spacing – Planting your heirloom tomatoes with plenty of space in between plants also allows for air circulation and reduces disease. Ideal spacing for tomato plants is 1 foot between plants and 4 feet between rows, so opt for wider spacing in either or both directions for heirlooms.
  • Watering – Heirloom tomatoes have thinner skin and thus makes them prone to splitting on the vine. To avoid splitting and to gain better flavor, provide water intermittently throughout the day.
  • Mulching – For best results, heirloom tomatoes should be grown on mulch to conserve moisture and prevent weeds and disease. Ask your local garden center which varieties of mulch they recommend for optimum results.
  • Grow based on color – Colors of heirlooms determine the amount of acidity – darker colors indicate higher acidity and lighter colors indicate a lower acidity. Redder tomatoes are generally sweeter in taste whereas green tomatoes are more tart. Yellow and orange varieties have a mild and sweet flavor and the darker purple and black varieties have a bolder, more acidic flavor. By planting a couple of different varieties in your garden, you can ensure you’ll have plenty of options for every palate.

Looking for a particular variety? We currently have a wide selection of colors and sizes at our Woodstock location, including: Old German, Compact Purple, Italian Sweet, Sungold, Matt’s Wild Cherry, Brandywine Red, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Compact by Color, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Beauty King, Purple Bumblebee, Mortgage Lifter (ask us about an interesting story regarding this one!), Amish Paste, Boxcar Willie, San Marzano, and Dolly Parton.

Stop by Autumn Hill Nursery and we’ll help you choose varieties of heirloom tomato that will work best for you. As David pointed out, “I’ll bet you dollars to donuts you will be coming into the nursery midsummer to share with us your Life Transforming story about your Heirloom Tomato!” Happy gardening (and eating)!

Photo via Flickr.

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