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Short history of tomatoes

Posted 7/25/2012 11:07am by Judy Lessler.

Farm News.  Here is a short history of some of the tomatoes in your box.  It does not go into how, over the centuries, tomatoes were nurtured into the luscious fruit that we have today or what the farmers that grew the seed did to get the seeds to us.  It just covers what has happened here at Harland’s Creek Farm. 

Last January we ordered seeds and made a planting plan.  On March 27, we prepared some seeding trays with a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, compost, and an organic fertilizer called Plantone and put two tomato seeds in each cell of the tray.  We sat these in our germinating box.  This is a box filled with sand in which we have imbedded heating cables in a serpentine pattern.  We keep the sand wet so that heat is conducted throughout the entire box.

When the tomatoes germinated, we removed them from the heated sand boxes and placed them on the tables in the greenhouse.  When they were about 2 inches tall, we cut away one of the plants, if both had germinated.  Then these trays were set in front of a fan to help harden the stems.  They were watered 2 or 3 times per day as needed, and when we watered them, we also gently brushed our hands across the tops to further harden them. After about 4 weeks they were moved outside to a protected area so that they would have more exposure to the weather and get sturdy enough to go to the field.  Meanwhile we were developing the field infrastructure. 

Tomatoes need support in the field.  At Harland’s Creek Farm we use tomato cages and these are supported by two wires that run from cedar posts that we bury into the ground about three feet.  We add nutrients to the soil and cover the soil with landscape cloth to prevent weeds.  On the day of planting, the tomatoes are dipped into a solution of fish emulsion to give them a nitrogen boost before they go out to the field.  We plant them in holes in the landscape cloth and put a tomato cage over them.  When a bed is complete, we run two heavy wires through all of the cages at about 4 feet and 5.5 feet off the ground.  We use two wires so as to not have a pivot point that could blow the entire structure over during a high wind. 

 Your tomatoes have grown and survived rain, heat, wind, and a little bit of hail. We pick them every day or every two days depending on the weather.  After they are picked they are wiped clean and identify what we call “farmer tomatoes”.  Farmer tomatoes are those blemishes or wet cracks but with lots of parts that can still be eaten.  We try to get them to you in 3 to 5 days.  While they are waiting to make the trip to your house, they are stored in a cool room that is kept at 68 degrees.


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