Let's All Start 2016 Right: 5 Resolutions for Tomato Lovers

| 12/31/2015 11:29:00 AM

Ah, the calm before the storm. It is smack in-between Christmas and New Year Day. Music is playing, some coffee cakes are baking in the oven. Oddly, it is in the mid-70s in Raleigh NC – a few very confused plants are blooming (a weigela, an azalea, and a spirea). Below are some still-growing tomatoes with the spirea in the background, living green Salvia Guaranitica, and dead brown leaves...quite a juxtaposition!

Confused plants in mid December

This is a perfect time for reflection and planning, because the 2016 gardening season is peeking around the corner. Seed catalogs are arriving. I am sure that all of us are really missing freshly picked tomatoes. Don’t despair – we will all soon be busy, and the work of planning and seeding, transplanting and planting, and the regular gardening tasks of maintenance will lead quickly to the summer harvest.

In the spirit of the annual custom of making New Year resolutions, here is a brief list of 5 ideas for your 2016 tomato growing efforts.

1. Try Some New Varieties

It is human nature to return to those things that we’ve grown attached to. Whether it is a favorite food item, article of clothing or piece of music, there is great comfort in familiarity.

When it comes to tomatoes, we are fortunate to garden at a time when the choices are truly endless. Be it maturity dates, sizes, shapes, colors, flavor characteristics or plant habits, there is really no reason to NOT add some variety to your plantings.

1/11/2016 1:35:57 PM

Thanks for your questions, je varner. I actually don't grow plants over the winter - this is just a unique year in which I was able to keep my spring planted tomatoes alive longer - much longer! - than usual. As far as for straw bale gardening, it is a great technique that is a variation on container gardening; after treatment, and over time, the center of the straw bales break down and provide a great environment for the roots of your plants. Essentially they equal two 20-gallon containers, meaning lots of growing room, at a fraction of the cost (if you purchase planting medium to fill pots with) and labor (no filling or moving the containers). They do require some specific care and treatment - my book on Straw Bale Gardening (Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales, Storey Publishing) just came out and should be widely available...it will answer all of your questions.

1/7/2016 2:39:21 PM

I like to know more about plants that grow well in winter. Thank you, je

1/7/2016 2:37:52 PM

Can you tell me about hay bale gardening? Is a growing medium (planting soil)used? Thank you for any reply....je varner

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