Last night I attended “Tomatoes: The Agony and the Ectasy” a talk by Dick Schneider at the Quimper Grange. As a new comer to the Pacific Northwest it was extremely helpful to hear some tips on navigating the “agony” of growing tomatoes in our region.
A few tips that I took away from the talk:
- Variety is important! Choose a variety that matures quickly – cherry tomatoes are easiest to grow outside and roma tomatoes are most difficult to grow.
- Make sure your soil is light and compost rich, keep it moist below the surface
- Be consistent with the time and amount of water
- Feed your plants weekly!
- It is best to grow tomatoes in a green house, if you do not have access to one, try growing along a south facing wall in a 20 gallon black pot.
- Soil must be between 55 and 85 degrees for best results. Air must be 55-60 at night and 65-85 during the day. It is possible to overheat the plants.
- The more light the better, flavor of a tomato depends heavily on sunlight.
- Beware of tomato blight! Blight occurs in the fall and is caused by a wind-borne mold. Once a plant gets it, it will die. Harvest all of the fruit and dispose of the plant.
It is not easy to grow tomatoes in Port Townsend – if it was everyone would do it – good luck!
Dick Schneider retired to Port Townsend about 20 years ago after a career in business and science. RainCoast Farms, a non-commercial experimental enterprise was founded 7 years ago with the specific purpose of evaluating known varieties of commercially relevant farm crops for their ability to thrive in our climate. They have collected data on tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, berry fuits, apples, plums and pears.
Information is freely shared with both home gardeners and commercial farmers, through talks about the trials and tribulations of growing tomatoes and other warmer weather crops to garden clubs, the Grange, AAUW, the Land Trust and others. Fruits and vegetables from the farm are distributed free to local food banks and other non-profit institutions. For more information on Dick’s experimental enterprise check out this article.