Debra Prinzing

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You say Toe-MAY-toe; I say Toe-MAH-Toe

April 9th, 2009

A cause for celebration: Hundreds of Heirloom Tomato Starts

A cause for celebration: Hundreds of Heirloom Tomato Starts

Does anyone really NEED 21 tomato plants? The answer is: OF COURSE!

If you are obsessed with having dee-lish heirloom tomatoes at your fingertips, you will want to track down Tomatomania, the largest spring sale of tomato seedlings around. It is a grassroots endeavor; the brainchild of landscape designer and Tomato addict Scott Daigre.

Shopping for the very best of heirloom tomato starts with Tomatomania founder Scott Daigre

Shopping for the very best of heirloom tomato starts with Tomatomania founder Scott Daigre

I remember meeting Scott in 2006 at the Northwest Flower & Garden Showin Seattle. I’m not really sure why a California boy was up in Seattle, but it was certainly a treat to meet him at one of my book signings. Little did I know ( I find I am saying that a lot these days ) that I would soon be Scott’s neighbor in Ventura Co., and moreover, a customer of one of his Tomatomania events.

A couple of folks, fellow Garden Writers, have kept Tomatomania on my radar. Kate Karem, formerly Cottage Living’s gardening editor and also a former LA resident, told me she used to be involved in Scott’s annual plant sales. While reading Orange Co.-based garden writer Cindy McNatt’s new “Dirt du Jour” blog, I was recently reminded to check out Scott’s event. In fact, it was a link on Cindy’s blog that pointed me to the very first Ventura County “Tomatomania” event at Otto & Sons’ nursery in the agricultural town of Fillmore, about 20 miles north of my place.

My buddy Alex, tomato fan extraordinaire

My buddy Alex, tomato fan extraordinaire

Since ours is a household of foodies, including children who have very definite opinions on all things culinary, I was psyched to again grow heirloom tomatoes (I haven’t planted any since leaving Seattle – and that’s a pretty tough tomato-growing climate). Whether someone needs as many as Alex and I acquired last Saturday is a matter of opinion.

We have room in our raised beds, so we’re going to go for it. Scott advises that backyard gardeners space tomato plants at 2-foot intervals. We can make it work, I’m sure.

The nursery sale was organized with a logical A to Z display. The only problem is that every single tomato looked healthy and vigorous; the fruit photos and descriptions made our mouths water (or at least piqued our curiosity).

Pick it, Slice it, Salt it, Eat it - Simple!

Pick it, Slice it, Salt it, Eat it - Simple!

The wagon Alex pulled for me up quickly. We loved running into Scott, he of the bright red hat, lime green shirt, and turquoise Tomatomania T-shirt. The ambassador of tomatoes is on a roll. His sales now crisscross the US and he has plans to add a few more states in 2010 (even in Texas, he says).

Here is a list of the plants we brought home in 4-inch pots. For $4 each, ours was a good investment. The neighbors are already putting in their requests for our “extras” come harvest-time:

8 Responses to “You say Toe-MAY-toe; I say Toe-MAH-Toe”

  1. Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" Says:

    Hi Debra,
    I just bought some heirloom tomato varieties at a seminar giving at my local nursery, Green Thumb. Can’t wait till they grow and I eat them.
    Shirley

  2. Lydia Plunk Says:

    Went to Burkhards in Pasadena today to pick up a Lillian Austen tree rose which magically appeared in their stock. It was to replace one of my originals which had been trucked down years ago from Otto and Sons. I added a beefsteak hybrid tomato to the collection already massing about the garden. They have somewhere between 160- 170 different varieties of tomatoes stacked in mostly 4″ pots on the tables there. My all-time favorite flavorwise is Brandywine. But I would try a Berkeley Tie-Die just for the jokes which would fly.

  3. jennifer asher Says:

    While reading your post, Theo came over to see what was making me salivate, saw the photo of your
    adorable tomato fan Alex and said: “he looks nice. I bet we’d be friends.” We should work on that!
    xo jen

  4. Daniel Mount Says:

    We’re not quite thinking tomatoes yet here, but you certainly made me envious. I love the heirloom tomato craze. Good bye, Early Girl. Hello, Green Grape. I hope you’ll do a blog on the results. I’ll do the cabbage, it always performs for us here.No matter how cold summer is.

  5. Bren/ BGgarden Says:

    The hillybill Tomato sounds like my Brandywine. Do you think you can process this fruit – canning? I hope you share with us the progress of your new raised beds.
    LOVE THIS POSTING….. Thank you for sharing your wonderful day. I wish I lived closer to your great state because I totally would have been there!

    Bren/ BGgarden’s last blog post..A+ on Planting Progress Grade Card

  6. Kim Says:

    Yum! I grew some Hillbilly tomatoes last year and they were delicious — very fresh tasting with the slightest bit of tanginess. This year I’m trying a Cherokee Chocolate. Good luck with yours!

    Kim’s last blog post..Blank canvas

  7. debra Says:

    True confessions, friends. I have tooooo many tomatoes! Four of the plants listed above have been relocated to my neighbor Alysa’s….but we promise to keep you posted on the progress over the summer! debra

    debra’s last blog post..Santa Barbara Style – indoors and outdoors

  8. Hong Gaumond Says:

    Thanks for that! My dad recently harvested her garden full of tomatoes , and I find myself the owner of two or five buckets worth! Of course I couldnt eat them all, but I did find a website full of lots more tomato recipe there. A whole website dedicated the topic!! Crazy what you can find on the internet nowadays!!

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