Tag Archive | Tomato

How Vaccinations Can Make You Think About Tomato Disease Resistance


… or better titled as “odd things that run through a horticulturist’s mind while on Facebook”.

This morning I had some down time while I was waiting for a few of my Saturday morning tasks to ‘do their thing’.  Sitting there in the kitchen, I got on my phone and looked through my Facebook feed to see what was new and interesting with people.   One of my Facebook friends had a post about how she did not understand why unvaccinated kids made vaccinated kids sick.

Of course, the scientist-that-used-to-teach-college-classes-and-believes-knowledge-is-power that is in me responded about infectivity, virulence, gene mutations, and the like.

Vaccinations do not make one 100% immune to a disease. Giving a vaccine to an individual stimulates their immune system to recognize the pathogen and develop adaptive (acquired) immunity. The adaptive immunity allows the person to have more resistance to the particular disease and reduce the risk of death should they contract it.

The reason why those without the vaccine can infect those with the vaccine comes down to the basics of resistance, pathogenicity, and genetic mutation. An unvaccinated child can increase the risk of disease for everyone that is exposed to him or her because exposure is not a “yes or no” kind of thing that is determined by if you did or didn’t get vaccinated. For the vaccinated individual, the concentration of viroid particles they are exposed to (i.e. did they walk past the infected person in a store? or did they sit next to them for hours?), the virulence of the virus strain, and their overall health (i.e. existing conditions, diet, etc.) determines if they will be able to fight off the disease with antibodies or if they will get sick.

Unlike an organism like you or I that are multicellular and complex, a virion (a single virus particle) is nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) enclosed in a capsid (a protective protein shell). They are not even as complex as a single cell and therefore not living because they require a host cell to fulfill their life cycle. Once a virion enters your body, it attaches to a particular cell that has specific components that will be needed for its replication process (usually white blood cells). Once attached, the virion penetrates the cell wall through endocytosis (energy-requiring cell absorption) and injects the nucleic acid into the host cell. The host cell replicates the nucleic acid and creates many new virus particles. The host cell bursts open and the released newly made virus partcles go attack more host cells. When an individual has had a vaccination, their body develops antibodies. Once an antibody recognizes a virion (the antigen), it attaches to the surface and destroys the virion by opsonization and the formation of a membrane attack complex.

Viruses are quite perceptive to their environment and can adapt and mutate easily. While the antibodies in a vaccinated individual can have a field day of attacking fun, the virus’s virulence and vaccinated person’s health can play major factors in the quality of the job the antibodies do. If a particular virus strain is virulent, it has mechanisms that help it to avoid the antibodies. A pyrogen fever is one of these, as the virus induces the fever to shift the body’s temperature outside of the ‘ideal’ range to reduce the ability of the antibody to function. If a virion attaches to a cell that it not the healthiest and replicates, it is possible for antigenic shift or genetic recombination to occur. Antigenic shift is where the DNA or RNA sequence is recombinated or reasserted. Genetic recombination is the process in which the DNA is broken and rejoins at the opposite ends. It occurs rampantly. By either process occurring, all new virus particles created in the host cell and in the successive host cell attacked will not be recognized by the antibodies developed through vaccination. You have now created a pandemic by a virus that is not resistant to the antibodies in everyone that has been vaccinated with that particular disease.

It’s not hype or somebody just saying it – it is true because it is well documented and can even be demonstrated by a student in any lab. I used to work with Tobacco Mosaic Virus in disease resistant and non-resistant tomatoes and Potato Virus Y and Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid on Andean potatoes that my professor brought back from her germplasm expansion trips. I easily manipulated these same principals to test resistance and give my professor parameters to use for her future breeding projects. While I’m sure people would argue that plants are a lot simpler than people, the same principles still apply because viruses, not complexity of the host organism, is the common factor.

You are not alone in thinking that vaccinated or resistant means 100% coverage – probably 75% of the tomato calls I received when I worked in the seed industry were from people calling in to grump that my company had sold them bad seed because their precious resistant tomato still caught blight. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, just means that it can tolerate it a little bit better. Flora or fauna, disregard of science will not lead to perfection.

Further comments back and forth dealt with the logistics behind the recent outbreak of measles related to Disneyland.

I’m sure that some of her FB friends and some of mine read this and thought I was pulling out my soapbox and railing against the world on the benefits of vaccination.  Not so to the soapbox, and hopefully not so to people thinking that.  It is more a “old Mert planned to put up a sentence or two, and then her talkative nature attacked her brain and made it spew out every detail it knew on the subject because there is always background details that are important and somehow pulled plants into it just because plants thoughts are always there lurking around”.

It’s true:  plants are always on my mind. Even to the point of where I sometimes have dreams of feeding homegrown vegetables to children that live on chicken nuggets and ice cream.  And of course my comment pulled in Tobacco Mosaic Virus and various potato viruses.

Diseased Tomatoes

But, I royally digress.  This all, in a very roundabout way, it made me think of a very common question I got while working in the seed industry and here on my blog:

 

“Why did my disease resistant tomato catch blight/verticillium/etc. and die?”

 

As previously stated in a more vaccination-oriented format, resistance is not a 100% shield that goes around your plant and makes it indestructible.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a virus, bacteria, or fungus.

For example, lets say that you planted your Resistant Lacking Tomato next to a Big Beef VFFNTASt Hybrid Tomato.  Your Resistant Lacking Tomato will get a disease — blight, verticillium, etc. — and within a week or two your Big Beef plants has it too.  Doesn’t mean that the seed from the company you bought it from is bad. Keep in mind these are “resistant” varieties, not completely disease-proof. They can maybe hold out for longer, but are not immortal.  In areas of very high concentrations of disease organisms, the resistance may not be enough to overcome these odds.

Former customers of mine at my old unnamed workplace were always quick to point out that heirloom and open pollinated varieties where not disease resistant because they “don’t have the letters”.  Don’t let that fool you too.  Hybrids ALWAYS have the letters because the breeder/vendor that is selling it to your mailorder seed company of choice has done the testing to find out what it has the edge on.  It is a marketing tool to get you to prefer their variety over another.  Of course, the question is always what their variety was compared to in the testing…

Just because an heirloom or open pollinated variety doesn’t ‘have the letters’ doesn’t mean that they are going to keel over at the first sign of disease.  The fact of the matter is that 99% of these varieties have not been tested.  Most land-grant universities have breeding programs and heirloom testing is a matter of $$$ rather than finding a truly good, resistant plant.  First of all, most open pollinated or heirloom varieties sell wholesale for a couple dollars a pound.  Hybrid varieties sell for a LOT more than that — upwards of $100s per pound depending on what supposed resistance or other desirable traits they have.  What professor is going to do research to determine the resistance of the old heirloom seed his grandma used to grow rather than developing a new variety that can sell for a ton and earn him some nice royalities?  Um, hello — from my experience I can tell you that a lot of PhD holders are willing to sell their soul to the industry rather than do the right thing for a lot less minor things that determining disease resistance.

Back in 2010 when I was growing a trial garden for the company I worked for, I had in a bunch of new hybrids that they were thinking about including in their next catalog and about 25 varieties that were already being offered by the company but had poor catalog and internet pictures.  That year we had a horrible time with late blight because we had a very humid, warm summer.  As I watched the blight spread through the tomato patch, it was interesting to see that the first to die were not the heirlooms, but many of the hybrids!  So much for that resistance!  As the varieties still standing became a handful of names, I was left with a couple Japanese numbered hybrid varieties (which had beautiful looking fruits with the texture of moist cardboard), Matt’s Wild Cherry (heirloom) , and 3 heirloom varieties that were already in the company’s catalog.  Interestingly enough, the next year the 2 Japanese hybrid varieties and a number of the other hybrids that had died were added to the catalog.  The Matt’s Wild Cherry was not added, and 2 of the heirlooms that we had already offered that survived were cut to make room for the hybrids.  Remember, it’s all about marketing.

So, the next time you have a tomato, hybrid or otherwise, that is having disease issues in your garden, don’t blame the seed company.  Look at what you are doing in your cultural practices and learn from the experience:

1.  Grow more than one variety because there is always one that won’t get as sick as the others. Not including the varieties I grow for sale, I have 4 staple varieties that are always in my garden.

2.  Rotate your crops so your tomatoes (and other Solanaceae family members) will not be in the same spot for four years.

3.  Don’t water your garden after 4 pm in the afternoon.  Tucking your garden in bed for the night with wet feet is a perfect way to start just about any disease.

4.  When the growing season is done, clean up your garden.  As tedious as it may be, pick up every leaf, stem, fruit, etc. out of the garden.  Heap it up in a pile, dry it down, and burn it on a good winter day  or bag it up and take it to the dump/put out for garbage collection.  DO NOT COMPOST IT!  DO NOT TILL IT IN!  While people will tell you the benefits of green manure or how much your compost pile will grow by, the small ‘reward’ is not worth the trouble you will reap.  It only take one small particle of infected material to be incorporated into your soil or compost to create problems down the road.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the 1800s Irish how their practices worked… Famine much?

5.  Keep your plants healthy by giving them the care to help them grow healthy.  Water, fertilize, cultivate, trellis, etc. as needed to make your plant grow to it’s best potential.

 

(And 6. Your horticulturist recommends vaccinating your children using the 1981 schedule.  ;-D   )

 

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thwarting Tomato Blossom End Rot


“For years I have bought Viva Italia seed to raise. The last two summers have been hit with blossom rot in all plants late in season.  What information do you offer that can prevent this plants or otherwise??

Thank you,

Clarus

Zone 5

In The Russet Potato Capital Of Idaho”

___________________________________________________

Hi Clarus,

Thank you for your question regarding Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes.

Blossom End Rot on Paste Tomato

Blossom End Rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil in relation to uneven moisture levels or excessive fertilizing.  Calcium is required in relatively large concentrations for normal cell growth and development.  It is moved from the soil through the roots to the meristem (tips of the plant where active growth occurs) via differentiation in water potential and pressure in the xylem of the plant.  When there is not a steady flow of water to the plant, the areas of the plant that growing will have a deficiency.  If the active growth point is a fruit, it will show up at the tip (end) of it.  What is actually happening to the tomato is that the cell walls are weakened by not having enough calcium.  The cell ruptures and discolors as it dries out.

Overfertilizing with nitrogen can also cause problems.  Extra nitrogen increases the speed at which the fruit grows and its size.  Calcium uptake by the plant remains steady in relationship to what would be the normal rate of growth.  Essentially, this means that the calcium uptake is almost ‘lagging’ because everything else is accelerated.  As a result, the fruit lacks calcium. Once the problem develops, quick fixes are difficult. Stabilize the moisture level as much as possible.  Remove the fruits that have been damaged. Feeding with manure or compost tea is recommended by many if this occurs in a garden plot.  You can also do foliar applications of calcium, but I’ve read that the results are not always the best because Calcium is a rather bulky element (larger than Nitrogen and others that are normally used in foliar feeding) and not easily absorbed through the leaf tissue.

In my own garden, I have found the best success with using an application of Epsom salts.  These can be found at your local pharmacy — usually in either the laxative/digestive health area or with things like bath salts/bubble bath. You want to get the plain, unscented type and make sure that it is not mixed with other additives like sea salt.  I use an old scoop from Lipton’s Ice Tea  (about a 1/4 cup measure) and give each plant a heaped scoop – sprinkling it in a circle around the base of the plant and with about an inch or two between the stem and the ring..  Repeat again in about two weeks for sandy soils, four for clay soils.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Open Pollinated Disease Resistant Tomatoes


“Hello,
I am a backyard gardener in eastern nj. I am looking for the most disease
resistant tomato that is open pollinated. Any type but cherry. Thanks for
your help,

Ray Carter”

_____________________________________________________

Hi Ray,

Thank you for your email regarding open pollinated tomatoes varieties with
disease resistance.  Unfortunately, there are not a ton of varieties because
there is not the hybridization involved to introduce resistance.  What
resistance there is comes from the selections made for domestication by
those that started saving seeds many years ago.

However, there are a few that do stand out:
–Manalucie FSt:  This one is more for down south or hot summers, but I’ve
had good success with it here in Wisconsin (with the exception of 2009, when
we had a very cool summer!).  The fruits get big (about 12-16 ounces), but
are nice and smooth.  It has decent resistance to Blossom End Rot, Gray Leaf
Mold, Early Blight and Fusarium Wilt.  It is an indeterminate variety.

Manalucie
–Campbell’s 33VFA:  This is a tomato that is about half the size of the
Manalucie, but makes up for it with the amount of fruit set.  It has okay
resistance to Verticilium, Fusarium Wilt, and Alternaria.  It is a
determinate variety.

Campbell's 33
–Heinz 1370 FASt: This one makes a nice sauce or soup and is about in the
4-7 ounce range.  It has decent resistance to cracking, Fusarium Wilt,
Alternaria, and Gray Leaf Mold.  It is a determinate variety.

Heinz 1370
–Marglobe Select VFA:  This one is a popular seller for us.  It has
resistance to Verticilium and Fusarium Wit and Alternaria.  It is a
determinate variety.

Marglobe Select
–Rutgers Select VFASt and Rutgers PS VFASt:  These two varieties are very
similar but have great resistance to Verticilium and Fusarium Wilt, Grey
Leaf Mold, and ALternaria.  They have really good flavor and are meaty.
Rutgers Select is an indeterminate and Rutgers PS is determinate.

Rutgers PS Rutgers Select

There are other varieties like Marion FASt, Marmande VFA, New
Yorker VA, Sunray VFF, Hard Rock VFN, and Roma VFA that do have some
moderate disease resistance.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions,
please feel free to ask.

All-America Selections’ Winners for 2015


Reblogged with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

All-America Selections
Announces the
 First Vegetatively Propagated
AAS Winners

After more than eighty years of trialing only seed-propagated varieties, All-America Selections (AAS) began trialing vegetatively propagated varieties early this year. With the 2014 trial season now completed, AAS is pleased and honored to grant the AAS Winner status to two impatiens that performed exceptionally well in the AAS container trials for vegetatively propagated annuals.

The two Vegetative Winners are:

In addition, there are an impressive ten seed varieties that have earned the AAS Winner designation:
Regional Winners are:

National Winners are:

“The AAS Judges, Board of Directors and staff are extremely excited to enter this new phase where we are now representing a wider cross section of the horticulture industry. This ushers in a whole new facet of our national trialing program.” states AAS President Ron Cramer.

With this announcement, these varieties become available for immediate sale. You will find these Winners for sale in the coming months as supply becomes available from suppliers. AAS Winners will also be available as young plants in lawn & garden retail stores next spring, in time for the 2015 gardening season.

A complete list of trial grounds and judges can be found here.

A complete list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here. Note that the AAS Winners are now sortable by Flowers from Seed, Flowers from Cuttings and Vegetables.

Page down for more details on each new AAS Winner:

Impatiens SunPatiens® Spreading Shell Pink
AAS Vegetative Ornamental Winner

The unique genetics of SunPatiens® Spreading Shell Pink delivers unsurpassed garden performance with season-long, soft pink flowers that never slow down. Strong roots take hold quickly after transplanting and these impatiens thrive under high heat, rain and humidity. The AAS Judges loved these vigorous spreading plants that keep their shape all summer, plus, they do just as well in full sun as in shade. These low-maintenance plants are perfect for gardeners looking for impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew. Available in plant form only.

Impatiens Bounce™ Pink Flame PPAF ‘Balboufink’
AAS Vegetative Ornamental Winner 

Bounce impatiens provides gardeners with shade garden confidence. Bounce looks like an Impatiens walleriana in habit, flower form and count, but is completely downy mildew resistant, which means this impatiens will last from spring all the way through fall. Bounce Pink Flame boasts of a massive amount of stunning, bright pink bicolor blooms with tons of color to brighten your garden, be it in shade or sun. And caring for impatiens has never been easier: just add water and they’ll “bounce” right back! Available in plant form only.
Pepper Hot Sunset F1
AAS Regional Winner 
(Southeast, Heartland and Great Lakes)

For banana, or wax pepper lovers who desire a prolific and earlier harvest of delicious and spicy (650 Scoville units) fruits, Hot Sunset is for you. Large, healthy, vigorous plants are disease-free and produce tasty and attractive fruits all season-long. The AAS Trial judges noted what a great taste this thick-walled pepper has, not like other hot peppers where all you get is heat. We think this tasty morsel should be featured on a TV cooking show where chefs compete to bring out the best in this goodie! Whether it’s prepared fresh, grilled, roasted or pickled, it’s sure to win over even the most particular foodie!

Tomato Chef’s Choice PInk F1
AAS Regional Winner (Southeast, Great Lakes)

First we introduced Chef’s Choice Orange as an All-America Selections Winner and now we have her sister, Chef’s Choice Pink–another tasty beauty in beefsteak tomatoes. Indeterminate potato leaf plants yield large (often more than one pound) fruits with a sweet, meaty flesh. This hybrid is easier to grow than most beefsteaks so don’t be timid, give it a try. The reward will be healthy disease-resistant plants and a large harvest of tasty, attractive pink fleshed tomatoes reminiscent of heirloom varieties.

Basil Dolce Fresca
AAS National Winner

If there was an AAS category for an edible plant with ornamental value, this AAS Winner would fit that classification. Dolce Fresca produces sweet tender leaves that outshone the comparison varieties while maintaining an attractive, compact shape that’s both versatile and beautiful. Use the leaves as you would any Genovese basil and we hear it makes an excellent pesto. After harvest, the plant was quick to recover and kept the desired ornamental shape that’s perfect for containers, borders or as a focal point. Great for gardeners looking for drought tolerant, hearty plants, foodies interested in a new and better basil and anyone who wants that Mediterranean taste added to their cuisine.

Pepper Emerald Fire F1
AAS National Winner

A grill master’s delight! At 2,500 Scoville units, this is the hottest pepper in this year’s pepper winners but it boasts extra large and very tasty jalapeno fruits that are perfect for stuffing, grilling or using in salsa. Emerald Fire produces gorgeous, glossy green peppers with thick walls that have very little cracking, even after maturing to red. Gardeners will appreciate the prolific fruit set on compact plants that resist disease better than other similar varieties on the market.

Pepper Flaming Flare F1
AAS National Winner

Most Fresno peppers are considered rather finicky plants that typically grow better in warm and dry climates. The fact that Flaming Flare is an AAS National Winner means it performed well in all AAS trial sites. The fruit is ideal for making chili sauces and the heat of that sauce will increase depending on how late in the season the peppers are harvested. Flaming Flare is an exceptional pepper that was sweeter tasting than similar Fresno types and consistently produced larger fruits and more peppers per plant. Yet another AAS Winner that culinary gardeners should consider for their kitchen gardens.

Pepper Pretty N Sweet F1
AAS National Winner

Look…in the garden! Is it an ornamental pepper? Is it edible? Yes to both! Now we can tell consumers that an ornamental pepper CAN be eaten and it tastes fantastic! It’s time for new terminology to describe this multi-purpose plant…how about an “Ornamedible?” Pretty N Sweet is just that: a sweet, multi-colored pepper on a compact 18” plant that is attractive to use in ornamental gardens and containers. Against the comparisons, Pretty N Sweet was earlier, more prolific and has a much sweeter taste with more substantial pepper walls to enjoy fresh or in your favorite pepper dish.

Squash Bossa Nova F1
AAS National Winner

The beautiful dark and light green mottled exterior of this zucchini is more pronounced than other varieties on the market, which sets it apart and makes the fruits easier to see during a long and prolific harvest. Compact plants produce fruits earlier in the season and continue producing for three weeks longer than comparison varieties. During taste tests, the AAS Judges deemed the smooth flesh texture and sweet, mild taste much improved over other summer squash. Culinary gardeners will delight in adding this variety to their 2015 vegetable plans.

Squash Butterscotch F1
AAS National Winner

This adorable small-fruited butternut squash has an exceptionally sweet taste and at just 1.25 pounds, is the perfect size for just one or two servings. Compact vines are space-saving for smaller gardens or those who just want to fit more plants into the space they have. This is another AAS Winners that is perfect for container gardens and will resist powdery mildew later in the season. Culinary tip from a squash enthusiast: pierce the skin then microwave whole squash for about 12 minutes, cut in half, spoon out the seeds, and enjoy!

Petunia Trilogy Red F1
AAS National Winner

The Trilogy petunia has a new color with this stunningly rich, vibrant red version! Trilogy petunias are known for their compact dome-shaped habit sporting large non-fading blooms throughout the season. The plants cover and recover themselves in upright blooms providing a constant mass of color in flower beds, baskets, and containers. Gardeners in high heat areas will appreciate the heat-tolerance of this variety and all gardeners will like how quickly Trilogy recovers after a rain.

Salvia Summer Jewel White
AAS National Winner

A third color in the popular Summer Jewel series, white brings a much-needed color to compact salvias. This dwarf sized, compact plant has a prolific bloom count throughout the summer. As a bonus, the blooms appear almost two weeks earlier than other white salvias used as comparisons. Judges noted how the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds loved the larger flowers, making it perfect for a pollinator garden. Because of the compactness and number of flowers, Summer Jewel White is great for large landscaped areas, as well as containers and small beds.

Other recently announced AAS Winners:


National Winners:                                                                    Regional Winners:

Angelonia Serenita Pink F1                                            Brussels Sprouts Hestia F1
Bean Mascotte                                                               Cucumber Parisian Gherkin F1
Gaura Sparkle White                                                     Cucumber Pick-A-Bushel F1
Impatiens New Guinea Florific Sweet Orange F1           Cucumber Saladmore Bush F1
Lettuce Sandy                                                               Eggplant Patio Baby F1
Tomato Fantastico F1                                                   Pak Choi  Bopak F1
Tomato Chef’s Choice Orange F1                       .
Ornamental Pepper NuMex Easter F1                          Penstemon Arabesque Red F1
Osteospermum Akila Daisy White F1                           Pepper  Giant Ristra F1
Osteospermum Akila Daisy White F1                           Pepper Sweet Sunset F1
Pepper Mama Mia Gaillo F1                                         Pumpkin Cinderella’s Carriage F1
Pepper Mama Mia Gaillo F1                                         Radish Rivoli
Petunia African Sunset F1                                           Sunflower Suntastic Yellow with Black Center F1
Radish Roxanne                                                          Tomato Mountain Merit F1

Unsized Seed, Checking Hot Peppers, Grafted Tomatoes, and Pellet Ingredients: Obscure Gardening Info


“Hello Mertie,

I like your writing style and your dry humor. You seem to know a lot about seeds and plants, so I have a few questions for you.

1. What is unsized seeds? I’ve seen this in carrots, cole crops, and lettuce.

2. What is checking on a pepper?

3. Are grafted tomato plants worth the extra money and fuss?

4. What is the pellet on a seed made from? Is it safe for my organic garden?

Thank you for all your great articles,

Joe”

_______________________________________________________

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your questions and kind comments.  As for your questions:

1.  Unsized seed means that the seed has not been graded to a certain size. You often will see this with corn and other crops that are planted with equipment. When machinery was first brought about, your planter had a plate on it that required a certain size of seed. If your seed was to large, it would not go through the plate and would jam things up. If it was too small, the seed went through the plate too quickly and the seed spacing would be off.  For the smaller seeds like carrots, cole crops, and lettuce, it just means that some of the seed will be larger than others.  It doesn’t meant that some of the seeds (larger) will be better than others (smaller), so there are no worries with buying unsized seed.

Planting Plates

2. Checking on a pepper is often seen on the –good– varieties of hot jalapeno peppers.  Checking can also be refered to as corking or cracking on peppers by gardeners, but the seed industry calls it checking and will often put the term in seed/plant descriptions.

Jalapenos naturally produce checks/corks/cracks in their skin. The characteristic checking which may appear undesirable (to gardening novices) when harvesting is nothing more than the fruit working towards maturity. When choosing jalapenos to harvest, note that the more mature fruits will have some checks around the stems. These checks should not be a cause for alarm as they are part of the fruit’s natural maturing process and any jalapenos with checking remain safe to eat, as the browned tissue of the fruit are not perforations but discolored, dried cells on the skin of the fruit.Jalapeno

Checking in the jalapeno skin can also be used to judge the heat of the fruit. Each jalapeno becomes hotter the longer it is allowed to mature. When the fruit is fully ripe, it is the hottest that the variety can produce. So, the more mature the jalapeno is, the more checks it has and the hotter the pepper will be. Chefs sometimes use the checking to determine which peppers have the greatest chance to be hot.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that all jalapenos have checks. New hybrids that are being out on the market are being created to “look pretty” for the uninformed gardener.  Gardeners that don’t know much want a perfect green fruit, but then don’t understand why it is not hot. Well… they kind of go hand in hand…  =)

 

3.  Grafted tomatoes. Ha! To be honest, for most home gardeners, I don’t recommend them unless you have done your research and know that you really need them in your garden.Grafted Tomatoes

Grafted tomatoes (along with peppers, eggplants, and melons) started in the hydroponic industry to a.) reduce the amount of soil borne diseases, b.) reduce the need for crop rotation, and c.) increase the health and production of heirloom varieties. Soil borne diseases run rampant in hydroponic setups. And I am sure you are wondering why, as there is no soil. Well, 99.9% of soil borne diseases are caused by the presence of water at the wrong times.  Think of things like tomato blights: having wet leaves at night causes the blight, not the soil that it comes from.  Having a super-soil-borne-disease-resistant root stock allows for lower incidence of disease and less spraying.  This ties directly into crop rotation, as having issues with a disease in a particular hydroponic greenhouse results in the crop causing the issues to be moved to successive greenhouses (or other sections of the same greenhouse) over the next few years. If you are a smaller operation, you have to have numerous other crops (at least 3) to cycle with the disease causing crop so the same crop won’t be in the same place for at least 3 years.  Most often commercial growers graft the heirloom varieties to make them more tolerant of ‘unusual’ conditions. Most heirlooms were developed in someone’s backyard, where they were used to a nice breeze, good sun, and the occasional rain shower. Putting an heirloom into a hydroponic greenhouse is a shell shock to the plant. There are numerous ways for it to become diseased and the environment is starkly different than what it was originally adapted to.  Grafting an heirloom scion onto a disease resistant rootstock allows the plant to be less susceptable to disease and have a growth habit similar to a hybrid tomato. Also, heirlooms are said (by the industry) to produce less fruits per plant compared to hybrids (guess they never looked at the ones in my garden). Grafting increases the amount of fruits produced.  The extra cost of the graft is covered by the premium price that heirloom produce brings in.

So how does that translate to a home gardener?  If you have had problems with soil borne diseases in the past in your garden and it is not large enough to have a 4 year crop rotation or you grow only a couple plants, you may want to consider grafted vegetables. They are more expensive ($8-9 or more per plant), so you need to balance the cost with your gain. However, if you are someone that can rotate your crops, do not have severe disease issues, or you grow more than 2-3 tomato/pepper/etc. plants, I don’t recommend it. It’s just not worth it.  I don’t grow them in my garden and would never.

Also, from my experience, many home gardeners have had issues initially with the graft drying out if the plant is not kept well watered. With non-tomato grafted plants, the plant is completely dead.  With tomatoes, the scion of the plant dies and the rootstock may begin to grow.  If you are not keeping a close eye on your plants, you likely won’t notice it until your plant produces fruits and the fruit is not the variety you bought.

4.  Seed pellets are made of clay with a colorant painted on the outside. They are generally considered safe for home organic gardens. If you are an organic farmer, they are allowed only if the company you are purchasing the seed from does not offer the seed raw (unpelleted).Seed Pellets

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

Lycopene in Tomatoes: Which is the Best?


“What tomato has the highest lycopene  content? I see different catalogs will say that theirs is the best, but I want the one that is really the best. Please help!

Thank you,

David Hunter”

________________________________________________________________Bulgarian Triumph

Hi David,

Thank you for the question regarding Lycopene content in tomatoes.  For the most part, your run of the mill red tomatoes have about the same amount of lycopene (approximately 4.6 mg per cup of raw fruit).  However, Health Kick Hybrid VFFASt is the best, as it has about 6 mg per cup of raw fruit.

In general, the brighter the red, the more lycopene content you have.  If the flesh is more red-orange, there is more beta carotene and other yellow-pigmented carotenoids mixed in.  If you go with a more deep red to red-purple tomato, there are more anthocyanins in the flesh.

One thing that you may not know — cooked tomatoes have up to about 170% more lycopene than raw tomatoes.  It’s not that cooking the tomato makes more lycopene develop, but that the cooking process breaks down the tissue.  If you were to eat a tomato raw, your teeth only break the fruit down so much and then your stomach does a little more.  But in the end, you still have chunks that go undigested.  Cooking makes the tomato more broken apart to start with, and then the chewing and digestion in the stomach breaks it apart more.  So, if you make or purchase tomato paste, there are about 60mg lycopene per cup.  Tomato sauce has about 34.2mg per cup and ketchup has about 2.6 mg per tablespoon.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes for Growing Indoors


“I’m currently using the “Red Alert” variety to grow indoors during the winter – they do great in our south-facing patio door.  Is there a determinate variety with a larger fruit – something about 2″ diameter?  I’d like something a little more like a real tomato in a cherry tomato package so to speak….
Thanks – Jim”

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Hi Jim,

Thank you for contacting me through Etsy regarding growing tomatoes indoors.  Some that I think would work well would be:

index–Sub Arctic Plenty:  It’s fruit might be a little smaller than you are looking for (1-2 inches), but it has a nice, tart tomato-ey taste rather than being sweet like a cherry tomato.

glacier–Glacier
Alaskan FancyAlaskan Fancy
Hard Rock–Hard Rock
siberian–Siberian

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.