TomatoMania- Start Your Engines!

a colander full of beautiful tomatoesTomatoMania finally had its first 2009 Los Angeles area event. It was at Tapia Brothers Farm Stand in Encino. It was a big hit (as always!). So Scott Daigre is recovering this week. 

As you can imagine he really throws himself into these things (because he’s the original “maniac”). So he asked me to step in on this the latest of what has officially become, and will remain through the tomato growing season, Maniac Mondays.

The weekend was an undeniable hit. The line snaked out the front gates and through the parking lot. The die-hard TomatoManiacs were the first to arrive…in force! 

But the regular old TomatoManiacs like me kept a steady stream of plants moving from the sale grounds to the trunks of cars.  All kinds of cars too.

tomato seedlings ready for your gardenOnly in Los Angeles will you see that certain sort of well-endowed blond loading manure into the back of a Mini-Cooper. Or a pair tattooed muscle-bound gents, of indefinable age, convincing themselves that they can get all 8 of these seedling home on the back of their Harley. Even some of the West Hills bound Hummers were filled past bursting. That certainly is a lot of tomatoes! 

I mean these people can’t all be farmers. But they can all be TomatoManiacs!

And these maniacs arrived with lists, and wheel-barrels!

That’s because they know there is no other event in the world of this size and magnitude dedicated to the Mighty Tom. Not only is the selection bigger than anywhere you will ever come across. But the “docents”, and that is the only thing I can think of to call the people who run these events, have a depth of knowledge that is encylopedic. 

I hope to have a video illustrating exactly what I mean for you next week.

In the meantime, I’ll fill you in with my choices.

Sadly I have a sun challenged yard. It’s lovely and lush with trees as old as my 1920’s era house. This is the only time of year I ever consider consider cutting those suckers down! Now Sup loves a good tomato, but there are limits to my devotion to food (gasp!!).

That’s where the “docents” in the bright blue TomatoMania t‑shirts came in. They steered me to a few things I can grow in pots on my upstairs terrace! 

For the best reliability without tons of sun I am trying Matina (Heirloom) and 4th of July (Hybrid).  Both are short season plants, which means they will flower and fruit successfully in cooler temps.  Plus they fruit FAST. Which means upstairs on the terrace they will get almost full sun for the next 6 weeks or so. After that my Chinese Lantern Tree will be completely leafed out. Which makes it a nice place to sit on a hot summer afternoon, but not the place to grow big sun loving late season varieties like Beefsteak.

But I also wanted to try something unusual. To fit that bill I have Nyagous (Heirloom). The Nyagous is a rather rare black tomato variety from Russia.

Nyagous produces “globe shaped tomatoes in small clusters of 3 to 6”. Nyagous have a very smooth, round shape. Though called a “black “ tomato they are “typically a dusky-red color (but lighter and darker variations do exist, ranging from typical red to a near black with an emerald green interior) with meaty flesh that possess a sweet, aromatic taste”. 

The final variety for me this year is Margo (Hybrid).  It is described as “easy-to-grow” and needs less support than other varieties. It should provide a continuous, summer-long harvests of “oblate, shiny red, green-shouldered fruits”  that will “hold their flavor off the vine”.

So there ya go! Wish me luck, and of course I’ll keep you posted!

If you missed any of these posts and want to catch up;

SippitySup and TomatoMania 1 First Things First

SippitySup and TomatoMania 2 Choosing Wisely

SippitySup and TomatoMania 3 Digging Deep


Greg Henry