TomatoMania- What’s Next? A Contest!

heirloom tomatoes the jewels of summerWelcome back to another Maniac Monday. Scott from TomatoMania is here, and just in time. My tomatoes have already grown by leaps and bounds. I am sure yours have too.

There are some maintenace steps we need to be aware of. But I’ll let Scott explain all that.

I am here to bring you news of the contest I teased about last week.

How would you like thousands of tomato loving foodies to suddenly discover your blog over one weekend? I am here to say I can help 6 talented bloggers do just that.

This contest is in conjunction with TomatoMania and the Los Angeles Garden Show. Whose theme this year is Festival of Flavors.

Scott and I will have a booth at the show. He is going to be preaching and teaching all things tomato garden. I am going to be offering tomato cooking tips. But not my cooking tips. Nope. Yours.


tomatomania and sippitysupI am going to be handing out thousands of recipe cards at the show. These cards will have 6 different recipes from 6 of you printed on them along with your logo and url if you like.

So put on your thinking caps and come up with your best tomato recipes. Raw, Cooked, Whole, Mushed…I don’t care. But, it should just be a recipe that showcases the mighty tom in it’s best light.

These recipes and photos need to be your original material. 

We will be judging on deliciousness, gorgeousness, and variety. We don’t want 6 pizza recipes. So originality will go a long way. So will beautiful pictures. I am only 1 of the judges, so there is no use kissing up to me here. Spend your energy writing a great recipe. The recipe need not be posted on your blog, but why wouldn’t you. It can also be something you posted years ago. If you do post the recipe on your blog a link back to SippitySup would be great, but it’s not mandatory.

One last thing. Starting Monday, May 3rd, the 6 winning recipes will also be reproduced on SippitySup with a link back to you, one at a time over 6 different Maniac Mondays through out the tomato growing season.

TO ENTER: Send an e‑mail to greg [AT] sippitysup [DOT] com (ONE entry per person, please!) with the following information by NOON, Monday, April 20  PDT:

  • First name
  • Blog name (or hometown if you don’t have a blog)
  • Blog URL (if you have a blog)
  • An ORIGINAL Recipe (Word Document preferred))  300 words or less
  • AN ORIGINAL photo of your tomato recipe, at least 400 px wide (preferably square)
  • A one-line description of your recipe
  • I will contact the winners for their logo and url on April 21st or 22nd 
    And Here’s Scott

planting heirloom tomatoesThey’re planted…now what?

Well, for one thing, pat yourself on the back.  You’re growing your own food and that’s powerful and will be immensely rewarding.  Plus it’s fun!
Once you’ve planted your tomato seedlings you can revel in the daily growth you’re surely to see if you’ve done the groundwork thoroughly.  Your perky little seedling will soon grow into a much larger and perky adolescent as it gets set to deliver your goal.
No matter what you’ve planted , however, you’ll wait for a bit to get to the harvest.  Enjoy the ride but keep your eyes open and continue to monitor your plants, their surroundings and even the weather so you can be most successful.
While you wait and watch, here are some things to think about:

• Succession planting.  Still have some room in the veggie garden?  In containers on the driveway?  In the perennial beds?  I’m betting as you planted you came up with some additional spaces that might well host more tomato plants. 

Adding new seedlings at intervals during the spring is a smart move.   Let’s say tomato seedling planted in groundyou plant on April 1st, April 15th and May 1st, for example. You’ll not only lengthen your harvest season (because crops will be staggered ) but this rhythm may just ensure success.  Why?  Heatwaves and other inconsistencies (did you miss watering over a long weekend?) might cause stress and flower drop in the first set of seedlings you planted.  Or the second.  Several “layers” of planting helps you sidestep the curves Mother Nature (and your busy schedule) might throw at you. 

• Mulch.  Again. Did you mulch heavily when you planted?  Be honest. Conserve water, discourage weeds and create the consistency you need by adding a thick layer of any kind of mulch. Straw, compost, planting mix, oak leaf mold or yesterday’s newspaper are all good.  Especially important where temps go up rapidly in the spring, gardeners everywhere benefit from this good garden practice.

• To Pinch or not to Pinch. As your plants grow and stretch out they will also begin to branch out. Literally.  Side branching will appear all along the main stem just above the point where the leaves meet the stem. 

Commonly called “suckers” this is actually just new branching.  What to do with this extra growth?  Well, the answer is up to you. Pinch it off.  Or don’t.

Some gardeners (me, for example) will leave all that growth or pinch from time to time just to shape or control sections of the plant.  Yes, I’ll end up with a larger, heavier  plant and more to manage.  And while I might get more fruit it may not be as large as it might would I pinch.  But make no mistake, constant pinching is a big job and it’s hard to keep up, especially if you have way too many plants.  And hey, I’m an enthusiastic but lazy gardener!  I don’t plan to spend most of my weekends managing this growth.

Those of you growing in very hot areas might think twice before thinning your plants, however.  Extra branching and more leaves can important for your plant and the developing fruit.  More cover is a good idea.

Other diligent gardeners may choose to remove all this branching.  Merely pinching if off with your thumb and forefinger will do the trick.  Attention to this detail channels the energy of the plant.  As a result, fruit will probably be larger and the plant will be tider and easier to manage.  Coastal or short season gardeners, it’s a good idea for you to pinch (thin) your plants as it will allow more heat into the interior of your plant, which is an asset for you.

• Staking.  As your plants grow they will inevitably need some help standing upright.  Bamboo poles, fancy tuteurs or the side of the house will all work.  I don’t care how you do it, just do it!  Tie the plant up with soft tie tape or anything else that won’t tear tender stems.  My grandmother used old hosiery or strips of t‑shirts and that works just fine.  If you’re using poles and not pinching regularly you may keep adding extra supports as the plant grows and that’s as it should be.  Just support your local tomato!
And you thought you could relax now didn’t you?
Congratulations, you’re on your way.
Scott Daigre