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There's something new in the world of tomatoes - something big that we haven't seen since the 20's and 30's when tomato hybridizing began. Grafted tomatoes have roused the interest of many gardeners. The Europeans have been grafting tomatoes for decades, but it's relatively new to American gardeners.
What is a grafted tomato and what makes it better? It's two plants fused together to make one better plant. Many of our favorite heirloom varieties, like Brandywine, are not very disease resistant and fruit later in the season. By grafting Brandywine to the root stock of a hardier variety, they now are more disease resistant. This can be a huge benefit for those gardeners short on space and can't rotate their crops.
Grafted tomatoes also fruit earlier and longer into the season, and offer higher production rates (up to 50% more). Their extensive root system, makes the plants more drought tolerant but may not perform their best when grown in a container.
1. When planting, keep the graft above the soil level. This is the most important thing to remember. Typically we plant tomato seedlings deeply to encourage a strong root and support system. That's not necessary with grafted tomatoes. The roots of the root stock can spread to over 6 feet!
2. Actively prune it throughout the season. These plants are vigorous and grow quickly. Keeping it pruned will send more energy to fruit production.
3. Cage it or stake it to keep it off the ground. Don't let the bushy plants ramble all over the ground as the vines will root in and ruin the effectiveness of the root stock.
4. Remove any suckers that might form below the graft or roots that appear above the graft.
We are offering the following grafted varieties this season: Big Beef, Brandywine, Early Girl, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano, and Sun Sugar Cherry.