Farm Focus: Tomatoes!

While most of the farm is busy ramping up for stone fruit, the veggie farmers have been spending the last few weeks transplanting all 1100 tomato plants out into the field. We started a couple months ago with tomato seeds in the greenhouse. Once the seedlings had sprouted their first true leaves, they were “up-potted” into four inch pots and grown for another month or so in the greenhouse. Next, the tomato plants, still in their pots, were moved outside of the greenhouse, so that they could “harden off”. This means getting them used to the outdoors, including the cooler nights and windy days. Once hardened off, the plants are ready for their final home – the tomato field. We prepped the field with vermi-compost, made on the farm by Christophe and his army of worms. After the compost was applied the tomatoes were hand-planted in rows. This took many days and many helping hands, luckily we recruited help from our packing shed crew. Once all the planting was done, we set up the drip irrigation. For the first couple of weeks the plants need water every other or every few days. Eventually, they’ll be watered deeper, but just once per week.

About half of our tomato plants are saucing tomatoes, for making our ketchup, conserva and tomato soup that’s served at our Farm to Table cafe in San Francisco. The rest are a mix of heirloom varieties. From red, to purple, to striped; and all different shapes and sizes! Many varieties we chose are our favorites from last year, chosen for taste, and durability to endure our hot, dry summer days. Because the farm has such large temperature fluctuations and because we ripen the tomatoes on the vine, our tomatoes are very prone to cracking. While a cracked tomato is still completely edible, they have a shorter shelf life, and most customers are not
satisfied with this skin damage. Due to this, we’re always trying new varieties and growing methods to improve our tomato operation and quality.

Now we prune, water and wait for our tomato plants to do their thing and I can’t wait for my first fresh summer tomato.

– Farmer Kristin

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