Tomato, Tow-mah-toe: The Goods on Grafted Plants

I wish I had a food scale because I've been harvesting some of the biggest tomatoes I've ever grown. They are an heirloom variety called 'Pineapple', said to bear fruit up to 2 lbs.

But I wouldn't be growing a tomato for its sheer size. This one tastes wonderful! It's on the sweet side, with enough of an acidity to know you're eating a tomato. And it's meaty as well, with fewer seeds and juice and more meat to it.



Tomato Pineapple - quite a handful!
Did I mention that this particular tomato plant is grafted? Grafted tomatoes are getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason. From my experience, compared with non-grafted plants, or those grown on their own roots, there is no comparison. This is my second year growing grafted plants, and although I haven't undertaken any scientific data collection, the grafted plants are definitely more productive than those grown on their own roots.

I saw a few grafted tomato trials at C. Raker in August, and it seemed as though the grafted and non-grafted plants were pretty much neck and neck in size and vigor. If you're interested in their ratings, check out their tomato data.

Tomatoes 'Sun Gold' and 'Sweet Million'
This year I am also growing two cherry-sized tomatoes grafted onto one rootstock, and I can no longer see the fence they are trained to grow on. Since mid-August, I have been able to harvest a small bowl of tomatoes every two or three days from the one plant. I don't know how that yield compares with own-root tomatoes of the same variety, but these guys are growing in a spot that receives no more than four hours of direct sun per day.

But back to the Pineapple--I can say with certainty that I have never harvested as many tomatoes before in my sun-challenged garden. Pineapple is planted in a slightly sunnier spot, receiving around six hours of sun. Another advantage to growing grafted tomatoes is that the rootstock is disease resistant, something most heirlooms are not. This year I haven't had any problems with either plant. Throughout the drought, I've given them supplemental water with a water soluble fertilizer mixed at half the recommended rate. I also added a time release fertilizer around the plants when I planted them.

Pineapple tomatoes sliced and placed on top of sandwich thins.
Try slicing Pineapple tomatoes onto Brownberry Sandwich Thins that have been spread with a light layer of garlic butter. Sprinkle them with basil and Parmesan cheese and pop them in the oven until nice and bubbly and brown and you will remember why you grow tomatoes in the first place.

Now THAT's a tomato!





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