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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Grafted Tomatoes

A grafted tomato is the top of one variety of tomato attached to the root stock of a different variety of tomato.  The rootstock is usually from a variety that grows a more vigorous root system or may be more disease resistant or more resistant to external stress such as too dry, too wet or salt content.  The top graft is usually chosen for flavor and/or productivity.

Fruit trees have been grafted for centuries.  Remember seeing those inserts in the Sunday paper that were offering grafted apple trees that had two or three varieties of apples on the same tree?  Grafting of herbaceous plants is far more recent—only since the early part of the 1900’s—originally in Japan.  It became more popular in the U.S. in the 1960’s. 

One of the most common complaints I hear about some varieties of heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine particularly) is their lack of disease resistance.  Buying a Brandywine grafted onto a disease resistant rootstock will give you the crop you want and the disease resistance you need.

Grafted tomatoes need the same conditions as a regular tomato—with one exception.  The graft union much be kept above ground.  Tomatoes are famous for rooting all along their stem so, if the graft union is covered, the top of the graft, called the scion, will root, thereby losing all of the benefits of the rootstock.

I tried a grafted tomato last year, for the first time.  It was a Brandywine.  I’ve tried to grow Brandywine tomatoes before only to have the plant come down with one disease or the other by the first of August.  Last summer, I was eating Brandywines up until I finally yanked the plant up the end of September so I could finally get my poor broccoli plants in the ground.

This year, we will be carrying five different varieties of grafted tomatoes—Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano (a roma-type) and Big Zac (a beefsteak).
Posted: 4/6/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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