Heirloom Tomatoes Offer A Bigger Variety To Local Gardeners

'Tomato Fest' hosted by Mahaska County Master Gardeners.

‘Tomato Fest’ hosted by Mahaska County Master Gardeners.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – One of the most common garden items, the tomato, got some attention during ‘Tomato Fest.’

The Mahaska County Master Gardeners hosted the event on Thursday evening, September 1st at 6pm.

Suzette Striegel is the horticulturist at the Mahaska County Extension Office, and she spoke with Oskaloosa News about the celebration of heirloom tomato growing.

Heirloom tomatoes are the open-pollinated varieties that have often been passed down within families or are established varieties that have been around for generations. Heirloom tomatoes are often not the type you get in seed packets at grocery stores. Those tomatoes have been genetically altered to offer a specific quality that consumers often look for.

Many different varieties of heirloom tomatoes were available to sample during ‘Tomato Fest.’ A ‘Mortgage Lifter’ which is a huge beefsteak variety, for example, is a type of heirloom tomato that was available for the tomato lover to try, along with a variety called ‘Amish Paste’. The more common roma and cherry types of tomatoes were also available to try.

Striegel explained that Heirloom tomatoes are not bred to be disease resistant and the gardener needs to be “a little more diligent” in their cultural practices in order to fight diseases. Some of those practices include crop rotation, plant spacing and taking care while watering plants, and may help to reduce the fungi that plague heirloom tomatoes.

Supporting the tomato plants and keeping them up and off the ground will go a long way in combating diseases that live in the soil. “Good airflow really helps in reducing the disease issues,” says Striegel.

Heirloom tomatoes can have a good share of acids, but Striegel says that yellow and orange tomatoes tend to be lower in acid, but it varies from variety to variety.

Participants brought along some of their favorite tomatoes to share. Samples were cut from the heirloom tomatoes, allowing others to taste some of the many different varieties available to the gardener.

You can find out more about Master Gardners by visiting their Facebook page HERE.


Posted by on Sep 5 2016. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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