Tomato Fest Showcases The Many Varieties And Flavors

Many different varieties of tomatoes were available to try at this year’s Tomato Fest held at the ISU Extension Office in Oskaloosa. (photo by Ginger Allsup/Oskaloosa News)

Oskaloosa, Iowa – When grocery shopping, we’re pretty used to seeing that bright red fruit in the produce department. It may technically be a fruit, but many nutritionists consider tomatoes as vegetables.

Mahaska County Master Gardners were at the ISU Extension talking and eating tomatoes this past week. They were also busy sharing recipes for tomatoes.

Suzette Striegel, with the ISU Extension office in Oskaloosa, says there are many different types of tomatoes available to gardeners.

“Heirlooms are becoming increasingly popular,” says Striegel. It’s thought there are 50 to 60 different types of heirloom tomatoes in the “mainstream, but then you can always find those obscure ones.”

Besides the heirloom tomato varieties, “there are 20 to 30 different types of hybrid tomatoes that people like to grow.”

Heirloom tomatoes are sometimes open-pollinated variety. It also usually equates to if it’s old, or if it has some kind of prominence or history attached to it.

Hybrid tomatoes are made by crossing different varieties.

The topics also included why it’s better to support the tomato vine. Some growers may use cages, stakes, or trellis.

Gardeners may start their tomato plants indoors ahead of the last frost date. “But you don’t want to put them in the ground unless you’re going to protect them.”

“So a lot of times we say around Mother’s Day is a good time to put them in the ground because we don’t normally have too many frosts after that.”

Many people use and enjoy planting their tomatoes in containers. That method can help in controlling weeds and diseases. “Bigger is better when you’re growing in a container.”

Five-gallon buckets work fine, Striegel explains. “Some people grow their tomatoes in even bigger than that.”

Tomatoes are the number one vegetable crop that people grow because even if people don’t have a full-fledged garden, a lot of times people will have a container with a tomato in it.

You can learn about more upcoming Mahaska Master Gardner events by visiting them at

Posted by on Aug 25 2019. 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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