March 20, 2015
I’m always giddy when the first day of spring hits. Here in Santa Barbara the start of spring means more than strawberry daiquiris and tennis whites, (truthfully, we can pull that off almost year around), it’s the calendar giving full-speed ahead for summer planting.
I know with our current drought situation that some are hesitant to plant your gardens with gusto…that damn looming water shortage hovers like a beast. Tomato plants don’t need as much water as you may think. We’ve had great results with giving our tomatoes one deep watering a week.
That heat spell last weekend was all it took for me to hotfoot over to Island Seed and Feed and load up on tomato starts, lemon cucumbers and a few specialty eggplants. Even at the nursery, especially at the nursery, I tend to be an “enthusiastic” shopper. Below I’ve given a call out of all the tomatoes chosen for our summer garden.
Even with my enthusiasm, I still try to be very thoughtful about which plants I choose— my top criteria is flavor and what does best in our climate. In my experience, the smaller varieties seem to do better in Santa Barbara. The larger tomatoes, like beefsteak, I’ll leave for New Jersey to grow.
Early Girl: My favorite red tomato, it’s bright and flavorful.
Green Zebra: Love both the stripes and acidic flavor.
Sun Gold: This orange cherry variety packs a wonderful sweetness.
Brandywine: This one is new to the garden, but it’s the Tomatomania guy’s favorite so it was worth a try. He seems to know a thing or two hundred about tomatoes.
Black Krim: I love this variety for it’s intense sweet flavor and dark color — a total beauty.
Amana Orange: Another first for me, this came highly recommend from Catherine at Island Seed and Feed.
Cherokee Purple: These darker tomatoes boast intense flavor and a great balance of sweet and acid.
When planting tomatoes don’t forget to use nutrient-rich soil. Also, a good layer of mulch will help to seal in moisture from those less frequent waterings. Leave plenty of room for your plants to grow, they may seem small at first, but most tomatoes are indeterminate and will grow like crazy.
It’s also important not to crowd to allow a good amount of air circulation around the plants. There’s always those little baby stems closer to the bottom of the stem, bury those when planting, they become roots — which are valuable to producing fat juicy tomatoes.
Now that we’ve gotten our tomato fix, here’s a snapshot of other garden news…
Sadly, the hail ruined my agave. I haven’t a clue what to do – this happened all over the yard. The agaves are all pock-marked. Maybe I have a new species on hand, Agave Attenuata Frecklea ?
Onto brighter subjects, our roses had their first bloom with two new beauties added to the mix, a David Austin called Carding Mill and a brown Hybrid Tea named Irish Cream.
This shaggy guy looks like he is ready for some springtime reggae and a cold Corona.
What’s on your springtime planting list?