Sunday, February 13, 2011

TOMATO GRAFTING, A "TOTALLY NEW CONCEPT"

I've been an avid vegetable gardener for twenty four years and I am still learning.  It seems the more I know and
experience the more I realize how much there is still to learn.  I recently had an "ah ha" moment the likes of
which I hadn't experienced in some time.  I came face to face with a totally new concept for me; tomato
grafting.  Just when I was getting comfortable with my tomato growing techniques, I was made aware that
there is something BIG going on in the tomato growing world.

The technique of grafting has been around for decades if not centuries.  Wine grapes, fruit trees and roses
all benefit from being grafted onto more vigorous and disease resistant root stocks.  Why not tomatoes?
From what I have learned commercial growers have been grafting for many years.  Greenhouse growers
have led the way because of the need to control diseases like Fusarium Wilt and Verticillium Wilt.

Somehow, I missed the presence of tomato grafting supplies and grafted tomato plants in two of my
favorite seed catalogs on first reading.  As I started to get down to the serious business of picking out
seeds for this season I discovered a page in Johnny's Selected Seeds that listed the "Top 10 ways to
grow more food in the same space".  Coming in at number 9 was the following: "Graft tomatoes to
reduce disease and increase yield".

My first reaction was "What?!!!!!!!  This earth shaking revelation was found on page 179, way past
the vegetable section.  I collected myself, took some deep breathes and retraced my steps.  Back to
the tomato section I went.  Sure enough, on page 97 I found a section featuring seeds for tomato root
stock.  My next move was to visit Johnny's website.  There, I found a video featuring a guy by the name
of Mike Collins, a greenhouse tomato grower from Vermont.  He's been grafting for fifteen years.
Where have I been?

After watching the video I thought "I can do this", so I ordered seeds and grafting clips from Johnny's.
Stay tuned, I will report on my experiences over the course of the season.  I must say that the idea of
tomato grafting is getting me psyched about the 2011 growing season.  Let the grafting begin.

For those of you who don't want to "try this at home" I have discovered that Territorial Seeds is now
offering grafted tomato plants.  How cool is that?  My friends, this is going to be an interesting year.
All the best,
Greg

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