Tomato Matters

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Rough Weather Got You Worried About Your Tomato Garden This Year?

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in classes, News and Events, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Don’t despair – Knowing how to prepare your soil and water effectively will allow your tomato garden to flourish this summer!

It’s been a tough winter across the country…Some are enduring one polar vortex after another and here on the west coast, with almost no snow to speak of, we’re wondering how we’re going to be able to garden at all without any water.

It’s sad to think that we may have to amend our gardening plans and possibly not enjoy that activity that brings us so much pleasure, not to mention really tasty gifts from the garden this summer!

Don’t despair, though. Knowing how to water your tomatoes and how to make your soil work for you will allow you to grow a great crop this year!

Whether you’re a tomato novice or a seasoned grower in the Southern California area,  you’ll want to learn how to grow in this unique growing climate. That’s why we’re offering our garden tour and TOMATO ‘SSENTIALS class at a reduced price this year. We want you to be successful in the garden, not just wishing you could be! The class will be held on Sunday, March 16, in the Tomato Matters Garden. In this class you’ll learn Six “Ssential” Steps for Tomato Success, yes, the ‘Ssentials for growing great tomatoes!

There’s lots of new information so the class is perfect for the first time grower as well as those experienced gardeners who need a refresher or to be updated. You’ll go home with a complete handout and a tomato plant to get your garden started.

Best of all, we’ve lowered the price of the class so more people can participate. Even more great tomato information at a better price. You don’t want to miss it!

For time, price and to reserve your spot for this fun morning in the garden, click here.  See you in the garden!

Tomato Growing Essentials

 

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When is the Right Time to Plant Tomatoes?

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in gardening, tomatoes galore, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Knowing the right time to plant tomatoes depends on your soil temperature.

 

I’m getting lots of phone calls and emails from anxious gardeners and tomato growers wondering if it’s time to plant tomatoes yet?  The answer is…it depends!

Where are you growing? What’s your average nighttime temperature?  Have you thought about taking the temperature of your garden soil? Soil temperature is the key to deciding when to plant tomatoes.  The soil must consistently be 55 degrees or higher for tomatoes to thrive.  My general rule of thumb for tomato growers in Southern California is to wait until the end of the  third week in March. Then, check your soil temperature (I use a meat thermometer!)  If it’s still too cold, give it another week.

If you’ve purchased tomato seedlings but it’s still too cold at night for them to be planted outdoors, let them enjoy the sunshine during the day. Be sure to keep them somewhat protected from the elements and give them a feeding of diluted liquid fertilizer once a week.  Bring them in at night, putting them somewhere away from drafts or the furnace.

tomato seedlings

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Meeting John Valentino of “John & Bob’s” – A “Dirty” Tale…

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in gardening, Uncategorized | 0 comments

John Valentino, of “John & Bob’s Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions, and I met for a chat about….dirt!

 

Online relationships can be tricky and often misleading.  I’ve had an internet friendship with a man for several years. John always seemed friendly and cheerful.  I thought he seemed genuinely interested and committed to our friendship because he always replied to my emails quickly and with enthusiasm.  Our conversations often focused on our mutual interest, a passion for gardening.

From time to time we toyed with the idea of getting together to meet in person. We don’t live near each other so it just never seemed to work out. And so it continued, status quo.

Now, if you’re thinking this story doesn’t belong on a gardening blog because it’s going to get very dirty…well, it is. But, not the kind of dirty you might be expecting.  Read on.

As I said, John and I share a passion for gardening.  To say I have a “thing” for tomatoes is putting it mildly.  And, as crazy as I am about growing tomatoes, that’s John when he’s talking about dirt. But, don’t call it that.  It’s soil.  And, if he has anything to say about it, it’s healthy, vibrant, living soil that supports life from the microscopic fungi and protozoa to my eight-foot tall tomato plants.

John & Bob's rich, nutrient-filled soil

John & Bob’s rich, nutrient filled soil

 

As luck would have it, John and I did finally meet in January. He was an exhibitor at a local trade show so I drove over to meet him. I was beyond excited. I envisioned sitting down with this carefree guy, dressed in soiled jeans and work boots, chatting up a storm about all of our favorite tomatoes and the most delicious ways to enjoy them. I was thrilled to meet and have some face time with someone who plays such a huge part in my gardening success. You see, John is one half of John & Bob’s Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions.  I’ve been using their “stuff ” (as John refers to it) for years in my gardens and the results are outstanding!

John & Bob

John’s on the right.

So, that’s where the fantasy ended.  The effervescent exchange that I imagined didn’t materialize.  I arrived at our meeting location a few minutes early so I could stop by the ladies room before we met.  Of course, John was already awaiting my arrival, early and ready to get down to business.  He greeted me with a slight smile, dressed in perfectly pressed khakis and a crisp button down shirt.  This was not going to be the warm, fuzzy tomato talk I expected.  Without making my pit stop, John walked briskly and directed me to the John and Bob’s display booth.  I had trouble keeping up with my shorter stride.  John didn’t care.  He was a man on a mission.

John had something he had to show me.  To John, it wasn’t enough that I love, swear by and practically insist that my students use his products to grow great vegetables. John is a science and numbers guy.  I appreciated that he patiently explained to the importance of mycorrhizae (I can’t even say that) and the difference between the bad and beneficial nematodes.

Soil food web John & Bob's

 

More than that, though, he wanted me to see charts,  photographs and cost comparisons to further prove that the beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa that make up John and Bob’s product line make a huge difference in the overall health and production of  every garden and at a very reasonable cost.   My cursory glance and nod of acceptance wasn’t enough.  Look again, John insisted.  He showed me the impressive results of their field tests using the four John & Bob’s products, Optimize, Nourish/Bio-Sol, Maximize and Penetrate, at a residential garden, a university campus and a community hospital.  Yes, the landscaping looked spectacular. But John needed to be sure I saw the part about the cost of using his products in each situation compared to using bulk soil amendments.  It wasn’t just about the cost of the products, either. It was about the amount of time and labor (and cost of labor) involved in using the products.

You know how they say you have to hear something eight times to remember it?  Well, it might have been seven or it might have been ten times, but after saying it and showing me so many times, I got it!  I already knew that John’s products worked great.  I knew that I didn’t have to throw out my back to use it or pay an arm and a leg to get someone else to use it.  What I finally understood, though, was that ounce per ounce, John and Bob’s goes so much further than any other amendment I might use, that I’m actually using less product and I’m spending a lot less money!

John and I haven’t spoken since that meeting last month, but we have emailed a few times.  I had some questions about using John & Bob’s with  my seed starting mixture and he promptly and thoroughly answered my queries.  Yes, his stuff goes in right at the beginning.

It’s a safe and familiar relationship and it’s comforting, too.  I know if I need some info about making my garden beds even better, John will be right there for me.  Not the kind of dirt you might have expected, but just the kind of dirt this gardener needs.

 

You might also enjoy:

Laura Taylor in the Home Garden Reviews John and Bob’s

According to John: She’s A Little Odd!

Video: Amazing Tomato Comparison!

Laura Taylor Video - Tomatoes

 

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Gardener’s Holiday Wish List Day 3 – Wonder Soil

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 

Wonder SOil Expanding Bricks of Garden Mix

I discovered this at a recent trade show and I think it’s a really cool concept.  WONDER SOIL is a water saving gardening solution of expanding bricks, blocks, wafers and biodegradable pots. These state of the art products are made in various sizes and formulas for different gardening applications.  The mixes are 100% biodegradable and promote faster germination with stronger root systems, better growth and healthier plants.Wonder Soil products expand up to 9 times their volume when water is added, thereby eliminating the need for big bags of soil. 

I haven’t used Wonder Soil yet but I have seen it expand in demonstrations and also plants growing in it.  I’ve read the literature and the multiple benefits described. I’m intrigued enough to say that I will definitely order bricks to use in some areas of my tomato gardens and containers.  Part of the fun of gardening is the experimentation and discovery of new products.

From a practical standpoint, I know many gardeners complain of achy backs and the last thing they want or can do is haul several bags of soil around the garden. This could be just the answer.  I think it’s an inventive idea, something out of the ordinary and a fun and unique gift to give or receive.

Wonder Soil is available at local nurseries or online at www.wondersoil.com.

 

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