Growing Tomaotes for Preserving

This year I again planted ten San Marzano vines to can for the rest of the year. Like everything else in the garden, this was a very early year, and I will probably be tearing the vines out in just a couple more weeks to make room for the autumn fava beans.

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I prune each plant to two leaders, and I remove suckers once a week. In the photo above you will see the vine with mature fruit to the top (8 feet) and the lower leaves cut away to allow sun to ripen the fruit. This year I tried something new. I planted my San Marzanos  from Territorial Seed Company as usual, but I also planted a second plant to be used as root stock. When they were both about 2″ tall, I grafted the scions (the San Marzanos) onto the root stock, (called Supernatural) also from Territorial. I was skeptical, especially since most all of the seeds that I had ordered from Territorial were a big disappointment. But, as the season progressed, three advantages became apparent over the two control plants that I did not graft.

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First and most important was a complete elimination of blossom end rot. I had some, not much, but some on both non-grafted plants, all minimal like the two above. Second was the girth of the actual vines. Much more robust, and there was more fruit on the grafted vines, too. Finally, and I might be imagining this, it seemed like there were lots less suckers to cut out.

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The tomatoes are great, super-easy to peel, and almost solid flesh. The root stock was stupidly expensive, but I will definitely do it again next year.