Title: The Great Tomato Book
Author: Gary Ibsen
Published: 1999 by Ten Speed Press
This year was the first that I've had my own garden. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have planted tomatoes, I would have laughed in your face. But my wife has convinced me of their virtues over the years, so we decided to plant 12 tomato plants. The harvest wasn't quite as large as I had expected, so I turned to the library for assistance.
The book starts off with an excruciatingly detailed history of the tomato. I could have done with fewer facts, and in fact I skipped most of the first chapter. It was interesting to learn that tomatoes were long considered poisonous, because in fact the leaves aren't good for you. I'm so glad that somebody realized that the fruit was delicious.
Then I read about how to grow tomatoes, and that was good stuff. One point in particular that I paid attention to was how to water them.
I use a drip system now. And the water is on a timer so I can be sure that the plants get the amount of water they need on schedule. If you water by hand, be careful to avoid splattering plants' leaves with mud as this may contribute to disease problems...
Keep your tomato plants regularly watered during the season, partucularly during dryp periods. If the plants are subjected to dry spells, their growth rate will slow down and the fruit may crack when it is watered again and swells.
There was also plenty of good stuff about soil, trellising, planting, fertilizing, and a few pages on how to save seeds. I like the idea of growing seeds from last years heirloom crops, but it sure sounded like a lot of work. Maybe some day I'll give that shot. I do think this year I'll be a lot more selective in the variety that I purchase.
Which brings us to the next section of the book, a pretty extensive list of tomato breeds. I really liked the orange cherries we had this last year. From his description, I think those might have been the Sun Gold. But honestly, there are just so many I don't know where I'll begin next year. I want to try a purple tomato, and a yellow pear. Gotta have some globe tomatoes for burgers and a few buckets full of something for salsa. I'm planning to spend a few hours at the nursery draining them of tomato knowledge.
The rest of the book (half of it) covered tomato recipes, which I really wasn't interested in at the time. Maybe if I had some fresh tomatoes I might have tried one or two. Still, a good book with some good information. Could have saved a few trees in the publishing though.