This certainly has been an interesting year.  I have changed from a corporate professional to an entrepreneur.  The change has been magical, I am really enjoying it.  I helped grow 5,500 plants with my family and our partner (Becky, the watering queen).  It has been a drastic change from my former professional existence and it has been a most welcome one.

I have now experienced preparing for and helping with two farmer’s market days and the Earth Day Festival booth.  Victory Gardeners’ main project has been the Ivan Tomato Rescue Project.  We have been working to save this wonderful heirloom tomato and it has been most rewarding.  We have distributed seeds to about 40 states throughout the country with our seed sales program.  We are also selling plant starts at the Columbia Farmer’s Market and other festivals (like Earth Day and Baker’s Creek).  We are giving out a handout to help those who purchase our plants to generate their own seeds from their Ivan tomatoes. We hope that this will help to strengthen the presence of the Ivan here in mid Missouri. The Ivan has been our best selling plant by far which brings smiles to the faces of our team, our plan seems to be taking root.

For the first few markets I have attended, I have stayed back and handled the money and bagging of plants while listening to the experts (Laura and Becky) answer questions and give some tips to those who buy Ivan plants (and many other types of tomatoes).  As I continue to do this, I am learning some valuable lessons about how to successfully grow tomatoes.   I figured I could share a few tips here for folks embarking on growing season. Here is a quick list of some handy tips:

  • When planting your tomatoes, bury them 2/3 of the way in soil.  The fuzzy appearance on the stem is actually the start of a root system.  By getting this under the ground, you will be helping roots take hold.
  • If you don’t have deep soil, dig a trench and put your tomato down in its side curving the top out of the ground.  This will create the same results as burying the plants deep.
  • If you are growing in buckets, drill a few holes on the bottom for water drainage.  An earth box would be better than a bucket as it gives the plant more room to grow.
  • Make sure to keep your tomatoes very well watered, you can let them dry between waters, however the hotter it gets out side the more you will need to water.  This is especially important if you are growing in buckets.
  • Make fertilization of the soil a part of your routine.  Using natural granular and liquid fertilizers is an important part of the growing process. If you have extremely rich soil you may not need to do this.  Know your soil.
  • If your plants keep getting lighter green or you are not seeing the type of growth you expect, add some additional natural fertilizers (granular and/or liquid) to your soil.
  • If the temperatures are dipping to a point where a frost is at all possible, cover your plants lightly with a sheet or tarp for the night.  Of course, buckets can be brought inside instead.
  • When your Ivan’s grow larger the leaves will get curly, this is totally normal for this tomato. It is not diseased it is just being an Ivan.

This picture shows Ivan tomatoes growing in two earth boxes. The tomatoes are dominating the earth boxes. This shows a good example of how the Ivan leaves will curl.   Don’t panic this is just how they grow.

I know I will continue to learn more and more about gardening as I continue to help our company grow.  I am always open to ideas from experienced gardeners, luckily I am married to one and we have another for a business partner.  This is an exciting time of year as people get their gardens going.  Thoughts of families sitting down to meals full of home grown food make me smile.  That time is approaching, in the mean time we’ll be here to help you make it happen.  Happy gardening my friends!