Tomato Gardener Questions and Answers – Part 5
What Is the Difference Between Hybrid and Heirloom Tomatoes?
A hybrid tomato is the consequence of cross pollination between two genetically different parent plants. Plant breeders develop hybrids to increase disease resistance, to enhance provide, or to select for special fruit characteristics such as color, flavor, or shipping quality.
Heirloom tomatoes are grown from crops that have been perpetuated by gardeners who save seed, or propagate cuttings from year to year. Some heirloom tomato varieties have been around for more than a century. Tomato gardeners have kept these varieties growing for generations because the crops perform well in a particular area or because they have a great flavor, an uncommon color, or some other alluring characteristic.
What Does ‘OP’ on A Seed Packet or Seed Catalog average?
The letters OP you find on a tomato seed packet or in a description of a variety in a seed catalog stands for Open Pollinated. This method that wind, bees, or other insects move pollen to fertilize the tomato blossoms instead of plant breeders. All heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated tomatoes are heirloom. Seed companies offer modern tomato varieties that have been pollinated by wind or bees.
Should I Grow Tomatoes Organically?
If you are patient and into tomato gardening for the long run, organic gardening is the best way to grow tomatoes. In a nutshell, organic tomato gardening is a matter of taking what character provides and putting it back into the garden to grow tomatoes and enhance the soil. Using organic fertilizers to satisfy tomato plants is a way to not only provide nutrients to the tomatoes, but to build the soil in addition. Organic fertilizers will provide nutrients and what is left over in the soil will provide food for the microorganisms to satisfy on and add fertility to the soil by their course of action of elimination, so to speak. Organic fertilizers such as, bloodmeal, bonemeal, cottonseed meal, along with various animal manures will provide the proper nutrient amounts for your tomato plants. The only drawback is that they don’t start working as fast as synthetic fertilizers.
Oils gathered from flowers and other plants are used to provide organic insecticides for use in pest control. Biological creations are used for controlling bugs and caterpillars. They do the job and leave no unhealthy effects when it is time to eat your harvest.
Using synthetic fertilizers get the job done as far as providing the proper nutrients, and in a fast way. However, there are no other benefits to the soil. In fact, continued use of chemical fertilizers will leave salts and other elements behind in the soil that in the long run will harm your soil. As far as insecticides go, use them sparingly and only those recommended for use on, not just tomatoes in particular, but edibles in general.