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Lewes, Delaware
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March 6, 2007     Cape Gazette
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March 6, 2007

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CAPE GAZETTE. Tuesday, March 6 - Thursday, March 8, 2007 - 19 G.00.RDEN & FARM L As we move into the month of March, it's time to consider just which tomatoes you'll be planting this spring. The tastiest tomatoes you'll ever eat will be the ones you pick fresh from your garden. Get a head start on tomato season I love talking about fresh, juicy, homegrown tomatoes - especially in the winter when we need the in- spiration of tingling taste buds to motivate us to plan ahead. Tomatoes are the most frequent crop grown by the home gardener. Even if you only raise one edible plant, chances are it's likely a summertime star tomato. The tastiest tomatoes you'll ever eat will be the ones you pick fresh from your garden. As we move into the month of March, it's time to consider just which tomatoes you'll be planting this spring. Amazingly, there are 700 varieties to choose from! Tomatoes vary by color - red, pink, yellow, orange, green and even purple ones, a veritable rain- bow of shades; size - from small grape tomatoes to super-sized va- rieties as big as a small can- taloupe; and shape - round, ob- long, blocky square, pear-shaped and even heart-shaped. Do you prefer juicy or meaty? Do you want to try a brand-new tomato - some varieties have just been in- troduced this year - or an heir- loom variety that has been around since the 1800s? Begin your in- vestigation pronto to pinpoint the tomatoes you want in your gar- den. GARDEN JOURNAL Mary Sue Colaizzi for in he catalogs is that the toma- toes you choose should be resis- tant to ve'rticillium and fusarium wilt, two common soil-borne dis- eases that affect tomatoes. Resis- tance to these diseases is designat- ed by a "v" or 'T' after the variety name. Remember to check the catalog description, seed packet or plant label to make sure your cho- sen variety will be able to stave off diseases. You can start the seeds indoors while the weather is cold. In fact, if you are starting tomatoes from seed, you should probably plant them by March 15 at the latest to get them into the garden in early lots of sunlight, so grow them on your sunniest windowsill. Toma- . to seedlings will grow healthy and strong with plenty of light. In- vesting in. a grow light will guar- antee adequate light to keep your little plants from getting leggy. If you don't feel like tackling this project right now, it's easy to buy already started plants from the garden center in early May as well. As for where to .put them in the garden, if you do not have space to let them sprawl normally on the ground, train your tomato plants upright on a post or tie them to a trellis like a climbing rose. Be- side space, the chief requirement of the tomato is that it grow in rel- atively good soil and in full sun- shine, away from roots of trees and shrubs. One necessary tomato-related March project is building up the soil in your garden with organic matter. Before you start, make sure the soil is not water-saturated. Add one part organic matter (compost, sphagnum peat moss, green ma- nures, or lightly incorporated or- ganic mulches) to every two or three parts soil, then till or dig in about 8-12 inches deep. Organic matter added to your tomato patch ation and allows water to reach the crop roots as well as making it easier for roots to penetrate the soil. Also, as organic material breaks down into humus, it pro- vides a good food source. It's a relatively simple chore that will pay you back with an abundance of tomatoes. And, of course, don't forget to feed and water your plants. I use a water-soluble fertilizer designed for vegetables that's available at almost any garden center. I fertil- ize every couple of weeks with a weak solution. When dissolving your fertilizer in water, keep in mind that it's better to err on the weak side as over-fertilization will burn your little plants. Never let the soil around your tomato plants get dry, but also be careful not to over-water. It seems like a fine line to walk, but .believe me, it only takes a year of practice to become a master at tomatoes. If you have never planted them be- fore, this should be your year! Mary Sue Colaizzi is a master gardener with The Delaware Co- operative Extension. She has been a gardener in Rehoboth Beach for the last two decades. Address questions or comments to Mary Sue Colaizzi c/o The Cape One important quality to. look May. Your seedlings will need has many benefits: It provide aer- Gazette. Farm transfer workshop set March 14 A workshop on intergenera- tional transfer of the farm will be held Wednesday, March 14 in Georgetown and Thursday, March 15 in Middletown. Sponsored by University of Delaware Coopera- tive Extension, the workshop is designed to help farm families be- come familiar with or increase their understanding of the farm transfer process. Topics to be discussed include wills and trusts, gifting, family dynamics and communication, tax ramifications, equitable distri- bution of assets and managing the transition. The free, day-long workshop includes continental breakfast, lunch and take-home materials. The workshop will be held in Georgetown at the University of Delaware Research and Educa- tion Center, 16483 County Seat Highway and in Middletown at the Hampton Inn, 117 Sandhill Drive. At both locations, registra- tion and breakfast begins at 8 a.m. and workshop sessions at 8:30 a.m. Participants must pre-regis- ter by March 9. For more infor- mation, contact Laurie Wolinski at 302-831-2538. Geologist Talley to speak at ag breakfast John Talley, director of the Delaware Geological Survey and state geologist, will be the fea- tured speaker at the March 16 Friends of Ag Breakfast. The Friends of Ag Breakfast is sponsored by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Service as a forum for the ex- change of ideas on agricultural topics. Talley will discuss the occur- rence and availability of ground- water resources in the coastal plain of Delaware and current and projected water demands for agri- cultural and non-agricultural wa- ter use. He will share his thoughts on potential conflicts that may arise from competing demands for wa- ter due to projected population growth during the next 25 years. The breakfast, which begins at 7:15 a.m., will be held at the Modem Maturity Center at 1121 Forrest Ave. in Dover. The cost is $15. To register, or for more infor- mation, call Alice Moore at 302- 831-2504.