Wednesday, August 5, 2015

They grow everything big in Texas

I'm talking tomato cages here. These are 24 inches' diameter and 6 feet tall with 2-foot extensions! I need 'em this big to accommodate the grafted tomatoes I bought last week. Those, you'll recall, have heirloom tops grafted on to hybrid root stock for a combination that Burpee promises will produce the delicious fruit of an heirloom and the increased soilborne disease-resistance of a hybrid.

They grow everything big in Texas

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I'm talking tomato cages here. These are 24 inches' diameter and 6 feet tall with 2-foot extensions! I need 'em this big to accommodate the grafted tomatoes I bought last week. Those, you'll recall, have heirloom tops grafted on to hybrid root stock for a combination that Burpee promises will produce the delicious fruit of an heirloom and the increased soilborne disease-resistance of a hybrid.

These plants supposedly grow to heights of 12 feet or more. No way would my crooked old cone cages suffice for such a beanstalk. Last night I placed the new cages around four grafted plants. I tried, anyway. Word of advice: Find a good spot for the cages, then plant the tomatoes. I did the opposite, and found myself trying unsuccessfully to pound the 18-inch posts into the ground. Forgot how much rock is hidden below the soil line in my garden.

Finally got things squared away, and I'm hopeful my 'Mortgage Lifters' and 'Brandywine Pinks' will shoot up the cage and gently fold themselves over for the trek down. Otherwise, I'll need a ladder - or a giant - to harvest for me.

Nothing's worse than tomato season in full force, and your plants are toppling over for lack of support. It looks messy and is horrible to deal with. So we'll see how this experiment goes. The jumbo cages come from a company called Texas Tomato Cages in Del Rio in south Texas. Free shipping.

A friend is also growing some grafteds, and we plan to compare notes as the season progresses. I'll be blogging about it, which should keep everyone honest. Although when it comes to homegrown tomatoes, and which ones are tastier, bigger, faster-growing, healthier, that is sometimes tougher than it sounds. 

Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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