Posted on 08 April 2008 by

The Tomato Whisperer

Tomato WhispererBy Michael Nolan

Mother Nature just doesn’t seem to want to agree with my timetable for planting tomatoes this year.

Severe thunderstorms and sporadic tornado warnings notwithstanding, the temperatures will go from a balmy and beautiful 75 for several days and then plummet rather suddenly to the 30s overnight.

As any true tomato gardener knows, these conditions are just not helping me start this year’s crop.

It was just last week that I finally started the first of my tomato seeds indoors. Yes, I realize I’m late, but you seriously wouldn’t believe the weather.

Thus far this year I hope to enjoy:

Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato (that I wrote about recently)
– a new strain (to me) of the Red Brandywine tomato from Landis Valley
Abraham Lincoln original tomato (look for a post about this variety coming later this week)
African Beefsteak
Grandpa’s Cock’s Plume
German Queen

If you’re following my heirloom tomato inheritance saga, you realize that I still have ten heirloom varieties that I haven’t started yet. I’m not sure if I am going to take on any more new varieties this year but with God as my witness, I will never go without a tomato on my plate again!

I’m taking a bit of a risk this time around the sun and only starting with two plants of each variety. I’ve chosen to do this mainly because of the sheer number of heirloom varieties that I want to experiment with this year.

Because so much of my time is taken up with writing I want to be able to spend an adequate amount of time with each heirloom tomato plant so that we can get to know each other.

So now you know the hidden truth; Michael is a plant whisperer.

I talk to every plant I own, even the cacti that keep my cat out of my living room picture window. In reality I have seen a notable difference in the overall health and yield of my tomato plants when I spend time touching and talking to them.

In closing, I want to leave the newbies with a few tomato whispering tips:

1. Your friends and family will think you are crazy when they see you talking to your tomato plants. Go with it. Get a big wide-brim hat and paint some bright red tomatoes on your gardening clogs.

2. Name your plants. When you go outside, tell your family that it is time to go take care of the kids.

3. If you play music for your tomato plants, they don’t like REO Speedwagon. Go with classical or even country. Trust me on this.

9 Responses to “The Tomato Whisperer”

  1. deb Says:

    Thank you for the tomato entertainment at 6:00 am. Great post. We must talk to the plants, they need our company. Sometimes mine talk back. Oops, my crazy just got out.

    Love “This time around the sun.”

  2. our friend Ben Says:

    Yup, talking to plants, absolutely essential. For the extra CO2 if nothing else! Not to mention the relaxed feeling it gives the gardener. Great post!!!!

  3. Ferne Says:

    glad to know that I am not alone with all this tomato love!

  4. Dani in NC Says:

    I’m experiencing the same kind of weather here. It is supposed to be sunny and 72 until Monday when the temp will drop down to the 30s. Our last frost date is supposed to be Tuesday, 15 Apr, so I guess Mother Nature is trying to sneak in one more cold day before letting loose with the gardening weather :-).

    I started my tomatoes about a month ago. I am a first-time gardener so I hope I get at least a couple tomato sandwiches this summer!

  5. Michael Nolan Says:

    Dani: Good luck! Please keep up posted and if you have any questions at all, any of the writers here would be happy to answer them for you.

  6. Bada Dehili Says:

    I am growing 50 tomato plants this spring. I live in Florida and I have been growing tomatoes for the past 15 years. I have 4 German queen that I am trying for the first time. Beautiful potato leaves with lots of bloom, however , the German queen seems to grow outwards in all directions. Mine are already 4 feet high. I have had problems last week with tiny little worms that I took care of with an organic spray from “Safer”. I also noticed that the German Queen requires a lot of watering (Daily). My question is this: How often should I fertilize the German queen? I am doing this now about once every 3 weeks. Thanks for the forum.

  7. J N Petzak Says:

    Plants love being talked to nicely; they also love soft and melodious music.

    Awww, I hope your cat has a lot of other windows to look out of! 😉

    And my goodness, I do want to try that Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato. Does it work in every case, do you know?

  8. bob smith Says:

    I bought one of those Bonnie brand German Queen tomato plants @ Home Depot. I already had a little over 50 mater plants in the ground I started from seed. Hillbillys brandywines pink ,red, yellow,purple, dixie gold giants,4th of july, orange cherry, sungold little sistres, yellow pear. amish paste, delicious. mortgage lifter, mr. stripey. These are in my opinion the best I have come up with over the years.
    Back to the German queen. I brought this plant home and had nowhere to put it. I put it in a 5 gal. pail with a small cage. The plant did not do very well and started todie off. There were about ten tomatos on it not very big. 7 of them were cracked real bad and turning black. I was abel to get a little edible flesh out of a few of them and saved the seeds. the other 3 I picked abd let ripen about 4 more days. They had a few blemishes but not bad but not big either.
    They were the best tomatos I ever ate I’m here to tell you.
    My list is probably the better maters out there but none of them can even come close to the GERMAN QUEEN.

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