Why Grow Grafted Tomatoes?
SimpleGrowing grafted tomato plants makes it possible to grow the most fragile and hard-to-grow heirloom and open-pollinated tomato varieties with the same success as you have growing the most disease-resistant and vigorous hybrid tomato plants.
You CAN have it all, at least when it comes to growing tomato plants in your garden. For example, if you like the incredible sweetness of the Brandywine but have never had much luck growing themyou're a candidate for growing grafted tomatoes.
Grafted tomato plants use the hardiest, most disease-resistant root stock as the foundation for the more tender and difficult-to-grow tomatoes, grafting the desired scion (top-stock) to the most vigorous root stock. Many of the heirloom varieties, like pink, black, yellow and white tomatoes, have exceptional flavor, color and size, but they may be almost impossible to grow where you live. It's also possible they'll grow where you live, but in order to have the number of tomatoes you require, you have to grow two to three times as many tomato plants as you would of another variety. Growing grafted tomato plants is the solution.
Growing grafted tomatoes will:
- Increase production, resulting in a much larger number of tomatoes than you would normally have of a particular or favorite variety.
- Increase disease resistance in a variety normally prone to diseases.
- Make an otherwise difficult-to-grow variety able to withstand hotter, colder, dryer or even saltier conditions.
- Reduce the number of plants you need to grow, which also reduces your costs.
- Yield tomatoes over a longer period of time, with many grafted tomato plants producing plentifully up to the first frost.
- Result in production 4 to 5 times higher than you would normally see from heirloom or open-pollinated varieties.
The costs of grafted tomato plants are coming down as the numerous advantages become more evident and as producers make them more readily and easily available. Tomato plants have actually been grafted as early as the 1920s in places like Japan and Korea, though worldwide producers have been slow to adopt the practice. Now, however, their popularity is increasing quickly in Asia, Australia and Europe, as well as in the United States. Not only can commercial growers and small farmers benefit from growing grafted tomato plants, but the backyard gardener can enjoy the same rewards: larger and hardier plants, more tomatoes and greater disease resistance.
Why wouldn't you want to grow grafted tomato plants?
You may have heard they are more difficult to grow. That is not the case at all; there are just a few differences in the way you grow them.
- The #1 rule for growing grafted tomato plants is to keep the graft line above the soil line, which is a departure from normal deep planting recommendations. The reason is simple: if you plant the graft line below the soil line, roots will develop from the scion, not from the root stock; therefore, you will have lost the benefit of the grafting.
- It is also recommended you prune the lowest branches away from the ground. These branches can actually root, also negating the benefit of the graft.
- You should stake them as soon as possible, using strong, sturdy support. The root systems on grafted tomato plants develop quickly. Putting the tomato cages in place early on will prevent damage to the roots. Additionally, since these plants can grow up to 30% larger, standard tomato cages may not be enough to support them as they reach adulthood and bear large amounts of fruit.
- If planting in containers, use at least a 20-gallon container. The root systems on grafted tomato plants are 4 to 5 times larger than a standard tomato plant and they grow incredibly quickly.
That's it! Not more difficult; just different rules.
Happy Tomato Growing from all of us here at Garden Harvest Supply!