If your home-grown tomatoes are destined to become sauce, plant a variety with sweet flavor and dense pulp.
You may plan to plant some tried and true tomato varieties each year because they've proven their worth in your veggie garden. Still, save some space to audition a couple of new types this year.
Full-size or cherry, tomato varieties are endless. You can hone in on some types that fit your eating and cooking plans (are you a slice-it-on-a-sandwich or a cook-it-down-to-paste person? Or both?).
An Italian heirloom variety called, Blue Beech, arrived in the United States around World War II. This one is called a "sausage"-type tomato, not for its taste but because of its elongated shape. Blue Beech is best used as a paste tomato so if you plan to grow lots of tomatoes for canning pastes and sauces, Blue Beech grows big, dense and with few seeds. This one also remains fairly disease-free.
A hybrid variety called, Marmalade, is an orange tomato that grows very uniform, round orange tomatoes with no cracking or splitting with a great taste.
Captain Lucky is an old Beefsteak heirloom with green flesh and streaks of pink, red and yellow through it. This grows very dense and isn't watery, which would make it a good choice for cooking.
And for a new taste and texture experience, a red cherry tomato variety called, Mochi, claims to have more of a gumdrop texture. It's a dwarf indeterminant that will grow up to three feet tall and continue to produce fruit all summer long, even into the fall.
Q: I've got a six year old Brown Turkey fig. It's never been properly cut back and I'm wondering, when's the best time to do that? How much of it can I cut back? - Beth, in Hyde Park
A: Late winter or spring, as you're starting to transition it to being back outside again, is the best time to prune your fig.
As far as what to prune back, aim to leave a nice structure to it. Don't prune away too much because that will affect fruit production.
And if you're having a hard time getting your fig to fruit, also in spring, plan to pull it out of its container and root prune it. Take a saw or a knife and cut into the root ball, taking out up to a third of it. Then mix in some compost, a bit of lime, some fertilizer then keep it well-watered. You'll get a bunch of figs this year!
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