Register for Cooperative Extension’s October heirloom tomato workshop

by Debbie Roos

Silk Hope, NC – The Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension will offer a workshop on Growing Heirloom Tomatoes from 1:00-5:00 pm on Monday October 19 at the Silk Hope Farm Heritage Center in Silk Hope, NC.

Heirloom tomatoesTomatoes seem to capture the imagination of all gardeners; most people absolutely crave tomatoes and their arrival in summer is an annual culinary highlight. Americans have been enjoying their infinite variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors for about 300 years. Tomatoes are also a very important economic crop for area farmers.

This workshop offers a unique opportunity to learn from arguably our state’s top heirloom tomato experts: Craig LeHoullier, a gardener who has been growing tomatoes for over 30 years, is responsible for naming and popularizing the famed Cherokee Purple variety and has been on a whirlwind tour promoting his new book Epic Tomatoes; and Alex Hitt, a highly successful market farmer who has grown over 150 varieties of tomatoes over the years.

The target audience for this workshop is market growers and serious gardeners. The workshop will be presented in two sections:

Tomato History, Varieties, Seed Saving, and More:

Craig LeHoullier (author of Epic Tomatoes and tomato adviser to the Seed Savers Exchange) will take the workshop participants on a journey with a dash of history, fascinating stories, and a pictorial tour of dozens of favorite varieties in a rainbow of colors. Craig will also touch upon some of his key success factors learned from home gardening for 30 years in our challenging climate, and some of his favorite ways to use, preserve and save seed from his annual bounty. Craig will briefly discuss a unique project he is leading to create new tomato varieties that are perfect for container gardening.

Organic Production of Heirloom Tomatoes:

Peregrine Farm grower Alex Hitt will share his vast experience growing and marketing dozens of varieties of heirloom tomatoes organically. Alex will talk about variety selection, transplant production, fertility and soil preparation, plant spacing, irrigation, mulch and weed control, plant growth management (growth habit: determinate/indeterminate, trellising, pruning), production problems (disease and insect issues, pollination, cracking), harvest and post-harvest handling.

For complete details and registration information, visit Chatham County Cooperative Extension’s Growing Small Farms website at http://go.ncsu.edu/heirloom-toms

Advance registration is required by October 13