The Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook

The Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook
By William D. Adams
A garden-grown tomato sliced and laid across a grilled hamburger …
Sweet, plump cherry tomatoes in a crisp, green salad …
Sauce made from fresh tomatoes, ladled over a steaming bowl of pasta …
Spicy tomato salsa …
Savory tomato soup …
Mmm, can’t you just taste those luscious tomatoes?

Is there any single vegetable as mouth-watering as the tomato? And yet, as thousands of people tired of mushy, half-green, and tasteless tomatoes bought from supermarkets have discovered, much more is involved in growing your own than simply putting a plant or two in the ground and expecting to harvest juicy, red tomatoes a few weeks later – especially in Texas!

Bill Adams, former Harris County Extension Agent draws on more than thirty years’ experience to provide a complete, step-by-step guide to success in the tomato patch. Growing good tomatoes requires a gardener’s attention to a variety of factors. Bill Adams begins this book by explaining the basics of soil preparation, planting, feeding, caging and watering. He also outlines the pros and cons of standard, hybrid, heirloom and cherry varieties, sharing tips about old favorites and suggesting new varieties. After the tomatoes are chosen, planted and thriving under his tutelage, Bill prepares gardeners for the insects, diseases, and other visitors they are likely to encounter, warning that “gardeners are not the only ones that love tomatoes.” He ends by offering a few words about the “tomato kin folk,” peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, and potatoes, along with a source list of selected suppliers.

Some tips from Bill Adams:
• Bird damage shows up on tomatoes as deep holes pecked into the fruit. After trying to peck a baseball painted red, most birds give up.
• Tomato seedlings need to be close to the fluorescent lights – six to twelve inches will ensure that they develop dark green and stocky.
• Cottonseed meal is a relatively cheap organic fertilizer that is available from most feed stores.  Placing or banding fertilizer under the row is one way to concentrate the nutrients close to the tomato plants.
• Tomato plants grown in 5-gallon containers are great for getting an early start in the garden, but the containers are not large enough for production. A 20- to 30-gallon container results in a more extensive root system that can better supply water and nutrients to the developing fruit.
• Lay down a tall transplant to encourage roots to develop along the stem.
• Tomato transplants can be protected from cutworm damage with a cardboard or aluminum foil collar around the stem.

Liberally sprinkled with the author’s easy humor and illustrated throughout with excellent photographs, The Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook has everything you’ll need to assure a bumper crop, year after year.

William D. Adams  is a retired Harris County extension agent with thirty years’ experience at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. His writing and photography have appeared regularly in Gardens & More, Horticulture, Texas Gardener, Family Circle, Mother Earth News, Sunset, and other publications. He grows tomatoes at his home in Burton, Texas. Bill contributed the photos for this book with his wife Deborah.

The Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook By William D. Adams
Texas A&M University Press
Copyright 2011
Flexbound, 189 pages, $25.00 USD

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