Gardeners have been crazy about heirloom tomatoes for years, because they have so much flavour. But some varieties of heirlooms, while producing tasty fruit, don’t have the yield of modern hybrids. Now we have a new option that gives us the best of both worlds: tomatoes grafted onto hardier rootstock. This is something that rose growers have been doing forever, and it’s catching on in the world of edibles.
A grafted tomato can produce double or triple the amount of tomatoes as a non-grafted type, making their higher cost well worth it. A grafted tomato can withstand many common tomato growing problems, as Ari Levaux writes in The Atlantic.
Beyond blight, there are many other tomato maladies to which the fruits are sensitive, especially those tasty, fragile heirlooms. There are wilts, nematodes, rot and viruses, salty soil, good old fashioned cold, and, now that average summer temperatures are rising, heat. Grafting tasty tomatoes like heirlooms onto tough hybrid rootstock is an interesting way of dealing with these issues, and for growing stronger, more productive plants.
The one important thing to remember when you are getting your grafted tomato in the soil: do the opposite of tomato planting conventional wisdom. We usually bury the stem deeper when planting regular tomatoes, as tomatoes make new roots along the stem, making the plant sturdier. Don’t do this with your grafted version, like the Mighty Mato. The graft must stay above the soil line, to keep the grafted plant true. Another tip, go easy on nitrogen fertilizer. You don’t want to have an overly huge plant, just lots of fruit. Look for a fertilizer with high second and third numbers, and low on the first.