The Diva That Grows Tomatoes

“Can you grow tomatoes indoors?” That question came across my twitter feed, from @LaConsuelo, yesterday. I had no idea, since I grow mine in my Boerum Hill backyard, so I asked my Gardening Guru and she said, “Yes!”

Trina Pilonero of Silver Heights Farm aka my Gardening Guru said, “Tomatoes can be grown inside. 5-gallon bucket per plant. Needs at least 8 hours direct sunlight inside. Tomato flowers are self-pollinating, but need a breeze so that the pollen can do its job. If no breeze, the grower has to ‘be the wind’ every day by ‘petting’ the plant.” Sounds almost dirty, but you know she means stroke the leaves so the pollen moves about.

I am very lucky to have a backyard, so I got seven plants from her to join the volunteers that I got from the compost bin edges.

  • Two Jaune Flamme: medium yellow tomato I get every year—delicious and dense
  • Black from Tula—a luscious, dark skinned tomato that I love
  • Thieneman Australian Oxheart; red and meaty and they grow to be a pound each!
  • Black Cherry Tomatoes—these are the most popular ones!
  • Rosalita—a pinkish grape tomato that is supposed to be incredibly sweet!
  • Goldman’s Italian American—from the cover of Amy Goldman’s book, The Heirloom Tomato!

She also taught me to how to plant my tomatoes outdoors. Dig a hole that is two thirds the height of the plant. Remove the leaves from the bottom two thirds of the plant and bury it. The plant will grow a great root system that really supports the plant. I put a tall, 2” x 1” stake next to the plant so I can train the plant up it as it grows and I pinch out the “suckers” as the plant grows up the stake. Then, I put a tomato cage around the stake and the plant for extra support and since Trina said, “The tomatoes with be more productive if the plant is touching something metal.”

I’m no expert, but I get some divine tomatoes come harvest time and that makes me, my friends and my family very happy.

Trina is at Union Square Greenmarket every Wednesday and Saturday. She has the most extensive selection of organic, heirloom and unusual tomatoes I have ever seen as well as tons of other veggies and herbs. You can visit her Web site here and even Silver Heights Farm. It’s a beautiful drive up there, but check the Web site so you get there when they are open—not when they are closed, like we did.

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