Ann Wright: Time to speak tomato! |

Ann Wright: Time to speak tomato!

Emily Jones' 1-pound pineapple tomato.
Photo by Emily Jones |


What: “Bite Me” Tomato Tasting and Open House

When: Saturday, Sept. 10, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Where: NID Grounds, Demonstration Garden at 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley

More Information: 530-273-0919;

The language of tomatoes is almost as beautiful as the colorful fruit.

“Heirloom” varieties suggest tradition, ancestry, color and form. Heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated, which means saved seeds produce fruit that is identical to the parent plant. “Hybrid” tomatoes are a cross between two parents, where two different varieties are cross-pollinated, usually with human intervention. “Grape” tomatoes are small, oval shaped berry-like fruit with firmer skin. Grape tomatoes are generally smaller than “cherry” tomatoes, which are a favorite to many. Despite the small size of these taste sensations, some cherry tomato plants may grow to over 6 feet in height. Then there is the massive “beefsteak” tomato which is a type of its own and may reach a sizeable 2 pounds. “Slicers” are generally round, and uniform in shape, also known as a “globe” tomato. “Midget” patio or dwarf varieties are compact and well suited to container planting or hanging baskets. “Plum” is the description of paste or Roma tomatoes which are medium to small in size and shaped like red ovals. These have thicker walls and fewer seeds than some of the other varieties.

If speaking “tomato” is something you’d like to learn more about, tomatoes will be in the spotlight at the very popular Nevada County Master Gardener’s “Bite Me” Tomato Tasting and Open House on Sept. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Master Gardeners will provide over 50 varieties of tomatoes for attendees to try.

This is a fun event for participants to explore the vast variety of tomatoes that grow well in our area. A tomato rating sheet will be used again this year to evaluate the varieties. Tasters will give a numerical rating for each tomato tasted and also vote for their favorite tomatoes. Try one, try them all then vote for your favorite to help the Master Gardeners decide which variety might be sold at the plant sale next spring.

And, if tomatoes are not enough, a workshop and tour of the demonstration garden will be provided. Join us for a workshop, “Detain the Rain” — a look at how to collect rain during our wet season. The workshop is at 10:30 a.m., followed by guided tours of the Demonstration Garden. There is so much to see and learn about in the garden, including our orchard, native and grassy meadow, and Mediterranean Foothill garden.

In addition to the tomato tasting event, Nevada County Master Gardeners are busy starting and growing plants for the fall plant sale, scheduled for Sept. 24 from 9am to noon, also at the demonstration garden. Some of the cool season vegetables and ornamentals that will be offered for sale include: Arugula, lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, Swiss chard, escarole, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

Chives, cilantro and many other herbs will be offered as well as a number of ornamentals, including lavender and local milkweed for the butterflies and pollinators. A more comprehensive plant list may be found on the NCMG website.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Mater Gardener.

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