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Join gardening experts for a tomato extravaganza and plant sale in San Luis Obispo

Heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes Courtesy of UC Regents

Did you know there are over 7,500 tomato varieties?

Hybrids and heirlooms are most commonly found in home gardens. Hybrid tomatoes are a cross between two genetically different tomato varieties and give the best qualities of two or more parents. The most sought-after qualities include increased productivity, disease resistance, cold tolerance, consistent size and fewer blemishes.

Hybrids are firm and bruise less easily than other tomatoes. However, many do claim that hybrids just don’t have the luscious flavor of an heirloom tomato. Seed saving is also not a viable option as the plant will never be true to its parent.

Heirloom tomatoes, or “open pollinated” tomatoes, are varieties that can be grown from seed and will be true to their parents. Some seeds have been passed down through generations, from gardener to gardener, for hundreds of years. Heirlooms generally have lots of seeds, are unique in shape and size, and oh the flavors you will find!

When buying tomato plants, it’s helpful to know the difference between indeterminate and determinant varieties.

Determinant varieties will give you all their fruit at once. If you plan to preserve tomatoes, this will allow you to preserve your bounty by water-bath canning, pressure canning, or dehydrating in a day or two.

Indeterminate varieties will give you tomatoes all season, so you can enjoy them in salads all summer long.

Join us at the 11th annual Tomato Extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Presentations include “Growing Your Best Tomato,” “Rid Your Yard of Gophers and Ground Squirrels” and “Preserving Your Tomato Harvest.”

Landscape plants, herbs and basil will be for sale and the California Rare Fruit Growers will sell trees. The UCCE master food preservers will be available for your food preserving questions and there will be children’s activities, informational booths and a food truck from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Admission is free and seating for the presentations is limited. Visit our website to register — http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo. Stop by, learn something new and stroll the beautiful demonstration garden.

Are you interested in being a UCCE master gardener but need more information? Join us at the New Master Gardener Class Informational Meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 14 in the UCCE auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.

Tami Reece is a UCCE master gardener.

Got a gardening question?

In San Luis Obispo call 781-5939, Arroyo Grande, 473-7190 and Templeton, 434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email us at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 781-5939.

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