Craig LeHoullierGardening is work but can also be play. In fact, for me, the fun makes the work tolerable, particularly when considering the demands of growing everything in containers or straw bales in my hot and humid Raleigh climate. Located in my driveway (because that is where the sun shines best), my garden is an annual research laboratory, food producer, and place where stories can be told about many of the varieties that grow there. Here is a quick walk through the many projects that are in progress in 2019.

Favorites For the Table

We can’t get enough tomatoes no matter how many plants we grow each summer. Over my 40 years of gardening clear favorites have emerged, and each garden has a selection of the truly cherished varieties, grown for maximum yield in straw bales. Some examples from this year’s garden are Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom, Cherokee Purple, Cherokee Chocolate, Cherokee Green, Green Giant, Azoychka, Andrew Rahart’s Jumbo Red, Lucky Cross, Yellow Brandywine, Egg Yolk, Sun Gold and Stump of the World. With two plants per straw bale, my very achievable goal is 20 pounds of tomatoes per plant.

dwarf project in grow bags

New Members of My Tomato Garden

Each year gardening friends, readers of my book Epic Tomatoes and folks I’ve met on the speaking trail share family treasures with me, and it is a joy to give the varieties places in my garden. Out in my driveway are Redman Giant, Roman Figun, Civil War, and a German tomato sent to me by an Epic Tomato reader that was from her grandfather’s garden years ago. Previous examples are Cancelmo Family Heirloom, Cutler heirloom and Koch family heirloom. Not surprisingly, they are typically wonderful.

Azoyckka June 30th

Refreshing Old Seeds

Having a monstrous tomato seed collection means that many varieties are at risk of seed death, given infrequent grow outs. I’ve gone to growing indeterminate (tall) tomato plants in 5 gallon grow bags with a focus on getting a few ripe tomatoes for fresh seed, rather than maximizing yield. Examples this year are Azoychka, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Great White and Carbon.

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