Gardener’s almanac (March 9)

03/09/2013 7:29 AM

03/09/2013 7:39 AM

Heirloom tomato study – Ward Upham of K-State reported recently on a study on heirloom tomatoes done by Tom Fowler of the University of Missouri Extension Service. Fowler did a trial of several varieties, and here’s what he recorded for each:

The total number of tomatoes for the year, total weight and average ounces per fruit are listed below.

• Boxcar Willie, 89 tomatoes, 29.80 pounds, 5.36 ounces each
• German Johnson, 94 tomatoes, 72.60 pounds, 12.36 ounces each
• Aunt Ruby, 65 tomatoes, 47.40 pounds, 11.67 ounces each
• Big Red, seven tomatoes, 6.20 pounds, 14.17 ounces each
• Prudence Purple, 95 tomatoes, 62.20 pounds, 10.48 ounces each
• Beef Steak, 185 tomatoes, 82.60 pounds, 7.14 ounces each
• Big Rainbow, 138 tomatoes, 98.60 pounds, 11.43 ounces each
• Roma, 386 tomatoes, 38.80 pounds, 1.61 ounces each
• Mortgage Lifter, 83 tomatoes, 74.80 pounds, 14.42 ounces each
• Abe Lincoln, 233 tomatoes, 135 pounds, 9.27 ounces each.

“This is one year’s data, so take it with a grain of salt,” Upham says, “but note Abe Lincoln. Most heirlooms are not even close to yielding what a good hybrid does, but Abe Lincoln is right in there. Also the average weight of an individual Abe Lincoln tomato is more than any of the hybrids Tom evaluated. Many of the heirlooms produce larger tomatoes than Abe Lincoln, but not the hybrids. So why wouldn’t Abe Lincoln make it as a commercial variety? It is too soft and won’t ship. However, it would be a great tomato for homeowners if they can keep it healthy. These old heirlooms often have poor disease resistance, especially to the wilt diseases such as Verticillium and Fusarium wilt.”

K-State gives these sources for Abe Lincoln seed: NE Seed,, 800-825-5477; Reimer Seed,; Tomato Growers Supply,, 888-478-7333; and Totally Tomatoes,

Garden events

Grow Good Food Workshop – A workshop March 23 at the Extension Center will be held for people who are just getting started growing fruits and vegetables or have tried with little success or who want advanced tips. One of the sessions covers growing in heat and drought. The Grow Good Food Workshop costs $5 and will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center at 21st and Ridge Road.

The morning sessions will cover basic gardening topics: vegetable gardening from the ground up, growing a garden in heat and drought, and organic pest control. In the afternoon there will be a choice between advanced gardening – growing your own salad, seed starting under lights, and fruit trees for small spaces – and cooking and preserving – cooking with fresh vegetables, cooking with fresh herbs and preserving the harvest.

Register online at or call 316-660-0100.

Cutting-garden talk – Mary Buffo, who grows flowers and sells them at the Kansas Grown Farmers Market, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to show sample flower arrangements and talk about how to select, grow and harvest plants for a cutting garden. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.

Derby Garden Club – The Derby Garden Club is gearing up for a new season and will meet on the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Derby Public Library. This Monday, master gardener Mary Woolsey will talk about garden planning – what, where and when to plant. Visitors are welcome.

Daylily photo program – Sherryl Fitzpatrick will be showing photos she took at the July 2012 national daylily convention in Columbus, Ohio, when the Wichita Daylily Club meets Monday at Botanica. The meeting is free and is open to the public. It starts at 7 p.m. and is followed by the program.

"Getting Ready for Spring in the Rose Garden" – The Wichita Rose Society meeting on Tuesday will feature four short presentations by expert gardeners on how to successfully grow roses and care for them this spring. The meeting will be at Botanica. Topics and presenters: tool maintenance by master gardener Kathy Bagwell, soil prep by master gardener Diana Jones, pruning for bigger blooms by consulting rosarian Mary Scheulen, and pruning for a garden display by Connie Bell of Botanica. Light refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting and presentation will start at 7. The meeting is free and open to the public.

A day of free garden information – Hutchinson’s annual day of free garden seminars, Gathering for Gardeners, is Saturday, with the first talk at 9 a.m. The Hutchinson Horticulture Club sponsors the Gathering of Gardeners at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 407 E. 12th St. just west of the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and you can come and go as you wish to the talks. Here’s the schedule:

9 a.m., Compost Happens, by James Taylor, retired instructor at Hutchinson Community College; 10 a.m., Plants That Need Less Water, by Scott Vogt, director of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston; 11 a.m., Top 40 Prairie Star Annuals for Color, by Alan Stevens of K-State; 1 p.m., Most Common Plant Problems, by Ward Upham of K-State; 2 p.m., Container Gardens – Succulents, Flowers and More, by Ben Miller of Stutzmans Greenhouse; and 3 p.m., Curb Appeal – Landscaping Your Front Yard, by extension agent Bob Neier.

Project Beauty luncheon – Project Beauty’s March luncheon will be at 12:30 p.m. March 21 at the Spiritual Life Center, 7100 E. 45th St. North. The speaker will be Lon Smith, executive director of the Kansas Aviation Museum. Guests are welcome and can make reservations by calling June at 316-744-0792 by March 18. Cost is $17.

Fairy house competition – Botanica will have a contest for best fairy house or gnome home made out of natural materials. The entries will be displayed during the Tulips, Fairies & Friends event in the Downing Children’s Garden from March 23 to April 13. Entries are due by April 12. For more information, go to the website, e-mail or call Gabby Brandt at 316-264-0448, ext. 110.

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