Gardening class to teach how to grow tomatoes at home

Published 11:54 pm Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gardeners trying to perfect the homegrown tomato this season may not need to look much further.

The Beaufort County Cooperative Extension Office is holding its first ever tomato-grafting workshop on Wednesday. With the help of horticulture agent Gene Fox and PhD. student Jonathon Kresin from N.C. State University, Beaufort County residents can learn how to grow quality tomatoes right at home.

“People can expect to relearn how to grow tomatoes in their home gardens. The goal is to equip them with the tools that they need to graft and be ready to grow come spring,” Fox said.

Grafting is the technique of joining two or more plants together so they appear to grow as one. Gene said it could help diminish bacterial issues in the soil and lead to healthier plants.

 “Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants… Folks grow those crops and they think they’re rotating their crops, but they’re not. They’re from the same family. They’re susceptible to the same diseases. By not rotating your crops, you may end up getting bacterial diseases called bacterial wilt,” Fox said. “Those things prevent many home gardeners from being able to grow good tomatoes.”

Fox, who is leading the class, said tomatoes are the most asked-about topic he receives, so he thought this class would be a well-received idea from residents.

“It was really interesting in that one of the things that I find [most] problems in homeowner gardens is tomatoes. It is always, always tomatoes,” Fox said.

Without proper care and grafting techniques, gardeners may never be able to be grow the perfect tomato they are hoping for. He said once tomatoes develop the bacterial and soil diseases, there is almost no cure for it.

“You can’t get an ‘icide’ for it. There’s an ‘icide’ for everything. But you can’t go get an ‘icide’ to take care of it — you’re stuck with it,” Fox said.

The class will feature a classroom portion, where students will learn the purpose of grafting and how to do it, paired with a hands-on session where they will actually get to graft their own tomatoes in class.

Fox said it’s a great way to stay on track with growing so gardeners can harvest tasty tomatoes by the summertime.

“This is a way when you can grow a variety of things with no diseases no whatsoever,” Fox said.