Tomato talk gives tips to gardeners

Published 11:55 am Friday, July 15, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Tomato enthusiasts participated in the Chilton County Extension Office’s tomato workshop at the Jemison Municipal Complex on July 14. Members of the extension staff had a presentation, conducted a lab and taste testing of different types of tomatoes from attendee’s gardens.

The extension office held some basic background tomato classes in St. Clair and Elmore counties just when tomatoes in the region were coming into season. Chilton County was then chosen for the advanced class due its central location.

“That was kind of preseason, how to grow and produce the tomatoes properly,” Home Grounds Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelley said. “This is more or less a follow-up where they can actually see the disease and insects in real life.”

Kelley and fellow Home Grounds Regional Extension Agent Bethany O’Rear showed attendees the various diseases, parasites and insects that affect tomato plants and how to get rid of them. They also showed how to properly read a label on a product they would use on a tomato plant, where to find active ingredients in products and how to scout for insects. Examples of different diseases in tomatoes were on hand for a visual.

“Overall, just methods to better your production success,” Kelley said. “It was more of a hands-on type of experience. We call it advanced because you are taking it to that next level of tomato gardening in your backyard.”

Over 25 people attended the class.

“It is always neat to be here,” Renea Majors said. “We really enjoyed it today, it was great.”

Majors, and her husband Hybart, said learning about the different types of diseases the tomatoes could get was really helpful to learn. The couple plans to take what they learned in the class and apply it to their own garden at home.

“We have problems and issues with ours and did not know exactly what they were,” Majors said. “This really helped.”

The class also learned how to graft tomato plants. Grafting is taking two plants and cutting a 45-degree angle in the stems, then connecting the two separate parts with a plastic clip. Grafting could be done to grow a certain variety of tomato and give the plant more resistance and strength against diseases.

“(Tomatoes) is about all we do,” Hybart Majors said. “We mess around with a little bit of stuff, but mainly we try to grow as much of those as possible.”

Lunch was served with help from members of the Chilton County Master Gardeners and BLTs were on special. The Master Gardeners made tomato-based desserts such as green tomato cake, fresh tomato spice cake and tomato Bundt Cake.

Regional Extension Agent David Lawrence and County Extension director Lucy Edwards were in attendance as well.

“We are just trying to teach people about tomatoes and how they can be more successful in their own backyard,” Kelley said.

The Chilton County Extension Office is planning more classes in the upcoming months.