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Grafted Tomatoes

Last summer, I took a garden tour and one of the garden owners told me “You won’t be able to get any tomato that is not grafted with a couple years.”  I don’t think that is quite true, but I do believe there are a lot of benefits to be gained from growing grafted tomatoes.

A grafted vegetable is created when the top part of one plant is attached to the root stock of another plant.  Grafting has been used for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that grafting vegetables became widespread. The rootstock is produced either from seed or by vegetative cutting at the same time as the top part is seeded.  The top of the root stock is cut off, the roots of the top part are cut off, they are joined by hand with a small clip and they are given special temperature and water treatment to make them grow together, forming one plant.

The main benefit of grafting comes from using a root stock that is very vigorous and has disease-resistant qualities.  Vigorous root systems also allow for better uptake of water and nutrients resulting in a heavier yield. Some swear that they produce more veggies and they are all bigger.  This would be ideal for many heirloom tomatoes that normally produce fewer than 10 tomatoes on a regular seed grown plant. The price of grafted vegetables may make some gardeners balk - grafted tomato plants are going to cost from $10-$12 per plant as a result of the extensive labor put into each one.  But if the resulting plant produces twice as many tomatoes, that cost factor is far less important. 

I plan to try a couple grafted heirloom tomatoes this year. I look forward to having fewer yellow, dying leaves, and a ton more juicy tomatoes. I sincerely hope the variety  'Julia Child' is available...