I’m so embarrassed. I promised myself I would never pay $8.00 for a grafted tomato plant, even though I’d seen them advertised in several 2013 seed catalogs. Grafted plants belong in the fruit orchard, not the Tomato Patch—right? And aren’t I a really Frugal Gardener with 10 packets of tomato seeds costing a dime each?
Then I read a short article favoring grafted tomato plants by Barbara Damrosch. But I still resisted. Then a friend, Eva S., of California, sent me another article from USA Today saying—and I paraphrase—that grafted tomatoes are the best thing in a century to happen to tomatoes.
Well, with a smile I’ll confess that I haven’t paid $8.00 for a grafted tomato plant. I’ve just ordered three from Burpee for $22.95 plus $8.95 shipping/handling for a total of $31.90. Oops, that’s $10.64 a plant. Certainly you chuckle and maybe even understand.
What’s a grafted tomato plant? Think of a grafted apple tree—with sturdy root stock and a grafted scion or top of a favored variety. For a grafted tomato plant, the root stock is of a vigorous, pest-resistant variety and the scion is a more delicate variety—often a flavorful heirloom variety.
The result is a plant that grows and produces vigorously. Most growers claim their grafted heirloom varieties yield two, three, or four times the amount of fruit that non-grafted plants produce.
I’ve ordered one each of three old-time favorites—Brandywine Pink, Mortgage Lifter, and Rutgers. I’ll let you know how this experiment works out as this year’s tomato season progresses.
In the meantime, you may want to educate yourself in the pluses and minuses of growing grafted tomatoes. Here are links to Chuck Raasch’s article, “Graft and production: Super tomatoes pay off on the table,” in USA Today and Barbara Damrosch’s article, “The benefits of grafted tomatoes,” in the Washington Post. The USA Today link is especially interesting because it contains both the print article and a short video. You’ll also find detailed explanations of the grafted plants in some of this year’s seed catalogs.
I’m genuinely excited about grafted tomato plants. I guess I never should have said “Never.” But will I have buyer’s remorse? Stay tuned.