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By Jon Hammond
contributing writer 

Vine-ripened Tomatoes: the home gardener's delight

Tehachapi Gardener's Choice


May 11, 2024

Provided by Jon Hammond.

A sprig of mint has many different potential uses.

The best vegetables for home gardeners to plant are those that are hard to find in stores, like unusual varieties, or those whose flavor is most enhanced by being allowed to fully ripen before picking. These include melons like cantaloupes, honeydews and others, and of course one of the most treasured garden delights: tomatoes.

You can buy tomatoes in the store year-round, of course, but they tend to thick walled, not very juicy, and not particularly flavorful. Varieties developed for commercial production are often tough, durable and produce most of their tomatoes all at once so the whole field can be picked just one time – all qualities that mean little to a home gardener.

Tomatoes are at their very best when they are left on the vine as long as possible, then carefully picked and brought inside to be eaten when they are fully ripe and delicious.

You can grow wonderful tomatoes in the Tehachapi Mountains, but there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid if possible. To begin with, choose several different varieties and either grow your own tomato plants from seed or purchase starter plants from a nursery. Since the danger of a killing frost is likely past by now, transplants can be safely put in the ground.

It's good to include at least one type of cherry tomato, since they often have intense flavor and are very productive. Plant all varieties in full sun as much as possible – shaded plants won't produce many tomatoes. They should have at least seven hours of direct sun, and if they don't get it, there's really nothing you can do to make them productive vines.

It's best to water deeply about twice a week, but don't overwater – this is one of the most common mistakes that home tomato growers make. They end up with large, flourishing dark green vines and not many blossoms or fruit. Don't subject them to drought either, however, or they may develop a calcium deficiency that results in a leathery brown or black spot at the bottom of the tomatoes.

Tend your tomato vines, and you will be rewarded with delicious, succulent, juicy mountain tomatoes.


Botanical name: Solanum lycopersicum


Starting: Transplanted from a container.

Size: From two to six feet.

Exposure: Full sun.

Watering: Deep watering twice a week in summer.


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