161. Grafting Organic Tomatoes for Market | David Wolverton Returns | Arlee, MT

Welcome to episode 160 (oops! Should be 161!) of the Organic Gardener Podcast! Today I am excited to introduce a returning guest from episode 70, so almost 100 episodes ago, he dropped golden seed after golden seed, so I know listeners are going to hear from David Wolverton from Arlee, Montana!

Last time we talked about tomatoes, and grafting them and growing them in cold areas, and also the Farmer’s Market, when you decided to go back to the Farmer’s Market after taking a break to take care of you parents, you asked what do you need? I think that’s a great tip to listeners, ask what does your market need, don’t just say I want to grow mushrooms, or eggplants, like ask what does the market need, and they told you tomatoes, and also they said do something about the price.

I met you because I saw someone with tomatoes and said how are you getting tomatoes in June and they said they got them from you… and you were starting them in December, and so I am reaching out to you know because it’s December to see what you are up to…

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m retired, as you mentioned I took care of my parents, that pulled me out of the workforce, but then I wanted something to do, and I asked what would be a nice contribution to the community as well as keep me entertained?  The farmers market was what I was doing so I thought that would be good. And as you mentioned, what am I doing, well I am just getting organized …

Today I start tomatoes again, I start for this upcoming season, it seems kind of early but I grow for my own greenhouse plus I graft of other people, who raise tomatoes in green houses….

Not Hydroponic

I need to add immediately, these are not hydroponic… I do not do hydroponic for greenhouses, nor do these other people, we grow in dirt, real honest to goodness dirt, we think that is key to having a much better flavored tomatoes.

Hydroponics have their place in the winter nothing better then a hydroponically grown Missoula, but when the season exists it’s better to have them growing in the natural way with the soil… so that’s what we do, the grafting as well as the hoop houses we use allows for a much more expanded season… So the target this year is to have tomatoes at the market in May, I didn’t pull it off last year, but  I actually had one grower, he did…. he had fresh homegrown tomatoes in May for the farmer’s market.

Wait so are you growing these from seeds, or growing them from grafts?

Grafted Tomato Vine Advantages

…. Vegetables there are Never-less some advantages.

One of the advantages is, the grafted tomato vine lasts much longer…. in hydroponic they do use grafted plants…. that doesn’t make sense because in a greenhouse keep perfect temp but they still use grafts because it enhances longevity of the vine, they get a lot more production, they don’t have to replace in such a rapid cycle as they would normally.

For those of us that just grow seasonally the advantages are a grafted tomatoes plant is they have better cold resistance, they aren’t frost resistant… cooler soils aren’t nearly the problem

  • better cold resistance
  • productivity is higher
  • vines last longer
  • overall benefit is tremendous

Those who I have grown grafted plants don’t want to grow the ungifted plants now, they do prefer grafted plants as I have discovered…

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