Grafting Tomatoes: Off with Their Heads!

We grow lots of lovely heirloom tomatoes in our summer greenhouses (they are really the same greenhouses as our “winter greenhouses” it is just the season that is the difference). These old fashioned tomatoes have great flavor but they do not usually produce as well as the hybridized varieties. Over the last several years many commercial tomato growers that we know have started grafting their favorite tomato varieties onto a very hardy and vigorously growing tomato root stock. It seems fancy and high fallutin’ but it is really kinda fun. First you proclaim “Off with their heads!” as you see here in this photo to the left.

Then you connect the “head” of the plant that produced the fruit that you love onto the stem of the vigorous root ( you cut off that head too, but just tossed it unceremoniously into the compost bucket). These funny little plastic clips keep the two pieces together as they heal and fuse. It certainly takes more time to create these seedlings, but we think it is worth it. We have a very good success rate with our grafts.

We have to pamper the newly grafted plants for 4 or 5 days. We make a dark little place for them and put plastic domes over the trays to keep the humidity really high. In a few weeks they will be ready to plant into a larger pot and soon after that they will go to their final destination in one of our greenhouses.

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