Yesterday the poor UPS guy rattled up my pot-holed driveway and dropped a package. I was not expecting anything, so I was surprised to see it was my order of grafted tomatoes. When I ordered them I chose the latest shipping date, May 15, because tomatoes usually don’t go into the ground here until end of May, so it was a surprise to see them arrive right on the 15th.
They came in a cardboard shipping container with a plastic insert inside. It is designed to hold three tomatoes, which explains why why they have to be ordered in multiples of three. When you open the end of the box and slide out the insert, you see three plants neatly package and identified with little planting markers. You can see I chose a Big Beef, a Juliet and a Cherokee Purple.
The bottom section of the holder unsnaps and folds away from the root balls. The plants are grown in a fiber sleeve they claim is biodegradable. It looked to me like some kind of spun-bond fiber landscape fabric. It may be biodegradable but you wonder how long does that take? Since I saw a lot of roots growing right through the fiber, I decided not to worry, but I did clip the fabric that extended above the root ball so it wouldn’t wick moisture away.
The plants were pretty dry and a bit wilted, but not fatally so. I suspect this is done intentionally so they can fold the plants over into the container without snapping a stem. The instructions say to soak in water for 5-10 minutes before planting. Since they can not go outside yet, I put them into 18-ounce solo cups with McEnroe planting mix. I am also keeping them out of direct sun for a few days so they can recover and not get sun scald. They sure look kind of fragile. The white sticks you see were part of the grafting clip that is placed over the joint to hold the scion and rootstock together while the joint knits together.
In a few weeks, my trial of grafted tomatoes will begin. I am going to grow both grafted and un-grafted versions of the Big Beef and Juliet tomatoes to compare results. I purchased a cell 4-pack of Big Beef and potted them up into solo cups. This should be interesting. Below you can see two of the contenders, my ungrafted Big Beef on the left and the grafted plant on the right. It is kind of unfair to compare them now since the grafted plant is a little beat up right now. The transplants I bought from Applefield Farm are just beautiful, strong plants. We’ll see if the grafted plant can catch up and exceed.