UPDATE April 2014: Due to the high demand and ungratefulness of some, I will no longer be offering free seeds and do not offer them for sale. I spent hours of my own time and took food out of my family’s mouth (literally), only to have people bitch and complain about the speed of my free service. No more. I will be offering them for sale in the future, once I catch up with the outstanding requests. Until then, my family will be enjoying the fruits of my labors, not the ungrateful masses that feel entitled. To the folks that truly showed their thanks, I appreciate you, but the few bad apples have spoiled it for the rest.
(Yes, FREE seeds!) A few years ago, I heard of a naturalized tomato found in the Everglades, and how, once established, it grew more like a weed than like a garden tomato. Thriving on neglect, and scoffing at the heat and drought, the Everglades tomatoes had a reputation of being the ideal year round crop for a lazy Florida gardener like myself.
Yes, I’m a lazy gardener. And here in Florida, if your garden gets water from a timed system (no user input needed), then you WILL have issues. Things like the plants have overgrown the beds and are spilling out into the yard. Sometimes those plants are weeds. (OK, for me that is MOST times) However, sometimes, it is the target plants that does this. This is the case of my Everglades tomatoes.
I’ve mentioned my raised beds before. I use three pieces of 2×8,10,or 12 inch untreated pine lumber. (Yes, it rots. Only takes about two years.) Two of the pieces are the long sides, the third piece is cut in two, for the short sides. This gives me a garden bed that is 4 feet by 8 feet. I use metal push-in stakes at each corner, and then install plastic poultry netting around the entire bed to prevent my ducks and chickens from eating all of my produce.
So I decided to trim it back. A LOT. Anything outside the fence was cut down. This left us with a large pile of future compost… but not before we picked through the pile of tomato branches to get all of the green tomatoes
The Everglades tomato is very prolific. We harvest tomatoes almost daily. Our single plant produces up to a pint of ripe tomatoes each day, each about the size of a marble. Not overly acidic, these have the flavor of tomatoes from a generation ago, when tomatoes actually had flavor.
Propagation from seeds is rather easy – drop a tomato into some dirt, and keep it watered. From cuttings it works about the same as seeds, only gives a strong plant much faster. Simply cut a branch off, stick it into the ground, and water it. You can use a rooting agent if you’d like, but I rarely do.
Rooting some cuttings was the method we used to get some Everglades tomatoes to BlueTang. I took four cuttings, and wrapped the cut ends in a wet paper towel for the trip to his place. Once there, we stuck them into some potting soil, and he kept them watered. In a few months, he won’t have to buy tomatoes ever again.
Well, as long as he doesn’t want “slicers”. The only downfall for these little guys – making a sliced tomato sandwich it pretty difficult. I’ve yet to find sliced bread that small 😛
So here is what I am offering to my readers. (New request – subscribe to my mailing list, please. Subscription box is in the right column near the top of the page under the red box.) Email me db at floridahillbilly dot com to get my address. Then send me a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) and I’ll put 5-15 seeds into a small package (made from your outside envelope more than likely!) and mail it back to you in your provided SASE. You can then start growing your very own Everglades tomatoes. Cost :your stamps and envelopes and my time. No other charge.
(March 1, 2014 Update: I have sent all of the dried seeds I had stockpiled and I am waiting on more tomatoes to ripen to get more seeds to send out. I currently have over 200 pending requests to be filled due to an article published in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel in late January. I’ve sent out over 300 requests in the last 30 days! With our local weather in the 70s-80’s each day, I should be caught up in about a month. I will fill requests in the order they arrive, and as my tomatoes ripen. Keep in mind these tomatoes are also for my family’s consumption, so don’t be upset if it takes several weeks to get to your request.)
Call it my way of helping you help yourself. That way, we all win!
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As always, please “like” FloridaHillbilly on Facebook, subscribe to my feed, follow me on Twitter, add it to Google+, Pinterest, Linkdn, Digg, and/or tell your friends! The more folks that learn self reliance, the fewer folks that will call you up to bother you about taking them spearfishing.
Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and your price is the same, no matter what.