It's National Agriculture Week!
Celebrate with a fun fact for the Day…
Did you know?
The humble tomato ranks fourth as the most popular veggie (following potatoes, lettuce, and onions). Americans consume about 23 pounds of tomatoes per year (yes, that's counting ketchup). There are 25,000 different varieties of tomatoes! How incredible?! Not only that, but you can choose between hybrid and heirloom varieties. Heirlooms are a blast from the past packing enormous amounts of flavor, while hybrids tend to offer more disease control.
In Tennessee, tomatoes rank as the number one veggie crop produced in the state, producing about 35,000 acres on about 1,500 farms. Grainger County leads production, but Washington and Unicoi are not far behind…Fresh Market sales have increased in the last several years with many folks producing and selling directly to the consumer through Farmer’s Market venues or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s). Greenhouse and high tunnel production are also on the rise. This trend facilitates an extended season so tomatoes can be enjoyed fresh for a few more months beyond the typical growing dates.
Markets differ throughout the state, depending on your taste and preference. Some opt for the infamous (fried) green tomatoes; some prefer the Romas or San Marzanos for canning up some thick paste and sauces to get through the winter. Some just wanna big ole slicer to yield a fresh BLT, and yet still some prefer the tiny tims to toss in salads. Whatever your preference, you are sure to find what suits your taste buds. Be sure to visit your local Farmer’s Markets to explore some different varieties. The Depot Street Market in Greeneville will certainly have a delectable assortment to please every palette. They may even offer up white, purple, and orange types.
If growing your own tomatoes is what you prefer, count on your local UT Extension Agent or Master Gardeners to answer any questions you may have on producing your best and most bountiful crop. We are here to assist you with production (both organic and conventional), pest control, and even harvesting tips and canning classes!
The Big Spring Master Gardener Association hosts an annual plant sale each spring at the Greene County Fairgrounds. This year many varieties of transplants will be sold on Saturday, May 6th from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM...come early; we sell out FAST! Several Master Gardeners passionate about producing perfect tomatoes will be available to offer advice throughout the day...and if you miss the sale, there are plenty of folks around Greene County growing some healthy, local transplants for your garden!
And one last thing…
Don’t miss out the annual Tomato Festival celebrated in Grainger County each year in late July. You’ll learn lots about the humble tomato, and may even get a sample or two…