This Tomato Tasting Goes to ELEVEN!


We moved the tasting a few weeks to adjust for the crazy spring weather and we nearly hit the bull’s eye of peak tomato ripeness!  We had over 50 varieties represented at the lovely patio of the Local Pig’s new location in the City Market!  We didn’t vote this year, but I heard lots of comments about Purple Dog Creek, Black Cherry, Sunrise Bumblebee, and Carbon of course!  We had some great dishes at the potluck table including a delicious tomato tart, peach and tomato cobbler,  a roasted zucchini bread panzanella,  and a lovely tomato Salmorejo that was like drinking a garden!


At high noon we had the Third Annual Slow Food KC “BLT Challenge”!  First place winner was Katie Clausen, Second place went to Jennifer Nugent, and Third Place went to Ed Maurin. Congratulations to all the contestants!

Slow Food KC also held a raffle with prizes donated by so many awesome chefs and restaurants around KC!  Thank you so much for all the donations and to those that purchased tickets. We appreciate your donations!  Here’s the list of the raffle winners.

Two tickets to the October 7 Waldo Thai dinner:  Jeremiah F.

$50 Jasper’s Ristorante Gift Certificate:  Ed M.

Crane Brewing Gift Box:  Ed M.

Two Tickets to a Local Pig Butchering Class:  Beth S.

Omakase for Two at Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos:  Marianne V.

Dinner for Two at Freshwater:  Jim Y.

$50 Gift Certificate to Brookside Poulty Co. :  Julie D.

$50 Gift Certificate to Porto Do Dul:  Rachel E.

Jude’s Rum Cake Package:  Lindsay H.

Martin City Taproom Gift Certificate:  Julie D.

The Tasteful Olive Gift Bag:  Emily C.

Lunch for Two at Affare:  Kim L.


Leave a Comment

The ELEVENTH Annual Tomato Tasting and much, much more!


Well, needless to say this has been very different growing year!  With the heavy rains in May, the peak of tomato variety ripeness will be a bit later this year I think.  For this reason, we’re moving the date of the 11th Annual Tomato Tasting to Sunday, August 18th.  more details on that to follow.


We’re going to start the KCTT Totally Tomato week off on Thursday, August 15th at Rose Hill Garden’s Courtyard event space.  This is located in Martin City and is a lovely venue for a very special night.  I am partnering with Cindy Reynolds of Somerset Ridge Winery and Chef Brett Atkinson of Indulge Catering to bring you a true tasting of summer with an Heirloom Tomato Experience!!!!  I’ll be doing an in-depth instruction and evaluation session with several varieties of tomatoes.  We’ll learn about each variety and sample them to learn about their unique colors, textures, and flavor profiles.  Chef Brett will be creating at least three tomato themed small plate dishes for you to sample and each one will be paired with wines from Somerset Ridge.  This special event will cost $50 per person and will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Seating is limited.  This is an adults only event.  Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.


The following evening on August 16th, we’ll have our annual KCTT tomato dinner at Jasper’s Ristorante.  Chef Jasper Mirabile will astound our palates with a full course of tomato themed Italian dishes.  We’ve done this dinner for several years and he always delivers some creative, beautiful, and delicious cuisine!  The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Cost will be $45 for Slow Food KC members and $50 for non Slow Food KC members.  A portion of the proceeds will go toward’s Slow Food KC‘s efforts to promote local gardens, chefs, and other charitable groups that meet our mission.  Call 816-941-6600 to make reservations for this dinner.  Seating is limited.


Sunday morning 9 a.m – 11 a.m., August 18th we’ll have our 11th Annual KCTT Tomato Tasting at The Local Pig.  The location has changed to the City Market and I think everyone is going to love the new space.  There is plenty of parking within a 2-3 minute walk.  The patio is large with plenty of seating, shade, and fans to keep us more comfortable.  This event is free of charge and family friendly!  Please, please, please bring any ripe tomato varieties you may have at the time to add to the diversity of the tasting table.   The very popular potluck table is only successful because of all of you that bring those tomato themed dishes for folks to share.  We welcome all comers to the tasting, but really love those that bring what they can to share with fellow tomato lovers! Recipe cards are always welcome if you can provide them.



At high noon on Sunday the 18th we’ll have our Third Annual Slow Food KC BLT Challenge!  This is a fundraiser for Slow Food KC and there are many ways to participate!  Click the following links for all the information!  2019 Slow Food KC’s BLT

2019 Slow Food KC’s BLT Challenge (2)

BLT Challenge (1)


Leave a Comment

So much rain…this can cause problems


This rain is just ridiculous.  Tomato plants like to be dry and  warm and they are not getting any of either for a while it seems.  This causes several problems, but you can help solve them a little and keep your plants healthy until the weather warms up and dries up.

Fungal problems like blight, septoria, and fusarium can kill plants quickly especially if the plants are fairly small.  you should prune any leaves that look like they are yellowing, spotted or turning brown.  This can help to keep things from spreading up the plant.  You will likely need to start some kind of fungicide schedule as well.  Spray your plants as soon as the rain stops and then re-apply after more rains.

Options for spraying run the gamut from organic to nuclear.  Liquid copper is the most commonly used organic spray.  Daconil is not organic, but is pretty mild and works well.  Mancozeb is a zinc based fungicide that works very well.  Make sure you follow the mixing and application directions for whatever product you decide to use.  Diligent spraying and pruning are essential to maintain plant health in this weather.

These heavy rains will likely wash a lot of nutrients out of your soil.  Hopefully you fertilized when you planted and that should help matters.  I would recommend fertilizing again very soon due to the heavy rains…especially if your are in containers.  Tomatotone is a great product and is organic, but a good 13-13-13 wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace what the rains have washed away.

Lets hope things dry out and warm up soon!




Comments (2)

Open sales are over, but plants still available

If you still need plants, need replacement plants, or know of charity gardens needing plants, please e-mail me at to schedule a time to get those gardens filled!

Leave a Comment

Soggy Soil…more sale dates


Well this Spring is lovely for growing lettuces, radishes, spinach and the like, but they are calling for a wind chill in the 30’s with low temperatures in the low 40’s tomorrow morning….crazy!  The heavy rains have kept a lot of you out of the gardens and you are wise to stay out of the wet soil.  Working wet soil is a recipe for disaster.  The water logged soil will turn hard as concrete if you walk in it or dig it or try to till it.  Best to wait until things dry out a bit before planting.

Because of this, I am extending my plant sales for another week.  I’ll be open this Saturday from 8-noon and then again on the 18th from 8-noon.  I’ll be available most any time during next week also, just let me know if you want to stop by and we can work out a time to fit your schedule

I still have plenty of plants left and they are looking great!  Out of a few types, but a great selection still!  2019 Greenhouse Flyer Final

My address is 215 East 97th Street, KCMO.



Leave a Comment

Spring is here…or is it?


Wow…what a crazy winter!  The past few days have been fabulous though and I’m sure everyone is itching to do some gardening.  My early season crops are growing slowly under their row covers and we’re anxiously awaiting the first salads of the year….soon!

On the tomato and pepper front…good news and bad news.  The good news is my tomato seedlings are all potted up and look fantastic!   I have a record number of varieties and they are all on pace to be super hardy and healthy for planting in early May.  The bad news is with the peppers this year.  I used a new seed starting mix this year and I believe it was infested with fungus gnat eggs.  I did all I could to fight them off in February and March, but they really weakened  a lot of pepper plants and killed quite a few of them.  I will have some pepper plants available, but not quite the selection and not quite the size that I hoped.

I’ve tweaked the list a little bit as I found some varieties of plants I missed initially.  Please use this copy of my list as a reference for your plants this year.

2019 Greenhouse Flyer Final

Plant sales will be the following dates:

My home address is 215 East 97th Street, KCMO

April 19:  5 7 p.m. (plants will likely be small on this date, but if you want some of the rare varieties this is your best date to shop.).

April 20: Not open for sales, but come to the Discovery Center and get some free native plants and trees!

April 21:  8 a.m. to Noon

April 25: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

April 26:  5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

April 27: 8 a.m. to Noon

May 3:  5 p.m to 7 p.m.

May 4:  8 a.m. to Noon

May 11:  8 a.m. to Noon

Comments (14)

2019 Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant and Herb List


Well winter has to be over soon right?  This snow and ice and cold has been a pain, but spring and summer will get here before you know it!  I’ve been a bit crazy this winter and ordered a LOT of new varieties of tomato and pepper seeds!  This year I have a record 156 types of tomato seeds sown!  Have fun sorting through the list by clicking the link below.  The tomato and peppers are hyperlinked so click on them and learn about each type as you make your list.

Copy of Copy of 2019greenhouseflyer (1).docx


Plant sales will tentatively be the following dates:

My home address is 215 East 97th Street, KCMO

April 19:  5 7 p.m. (plants will likely be small on this date, but if you want some of the rare varieties this is your best date to shop.).

April 20: Not open for sales, but come to the Discovery Center and get some free native plants and trees!

April 21:  8 a.m. to Noon

April 25: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

April 26:  5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

April 27: 8 a.m. to Noon

May 3:  5 p.m to 7 p.m.

Later dates may be announced




Comments off

Totally Tomato Weekend SUCCESS!!!


My head is spinning after 2 radio shows, 2 TV shows, a fantastic dinner at Jasper’s, the Tenth Annual Tomato Tasting and the Second Annual Slow food KC BLT Challenge at The Local Pig, and finally the Bloody Mary/Michelada/Seafood/Tomato brunch at Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos  and the drawing for the Ultimate BLT basket raffle to benefit Slow Food KC! We made it through all the festivities and everyone had a great time!

Friday morning I did a show at KSHB to promote the weekend’s event.

The dinner at Jasper’s was sold out with 52 people in attendance.  We started with heirloom tomato bruschetta, then had arancini stuffed with tomatoes, a superb lobster tomato bisque cappuccino, then a lovely pasta con cucuzza with tomatoes, the fabulous tableside mozzarella theater, a fantastic chicken dish with prosciutto, tomatoes, and cheese, and to top it all off a Bader Peach/Heirloom Tomato cobbler with vanilla gelato!  The service was outstanding, everything was delicious and very filling…we all waddled out of there so satisfied!

(Jasper’s Photos Courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray, food & travel writer)

Saturday morning we gathered at the Local Pig for the Tenth Annual Tomato Tasting!  We had 58 varieties of tomatoes to sample thanks to so many amazing gardeners bringing in tomatoes from their gardens!  It was tough to count, but we surely had over 200 people visit the tasting tables and the delicious dishes people brought to share.  Sungold and Carbon tied for first in the voting followed by Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, and The Thong!  It was so good to see so many people enjoying the tastes of summer.  It was especially nice to see our great friends we have made through the world of tomatoes!  Thank you to all who have supported this event for a decade!


The Slow Food KC BLT Challenge followed the tasting.  We had a panel of 5 judges, and 8 contestants.  The BLT entrees were all so creative and beautiful, but three rose to the top in the judging.  The winner was Ed Maurin aka “Fast Eddie”, second place went to Brett Atkinson from “Wilma’s Real Good Food”, and third place went to the lovely Jennifer Nugent!

Jarocho in KCK was packed full for the Sunday morning brunch!  So many delicious seafood items including whole fried pompano, cucaracha shrimp, raw oysters, ceviche, and many others.  Chef Carlos created a BST…bacon, shrimp, and tomato sandwich for diners to enjoy.  the “crack” fries were stupid good and the bloody mary’s and micheladas were so refreshing!

When we were all stuffed full of all that seafood, we had the drawing for the winner of the Ultimate BLT Basket.  This was a fundraiser for Slow Food KC and all items were donated by local establishments and individuals.  Thank you so much to Jasper’s Ristorante, The Local Pig, The Tasteful Olive, Paradise Meats, Rieger Distillery, Karen Adler, Chad Tillman, and all the awesome Slow Food volunteers that made this a success.  The grand prize winner was the oyster queen of Kansas City…Carol Crane!!!

We’re already planning for a bigger and better Totally Tomato Weekend next year!  Mark your calendars for the first weekend in August and stay tuned!

Comments (1)

10th annual Tomato Tasting and the 2018 BLT Challenge


Summer is here with a vengeance and the tomato plants are doing fairly well considering the crazy weather.  We had good fruit set in late May and early June, but fruit isn’t setting much now due to the high temperatures.  No matter the weather, we’ll have some great varieties to sample at the TENTH ANNUAL TOMATO TASTING at the Local Pig!  It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for a decade now!  Wow!

The event is free of charge and open to the public as always.  We’ll start at 9 a.m. on August 4th at the Local Pig.  All I ask of those who attend is to bring labeled varieties of tomatoes for people to sample, and/or delicious tomato related goodies for people to share.  We’ve had some amazing dishes at this popular potluck each year and I’m looking forward to more deliciousness again this year!  It’s not required, but you can RSVP at the Facebook page here.


We will again be having a “BLT Challenge” at 1:00 pm. on August 4th at the Local Pig.  The primary purpose of this event is to raise funds for Slow Food KC‘s charitable efforts to promote local charity and educational gardens and other projects that promote local growers and chefs.  Adults can participate in three different ways this year; as a competitor, as a judge, or as a BLT connoisseur at the new BLT sampling station.

The costs for these events will be $10 to enter the competition, $25 to judge the competition, or $10 to get 4 samples at the BLT sampling station.  There will be a maximum limit of 24 competitors and 24 judges.  The number of sampling station tickets will depend on the number of entries received.

For information on how to be a judge/and or competitor, please open the following page:

2018 BLT Challenge Official Rules and Information 

I look forward to seeing you all on August 4th!





Leave a Comment

Planting a bed of tomato plants

Ok…haven’t done many new gardening blog posts in a while as I’ve covered most everything I do at some point over the past decade.  I’ve refined my tomato planting techniques a bit this year and decided to do a tutorial on how I grow tomatoes in my Kansas City backyard.

I’m a firm believer in using compost to fill my raised beds.  I do not use manures or topsoil as these are sometimes a crapshoot (pun intended) and can lead to more problems than they ever help solve.  Good  FULLY composted yard waste from a local source is your best soil builder always.  When starting a new bed I mix 8 parts of compost with 1 part peat, one part perlite, and one part vermiculite by the shovel full and have had excellent results for many years with this mix.  I top dress the beds each year with a wheelbarrow or two of straight compost and lightly till it in to the existing soil.  Never step foot in your beds as this compacts the soil.

My wooden raised beds are 4 foot wide, 12 inches tall and have various lengths. I use copper treated lumber and found these to last about 8-10 years before they need additional support or complete replacement.  I am now replacing these old wooden beds with galvanized metal beds that are absolutely beautiful and built to last much longer than my lifetime.  I have 5 of them now and will be adding a bed or two to the garden each year as I can afford it.  They are very expensive, but are well worth the money.  They go together easily with a couple of wrenches.  If you’re looking to make an excellent investment in your garden…I highly recommend them!

Ok…on to the tomato planting!  You must mulch your tomato plants in some form.  Straw works well. Grass clippings are ok.  I prefer plastic silver reflective mulch film for many reasons.  Plastic does an excellent job of retaining moisture and eliminating weeds.  Plastic also allows you to control your watering with drip irrigation.  When we have heavy thunderstorms, the excess water runs off of the plastic and keeps you from having split fruit problems when the plant takes up too much water. The most important thing the silver film does is bounce light under the leaves of your plants.  This keeps aphids and hornworms from having a shady place to hide!  I’ve NEVER had a hornworm (knock on wood) since using this silver film!  Bonus effect of using the silver film is that you can see your garden from space!  The next time Google Earth updates their pictures, your gardens will shine from the heavens!

I start by laying the silver film over my entire bed and anchoring it at each end to hold it in place


I use a box cutter to cut an X over the spot I want each plant to go.  Space your plants 3 feet apart to ensure they have plenty of room for air circulation and are not competing with each other for soil nutrients.  I then insert a garden staple to mark the location of the center of the X so I know where to put my plant.

I then remove the film and add about two big handfuls of Tomato Tone fertilizer to the spot where I am going to plant  This will get mixed into the soil as you dig your hole.


Your tomato plant needs to be planted DEEPLY!  Pinch off any of the leaves below the growing tip and bury the plant with just the top leaves sticking out of the ground.  Use your fingers to do this instead of scissors as this closes the wound better.  the pic on the left shows a Carbon plant before pruning.  The pic on the right is after I have pinched off the lower leaves.

We have cutworms in the area.  If you haven’t had problems with them yet…you will at some point.  The cutworm is a grub that lives underground during the day and roams the surface of the soil at night looking for tomato plants to eat.  When they find your plant, they wrap their bodies around it and chop it down like a lumberjack!  Then they crawl off, burrow underground and sleep off their delicious meal.  To prevent this from happening, you need to use a cutworm collar.  I have had great results using the cups I grow my plants in as the collar.  Just cut off the bottom of the cup with some scissors and slide it over the plant as you put it in the ground.  When the cutworm crawls around, he hits your cup edge, then goes around it looking for something else.  He won’t climb up into it…they are not good climbers.

Dig your hole deep enough to bury the plant up to the level above where you pruned.  Mix the fertilizer in the soil as you dig.  Slide that collar over the plant and fill the cup and the surrounding hole with soil.

Water your plants in VERY WELL right after planting.  Use a watering can or a hose turned on slowly to allow at least a gallon or more of water to soak into the soil around each plant.  This helps to reduce transplant shock.  Make sure none of the leaves are touching the soil.  Water your plants once every 7-10 days after that and throughout the summer.  Watering more than this can cause your plant to be more susceptible to diseases and will make for watery tasting fruit.

I prefer to use drip irrigation to water my plants.  I have 4 rain barrels attached to the gutters of my house which provides me with 200 gallons of chlorine free, warm water to deliver to my plants.  I use soaker dripline with emitters spaced every 9 inches and lay two lines of this next to my plants.


After the plants are watered in well and my dripline is installed, I cover the whole bed with the film making sure none of the plant leaves touch the plastic.


After the film is installed, I put my cages over the top of it.  I use concrete reinforcing wire cages and a T-stake and zip ties as one method, but I far prefer the Texas Tomato Cages!  These again are very pricey, but will last forever and are very easy to install.  Purchase the medium sized ones, not the large.  They have built in stake feet that slide right through the film and into the soil.  They also fold flat for easy storage after tomato season is done.


Well…there you have it  Now get out there and plant those tomatoes!

Leave a Comment

« Newer Posts · Older Posts »