Tomatomania!: Where to Buy Unique Tomato Seedlings in SoCal

Make your winter veggie salads and more veggie so boring you’ve condescended to buying tasteless greenhouse tomatoes just to add one small color on your plate?

help is on the way. Tomatomania! is gearing up for 2022 with over 200 varieties of tomatoes and nearly 100 varieties of peppers available from February 25th at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar.

This annual touring show will visit nine SoCal locations between San Diego and Santa Barbara counties this year, with many strains still available at venues through May.

February can be chilly for planting tomatoes in inland Southern California, says Tomatomania! Owner Scott Daigre but not for the more temperate coastal regions where frost is rarely a problem.

Tomatoes are a warm-season crop that, like peppers and basil, require soil temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit to really grow with gusto. But if you’re longing to get started with your summer bounty, Daigre says your seedlings will do well in their 4-inch pots for a couple of weeks until the soil warms up. Just keep them watered in a warm, sunny spot.

A wooden bowl filled with red, green and yellow tomatoes.

A colorful sample of the more than 200 tomato varieties from Tomatomania!.

(Scott Daigre)

Growing tomatoes in containers can give you a head start, as the soil warms up much more quickly in pots. Just be sure to choose a large container for each plant, preferably at least 24 inches deep so the roots have plenty of room to grow, and place the pot in an area that gets at least six to eight hours of sun per day.

The biggest challenge at Tomatomania! decides which varieties to choose. And boy does Daigre have strains to offer, in a rainbow of colors like:

  • Bronze Torch, an elongated cherry variety and the 2022 Tomato of the Year
  • Saucy Mary, a striped, light green early plant
  • Paul Robeson, a black and red old beefsteak variety
  • Pinocchio, a deep orange heirloom Roma variety with a long, pointed end
  • Momotaro, a spicy pink-red Japanese hybrid

Bronze Torch, a hybrid named for its brick-red color with green and bronze stripes, does well in soil or containers, Daigre said, and produces tasty fruit in just 65 days.

“I traveled with little bundles of this tomato last year and asked people what they thought and my jaw dropped.”

Scott DaigreTomatomania! owner

Those are some of the criteria needed to be voted Tomato of the Year, he said. “We want to see good, solid production and good taste, and this one tastes fantastic. I was traveling with little bundles of this tomato last year asking people what they thought and this cherry made my jaw drop and my eyes widen [tomato] was so different and so good.”

Another bonus: Bronze Torch will start production in the spring and continue into the fall. “It went on in my garden [in Ojai] forever,” Daigre said. “I’ve done everything with them. … I have roasted them and made salsas and salads. It’s technically a cherry tomato, but it doesn’t have the sugar content of a Sungold, so the flavor is more complex. It’s very unique.”

Roger’s Gardens has made the choice a little easier by listing lots of Tomatomania! Varieties on his website. Orders must be picked up at the Corona del Mar store, but if that’s too far, you can at least get an idea of ​​what’s coming to a venue near you, Daigre said.

Where can you buy the unique varieties of Tomatomania! to buy?

Here are the upcoming sale dates, listed by county. Note that most venues (except Fig Earth Supply) will have extended sales after their first few weekends, with fewer choices but still a wide variety of plants.

That’s a great lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic, Daigre said. The sales of Tomatomania! used to be crowded events with workshops and long queues. Tomato lovers still wanted choice during the pandemic, but not the masses, he said, so Tomatomania! adjusted by creating special offers with over 200 varieties during the opening weekend and then offering a more limited selection for several weeks.

Los Angeles District

11-13 March
Fig Earth Supply, 3577 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closes at 4:00 p.m. on March 13).

18-20 March
Tapia Brothers Farm, 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave., Encino, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

Orange County

February 25 – March 6
Roger’s Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

County of San Diego

5th-6th March
Mission Hills Nursery, 1525 Fort Stockton Drive, San Diego, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m

Santa Barbara County

2nd of April
Seaside Gardens, 3700 Via Real, Carpinteria, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

Ventura County

11-12 March
Otto & Sons Nursery, 1835 E. Guiberson Road, Fillmore, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m

25-27 March
Underwood Farm Center, 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

April 1st
Wachter’s Hay & Grain, 114 S. Montgomery St., Ojai.

9th-10th April
Underwood Farm Market, 5696 E. Los Angeles Ave., Somis, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Tomatomania!: Where to Buy Unique Tomato Seedlings in SoCal

Russell Falcon

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