Roots need oxygen to thrive, which is why you generally don’t want to plant roots too deep. But tomatoes are an exception.

“The thing with tomatoes is that you’ve got to plant them deep,” said Seron Yafuwi, who was working the booth for Grown From the Heart at a recent farmers’ market in Arroyo Grande.

Tomatoes are different from other plants in that they sprout roots along the buried stem. Those extra roots strengthen the plant so that it can support more fruit and so it can better survive hot weather. So, Yafuwi explained, when transferring a tomato plant, you want to make sure that 2/3 of the plant is buried. (See where she’s pointing in the photo above?)

Seron Yafuwi talks tomatoes with a customer at the Grown From the Heart booth at the Arroyo Grande Farmers' Market.

Seron Yafuwi talks tomatoes with a customer at the Grown From the Heart booth at the Arroyo Grande Farmers’ Market.

Grown From the Heart, owned by Serena Wyatt, offers starter plants that customers can transplant in their own gardens. Starter plants at Grown From the Heart include snap peas, spinach, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and, of course, tomatoes.

Since tomatoes are warm weather plants, this is a good time of year to get started on them in coastal areas. The tomatoes from Home Grown come in plastic planters, but you can put them in the ground now. If you want good, juicy tomatoes, you’ll need to consider the location.

“They need some sort of direct sunlight at least six hours a day,” Yafuwi said, standing near a binder marked “Tomato Varieties for 2016.” “You can put them in a window sill where you’re getting a lot of sun in the winter.”

Once planted, it can take 60-80 days before tomatoes appear.

“If you see flowers on your plants, and it’s not time yet, don’t get all excited,” Yafuwi said. “Just pinch your flowers off because you want to focus on creating good, strong foundation.”

For more tomato-growing tips, check out this piece from “Sunset” magazine. Meanwhile, stop by the Home Grown booth at the next farmers’ market.


Grown From the Heart sells starter plants at local farmers’ markets. Visit their booth at the farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo (Embassy Suites, 325 Madonna Rd.) Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.; Templeton (6th and Crocker streets) Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; Arroyo Grande (Smart & Final parking lot, 1464 E. Grand) Wednesdays between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.;  and Atascadero (former Albertson’s parking lot, El Camino Real and Curbaril) Wednesdays between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.