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Tips for an abundant summer harvest from Coastal Roots Farm

The farmers at Coastal Roots Farm are excited and honored to be participating in the upcoming San Diego Botanical Garden Spring Planting Jubilee & Tomato Sale March 19 and March 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At Coastal Roots Farm, we seed, we grow, and we share.

We seed new ideas around sustainable farming and Jewish life; we grow healthy food; and we share the harvest with our local community. 

Coastal Roots Farm will be selling a wide variety of vegetable starts as well as flowers and fruit trees, including the beloved Etrog. 

Citrus medica “Etrog” is the kosher citron used in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, prized for its extraordinary fragrance; fully kosher specimens such as these are quite rare. 

We will also have a limited supply of a unique edible perennial plant called Yacón, which makes a crisp, sweet tuber similar in taste to jicama. 

Between now and the plant sale there are some things you can do in your garden to prepare.

First and foremost, give your soil the love it deserves.

If you are planting into an existing bed now may be a good time to take a soil test so you can see what your soil needs to be healthy and balanced.

To take a soil test simply dig up samples from a few areas in your planting bed, mix them up and send off to a lab.

Tests can cost $10 to $25 from your local university extension office or a lab such as A&L laboratories.

The soil test will help you understand what you need to do, if anything, to balance your soil PH and what amendments (lime, gypsum, etc.) and how much are needed to grow a healthy crop.

Don’t let the science deter or discourage you.

A simple approach is to add some fresh organic compost from your compost pile or sourced from a local garden center as well as some organic granular fertilizer.

Make sure you use compost that has been properly broken down to avoid any weeds or diseases.

You can follow the instructions on the product bag or I typically add a half-pound of organic fertilizer per cubic foot of soil in a raised bed.

Apply compost generously at about 2 to 4 cubic feet per 10 square feet of growing space and use a digging fork to work in the compost and fertilizer into the bed just before planting your seeds or transplants.

At the plant sale we will be demonstrating techniques for transplanting, pruning suckers, watering, fertilizing, trellising and more.

Transplanting is best done in cloudy weather, early in the morning or after the sun has peaked in the afternoon to avoid heat stress to the plant.

Water generously at transplanting, ideally with a compost tea and/or diluted kelp, to help the roots acclimate to their new home.

Remember to install your tomato trellis long before the vines begin to get unwieldy, and use something very strong to hold up the weight of your hopefully fruit-laden tomato plants. 

Some Tips on Growing a Tomato:

When planting a tomato start, space plants 24 to 36 inches apart. Tomatoes should be grown with some form of support, such as staking, cages, or a trellis. Most varieties will mature about 60 to 80 days after transplanting. 

Be sure that your soil is well fertilized as they are heavy feeders and take a lot of nutrients from the soil.

Consider adding compost to the soil the year before you plant.

These plants prefer warm weather and soil so they should be grown when temperatures are over 68 degrees.

You should avoid watering them from above, as damp leaves may be susceptible to disease.

We have selected specific varieties that we love for their flavor, vigor and adaptability to our climate.

Here are some tomato varieties you can expect from us at the sale:

• Supersweet 

• Indigo Rose 

• Sun Gold 

• Brandywine 

• Black Krim 

• German Green 

• Black Plum 

• Japanese

Trifele Black 

• Persimmon 

• Stupice 

• Marvel Striped 

• Tiger-Like 

Daron ‘Farmer D’ Joffe is the director of Agricultural Innovation and Development at Coastal Roots Farm.

He is one of the featured speakers at the Spring Planting Jubilee & Tomato Sale being held at San Diego Botanic Garden March 19 and March 20.

For the date and time of Farmer D’s presentation, please visit