California’s Crazy Love Affair with Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatomania is returning to the San Fernando Valley.

On March 15-17, the tomato experts at Ojai-based Tomatomania will bring hundreds of tomato seedlings to the Tapia Brothers produce stand at 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave, in Encino.

Every Tomatomania event is different, but they all feature as many as 300 heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties—from “Cherokee Purple” and “Black Cherry,” to “Great White,” and “Indigo Rose”—and everything needed to grow them, including enthusiastic expert advice.

Tomatomania’s founder, Scott Daigre, is the owner of Powerplant Garden Design based in Ojai. He started the tomato event as a way to share his love of heirloom tomatoes.

Tomatomania continues to grow,  traveling to cities all over the U.S. It also evolved into Daigre’s book Tomatomania! A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen. Daigre continues to travel throughout the country with his tomatoes, singing the praises of this uniquely American vegetable.

Daigre’s website describes the event as “the world’s largest (and most fun) tomato seedling sale.” That’s not an exaggeration. The New York Times has described it as “…the tomato freaks’ Woodstock.”

Tomatomania began in the early 1990s at a nursery in Pasadena. Today, the events take place every spring across the country, but the tomato growing season always kicks off in Southern California.

The upcoming event in Encino will feature several talks, including two by Daigre on March 15, “Operation Climate Change: Successful tips for growing tomatoes in our warming California climate,” at 1 p.m., and “The five key basics for tomato success,” at 2 p.m.

Other upcoming Tomatomania events in the greater Los Angeles area include:

  • March 22-23 – Fillmore, Otto and Sons, 1835 E. Guiberson Road, Fillmore, CA 93015; (805)524_2123;  ottoandsons-nursery.com
  • March 23-24 – Somis, Underwood Farm Market, 5696 E Los Angeles Ave., Somis, CA 93066; underwoodfamilyfarms.com
  • March 29-31 – La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011; (818) 949-4200; descansogardens.org

For more information, visit tomatomania.com.

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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