What are Celebrity Tomatoes?:
The Celebrity was an AAS award winning tomato in 1984. This particular variety is credited with setting new standards in hybrid tomatoes in their ability to resist multiple diseases. The Celebrity has far more resistance to disease than just about any other tomato, which made it an instant favorite among tomato growers. Among the diseases it was bred to resist arefusarium wilt, varticillium wilt, cracking, and the mosaic virus.
Beyond their incredible resistance to diseases, Celebrity tomatoes are also exceptional performers and they grow in just about any region. Whether you live in the colder northern climates or the hot and humid tropical regions, this tomato's ability to adapt to a broad range of growing conditions make it so easy for anyone to grow. You don’t have to be a seasoned tomato grower to have success with this particular variety. If there are any complaints about these tomatoes, it is usually about its plain taste. Typically Celebrities are grown for cooking, slicing, juicing, canning, and even for making fresh salsa.
Brief History of Celebrity Tomatoes:
Hybrid tomatoes were first commercially available in the early 1940's and back then the parents of the hybrids were not usually kept secret. As time went on and more and more growers began hybridizing tomatoes and competition to make the "best" one grew, the lineage of the newest hybrids started to be kept as a trade secret by the breeder, lest his prize tomato fall into the wrong hands. This became the case with the Celebrities tomatoes as well.
The breeder of Celebrity tomatoes was none other than Colen Wyatt, who is widely regarded as one of the most successful breeders of vegetable plants in the late 20th century. The Celebrity wasn't his only claim to fame either. Among his many achievements were award winning cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash; not to mention other tomato varieties that also were AAS award winners. The Gold Tomato in 1993, and the Big Beef in 1994 were two of his creations.
Attributes of Celebrity Tomatoes:
While Celebrity tomatoes are technically labeled as determinate plants, in many conditions you will find that this variety will keep on producing tomatoes right up until the first frost. As a result you will sometimes see seed packets and resellers label this tomato as semi-determinate. You will see the Celebrity often called an early producer and it is boasted as a variety that will reach maturity in about 70 days. Unfortunately this is a claim often disputed by many growers who say the actual maturity period is more like 90 or 100 days. In certain growing conditions you might be able to get your plants to mature faster, however you should most likely plan for a more realistic time frame.
The Celebrity is a very bushy tomato plant, but don't let that fool you, these have been known to grow as tall as ten feet or higher. How big your plants will grow are more a factor of your climate and type of soil than anything else. While you will need to provide your Celebrities with proper staking as they grow taller and taller, you will not want to prune this variety. Allow it to keep growing and even train it if you desire, but don't cut back the stems. When the plant is finally ready to bear fruit, make sure you have it properly secured because the tomatoes will get big and heavy.
How To Grow Celebrity Tomatoes:
If you are starting your Celebrity tomatoes from seeds, I suggest that you start your seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost, that way you have some good solid starters growing and ready to go when the weather breaks. When you are ready to plant, make sure that you prepare a site in your garden by tilling the soil down about 10 inches, being sure to mix in a generous helping of compost or other organic matter. When you dig the hole for the plant, make sure that you make it wide enough that you can fan out the roots of the plant and you are not forcing them around the hole.
It's also a good idea to sprinkle a little fertilizer into the hole before placing the plant. This will give your starter plant a whole lot of extra nutrients to draw from right at the beginning. Place your tomato plant in the hole and fill in the empty space with dirt. One good tip at this point is to make a small recess around the base of the plant that will funnel water straight down to the roots, instead of mounding it up so it runs away.
Growing Tips for Celebrity Tomatoes:
Give your plants a good watering once a week. Make sure the soil gets saturated at least 6 inches deep.
Always mulch around your Celebrity tomatoes. Not only does mulch retain moisture, but it also creates a barrier between the soil and the plant's leaves, helping to prevent the spread of diseases.
When possible, water the base of the plant, not the leaves. If the leaves stay too wet it is an invitation for mold and mildew
Make sure you provide support for your plants early on. Place cages around them when they are still small and let them grow into them. If you wait too long, you may find them difficult to stake.
If you are planting multiple tomato plants in the same area, give them adequate spacing, a minimum of 2 feet to help prevent the spread of diseases.
If one of your tomato plants develops a disease, remove it from the garden immediately and destroy it. Don't get attached and think you can save it, just remove it and move on.
Consider planting marigolds, basil, and/or chives around your tomatoes as they make great companion plants and bring their own practical benefits to the garden.
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