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Britney Spears Is Not an Heirloom Tomato but German Johnson Is

Even the tomatoes are smiling! Photo by the Hand of Gardener/LAist
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LAist's own Green Thumb is here to help you get into gardening...So, as he says: "Get down on your knees and start planting."Speaking with garden conspirators in the Bay Area this week I discovered it was “hot” this short, spring. Damn, winter is gone. Hello summer.

It turns out that 72 degrees counts as hot in Berkeley. I guess Alice Waters can handle the woodfire heat, but her broccoli wouldn’t abide it. Those of you here in glamorous Los Angeles or even the pedestrian wilds of the Valley can forget about putting brassicas in the ground. Too late. Our temperatures have been above average and then followed by goonie (that’s polite garden code for wtf) cold spells. The plants are confused… except for the tomatoes that you may have sown or transplanted into the ground.

Tomatoes and almost everything else that gets transplanted likes colder weather at first. Heat is stress. 90 degrees is stress after the cold of February for your seedlings. The cold helps the transition. After a few days of transplant shock, they get used to the bright, new world. Just after a few days of below normal they're okay. The temperatures then climb and the tomatoes start to rock. They like heat.

If you can’t settle for a plain ol’ Sunset Home Depot six pack of Supersteak (my actual favorite), then head over to one of the last Mom & Pop nurseries in the San Fernando Valley, Sego, and get your damn Westsiiide OG varieties: Black Krim, Crimson Sprinter, Purple Cherokee or the aforementioned German Johnson. Dean, one of the owners, is cranky but knows his tomatoes like Germans know their Johnsons. If there was one called "random," "ADHD," or "I'm my own grandpa" I’d plant it. Heirloom names aside, homegrowns - whatever the genetics - are all better than what Vons pimps. And the upcoming forecast has us dropping down into the low 70's... so get down on your knees and start planting.

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