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Plant F-ing: It's Never Too Late for Tomatoes!

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Plant F-ing is a new Ask LAist series about growing food and flora at home--especially for those renters who do not have access to the luxuries of a yard and only have windows and patios to work with. If you've got a question, please send it to editor[@] and our in-house garden guru, aka Hand of Gardener, will answer.

Everybody seems to be talking about all the tomatoes they're growing in their yards and on their balconies, and I'm starting to wonder if I can get in on the action. Is it too late in the season for me to start growing tomatoes on my balcony? What do I need to know, buy, and do--if it's not too late to join the party.

It's California. It's never too late for botox, a career comeback a la John Travolta or your dear Green Zebra tomatoes. Of course you should have planted back in MARCH. You missed your big chance to really have a little farm that is the envy of your ReadyMade crowd of friends, but you still have time.

Why is it not too late? That answer is buried in the title of this column: Plant Effing. As to say - plants exist to make more plants. That's how they "think." It's their entire stage motivation. OF course I can hear west of the 405 saying, "plants exist to make oxygen" and that "they love the earth". Hell no, I say. You crazy. Like folks at ten minutes to last call, plants exist to pass on their genes - or at least make the attempt. Species without this trait tend not to linger around for us to get familiar with. Gardeners (that's what you want to be) manipulate their minions with a sound understanding of plant effing. And with that in mind you can go for it: put those tomatoes out in mid-August.

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I would pick up a plant at the Hollywood Farmer's Market or at your mom & pop nursery. Armstrong still carries them as well, but your choices will be limited this time of year. Buy bigger, you are ready late (It's really, really too late to make a go of seeds}. Varieties like Taxi, Black Krim (any of the Russian heirlooms) and even a little gem called 'Grandpa's Cock's Plume' are a few of my suggestions. They are "determinate" varieties that will provide a short-burst yield as the calendar clock winds down on the year.