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Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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The Plant Man: tomato time

By Steve Kawaratani

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a tomato.”

–Lewis Grizzard

The Plant Man Steve Kawaratani

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

Steve Kawaratani

During the midst of May gray, I muse about sunny days and growing tomatoes. With the right soil, anticipated sunlight, water and care, enjoying a bountiful harvest of tomatoes is a fun and easy pursuit. I also say that growing your own food is a pleasant distraction from the weather!

Before purchasing tomato starters for your garden, select a tomato variety that is suitable for our coastal clime in Laguna. Look for varieties that are resistant to diseases and pests, and that can tolerate the lack of true heat. Early, heirloom and cherry tomatoes are generally an excellent choice for our local gardens.

The Plant Man cherry tomatoes

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Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow in Laguna

Only buy healthy tomato seedlings from a reputable garden center or nursery. Select plants that have strong stems, healthy leaves and are disease and pest free.

Tomatoes grow best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Amend the soil with planter’s mix and starter fertilizer before planting to provide the plants with the soil structure and nutrients they need to thrive. Tomatoes grow well in containers, but select at least a 14” diameter pot and use a quality potting soil.

Tomatoes need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day to produce fruit. Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun and is protected from wind and overhead sprinkler water.

The Plant Man pandemic garden

Our pandemic-era vegetable garden

Homegrown tomatoes are more nutritious and flavorful than store-bought produce, as they are picked at the peak of ripeness and do not lose their vitality during commercial storage and transportation. Do you save money growing your own food? It is debatable, but I know for sure that gardening helps me reduce stress and improves my outlook on life. See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani has been a local guy for seven decades and likes to garden and drive the Baja Peninsula. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949.494.5141.


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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