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Why FAQ?

I frequently refer my customers to read these FAQ.
I get a ton of mail weekly...and try to answer every one personally. But, usually I'm rushed and give the quick answer. Here, in FAQ, I take the time to answer these typical questions in full detail.
There is a wealth of information here to help you Grow Killer Tomatoes. I know tomatoes...I sell Totally Tomatoes. No Cabbage, No Okra. Totally Tomatoes. That's what I do.

Hey Penny,
I saw the Article that T-Bone Terry did on you in Alternatives Magazine. That brings me to my question about mulch. I know you like it. Why and what type of Mulch do you recommend?
Raleigh, North Carolina

True, I love Mulch. It keeps the ground moist, saving you time on watering so much and provides a slow fertilizer as it breaks down and becomes humus. The earthworms love it too.
Some of my favorites are Grass Clippings, Fall Leaves shredded with a Shredder or Lawn Mower, Straw (I buy it in bales) and Wood Chips. The cool thing about three of these...they're FREE. Call a Landscaper to drop off Grass Clippings and a Tree Company will love to give you the Wood Chips to save the cost of dumping at a trash site. You can collect bags of leaves up North and the Midwest in the Fall when people put them outside for pick up from the Trash Service. I'd suggest laying down Newspaper in the rows you mulch then layering your mulch over this to keep weeds down--especially when you use Straw because it has Straw Seeds in it.

I'm not an Organic Gardener and notice you sell some Organic Tomato Seeds. What would you recommend?
Ernie Gonzalez,
Phoenix, Arizona

You raise a very good point.
I did a survey and found that 29% of my customers want Organic...71% don't care. BUT, with the major Organic movement that 29% will be climbing. Look at it this way...if you buy Organic Seeds they can be nothing but better for no extra charge!!
I'd like you to check out my Organic tips...which can apply to EVERY Gardener and Tomato aficionado... here.
Just see if there isn't awesome growing tips in many areas that would benefit EVERY gardener. You don't need to be organic to be garden smart. Organically yours,

What do I do with a ton of Rotten Tomatoes?
Jimmy G from Alabama

I'm sure you mean over-ripe tomatoes.
The riper a Tomato gets the sweeter and more nutrients it's packed with. That's why Supermarket tomatoes are tasteless and dry. They are usually grown and bred for shelf life and not for taste and Nutrition.
Over-Ripe Tomatoes are WONDERFUL tomatoes to have. Don't let them overwhelm you. You can use them fresh, or you can Freeze or Can them. For great tomato recipes for your over-ripe, "Rotten Tomatoes" :) go here
Tomato-ly yours,

Is it true you can grow the largest Tomatoes by keeping them in full sun.

Hi Melissa,
No. Actually tomatoes do well in full Sun, but they do as well or better with a little shade. 6 hours to 10 hours of Sun will do just fine.
I lived in Italy for four years and had similar weather to Pennsylvania. I grew huge tomatoes. I'm now in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where it's Hotter and I have a ton of Sunshine, and I'm challenged to get tomatoes as good as I grew in a Northern climate.
The Good can grow awesome Tomato Plants with Sugar Sweet Tomatoes�all Types of Tomatoes...anywhere in the Good 'Ole USA. God Bless America!

I love your website. I was checking Search Engines and found you. You have a Customer for life. What do you recommend to a Newbie at planting tomatoes for Fertilizer? What types of tomatoes do you recommend? Hazel Trkyowski
Hazard, Ky

Hey Hazel...
Seems I remember a Maid by that name...hmmmmm.
Anyway, many of my favorite fertilizers are FREE. I love Coffee Grounds. They are loaded with Nitrogen. You can get them Free by the bucket from Coffee Shops and restaurants. To Earthworms, they are Caviar! They love them. Next I love Eggshells which again are Free from the same places. The shells add Calcium and Phosphorous to your soil.
I buy Blood Meal, Bone Meal and Cotton Seed meal. You can get a chemical fertilizer if you're not an Organic Gardener. The above are all slow release and will feed your plants all season long. You need a quicker release fertilizer as well. I prefer Fish Emulsion. Miracle Grow for non-organic or some equivalent.
For those difficult Tomato Varieties...Good News. There really aren't any really tough ones to grow. All Tomatoes can be easy to grow, but the rule of thumb is the smaller the Tomato, The faster and easier it grow. Also, you need little or no staking.
I'm Tomato-lee yours,

Hey Penny,
I saw you on 'Southern Style Living' on the Diane Devaugn-Stokes Show. I'm impressed. You talked a lot about Epsom Salt. What's the scoop? Karl Brenner,
Conway, South Carolina

Hey Karl,
The 'Scoop' is 2 tbs. of Epson Salt, shaken vigorously in a spray bottle filled with water. Use it every other week as a Foliar Spray. It gives an instant shot of Magnesium into your plants. On the alternate weeks use a liquid fertilizer. Great Gardening,

Queen of Tomatoes,
I love Sun Dried Tomatoes. Do you make them?
Susan T,
Rhinelander, WI

Hey Susan,
Flattery will get you everywhere!
I make Sun Dried Tomatoes with my Food Dehydrator. It's a simple process and I'd recommend it for everyone. Follow the directions...Veggies that have more liquid, like Tomatoes, take a little longer to dry.
I love to dice them and put them in my Tomato Sauce, Chili, Salsa, Tomato Soup and Tomato Salad. They add a little Crunch and texture to these dishes. Check out these Recipes.
Good Luck,
Queen Penny

Hi Penny,
I live in a short season growing area in New Hampshire. Can I be Growing Tomatoes in Containers here? BTW, Love your website. Are you really a blonde? Suzie

Hey Suzie,
I love growing Tomatoes in Containers. There are SO many advantages. A five Gallon Containers is the best size. You can totally control the soil environment. I like a mixture of 1/3 Sand, 1/3 Compost or Rotten Cow Manure and 1/3 Garden soil. You may want to do this mixture a month in give you time to pull the weeds before you sow the seed. You can direct sow in warmer areas, or like yours in New Hampshire start seeds indoors and transplant later. The cool things about container can move plants to sunnier or shadier locations, rotate them to distribute the sun, water and harvest easily. Black containers (available free from nurseries, discounters, etc) retain the heat from the sun and speeds up the growth.
Really a blonde?
Let me answer this way...I was so proud I finished a Gig-Saw puzzle in 6 months. The box said '4 to 6 years'. :)
Blonde Penny

I see you are a Salsa lover too.
I like to make mine by the ton so I don't have to make it every day. Can I freeze it? John Cox from Cookville, Tenn.

It can be frozen, but I don't like to...some of the ingredients lose their texture.
Why not just add lime juice? The Ascorbic Acid in the lime juice will act as a preserver adding significantly to the storage life. If you don't like Lime Juice, Lemon Juice will do fine.
By the way, Love those Smokie Mountains. I go to Gatlinburg, Tenn a lot.
Yours in Salsa,

Hey. Love your website and the fact that you sell totally tomatoes. Who did the beautiful artwork on your website?
I have tiny green bugs on my Tomato can barely see them because they are the shade of green that the tomato plant is. How can I get rid of them?
p.s. I love that you have Heirloom Tomatoes preserving their Heritage. And I'm 100% Organic...thanks for providing Organic Tomato Seeds for us.
Sammy the Bull from Philly

Are you related to John Gotti? :)
Thought you were in a witness protection program. Give me all of your Tomatoes or I'll shoot. Sorry, I couldn't help it. My boyfriend is Italian.
Those Tiny Green Bugs are aphids. They come out in Spring but die off in the heat of summer.
Actually they are 'herded' up the plant by ants that 'Milk' their sweet sap they drink from the plant. That is why they are the same color as the plant. You can easily destroy them by spraying with 1 tbs. of dish soap shaken in a spray bottle with water. A direct hit is best.
I love this dish soap as a recipe. Easy, always available and virtually Free. The way it works is it suffocates soft bodied insects (such as aphids) because they breathe through their skin. It gives hard bodies (such as cucumber beetles) a terminal case of dysentery.
Great Gardening,
p.s. Tracy Hanna Foye is my Artist for the Website. She's a real doll and is a muralist. Reach her at

Hi Penny, it's Ann from Upstate New York,
I bought seeds from another Seed Company last year. I just noticed the package sez "Treated Seeds" and they have a white, round casing over them. What is that?
Ann Quigley

Ann, That is chemicals...plain and simple. I don't like treated seeds. Some are actually marked "not to be used for Human Consumption"-- On a SEED PACKAGE? I'm sorry but that worries me.
My seeds are not treated, not genetically altered, and are Grown or Inspected by Lil' ole' me. Over 40% of my selection is Organic. Click here for 'Why Organic'
I'm Tomato-ly yours,

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