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Tomato Class

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Tomato Class

Post  timwardell on 4/15/2010, 10:04 am

Saw this in the April 14 issue of Texas Gardener’s Seeds, the weekly
newsletter for Texas gardeners and thought I'd pass it along. I've created an account and will be taking the course. If anyone else does, let me know and we can compare notes.

Online Tomato Growing Course Ripe for Picking

By Kathleen Phillips
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

People who want to try their hand at growing tomatoes may want to try
their intellect on a new Web site first.

"Tomato Growing 101" is an online course by the Texas AgriLife
Extension Service that walks people from seed to harvest in nine
easy-to-learn chapters. Tests after each section enable one to see what
information was learned and what needs more attention. At the end of
the instruction and tests, participants can print out a certificate of
completion, according to its developers.

"For the home gardener, we know their main questions revolve around the three Ts — tomatoes, turf and trees. We know this from the questions
that come to AgriLife Extension agents in the counties," said Dr. Joe
Masabni, AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist. "Of all the
vegetables, the tomato is the No. 1 interest of home gardeners. We
decided that if we were to develop a self-paced, self-taught course,
the needs and demands were for tomato information."

Masabni developed the online course with AgriLife Extension assistant
Patrick Lillard.

Participants first log on by selecting the course at
http://www-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/. After a quick sign-up
process, one can select any of the nine sections to study.

In the first section, "Thinking about Tomatoes," information is given
to help a person decide whether to start with seed or with transplants.
Advantages of starting with seed include being able to try unique
varieties that are not locally available as transplants. Reasons for
starting with transplants include being faster and requiring less work
than beginning with seeds.

Tomato students are also taught how to decide how many plants to

"If you are just wanting to eat them fresh as they ripen, one to two
plants per person should be more than enough," Masabni recommended.

The course continues at the participant's pace — even if one needs to
do only a portion of the study over a period of days. Other portions of
the course include chapters on soil, planting, training, watering,
fertilizing, plant pests, general care and a conclusion. Each section
includes a test that scores as one selects answers.

Presently, the Tomato 101 course is a beta version. The complete
version will be relaunched soon for a nominal fee, Masabni said, which
will support the development of future online courses such as Squash
101 and Cucumber 101.

"The comments we've gotten from participants during the beta version
have been great. They have remarked about how much they learned and
asked where they could take additional courses like it," he said. "So,
we will keep Tomato 101 and continue to refresh and add information
over time."

Certified SFG Instructor

Male Posts : 778
Join date : 2010-03-02
Location : Frisco, Texas

View user profile http://www.timwardell.com/

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Re: Tomato Class

Post  timwardell on 4/16/2010, 10:48 am

Okay, I took the course and have a certificate and 1 CEU to show for it. The course was broken down into 8 sections with a quiz at the end of each and a final test at the very end. Most sections were relatively short and took no time at all but the section on fertilizer and pest management were rather lengthy - but I don't know that the material could have been covered in a shorter manner.

Like so much other gardening information this is geared toward traditional row gardening. A few comments to illustrate the point, "Sometimes, you simply cannot grow as many plants as you would like because of a lack of space. ...Depending on if/how you trellis your tomatoes, they may require up to 12 square feet a plant." AND
"Knowing about fertilizer analyses can help you make economical choices when you purchase fertilizers. ...About 2 weeks before you plant, add 2-3 pounds of an all purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, for every 100 square foot of garden space."

If you are an experienced gardener there is little or no new information here. However, if you are first timer, newbie, or novice you will most certainly learn a few things that will help you. The sections on tomato pests and general care in particular would be valuable.

This course was put together by Texas A&M - the largest agricultural school in Texas and a known and respected authority in such matters. They plant to offer courses on other veggies in the future. Depending on the vegetable, I'd probably take the course just to review my knowledge and possibly pick up a thing or two.

Certified SFG Instructor

Male Posts : 778
Join date : 2010-03-02
Location : Frisco, Texas

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Tomato Growing 101

Post  junequilt on 4/16/2010, 3:03 pm

Thanks, Tim. I've already finished Chapter 1 and passed the quiz!

Posts : 319
Join date : 2010-03-22
Location : Columbia, SC (Zone 8)

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Re: Tomato Class

Post  junequilt on 4/20/2010, 5:07 pm

Finished the course today, and other than the organic/non-organic thing there's just one item I have a serious question about: the recommendation that tomatoes be refrigerated!

Refrigeration may help to preserve the life of a tomato, but it will kill the complex flavor we gardeners work so hard to develop.

I wonder if that instruction is a generic veggie thing that the Texas AgriLife folks overlooked deleting from the tomato syllabus.

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Location : Columbia, SC (Zone 8)

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Re: Tomato Class

Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/20/2010, 5:48 pm

Thanks, Tim for the heads-up.

As to refrigerating tomatoes, I agree about the loss of flavour, but they won't last long in the Texas heat if you don't. My practice has been to try and pick what I'm eating/ using that day, but if I have to keep them more than a couple of days then in the fridge they go. Otherwise I end up with tomatoes rotting on my counters.

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Re: Tomato Class

Post  junequilt on 4/26/2010, 5:05 pm

It's pretty much the same here. How I would love to have that big a harvest, that I would have to decide what to do with the overflow! Maybe this year . . .

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