Episode 103: Tomatoes with Emma Biggs

Sungold cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Sungold cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Emma Biggs talks with Hilary about the techniques she uses to grow 133 varieties of tomatoes, from seed to harvest, on her family’s urban lot in Toronto, Canada.


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Photos from Emma’s home garden:

Emma Biggs and tomato transplants

Emma Biggs in her tomato garden

Emma Biggs in her tomato garden


  • Allelopathy: The release of allelochemicals by certain plants that can affect the growth of other plants 

Trellising Methods:

  • Hanging System: Hanging system is constructed by tying twine to a semi-permanent horizontal support. The twine hangs down vertically from the horizontal support and is tied loosely around the base of the tomato plant (don’t tie your twine too tight around the base of your baby tomato transplants- the stem will likely triple or quadruple in size!). As your tomato grows, wrap the main leader around the twine. This system makes it easy to prune and trellis indeterminate tomatoes because each stem gets a string.

  • Tomato Cages: Cages can be one of the most accessible ways to trellis tomatoes because they don’t require the grower to be as diligent at training and tying their plants. The cage structure helps to contain the growing tomatoes and prevent broken branches, which can lead to lowered productivity and disease issues. Sounds ideal, right? The problem is I find that indeterminate tomatoes always outgrow most tomato cages. When a tomato plant outgrows it’s cage, the branches tend to flop over the top of the cage and break or scar. This flopped-over growth can also inhibit good air circulation around the plant, and could lead to disease issues such as grey mold or early blight. If you are going to use a cage, use the biggest one you can find. 4-5 feet would be a good minimum.

Tomato Varieties Discussed in This Episode:

  • ‘Yellow Currant’

  • ‘Great White Blues’

  • ‘Lebanese Mountain’

  • ‘Bumblebee’ varieties

Check out Emma’s new book:


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photo by Donna Griffith

photo by Donna Griffith

More about this weeks guest expert:

EMMA BIGGS is a 14-year-old gardener and garden communicator. Emma raised over 130 tomato varieties in her Toronto garden in 2018—gardening in containers, in straw bales on a driveway, in a neighbor’s yard, in wicking beds under a walnut tree, and on the garage roof. In 2015, at the age of nine, Emma co-authored of Grow Gardeners, Kid-Tested Gardening with Children with her father and started helping him at garden talks and workshops. For the past couple of years, Emma has been giving her own talks at libraries, seed exchanges, garden clubs, and garden shows. Emma is the co-host of The Garage Gardeners Radio Show. She hosts kids gardening videos on the From Dirt to Dishes gardening channel on YouTube. Her latest book, Gardening with Emma, helps kids find the fun in gardening (and helps adults remember how much fun gardening is!).

Website: www.emmabiggs.ca
Instagram: @emmabiggs_grows

Hilary Dahl_Seattle Urban Farm Co.

About the Host:

Hello, I’m Hilary Dahl. Outside of this podcast, my job is to help beginning and experienced growers create beautiful and productive gardens. I have the unique experience of working in on a wide range of projects, from small backyard garden plots to multi-acre vegetable farms. I also work in my own garden every day when I get home. This podcast is an opportunity to discuss seasonal garden topics and share the the joy of growing your own food. 

Original source: https://www.seattleurbanfarmco.com/blog/2017/6/16/encyclopedia-botanica-podcast-episode-58-3b9n3-8gbz3-289s6-36t7g-874zj-78p5k-ke3ss-srdn2-cygb5-dtnr5-at9yd-zd47a-n8fcb-tsd23-rtaj8-n3228-8r86x-ydgl4-a4g8e-2kdzh-za6tk-caxbw-wdd34-mr6w9-67lab

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