We love heirloom tomatoes. They come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Their flavor can be outstanding; however, yields can sometimes be less than desirable. Some heirloom tomatoes that I’ve grow in my own garden might only produce 10 tomatoes in the entire season. That’s such a disappointment! Heirloom tomatoes can be susceptible to nematodes or other soil borne pests and diseases, unlike some newer modern varieties which are bred for disease resistance. Also, some heirlooms are not the most efficient at taking up water and nutrients through their roots, which subsequently reduces yield. So we, being giant plant nerds, decided to graft heirloom tomatoes onto tomato rootstocks. Grafting has been shown to increase water and nutrient uptake, and we hope grafting will help increase our yields. We are also using a vigorous, disease resistant rootstock that should prevent most root pathogens from infecting our plants.
A couple weeks back we sowed our rootstock seeds that we bought online. We chose the variety ‘Maxifort’ which is a popular tomato rootstock variety, known for its vigor and disease resistance, and we sowed 10 different heirloom tomato varieties, which will be our scion (portion above graft), in Rapid Rooters. A couple weeks later they were ready for grafting. We made cuts at a 45º degree angle on the scion and rootstock then joined the cuts together. We cut clear air tubing in ½” long sections to use as a clip to hold the graft in place. Some stems were too thin to use the air tubing clip, so we used Parafilm instead. We placed our newly grafted tomatoes in a Rapid Rooter tray with a humidity dome on it, and now have our fingers crossed that they will heal and be ready for transplant in 3 weeks. Wish us luck!