Los Angeles

TOMATOMANIA! approaches

tomatomania.jpgTomatomania!TM, the country’s largest tomato seedling sale, will be celebrating its 15th year this year with the following upcoming events in Southern California.

Where and when:

  • April 1, 2, and 3 from 9:00am – 5:00pm at the Tapia Brothers Farm Stand, 5251 Hayvenhurst Avenue, Encino (Phone: 818.905.6155). Free admission and parking, seedlings start at $3.00;
  • April 14, 15, 16, and 17 at the 16th Annual Southern California Spring Garden Show, South Coast Plaza (the Crate & Barrel/Macy’s Home Store wing), Costa Mesa (Phone: 714.435.2171);
  • April 29 and 30, and May 1 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia (Phone: 626.821.3222)

This year is the World Tour of Tomatoes ’05, with more than 300 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to choose from including Czechoslovakia’s Excellent Yellow, Japan’s Ordoriko, France’s Carmella, Purple Russians, and the Anahu from Hawaii. All custom-grown for Tomatomania, the hunt will be on for unique, oddball shapes, crazy colors, and more importantly, world-class flavors.

In addition to heirloom seedlings, Tomatomania! will offer the best hybrid plants, fertilizers, planting mixes, stakes, and other tomato growing accoutrements. Tomatomania! will also be an opportunity to ask Master Gardeners for advice, to share tips and information, to watch planting demonstrations, and to pick up valuable handouts. Also available for sale at the Tapia Brothers events will be Scott Daigre’s tomato tome TOMATOMANIA!: How to Grow Tomatoes Successfully in Southern California.

For the uninitiated, heirloom tomatoes are the thoroughbreds of the garden–coveted as much for their wild shapes and vivid colors as their remarkable flavors. The seedlings are shipped from growers around the state. With more than 15,000 tomato seedlings going home with nearly 1,000 customers, Tomatomania! has become a highly anticipated event.

The brainchild of Master Gardener Gary Jones, Tomatomania! was founded in 1991 as a one-day sale at nursery trendsetter Hortus in Pasadena. Fellow garden fanatics Scott Daigre and Kate Karam joined forced with Gary to develop Tomatomania! as a fun way to showcase these amazing vegetables and kick off the spring growing season. The three now produce this annual tomato ritual as Plant-a-Porter, LA’s premier garden events company. 2005 marks not only Tomatomania!’s 15th year, but also an expansion from one to four full-blown events across Southern California (the three noted above and one that was held this weekend at the Quail Botanic Gardens in Encinitas).

For more information, please contact Scott Diagre at 323.363.0844 or email tomatomaniahq [at] aol [dot] com.