Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, August 04, 1984, Image 42

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    ■2— Lancaster Fanning, Saturday, August 4,1954
Washington Boro grower
shores his tomato knowledge
Staff Correspondent
Boro tomatoes are well-known
throughout Lancaster County. It is
these red ripe, succulent tomatoes
that hit local markets before any
other local tomatoes. Most home
gardeners are still waiting for
their small fruit to mature when
the first of these early tomatoes hit
the market, often in late June.
Martin Heisey is a man who
knows about Washington Boro
tomatoes, having raised them
almost his entire adult life. At one
time he raised 10,000 tomato plants
on his Washington Boro Century
Farm on Anchor Road. He has
moved to smaller place and
reduced his number to 225 plants,
but still maintains pride in these
delicious local treats.
His tomatoes, though now grown
mi soil outside the borough of
Mountville, are still technically
Washington Boro tomatoes,
Darin Gerlach, 8, holds some of the Washington Boro
tomatoes which his grandfather, Martin Heisey, grows to sell
at the Columbia market. These tomatoes are the first of the
season in Lancaster County.
ifhter, takes a tomato from a customer as
Washington Boro delicacies at their Columbia market stand.
because they get their good start in
the greenhouse on his farm there,
and that’s what makes the dif
Heisey says the real secret of the
early Washington Boro tomatoes is
that they are grown on the lowest
elevation in Lancaster County.
Martin says the elevation of most
fields is about 240 feet above sea
level, while at the harbor it is 220
feet above sea level.
The reason elevation is im
portant, Heisey says, is that “the
lower you go the warmer it is. The
temperature can be as many as
three or four degrees above the
temperature elsewhere.” Heisey
says this is most starkly noted in
the winter because snowfalls
disappear more quickly in the area
near tiie river.
This warmth takes on added
importance in determining the
frost wiling dates in the spring and
fall. “There is a slightly longer
growing season. Two miles away
’ 'ij l ' v ’
Martin Heisey unloads some of his fresh sweet corn at the market stand. Offering a
wide variety of vegetables, Heisey specializes in the delicious Washington Boro tomato
and seedless watermelons.
from the river you can have a
killing frost, and it won’t affect
that area.” Also Heisey points out,
“The nighttime temperature is two
to three degrees warmer.”
Nevertheless he says with a smile,
“The Washington Boro tomato is a
myth. You can do the same thing
away from Washington Boro.”
What it takes is a lot of extra effort,
time and very early planting and
Martin Heisey starts his seeds in
his greenhouse about the 10th of
February, then transplants them
from seedling flats to gallon
containers on April 10. He uses
what he calls the “Cornell mix,”
which is one third peat moss, one
third vermiculite and one third
perlite. ‘‘You supply the
nutrients,” he says, adding that
the exact nutrient suggestions can
be obtained by contacting Cornell.
“This method can save two weeks
time,” Heisey says.
By May 15, Heisey is ready to
plant outside, and the clusters of
tomatoes have already been set in
the greenhouse. This is a big
headstart on the average home
Heisey says he began growing
his own plants in a greenhouse in
1958. “In the process of growing
vegetables we were always
disappointed in the plants you buy.
If you grow them yourself you have
only yourself to blame.”
He smiles as he explains this, but
states very seriously that plants
cannot be held indefinitely as some
Heisey picks tomatoes on one of the 225 plants he raises to
sell at market He uses the Jet Star variety and stakes and
suckers them.
greenhouses are forced to do.
Holding back plants like
cauliflower and broccoli causes
them not to develop nor produce
normally. He grows 7,000 plants
now, selling to others. He once
raised 40,000 for sale and his own
Once the plants are outside,
Heisey recommends black plastic
between the rows. On his
Washington Boro farm he never
used it, but in his new location he
feels the added warmth it gives the
soil is crucial. Heisey also said
c tfoies
there is no need to use herbicide
with the plastic.
Last year Heisey picked his first
early tomatoes on June 21, but this
year he couldn’t begin until July 1
because of the “cool, wet weather
in the spring.’’ Normally one can
expect to find Washington Boro
tomatoes plentiful by July 4, he
pointed out.
The variety Heisey prefers is Jet
Star because of their resistance to
cracking. He ties them to stakes,
(Turn to Page B 4)