Tomatoes! In Humboldt County! Grafted Tomatoes Beat the Competition

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the title is accurate. And no, I’m not talkin’ about no stinkin’ cherry tomatoes, either. Real, live tomatoes big enough to slice and put in a sandwich!

If you live in Humboldt, you know what an achievement this is. Our foggy, cool summers don’t usually allow much of anything in the tomato department – if I get a few bowlfuls of cherry tomatoes, I’m usually pretty pleased. But this year, the bar has been raised.

Earlier in the season, Log House Plants sent me three of their grafted tomatoes to test out in the garden. (Learn more about grafted tomatoes here and here.) Being a realist, and also prone to moping about at the slightest disappointment, I told them to please only send me grafted cherry tomatoes, as there was no way in hell a proper slicing tomato would do anything but break my heart.

With great confidence in their tomatoes, they ignored my pessimism and sent a ‘Big Beef’ (true to its name), a medium-sized Siberian variety called ‘Sasha’s Altai’ (thanks to Amy Stewart for uncovering the story behind it), and my very favorite cherry tomato, ‘Sungold’. I snorted when I saw the ‘Big Beef’, but the plants were so robust that I put a little faith in the process and popped them all in.

Well, a few months later, these behemoths are out-pacing every other tomato plant I’ve ever had. I grew some normal old ‘Sungold’ plants to compare, and while they’re doing pretty well for Humboldt, they’re only about two feet tall, while the grafted tomatoes are about 5 feet tall and busting out of their tomato cages.

I planted everything too late, as last year we had a freak June frost which made me paranoid of planting too early, so I am just now starting to pick real, live cherry tomatoes from the grafted ‘Sungold’ (the normal ‘Sungolds’ are still unproductive). And today was the day I ‘d been waiting for: the ‘Sasha’s Altai’ gave me my very first-ever homegrown slicing tomato. Wow!

While the ‘Big Beef’ is putting on tons of tomatoes, it’s too soon to tell whether this will be a bumper crop of one of my favorite foods, green tomatoes (OMG – fried green tomatoes – heavenly!), or whether they’ll turn a delightful stoplight color suitable for dousing in fresh basil, fresh mozzarella balls, and possibly a bit of balsamic. I’ll keep you updated.

green big beef tomatoes

Next year, I’m definitely shelling out for some grafted tomatoes (they were about $13 at our local nurseries), as well as Log House’s newest star, grafted basil. Yeah, you heard me right. I’ve been growing delicate little basils indoors under lights because the great outdoors is too chilly and cold for their basilly little selves to handle. I’m guessing one of those grafted ones would actually give me outdoor basil, and I can’t wait for next summer so I can try!

Anyone else try out the new grafted tomatoes? I’m keen to hear whether your experience has been as good as mine has so far.


  1. says

    This is incredible. I’ve never heard of grafted tomatoes…really didn’t know there was such a thing. Our summer has been so blasted hot, the tomatoes have been few and far between – lots of plant, lots of blooms, not minimal fruit set. Interesting to view tomato production from a different perspective/climate. Thanks for sharing

  2. Lisa says

    hmmm Grafted tomatoes. Who would have thought. We have had good luck with our heirloom tomatoes in the green house but this is the first year we have tried it too. The first three came out a with some funky attributes but we read that this might be normal for new plants, but since then five medium sized nice red tomatoes! Nothing to sneeze at when the most you can hope for is a handful of cherry tomatoes (which this year are producing very well too) .
    I have to agree on the basil thing too, but we have had excellent luck with putting a plant in the greenhouse, have had caprese salad coming out of our ears! Also my husband put a clipping in his aerogarden experiment and that little shoot has taken off giving us hope on some late fall basil leaves!!

  3. says

    Interesting results on your tomatoes. I tried a couple of grafted tomatoes this year too with mixed results. They might have had slightly better disease resistance than their regular heirloom counterparts but that’s about all I can say for them. One of them was supposed to produce two kinds of tomatoes but didnt. It was really such an awful year for tomatoes here in general that I suppose it’s not a fair test.

  4. Peter LaVallee says

    I planted three tomato plants in my greenhouse this summer. The one grafted plant (heirloom) is still producing exceptional fruit! I’ll be planting a couple next summer!!!

  5. says

    We just returned from a stay in Provence France. While there we went to visit my cousin who lives outside Avignon and he told that he plants eggplant grafted onto tomato stock that way out produce normal eggplants. I am on the lookout for a nursery so we can try that here in Sonoma County.

  6. Sharon H. says

    We planted a Mighty Mato brand Big Beef last year and it was incredible. Tons of tomatoes into October. My husband constructed a huge cage made of concrete mesh and we held up the heavy branches with bamboo sticks. Wish I had pictures, but I will take them this year. Just planted a Mighty Mato Early Girl and a Big Beef. One of the garden centers that I shop also had grafted peppers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *