The local Knights of Columbus Council 5959 will hold its 2014 Heirloom Tomato and Spring Plant Sale at Blessed Sacrament Church, 1890 Washington Valley Road, Martinsville, NJ 08836. This sale in its 6th year and is traditional held on the first weekend in May when the last of the killer frosts have passed. This year all proceed will benefit Special Olympics Somerset County.
One of the brother Knights, John Arcoleo, has been growing tomatoes in his backyard for over twenty five years sadly lamented the closing of All American Nurseries in Somerville over a decade ago where he and many other tomato aficionados across Central Jersey would faithfully come out every spring in late April to buy some of the 200 varieties of tomatoes they had for sale.
After several years searching for some of the similar varieties in local big box stores and nurseries fruitlessly, he decided to try and grow some on his own in a small greenhouse buying seeds from a small seed coop in Maine called Fedco Seeds. He would give out extra plants to the Brother Knights who had gardens and they met with great acceptance.
Never missing a chance to raise funds for local non-profits, the Knights have been able to find a Hunterdon County nursery, Ace Greenhouse that provides non-profit groups plants for their fundraising events to raise these tasty heirloom tomatoes for our fundraiser.
We expect to have about 60 tomato varieties on sale including the original Rutgers indeterminate variety as kept alive by seed savers after Rutgers lost track of its original seed stock.
Included this year are several varieties that have resistance to early and late blight which hit tomato plants very hard the last two years in Central Jersey which can turn a healthy plant into mush in just 2-3 days. One variety, Mountain Magic, which was developed by Randy Gardener at North Carolina State University, meets that need for complete disease resistance throughout the entire plant plus excellent taste.
We have varieties of tomatoes originally from all parts of the world including Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia as well as domestic cultivars from New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and several cherry and grape varieties that don’t split in wet weather.
For those with issues with deer, we have 2 varieties of tomatoes, which are adapted to grow downwards in hanging baskets and yield salad tomatoes until frost
Also, we are trying 2 different varieties of Bell peppers to combat the tobacco mosaic virus that seems to be highly epidemic in New Jersey which leads to curled leaves and little or no fruits.
In addition a full selection other vegetables and flowering plants are available.