Monday, March 22, 2010

Tomato Leaves

Have you ever looked, I mean really looked, at the leaves on your tomato plants? Even though I've raised lots of different varieties of tomatoes in my gardens over the years, I haven't paid much attention to their leaves. My focus is usually more on picking out the strongest looking plants at the nursery and keeping them healthy so that I could enjoy as many delicious, vine-ripe tomatoes as possible. This year is different though. This year I have lots of seedlings started, so I really have been paying a lot of attention to leaves.As a participant in the "EXTREME" Growing Challenge, one of the three crops I committed to grow from seed was tomatoes, so I'm paying lots of attention to my tomato plants - and their leaves. As it turns out, there are two main leaf types for tomatoes - Regular and Potato leaf types, and there are even variations within each of those two main leaf types. One variation, the Rugose, a Potato leaf that is a darker green and has a puckery surface, and another, the Angora, a Regular leaf that is hairy in its pubescent stage.

I am growing several different varieties of tomatoes and can clearly see the difference in their leaves. These German Pink tomatoes are a Potato leaf tomato. Notice how their leaves have a smooth leaf edge with no interruptions and are deep green in color. Some say that this type of leaf is more tolerant of foliage diseases. That sounds reasonable to me because the heirloom German Pink tomatoes that I'm growing are from seeds my son saved last year from tomatoes he grew from seeds that his neighbor gave him. Those tomatoes, with seeds saved season after season for over a hundred years since being brought to this country from Germany by relatives of his neighbor, would have to be disease tolerant in order to continue to produce such tasty fruit year after year.
The Lunch Mate and Big Boy tomatoes, Regular leaf tomatoes. Both are hybrid tomatoes but I do not believe that has anything to do with their leaf type. The edges of their leaves have a more serrated-like edge and even though still tiny plants with very few sets of leaves, the leaves of the Lunch Mate tomato, pictured in the upper left of this photo, appear dissected and are a bit longer.
It's my observation that the Regular Leaf tomatoes seem to be faster growers - at least in the seedling stage. With close to a month yet before our last average frost date here in the Pacific Northwest, my seedlings have plenty of time yet to grow quite a bit before they are transplanted into my Happy Valley Community Garden spot. Now I wonder from which variety I will eat my first vine-ripe tomato.


  1. So interesting!!! I am growing tomatoes right now from seed and it is nerve racking! I feel like they are my 100 little babies. It looks like you start them out all differently... true? I used pellets made from bamboo... should be interesting to see how they turn out. Thanks for the lesson in leaves!

  2. I started my tomatoes in peat pellets, then transplanted them into individual starter pots once they started looking like tomato plants. I am not familiar with bamboo pellets, but they interest me because I found that peat pellets tend to grow mold almost faster than they grow seeds. I will look for bamboo pellets next year and give them a try. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for commenting!