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Wild Boar's Brad Gates to talk tomatoes at Green Acres

Tomato breeder extraordinaire will share insights, latest varieties

These five tomatoes show the wild color variation in Brad's Atomic Grape tomato, developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms.

These five tomatoes show the wild color variation in Brad's Atomic Grape tomato, developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms. Kathy Morrison

Meet the man who made the world of tomatoes a much more colorful – and flavorful – planet.

Brad Gates, owner of Wild Boar Farms Exotic Tomatoes, will talk all things tomato during a special appearance at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Green Acres Nursery & Supply’s Sacramento store. Admission and parking are free.

With such eye-catching varieties as Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye and Brad’s Atomic Grape, Wild Boar has rocked the tomato world with disease-resistant, rainbow-hued varieties that taste like heirlooms but are far easier to grow. Gates is universally recognized for introducing black- or purple-skinned tomatoes as well as his distinctive striped varieties.

For his Saturday talk, Gates will chat about his new introductions as well as share his insights to tomato success.

“Brad will share his expertise on the latest varieties he is producing for this spring, as well as provide tips and tricks for growing tomatoes in our region,” says Green Acres. “He will delve into various growing styles and trellising techniques, and will conclude the event with a Q&A session. ... Whether you're an avid gardener or just curious about growing your own tomatoes, this is an event you won't want to miss!”

Gates, who grows his tomatoes in Solano County, has become the go-to guru for NorCal tomato lovers. He creates his new varieties the old-fashioned way: Breeding two varieties together and watching what happens.

Man in white shirt and white hat standing at end of row of tomato plants
Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms.

“Our focus is in breeding stunning-looking tomato varieties with extreme flavor,” Gates explains on his website. “All of our tomatoes are grown using all-organic growing techniques and are absolutely NOT GMO. We are true believers in using organic and sustainable practices.

“Our tomato varieties are the result of many years of hard work growing ten of thousands of plants, being very picky about seed selection and capitalizing on some amazing gifts from Mother Nature,” he adds. “Tomatoes have changed more in the last 10 years than they have in their entire existence. The bar is being raised and tomato lovers can now reap the rewards. I consider these tomato varieties the Heirlooms of the Future.”

For more on Wild Boar and its tomatoes, visit www.wildboarfarms.com.

Green Acres is located at 8501 Jackson Road, Sacramento.

Details and directions: www.idiggreenacres.com.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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