Tomato expert Craig LeHoullier and I have been working all year toward this week’s launch of the newest joegardener Online Gardening Academy™ course, Growing Epic Tomatoes, and Craig now joins me on the podcast to share our excitement for what’s in store.
Craig literally wrote the book on growing tomatoes successfully — “Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time” — and between us we have about 80 years of tomato growing experience. We’ve had a lot of “aha” moments when it comes to starting, planting and growing tomatoes, and the realizations on how to grow better and more easily keep coming.
Fortunately for all of us who love growing them, Craig never tires of talking about tomatoes. Craig’s been gardening since 1981, and in 1990 he named one of the most beloved heirloom tomatoes, Cherokee Purple. In addition to “Epic Tomatoes,” he penned the gardening book “Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales.” He’s also the tomato adviser to the Seed Savers Exchange and a co-leader of the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project.
As you might be able to tell, we can’t contain our excitement about the launch of Growing Epic Tomatoes: “This course will have something for every level of expertise, from absolute beginner, all the way to expert, just because there is that much to share,” Craig says.
Growing Epic Tomatoes will be open for enrollment for a limited period of time, and anyone who completes their registration by May 17th will be entitled to a special discounted rate — the lowest rate that will ever be offered. You can find the enrollment page at joegardener.com/GrowingEpicTomatoes.
For this course, each module contains six to ten lessons and is 100 percent video — it’s basically a custom television show with Craig and I going deep on every aspect of tomatoes. And visually, the videos are beautiful, shot by my same video production and editing crew that shoots all our episodes of my Emmy award-winning series, Growing a Greener World®. Plus, there is a course-exclusive discussion group for participants to learn from each other, hear more from Craig and me, and build a community around their shared love of growing tomatoes.
About half of the modules are already recorded, and what comes next will depend on what happens in our gardens in real-time. Craig and I are documenting every aspect of our tomato growing this season — the good, the bad and the ugly. Whatever happens will be permanently archived.
We’re all in this together, trying to figure it out, and some things are beyond our control, like the sudden hail that came as Craig was in my garden recently. Also during his time here on the GardenFarm™, a predicted overnight temperature of 34 degrees turned out to be, in actuality, 26.4 degrees. Luckily, we were proactive and had covered my many trays of tomato seedlings outdoors with floating row cover, a spunbond nylon fabric, to retain heat overnight — and, for the most part, it did the trick. We really averted a disaster, and it turned into a valuable lesson that we could not have planned better.
Nearly all vegetable gardens in the United States have tomatoes as their centerpiece, Craig notes. With all of the new gardeners who took up gardening as a hobby during the pandemic, more people are growing tomatoes in the backyards than ever, and Craig wants to give them the knowledge to feed their newfound passion and make them permanent gardeners.
Craig says his book “Epic Tomatoes” contains everything he learned about tomatoes through 2013, and in the new course he shares everything he’s learned since then and the adjustments he’s made to his growing practices. “Anytime you get to envelop yourself in a pursuit that gives you infinite exploring and learning opportunities means you have a friend for a lifetime,” Craig says.
If you haven’t already listened to my conversation with Craig LeHoullier, you can hear this episode now by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking the Play icon in the green bar under the page title.
What tomato growing challenges do you hope to overcome this season? Let us know in the comments below.
Links & Resources
Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below.
Episode 005: What’s Wrong with My Tomato? Mid-Season Care with Craig LeHoullier
Episode 047: Tomato Seedling Mistakes with Craig LeHoullier
Episode 056: Tomato Care Checklist with Craig LeHoullier
Episode 064: Tomato Growing Season Lookback: Lessons Learned With Craig LeHoullier
Episode 095: Tomato Seed Starting Update: Innovations and Inspiration, with Craig LeHoullier
Episode 115: Understanding Tomato Diseases and How to Deal With Them
Episode 146: Catching Up With ‘Epic Tomatoes’ Author Craig LeHoullier: Big Changes and New Opportunities
Episode 148: Gardening in Straw Bales: An Easy & Inexpensive Solution to Make Growing Food More Accessible for All
Episode 173: Starting a New Tomato Garden: Lessons Learned, with Craig LeHoullier
joegardenerTV YouTube: How to Top Tomato Plants
joegardenerTV YouTube: How to Make the Ultimate Tomato Cage
joegardenerTV YouTube: How to Save Tomato Seeds
joegardener Blog: Busted – Top Five Tomato Growing Myths
joegardener Online Gardening Academy™: Popular courses on gardening fundamentals; managing pests, diseases & weeds; seed starting and more.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Beginning Gardener Fundamentals: Essential principles to know to create a thriving garden.
joegardener Online Gardening Academy Growing Epic Tomatoes: Tomato expert Craig LeHoullier joins me in leading this course on how to grow healthier, productive tomato plants and how to overcome tomato-growing challenges. Join today for
$397 $247 during the limited enrollment window.
GGW Episode 803: Epic Tomatoes with Craig LeHoullier
Craig LeHoullier: Heirloom Gardening for All
“Epic Tomatoes; How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time” by Craig LeHoullier
“Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales: Easy Planting, Less Weeding, Early Harvests” by Craig LeHoullier
TerraThrive™ – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com
Soil3 – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com
Greenhouse Megastore – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joegardener.com – Enter code JOEGARDENER for 10% off your order
Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we would get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us. None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, Greenhouse Megastore, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Wild Alaskan Seafood Box and TerraThrive. These companies are either Brand Partners of joegardener.com and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.