Introducing Our Resident "Farmista"
Jill Volat, the resident "Farmista" of 1 Hotel West Hollywood's on-site organic garden, shares her tips for planting your own garden and reaping the summer harvest.
Jill Volat here, the resident "Farmista" at 1 Hotel West Hollywood. In collaboration with 1 Hotels, I spearheaded the creation of a 2000-square-foot farm right off Sunset Boulevard. It went from an unused parcel of land to a thriving organic chef's garden utilized by Executive Chef Chris Crary.
Do you have a green thumb for summer vegetables? Now is the ideal time to plant tomatoes for a plentiful summer (and fall!) harvest. I like to choose heirloom varieties whenever possible (for flavor and visual interest), but you can never go wrong with a standard beefsteak or cherry tomato if that is your preference, or simply what is available in your area. Just make sure to choose organic varieties from your local plant nursery. Tomatoes need lots of heat and sunshine, so look for a spot in your garden that gets at least six to eight hours of direct light.
The great news is that tomatoes thrive in pots, in the ground, or in raised boxes, so almost everyone can find at least a little spot to grow a plant or two. Use organic soil, and mix in a teaspoon of organic vegetable plant food. Lastly, be sure to plant the seedling a little deeper than the hole itself. This is because the roots of the tomato can actually grow out of the stem, so you'll get an extra strong plant if you do it this way. Tomatoes can get unruly pretty fast, so be sure to stake them up with either a sturdy post, wooden pole or a metal cage. Otherwise the limbs and fruits will get so heavy that they can break off. As the plant gets bigger, use twine or string to tie up the branches to the pole. This will keep it upright and healthy.
Be sure to plant some basil along with your tomatoes for a culinary treat all season long. Believe it or not, basil leaves are susceptible to sunburn. When planted next to a tomato plant, however, the basil can benefit from getting a bit of shade from the larger branches of the tomato. Another reason basil and tomatoes work well together is because, when planted in near each other (also known as "companion planting"), they repel garden pests and improve soil quality.
Tomatoes are a really fun and easy crop to try out if it is your first time growing food. Feel free to tag or DM me @the.farmista on Instagram or reach out via my website if you have any questions or to share your progress.