Tomatoes are off the menu at fast food restaurants like McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (BKC), Taco Bell, (YUM) Wal-Mart (WMT), after the Food and Drug Administration expanded its warning on June 9 against a rare form of Salmonella. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there have been 167 reported cases caused by the rare bacteria –called Salmonella saintpaul—since mid-April and the most dangerous varieties are the red Roma, red plum, and round red tomatoes. Confirmed cases have been reported in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Luckily, the attack of the killer tomatoes looks to be limited to restaurants and supermarkets selling the raw tomatoes that have been affected. The source hasn’t been identified and home grown varieties should be just fine, since you are an isolated grower. So, head to your local garden store and start planting to enjoy 'Beefsteaks,' ‘Big Boys,’ and ‘Golden Girls’ all summer long.
It’s too late in the season for seeds, but the perfect time for a plant. “Tomato plants like heat, and if you plant when it’s warm they’ll grow happy and quickly,” says Hanna Rhoades, of ThisGardenisIllegal.com. “If you plant before it’s hot enough, they just sit in the ground and won’t do much.”A hybrid plant will produce the most fruit, and is readily available at your local nursery. “Go to a garden center, not a Wal-Mart or Home Depot (HD) because that stuff has been sitting out and isn’t in the best health,” says William Alexander, author of The $64 Tomato, detailing his quest for the perfect garden.
When choosing a tomato plant, look for a hybrid that’s marked ‘VFN,’ which indicates the variety is resistant to three types of diseases: verticilum wilt, fusarium wilt, and nematodes. Buy a plant without flowers and plant it deep—up to the first set of leaves. Alexander recommends leaving the soil around the base a little below ground level to create an area for water to pool and keep the plants moist.