Tomato plants grow inside the greenhouse in the horticulture science complex. Credit: Sarina Grossi | Mustang News

3,000 tomato plants, a staple of the horticulture unit, are currently growing inside the greenhouses at Cal Poly. They are ready to be sold at the Annual Tomato Spectacular Plant Sale this Saturday.

The first sale took place on April 22 and will be held again on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Environmental Horticultural Sciences Building. The event takes place over the course of two weekends so attendees will get multiple opportunities to buy the tomato plant varieties available at both sales. Typically, the tomato plants sell out quickly during the sale.

Cal Poly graduate and horticulture assistant Henry Main is very familiar with the event, having previously worked on the project as a student.

“The Tomato Spectacular is one of our most popular events here. Every year at the horticulture unit, we sell thousands of tomato plants,” Main said. “Up to 75 varieties this year, which is more than you’ll ever see at any hardware store or anything like that.”

Some of those varieties include Brandywine, early girl, Kellogg’s Breakfast and different selections of cherry tomatoes. Smaller plants are available at the sale for $5, while larger plants will be sold for $8. 

Since March, a team of seven students has been growing the plants so that home gardeners can have fresh tomatoes in time for summer.

“[The students] do everything from collecting and sowing all the individual seeds, labeling the plants and keeping track of the growing process in every way,” Main said. “Which is a lot easier said than done.”

In addition to the tomato plants, bouquets from the Poly Plant Shop will be sold.

“We’re going to do $25 bouquets, which are super big and full and beautiful,” Poly Plant Shop employee and plant sciences sophomore Ines Keller said. “We’ll probably have some orchid bouquets because we do have a gorgeous orchid greenhouse right outside.”

The plants are first come, first serve — with no holds or reservations. Free parking is available in lot H14. Those attending the sale are recommended to bring boxes and wagons to help transport the plants as well as keep them safe from tipping over. 

“Tomatoes are a simple thing that everybody eats, or most everybody eats, and growing them is a great gateway into a hobby that many people keep for the rest of their life,” Main said.

Detailed information regarding plant varieties can be found in a catalog on the Poly Plant Shop website. All proceeds from the event will go directly back into the horticulture and plant science unit.

“I’d love to see the word get out. On Saturdays, you can come up and have a look around the greenhouse and buy some cool plants,” Keller said. “Support the school.”