This year we are trying something new with the tomatoes---grafting. Recently a method has been developed to improve disease resistance in tomatoes, a disease prone plant (especially heirloom varieties.) The basic method is the same as those used for fruit trees, grapes and other plants. What you do is grow a root stock of tomato that has disease resistent properties, cut off it's top, and graft the tomato variety you want to grow to the top of it.
In our case we are using a root stock called Maxifort ($20/packet!). We seeded them at the same time as the heirloom tomatoes, so that when the time came to graft them together, the plants would be about the same size (with the same size stem). Next we cut off the top of the Maxifort (throwing away the top), and cut a small notch in the stem of the remaining plant. The top of the heirloom tomato is then cut off (the scion), the bottom of the stem cut into a V-shape, and the stem is slid into the notch of the Maxifort plant. Next we clamp them together, and place them in a healing chamber (low light, high humidity).
If that's too hard to understand, the photos will hopefully make things a bit clearer. We will trial these grafted heirlooms next to ones grown the normal way to see if they are less susceptible to fusarium and other diseases.
Cutting the top off the Maxifort root stock.
Notching the Maxifort.
Notching the heirloom tomato scion.
Heirloom tomato scion.
Grafted tomato plant.