Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tomatoes 2013

TOMATOES are always my most prized garden treat.  This year I tried some new varieties and some old ones, and had mixed results.  I'll outline my thoughts on each.  I ended up with nine different varieties.

One experiment:  I've always rotated my tomato beds, and have not planted tomatoes in any bed that had tomatoes, peppers or potatoes in the previous year, or preferably two years.  Last year I'd planted my indeterminate tomatoes in a row in the NE corner, and it was such a nice spot, I thought I'd try putting the indeterminates in the same bed this year.  Not a good idea.  They did not do well.  Live and learn!  Sometimes ya gotta just trust what "they" say.

Overall thoughts:  The weather was funny this year, and results were mixed.  Some plants did well, others did not.  Some succumbed to sowbugs.  (See more information here.)  Some were new varieties that just didn't do well.  Perhaps I should become more familiar with tomato diseases.  Perhaps I am dealing with things that would be prevented if I knew what was happening.  As it is, I just plant plenty of tomatoes and remove the plants that die.  I do not compost them: I take them to the dumpster, so they won't infect the rest of the garden.

SILVERY FIR TREE  I had these seeds left from last year, and planted two early in the greenhouse, after starting them in the house under lights.  My plan was to have these as the earliest tomatoes, before the outside ones ripened.  I did get several small early tomatoes from these plants, but not really much earlier than the outside main garden plants.  If I do early tomatoes in the greenhouse next year, I'll try another variety.

CHEROKEE PURPLE  I planted two of these in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  One survived but I did not get more that 5 or 6 tomatoes.

FH CROW  These were free seeds sent to me along with my Sand Hill Preservation seed order.  I planted one in the greenhouse and one in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  I got a few tomatoes from the greenhouse, but the garden bed plant died early on.

GERMAN GIANT  I loved these last year, and planted two in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  One plant survived but only produced 3-4 edible tomatoes.

CAMP JOY  This is a large sized cherry tomato.  I planted one in the experiment indeterminate row, which survived, but I did not get an abundance of tomatoes.  Those I did harvest were good and sweet, although more mealy than I'd expect for a cherry.  I started another mid-June in the house, which was transplanted to the greenhouse 7/25.  It did well.  My plan was to have one tomato which would continue to produce after all others froze.  GOOD PLAN!  We had fresh tomatoes for salads throughout the fall.  I picked all remaining ripe and slightly ripe tomatoes before the big freeze last week and they will last at least a couple more weeks in the fridge, I am sure.

RIO GRANDE  I planted 8 of these, my favorite paste tomato for canning as diced tomatoes.  These are large, easy to peel, seed and dice.  A couple of these died, which always seems to happen.  The remaining were my latest tomatoes to ripen, but were as good as usual, and many jars of diced tomatoes and various tomato sauces were canned.

HEIDI  These were disappointing.  I bought the seeds based on the descriptions, "A prolific tomato from Africa that bears 2-1/2-inch, 3-4 oz, pear-shaped, bright-red fruit with rich tomato flavor. Thick walls with tender skin, very meaty and great for sauce. A long season, super paste or canner or good eaten raw in the garden."  And, "although classified as a paste-type tomato, it does not seem to have a problem with blossom end rot and is "remarkably tolerant of all foliage diseases in a zone 5 garden." They were supposed to grow well in hot, dry climates.  Sounds great.  There weren't very many of these, and those that grew were small.  Many seemed diseased and were not kept.  Some plants produced round tomatoes, others were oblong or pear-shaped.  Perhaps the seeds were cross-bred?

BURBANK  This was my first year planting these and they were a winner.  They grew on short, sprawling plants that were difficult to stake up, but the tomatoes were plentiful, delicious, red and round.  Unfortunately, many of these were eaten by the dreaded sowbugs and/or maybe grasshoppers.  Some sources indicate that the sowbugs don't eat the tomatoes unless a hole is started by some other bug, so perhaps the grasshoppers and sowbugs worked together on this.  See more about the sowbugs here.  I will grow the Burbanks again.

PRINCIPE BORGHESE  This was the 3rd or 4th year I've grown these.  Two plants were huge and prolific, the healthiest of all the tomatoes this year.  This is supposed to be "semi-determinate" but one of them grew like crazy, much more like a determinate.  Unfortunately I hadn't been pruning it like I would an indeterminate, and it got a bit out of hand.

NEW TOMATO SUPPORTS - I should have taken a photo of the tomato supports Tim built.  Sorry.  They are cheaply made of electrical conduit, easy to put up, take down and store.  Some are taller, others shorter.  They have worked well this year and last.  Next year I'll plan to include a photo!

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