Saturday, March 9, 2013

Today was one of those rare sunny March days that made us all think that we've finally left the rain behind. While this isn't the case, the sun did get me thinking of summer, and summer means tomatoes!

This year I have selected a wide variety to grow - both to sell as starts, and in my own garden.

Starts for sale...
I am planning to grow and sell tomato starts again this year - four-inch pots for $2.50 each. They will be ready for pick up by mid to late May, depending on the weather.  I am taking orders right now, and will have some additional starts on-hand on a first come, first served basis.

As a reminder, determinate plants grow to a prescribed size and then produce fruit all at once which is great if you are canning or making sauce from them, while indeterminate will continue to grow and produce fruit the end of the growing season.

Cherry Tomatoes
  • Chocolate cherry: Plants are super productive and produce one inch chestnut and port-wine colored fruit with a delicious, multifaceted flavor.

    I grew these last year and was particularly impressed with how they ripened from green to beautiful little bursts of summer after picked in late October. When I took out the tomato vines there was cluster upon cluster of small green globes that I parked on a platter in the dining room to ripen.
    (Indeterminate, 70 days)
  • Sun gold: The unique flavor of this tomato gives it an almost "cult" following. The plants will be loaded with clusters of eight to fourteen tomatoes about an inch in diameter throughout the summer until frost. May be grown in containers with support. (Indeterminate, 57 days)
  • NEW! Sungreen garden hybrid: I am mainly growing these out of curiosity and to complete the rainbow of tomato colors for cherry tomatoes. They are supposed to be very sweet and are ripe when soft to the touch. I will have a very limited supply of these. (Indeterminate, 70 days)
  •  NEW! Yellow pear: These plants are described as being loaded with hundreds of small 1-2 inch fruits. (Indeterminate, 75-80 days)
  • NEW! Mini orange: A tasty little tomato that produces massive yields of salad-sized tomatoes all summer. These little 2 oz tomatoes are of the most intense orange color, they seem to be almost glowing.
Sauce/Paste Tomatoes
  • San marzano: This classic Italian paste tomato is considered by many to be the world's best! A low sugar, low-acid tomato, it has a high solids content and excellent flavor. The oblong red fruits are 3"-4" long and 1.5" wide. (Indeterminate, 80 days)
  • NEW! Heinz:  "A reliable, early-maturing standard processing tomato that produces ripened fruit all at the same time. Dependable producer even in cooler weather. (Determinate, 75-80 days).

    I have grown these before and had great success with them. This year I plan to grow nine of these babies in one of the troughs. 
  •  NEW! Tumbling tiger: As described by Territorial - This fun and exciting variety defies the boundaries of tomato standards. The bushy plants reach only about 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Despite its diminutive stature, it produces an uncanny amount of fruit! The 1 inch wide and 2 inch long plum shaped fruit have a fascinating coloration of green striping overlaying deep red. Meaty, tasty and juicy, it makes a wonderful snacking tomato, but is also great for salsas and processing. Tumbling Tiger's tight determinate habit lends itself to container planting or tight spacing in the garden.(Determinate, 70 days)

    I am excited about trying this little guy out!

Slicing Tomatoes
  • Brandywine: Amish heirloom with famous distinct flavor, grown since 1885. Fruits are 10 to 14 oz., dark reddish pink, tender and juicy. (Indeterminate, heirloom potato-leafed plants, 85 days)
  • Burbank slicing: Developed by Luther Burbank around 1915. Determinate and fairly early, Burbank Slicing is a heavy yielder of majestic 3-4 inch fruit. The fruit has a very deep red color and a traditional bold tomato flavor. This was the only variety that Mr. Burbank raised for canning. (Determinate, 75 days)
  • NEW! Red Siberian: I selected this one because of its short growing time - 55 days! - it is described as a Russian heirloom that delivers heavy yields and excellent flavor. Sounds like a great combo to me! (Indeterminate, 55 days)
  • Pineapple: Large, irregular yellow fruits are suffused with red streaks that radiate from a red interior. The flavor is rich and fruity. (Indeterminate, heirloom, 95 days)

    This lovely tomato is going back into my garden this year. I grew it two years ago and absolutely loved it - beautiful and tasty!
  • Gold medal: This whopper is unbelievably early for its size. The large yellow fruit have an interior blush of red and weigh over 1 pound, some reaching 2 pounds.  The plants grow well in cool nighttime temperatures. (75 days, Indeterminate)

    I loved these tomatoes last year! My bigun' is posted above, and the flavor was outstanding.
  • Japanese Black Trifele: Pear-shaped fruit has green-streaked shoulders, deepening to a burnished mahogany and finally to a darkened, nearly black base. The meaty interior has similar, opulent shades and an incomparable, almost indescribably complex and rich flavor to match. The fruit reach 2 1/2-3 inches long and wide and are very crack-resistant. Despite the name, this thoroughbred has its origins in Russia. (Indeterminate, heirloom potato-leafed plants, 80-85 days)

    I only harvested one fruit from my plant last year, which was disappointing, but this tomato continues to be one of my favorites!
  • NEW! Pink Oxheart: Beautiful big, oval, pointed fruit with a fine sweet old time flavor! (Indeterminate, 85 days)

    I read about these somewhere last year, and they were voted to be one of the tastiest tomatoes. I had to try them out!
  • Green Zebra: This unique tomato is very flavorful and sweet, yet has a zingy and well-balanced taste that isn't too acidic. Mature fruits are golden green with forest green stripes and reach 3 inches in diameter. 

    This is one of my absolute favorites. The green and yellow tiger striped fruit are eye catching and the the taste is to die for - oh, and they are super producers!
  • NEW! Grandma Oliver's Green: The packet describes this tomato as an attractive green heirloom tomato that produces large fruit whose skin is green with a yellow blush and a creamy lime interior - sweet, tangy flavor. (Indeterminate, 80 days)

    Last year I kept seeing these beautiful green slicers at the farmer's market. I couldn't bring myself to buy one since I had so many in our garden to eat, but I vowed to try growing them myself this year.
  • NEW! Black Krim: Dark red-purple fruit, rich sweet flavor. An heirloom from Russia with very unique looking, large fruit. (Indeterminate, 80 days)

    My sister introduced me to this variety a couple of years ago and it is a staple in my garden. Stunning to look at, delicious to eat.
  • NEW! Indigo rose: A new release from Oregon State University,  this tomato has deep purple skin where sunshine hits the fruit to red/orange where a leaf or stem shields an area from the sun. The fruits are excellent in salads and for snacking. (Indeterminate, 70 days)

    The purple skin piqued my curiosity.
About the above descriptions: I have culled these descriptions and images from their seed packets and catalogs – ask if you have additional questions.

In my garden...
This year's garden plan is a bit tomato-centric, but I want to have a large enough crop of saucing tomatoes to can (something) from my garden. I also want to try all of the wonderful slicing and cherry varieties. Here is the plan for the troughs and raised bed on the west side of the house: