Saturday, October 4, 2014

TOMATOES - WHAT I GREW IN 2014 AND WHAT I LEARNED

Now that the gardening season is beginning to wind down I think it is time to take a look at
the tomatoes I grew this year and offer some thoughts that may be helpful to you.  It was a
pretty good year for growing; plenty of warm sunny days with an average amount of rainfall.
Early and late blight were a factor but I managed to stay on top of the situation by pruning
and spraying with copper sulfide and OXIDATE.

Over the years, I have shifted more of my crop over to heirloom varieties.  The tomatoes
are more flavorful and  have interesting histories.  We host a number of tomato tasting
events each year and my guests seem to really enjoy the stories that accompany each
tomato's moment in the spotlight.  Here are the tomatoes I grew this year:
ROSE TOMATO

ROSE.  This is a big pink to red tomato with great texture and taste.  This tomato makes
any sandwich taste better and tastes great on its own.  It is an offshoot of "Brandywine"
with equal taste but far better production. We did not offer it this year at many of our
tastings because we had so many new varieties.  It has moderate disease resistance.
NEBRASKA WEDDING

NEBRASKA WEDDING.  A large orange tomato with a low acid sweet taste.  This
was the overwhelming favorite at our tomato tastings.  One of the primary characteristics
that drew me to this variety is that it is a determinate tomato, meaning that it grows on a
short vine.  There are not many heirloom tomatoes that grow on a short vine.  I need to
grow a certain number of determinate tomatoes each year to keep the tomato bed from
shading the root crop bed behind it. What an advantage.  In addition to great taste, eye
appeal and growing habit, the Nebraska Wedding tomato has very good disease tolerance.
I did not have to trim as many leaves off these plants as I did for some others.

BLACK KRIM.  This is a rustic looking red tomato with great taste.  It gets it's name
by being from the island of Krim in the Black Sea.  It is an indeterminate tomato
that I train to a trellis system I have been using since 2007.  In addition to having
great taste, Black Krim started ripening two weeks earlier than my other heirlooms.
My tomato tasters gave this variety high marks.  My only complaint is that this
variety has low disease resistance.  It seems that I nearly cut every leaf off both
plants.  That said, I still managed to get good production until the last tasting
Labor Day Weekend.
BLACK ETHIOPIAN

BLACK ETHIOPIAN.  This was a new variety this year from seeds given to me
by my friends Pam and Dave.  It was their favorite in 2013.  Let's start with the
appearance.  The fruit are on the small side, a bit larger than an extra large egg.
However, the color is a deep mahogany with green shoulders.  This is a beautiful
looking piece of fruit.  The taste is excellent; sweet with lingering notes of
earthiness.  This was a hit with my tasters.  Disease resistance is moderate.
Regarding the name, the tomato actually comes from the Ukraine.  It is believed
that Soviet troops who were in Ethiopia as advisers in the 1980's introduced this
variety to the native population.
JAPANESE BLACK TRIFELE AND MOMOTARO

MOMOTARO.  This variety is actually a hybrid from Japan.  It came to my attention
several years ago when I learned that it had won some tasting contests on the
West Coast of the United States.  It is medium sized, It is dark pink in color and
the fruit are mostly perfect - no blemishes, etc.  I have to say that for a hybrid this is
a very good tasting tomato.  It has a combination of sweet and tangy.  My tasters
continue to like this variety.  It is an indeterminate tomato with good production and
moderate disease resistance.

JAPANESE BLACK TRIFELE
  This is a medium sized pear shaped tomato with excellent
taste.  It is a bit unusual in that the leaves are shaped like potato leaves.  The plants are
indeterminate with moderate disease resistance.  The fruit look a lot like the Black
Ethiopian tomato except somewhat larger.  Most of my tasters really liked this variety.

GREEN ZEBRA.  We have been growing Green Zebra tomatoes for the last six years
and count them as a perennial favorite.  They are tangy, almost citric in taste.
They are salad sized and make a great addition to any salad with their electric green
appearance.  They have an indeterminate grow habit, great production with moderate
disease resistance.
RUSSIAN OX HEART

RUSSIAN OXHEART.  This is a large red tomato shaped like an ox heart with very good
flavor and texture.  It makes a great sandwich tomato, but is just as good as a slice
with some artisan salt.  All of my tasters like it and there is always at least one person
who says that it is their favorite.  It is an indeterminate with very good production
and good disease resistance.  I was given seeds by an acquaintance four years ago and
was pleasantly surprised.  We have been growing it ever since.
PRIMO F1 HYBRID ON THE VINE

PRIMO F1.  This is another hybrid that I tried for the first time this year.  What attracted
me to this variety was the promise of large red fruit on a determinate vine.  This plant
was prolific to say the least.  The fruit are not as flavorful as the heirlooms.  However,
if you have limited space and want a tomato you can use in a sandwich, this might work
for you.  It has a dense center with not many seeds and makes a very good salsa tomato.
I was disappointed with the low disease  resistance of this variety.

In addition to the fruit listed above we grew two varieties of plum tomato, San Marzano and
Milano.  San  Marzano is an heirloom  tomato with a relatively dry interior perfect for
processing into puree or sauce.  It is an indeterminate with good disease resistance.  Milano
is a short vine determinate tomato that tends to ripen over a short period of time.  My one
gripe with this variety is low disease resistance.

We   also grew 3 varieties of small tomato:  Matt's Wild Cherry, Yellow Pear and and
a hybrid cherry tomato with the catchy name of BHN-624.  Matt's Wild Cherry has been
a perennial favorite for ten years.   It has very small fruit that are packed with flavor.
Matt's will also keep producing until the first killing frost.  The Yellow Pear are interesting
but not very tasty.  I probably won't grow these again.

I tried the BHN-624 for the first time this season.  What a great producer.  It also has excellent
disease resistance.  By mistake, I grew  this variety as a determinate and it responded quite
well (see picture).  The taste was good and the dense texture made it a good choice for a
cherry tomato pasta sauce.  
BHN-624 CHERRY TOMATO
That about wraps it up.  If you have any questions or comments please send me an eamail
to gcgarnache@gmail.com.  I would also like to know what varieties of tomato you grow
and what you think about them.
All the best,
Greg Garnache



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