Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tomayto, Tomahto - Part 2


Last year I planted 4 different varieties of tomatoes – “Yellow Pear” (cherry), Brandywine (slicer), Glacier and Siberian (both salad tomatoes).  All were heirloom tomatoes & none did overly well in terms of production.

This year, my plan was to grow 6 or 7 varieties.  Well, that was the plan….hasn’t quite worked out that way.  As I was browsing the Tomatofest website, I noticed several tomatoes that piqued my interest.  I was able to curb my spending spree and settled on 5 different varieties.  When I received them in the mail, a bonus packet of cherry tomato seeds was included – Yeah!

I had placed an order with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (for other veggies) and when it arrived, I found another bonus packet of tomato seeds.  Then I realized that I had already forgotten the lessons that I had apparently learned last year, specifically to always include a couple of hybrid tomatoes in the mix just in case it turns out to be a particularly bad year for disease.  Whoops!  So I picked up 2 hybrid varieties when I went to William Dam.  Oh yes, and I still had the seeds leftover from last year.

When I started sorting through all of my seeds, I suddenly realized that I had 13 – THIRTEEN! – varieties of tomatoes.  Yikes!  That’s double what I had planned on.

So I did my best and ruthlessly cut back the number of varieties I would grow this year…..to 12.  Yeah – that’s about as good as I could do.  So this is what I ended up with:

Tomato Seeds - Planned for 6; Ended up with 12
 
The only variety I chose to eliminate was last year’s Glacier tomato.  The plant barely grew & I got a whopping 10 tomatoes weighing in at 408 grams - total.  For all of you south of the border – one pound is 454 grams, so we are talking less than ONE POUND -- for TEN tomatoes!  I’m not placing the entire blame on the variety – I did a ton of stuff wrong last year, which I’m sure you have now read about in Part 1.  But since Glacier did SO badly compared to the others I grew, I figured if I had to give the axe to one variety this year, it might as well be this one.

So here is a rundown of the varieties I will be growing and why I chose them:

Slicing Tomatoes
  • Brandywine (OSC Seeds)
    • Seeds from last year
  • Cherokee Purple (Tomatofest)
    • Supposed to be one of the best tasting heirlooms
  • Costoluto Genovese (Tomatofest)
    • Meaty; slightly tart; apparently amazing for sauce – but I have to say the main reason I decided to get this one is because of its gorgeous looks.  Hopefully they are not just skin deep!
  • Mountain Merit F1 (William Dam)
    • Disease resistant; good yield; mild flavour

Salad Tomatoes

  • Siberian (Cottage Gardener)
    • Seeds from last year
  • Bloody Butcher (Tomatofest)
    •  Heavy producer that starts early (54 days) and produces until frost; rich heirloom tomato flavour
  • Mountain Magic F1 (William Dam)
    • Disease resistant & produces in high heat/humidity
  • Gypsy (Baker Creek)
    • Free Packet – Online reviews of this one stated that the flavour was very good
Paste Tomatoes
  • Speckled Roman (Tomatofest)
    • Large paste tomato with good yield & flavour

Cherry Tomatoes
  • Yellow Pear (Cottage Gardener)
    • Seeds from last year
  • Ildi (Tomatofest)
    • The Tomatofest website says that this is "the earliest, highest-yielding grape tomato in our trials…sweet, sweet….usually produces until frost”.  With claims like that, how could I resist!
  • Aunt Ruby’s Yellow Cherry (Tomatofest)
    • Free Packet – Many online reviews said that the production on this one was “unbelievable” - we'll wait and see if I believe it or not..
All of these tomatoes are heirlooms with the exception of Mountain Magic & Mountain Merit.  Mountain Merit was a 2014 All American Selections winner; it apparently has the most disease resistance of any large tomato variety.  Mountain Magic is also disease resistant; in addition, it continues to set fruit in high heat/high humidity situations.  We often get flowers dropping in July because of conditions like this, so it should be interesting to see how well this variety does.  And both of these are early AND late blight resistant – I haven’t found any other tomato varieties that make this claim.

But one thing is for sure – blight resistance doesn’t come cheap.  When I saw the price tags on these two packets of seeds, it was one of those “Say What?!” moments.  The Mountain Magic packet indicated that it had 10-15 seeds (I got 13) and cost -- hold onto your hat -- $7.95!!  The Mountain Merit was almost as expensive at $4.95 for 10 seeds (packet indicated 7-10 seeds).
 

Mountain Merit & Mountain Magic - 23 Seeds for $12.90!!  Ouch!
 
At those prices, I better get 100% germination!!  If you were really observant you may have noticed that the above photo only contains 19 seeds instead of 23.  That's because I am now in the process of pre-germinating 4 of them (2 from each variety).  Normally, I would germinate a few extras, just in case.  But these seeds are the equivalent of tomato seed gold - I need 2 of each, so I am germinating 2 of each.  If - and only if -  one fails to germinate, then I will dig into my packet for another seed.  So that is where I’m at today - waiting for germination.

I shall leave you with a fantastic tomato quote that I came across recently – I just couldn’t help but smile the minute I read it….

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it into fruit salad”
~~ Miles Kington

Now ain’t that the truth!!

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

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