Sunday, November 23, 2014

End of Season Review - Tomatoes - Part 2


In Part 1, I discussed the performance of the cherry & paste tomato varieties that I grew this year.  Now on to how the salad & slicing tomatoes performed.

Tomato Varieties & Harvest

 
Salad Tomatoes

Total # of plants – 12; Total harvested (ripe) – 33 kg (72 lbs)

·         Siberian

Siberian

o   2 plants
o   5,891 grams (12.99 lbs) – 148 tomatoes
o   2,946 grams per plant (6.49 lbs)
o   Taste – Good flavour, quite acidic, thicker skin
o   Overall – These are supposed to be early producers, but they don’t seem to bear that much earlier than other salad varieties and Bloody Butcher has it beat by a mile.  Production was ok, but it went downhill very quickly once hit by late blight.  I’ve grown these two years in a row & am not attached enough to try them again, so I will not be growing these next year.

·         Bloody Butcher

Bloody Butcher
Forgot to take a photo during the taste test; the one pictured was the
first ripe tomato of the season

o   3 plants
o   4,244 grams (9.36 lbs) – 84 tomatoes
o   1,415 grams per plant (3.12 lbs)
o   Taste – Very nice flavour and texture
o   Overall – This one was in a shadier location and the plants stayed relatively small.  This likely affected productivity, which was half of any other salad tomato variety.  On the plus side, Bloody Butcher was amazingly early.  It gave me my first tomato 12 days before any other variety.  In fact, by the time my other “early” varieties were ripe (namely Siberian & Aunt Ruby’s Yellow Cherry), I had already harvested 14 tomatoes (almost 2 pounds) from my Bloody Butcher plants.  For this reason alone, this variety is a must have in next year’s garden.  I’ll try to plant it in a better location next year to see if this impacts on plant size and/or production.

·         Mountain Magic (F1 Hybrid)

Mountain Magic

o   3 plants
o   10,725 grams (23.64 lbs) – 336 tomatoes
o   3,575 grams per plant (7.88 lbs)
o   Taste – Great tomato flavour, especially for a hybrid.  Nice acid balance.  Skin was a tad thick
o   Overall – All I can say is WOW.  Loved it!  The plants were vigourous and even with late blight spreading like wildfire in the tomato beds later in the season, this one was still lush and green.  One of the benefits of this variety is that it is both early and late blight resistant - a rarity among tomato varieties, even hybrids.  A few of the tomatoes finally did start to get infected right at the end but I have a feeling that this was only because the blight stricken Aunt Ruby vines were completely intertwined with the Mountain Magic, so I’m not deducting any points.  Production was amazing and they tasted great.  What more could you want?  Well, maybe paying less than $7.95 for a packet of 13 seeds would be nice, but I must say, this one is well worth it.  And when you think about it, tomato seeds are usually good for several years and since I will only be growing two of these per season, I will hopefully get at least 3 or 4 years from that one packet.  So we have awesome disease resistance, vigorous plants, and, on a side by side taste test with heirlooms, these tasted really good.  I have a feeling that I will be growing Mountain Magic for many years to come.

·         Gypsy

Gypsy

o   4 plants
o   11,967 grams (26.38 lbs) – 113 tomatoes
o   2,991 grams per plant (6.59 lbs)
o   Taste – Very mild in flavour, verging on bland & texture was grainy.  Out of all the varieties I grew, I liked these the least
o   Overall – This one was the first to contract late blight, although it was one of the last to have the actual tomatoes infected by the fungus.  So on the plus side, it did continue to produce, in spite of the blight & the tomatoes were quite large – more of a small slicer than a salad tomato, I would say.  But the flavour just wasn’t there and I really didn’t like the grainy texture.  It also had large seed cavities, so wasn’t very meaty.  I won’t be growing this one again.

Next Year - I grew WAY too many salad tomatoes this year. It just so happened that I had lots of extra salad tomato seedlings so they were used to replace the germination failures from other varieties.  Next year, I will reduce the number of salad tomato varieties from 4 to 3, growing 2 plants of each.  This will effectively cut the total number of salad tomato plants by half.  Since I will be dropping Siberian & Gypsy, I will have room to try out one new variety.

 
Slicing Tomatoes

Total # of plants – 7; Total harvested (ripe) – 24 kg (53 lbs)

·         Mountain Merit (F1 Hybrid)


o   2 plants
o   12,489 grams (27.53 lbs) – 58 tomatoes
o   6,245 grams per plant (13.77 lbs)
o   Taste – A bit bland/watered down but the texture was nice & firm
o   Overall – Out of this world production – almost 14 lbs per plant? Unbelievable.  And the tomatoes were very meaty with few seeds – which lends itself to sauces.  However, I’m not sure if I will grow these again once the VERY expensive seeds run out as the taste just wasn’t there.  If it wasn’t for how productive they are & their sauce potential, I would likely not grow them again regardless.  Some tomatoes that are only “ok” for fresh eating do very well in sauces (Costoluto Genovese is supposed to be one like this) – I plan to try a “Mountain Merit” sauce next year to see.

·         Cherokee Purple


Cherokee Purple
 
o   1 plant
o   2,632 grams (5.80 lbs) – 8 tomatoes
o   Taste – Flavour was good, but not as good as Brandywine
o   Overall – Cherokee purple ranked second from the bottom in terms of the number of tomatoes harvested - only 8 tomatoes harvested from one plant.  However, it produced the most in terms of pounds per plant out of the three heirloom slicers that I grew.  I’m also cutting it a bit of slack when it comes to productivity because it was right in the middle of the bed, with determinates on one side & indeterminates on the other.  And of course, the blight that ran through this bed didn’t help matters either.  I would probably drop this one and try a different variety if it weren't for the fact that it is such a favourite among so many people.  I also keep going back to the fact that we had a very wet, cool summer this year, which may have impacted on flavour.  So Cherokee Purple is staying on the list for next year.

·         Brandywine

Brandywine

o   2 plants
o   4,354 grams (9.60 lbs) – 11 tomatoes
o   2177 grams per plant (4.80 lbs)
o   Taste – Loved the taste – definitely the most flavourful of all the tomatoes I grew
o   Overall – Brandwine was the worst producer out of all the slicers - I harvested the equivalent of just over 5 tomatoes per plant.  BUT I am definitely including this one again next year.  Why?  Because of the taste - it ranked #1 out of the 12 different varieties that I grew.

·         Costoluto Genovese

Costoluto Genovese
 
o    1 plant
o    2,232 grams (4.92 lbs) – 14 tomatoes
o   Taste - Nice, light flavor
o   Overall – I liked this one – of course it is gorgeous but I also found the flavour to be quite nice.  When I look back at my notes from when I purchased the seeds, I had said that this one just shone in sauces.  Too bad I didn’t remember this during tomato season.  When I made tomato sauce, I simply combined whichever tomato varieties I had on hand at the moment.  I’m growing this one again next year and hopefully I will remember to create a Costoluto Genovese only sauce to see if this holds true.  Just like the Cherokee purple, this one was also a single plant in the middle of the bed, so productivity was not bad, considering.

·         J’s Mystery Tomato

J's Mystery Tomato on the Vine
 

o   1 plant
o   2,356 grams (5.19 lbs) – 10 tomatoes
o   Taste – ok but nothing special
o   This one was the least vigorous of all the varieties I grew – it stayed relatively small even though it was front and center on the south side of the bed with no other plants blocking it.  It was also the most susceptible to blossom end rot.  But J was always excited when one of “his” tomatoes was ripening and he loved picking/eating them so it wasn’t all bad!

Next Year – Of course J’s Mystery Tomato will be out of the rotation, but otherwise, I think I will maintain the status quo on the slicing tomato varieties, growing 2 each of Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Costoluto Genovese & Mountain Magic.  On second thought, I may grow only one plant for a couple of these and add another variety or two to the slicing tomato list....something to ponder over the next month or so.

And that wraps up Part 2 of the end of season tomato review.  In Part 3, I will do a summary table, compare this year’s harvest with prior years and give my overall impressions & plan for next year.

Till next time…

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

10 comments:

  1. Your brandywines are sure a LOT prettier than mine---all cracked and hideous they were--but you nailed it---it's the TASTE . And really, isn't that the most important thing.
    I rarely get more than 4 or 5 a year--our season is too short--but OMG--never is a tomato more enjoyed than those few.
    Love love love your very thorough notes. I wish I were better at keeping records.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue! The Brandywines certainly were delicious, even though our weather was less than favourable - I'm actually quite surprised they tasted as good as they did, considering the lack of heat this summer. No wonder they get so many rave reviews!

      Delete
  2. How interesting, Brandywine has never produced that vaunted flavor in my garden. But one of the best performing tomatoes in my garden this year is a Brandywine/Italian cross. Chianti Rose has been disease resistant, relatively productive, and delicious. Funny how things work out like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many things can affect productivity and flavour - the only way to know if a particular veg suits your garden & tastes is to try it. And trying different varieties really is half the fun. I'm going to make a note of Chianti Rose - it sounds fabulous!

      Delete
  3. I just read through your reviews, and you certainly seem to have done a thorough analysis! It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of tomato varieties available, and by the hype surrounding many of them. At the end of the day, all that really matters is what works and tastes best for you!

    In my garden, I have yet to taste a great Brandywine. I have no doubt that others love them, but they just don't do much here. It's probably too hot or humid for them. Mt Magic sure does well here though. It's also great for drying. Black Cherry is an o/p variety that consistently does well here too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right - I am just starting on my journey through the world of tomato varieties and I just want to try them all! I'll have to remember to try drying Mountain Magic next year - hopefully I'll have a dehydrator by then.

      Delete
  4. You sure do keep great records! I have to agree that your Brandywine is pretty. I have had some ugly looking ones. Who do you order from? Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I purchased my Brandywine seeds from OSC seeds which is a seed company here in Ontario. But if I had to order again, I would probably go with Pinetree. I used them last year and loved them! They offer small packets (who really needs 50 seeds of one variety?) at amazing prices & their customer service is great.

      Delete
  5. I've grown both Cherokee Purple and Brandywine. The later never tasted all that good to me, but CP did. I always wonder how much our soil impacts the taste.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the thing - so many things can affect flavour (including personal taste). Growing varieties that others have grown and enjoyed is a great starting point but you shouldn't limit yourself to those for that very reason. And that goes for any veg, really.

      Delete

I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy all of your lovely comments :) Please note that in order to foil those pesky spammers, comment moderation has been enabled for older comments.