Friday, February 24, 2006

Tomato Torment...

Oh.... what to plant this year? I need to decide ASAP because I need to order seeds from Tomato Growers Supply if I decide on a somewhat unusual variety.

Ok, here are the top 20 tomato varieties for Sacramento in 2005 according to a survey of experts by Sacramento Bee Garden Writer, Dan Vierria:

Azoychka
Beefy Boy
Better Boy
Big Mama
Brandy Boy
Brandywine
Caspian Pink
Celebrity
Christmas Grapes
Dona
Jetsetter
Lemon Boy
Marianna's Peace
Mexico
Pineapple
Pink Ping Pong
Roma
SunGold
SunSugar
Sweet Million


Morningsun Herb Farm Top 20, 2005

SUNGOLD
SUPER SWEET 100
CHEROKEE PURPLE
BLACK CHERRY
SNOW WHITE CHERRY
CARBON
CABERNET
SWEET CHELSEA
COUSTROLEE
GARDEN PEACH
GREEN GRAPE
DIXIE GOLDEN GIANT
SOUTHERN NIGHT
TANGERINE
MR. STRIPEY
STUPICE
GREEN ZEBRA
TAPPY HERITAGE
LEMON BOY
AMANA ORANGE


Redwood Barn Nursery Recommendations (Don Shor):

Standard varieties:
Ace: "Dependable, sets in a wide range of temperatures. Heavy on tomato flavor. Beautiful fruit, great salad variety, but tough skin. Nice compact plant." Great for small spaces.

Better Boy: "Similar to Early Girl, but hasn't got the depth of flavor. Very productive." Very heavy fruit set on large vines makes it a great one for sauce production.

Celebrity: "Very reliable producer. Excellent for slicing. Moderate size plants. FAVORITE TOMATO #2!"

Champion: Very good flavor, large vine, large fruit, very productive. The largest-fruited type that produces reliably here.

Early Girl: "FAVORITE TOMATO #1!" This one routinely wins taste tests in California, and produces reliably from early summer into the winter.

Roma: "Real workhorse of a tomato. Very productive on compact plants which don't need staking. Great flavor, even used fresh. Very reliable. FAVORITE #3!" The best for sauce.

Cherry, yellow, and other varieties:
Green Zebra: "Delicious, sprightly. Unusually good flavor for a yellow tomato. Pretty." Bizarre looking fruit.

Husky Gold: "My favorite yellow tomato!"

Husky Red: "Good flavor. Beautiful little plant. Great for small spaces or containers."

Lemon Boy: "Early results impressive. Better texture than Golden Jubilee."

Patio: "Cute little plant. The best for smaller pots. Sweet, firm fruit." Surprisingly productive for an 18" plant.

SunGold: "YUMMM! My favorite cherry tomato. Dries into candy. Everyone should grow it!" One of the best tomatoes ever.

Sweet 100: "Unbelievably productive. A very good cherry tomato. Kids really love them. Great for salads (and slingshots!)--small enough to eat in one bite (unlike most cherry tomatoes)."

Heirloom and gourmet varieties--
we continue to try the many varieties available. This is by no means a definitive listing!

Brandywine: "Very popular, mild flavor. Mealy texture."

Carmello: "Thin skinned, mealy. More flavorful than Beefsteak types, with better acid/sugar balance."

Costoluto Genovese: "Impressive; similar to Marmande. Productive."

Marmande: "Very fruity; acid/sugar balance is great."

Marval Striped, and Old German (very similar varieties): "Mild, thin-skinned, mealy. Slicing tomato. Sweet."

Principe Borghese: "I love it! Wildly productive. Excellent depth of flavor. Makes great sauce, though with lots of seeds and skin (strain the sauce)."

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My list, so far:

Black (heirloom, indeterminate, late season at 80-85 days)
Early Girl (early season, 52 days, indeterminate)
SunGold or SunSugar (both indeterminate, early season at 57 days & 62 days)
Celebrity (Yes, I was somewhat swayed by Don Shor's comment)(determinate, midseason, 70 days)

I think another heirloom would be fun to finish off with. I really don't have room for more plants if I want to grow any peppers or melons or squash this year.

In the past, I've gotten consistently tasty results from:

'Patio'
'Yellow Pear'
'Purple Calabash'
'Sweet 100'
'Caspian Pink'
'SunGold'

Interesting to note that SunGold and Lemon Boy were the only varieties showing up on all three lists! If you like 'em sweet and dependable, you need to surrender your heart to SunGold. I'll admit to lusting in my heart for SunSugar, but I'll always be true to SunGold...

UPDATE (3:38pm, Sat., Feb 25)-- I started some seeds of 'Black' in the greenhouse today using last year's seeds. Also came across some 'Celebrity' seeds from last year and started a six-pack of them because a) I had the seeds and b) Don Shor spoke glowingly of 'Celebrity'.

UPDATE (7:51am, Tuesday, Feb 28)-- I am ordering seeds of 'Black from Tula' (Thanks, Amy!), 'Lemon Boy' and 'Costoluto Genovese' (Thanks, Don!). I'm starting to worry about where I'm going to plant this many tomatoes, but where there's a will, there's a way, right? Right? Do I feel like I'm done choosing? No. I lack a really cool bicolor tomato. I grew 'Speckled Roman' a couple years ago and it was gorgeous! Tomato Growers Supply doesn't sell seed for 'Speckled Roman' so I took that as a sign to try something else. Perhaps I should start some of last year's 'Copia' seeds so I can give it another try. I didn't get great results from it last year, but as we all know, this year could be very different, depending on the weather. Yeah, that's it... I'll blame the weather.

March 13 edit: Want to know which varieties Sunset deemed best in the West in 2001?

Slicers:

'Brandywine'
'Odoriko'
'Paul Robeson'
'Cherokee Purple'
'Black Prince'
'Earl of Edgecombe'
'Flamme'
'Dona'
'Costoluto Genovese'
'Charlie Chaplin'
'Stupice'

Cherry:

'SunSugar'
'Sun Gold'
'Sugar Snack'
'Supersweet 100'
'Sweet 100'

Paste:

'San Marzano'
'Viva Italia'
'Principe Borghese' (favored for drying)


Ok, here's my final (ha ha) list:

Black (aka Black Prince)
Black from Tula
Early Girl
Sungold
Celebrity
Lemon Boy
Costoluto Genovese
Copia or some other yellow/orange/red bicolor
Impulse Purchase (available later in the season at various nurseries around town)

Oops, my finger slipped on the keyboard when I was ordering from T.G.S. and I accidentally added 'SunSugar' as well as the above. Keyboards can be slippery.

3 comments:

  1. I love Black from Tula if you can find it, couldn't live without Green Zebra, and yes, I agree, there's nothing better than Sungold although a yellow pear is nice just for the shape & color.

    ah, summer...heirloom tomatoes with olive oil, salt, garlic and basil...seems so far away!

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  2. Black from Tula sounds great (I looked it up). Apparently the 'Black' I'm growing is the same as 'Black Prince'. I may just give B from T a try so I can compare it to B.P.!

    Green Zebra looks good, too, but I'm always looking veggies that show up nicely in a salad... and how the heck would I know when it's ripe?

    Let's add some fresh mozzarella to your tomatoes with olive oil, salt, garlic and basil. Mmmmm.....

    Know what else sounds good? A nice B.L.T. made with nitrate-free bacon.

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  3. Don Shor12:21 AM

    Hi, Angela!
    I'd love to see more people try Costoluto Genovese. It's become one of our favorites in the last couple of years--reliable, with excellent flavor.
    And just for the record, SunGold is always one of our top-selling tomatoes, for good reason.
    Don

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