Tomato Review for 2012

They predicted rain, and a big cool down earlier this week, so I decided to harvest a bunch of tomatoes.

I spread them out on the counter and took this picture in the early morning hours. You can see my favorite in there, Sungold. Sungold is a gold-orange cherry tomato that is very early to bear and continues producing all summer.  Very sweet, very easy to grow.  If you like tomatoes you should always plant one Sungold, especially if you have kids visiting your garden. Children love them and will graze on them without thinking that they’re eating their vegetables. There are other cherry tomatoes in the picture: Sweet Million is a red cherry that is prolific, but less tasty. I grew it thinking I needed a red cherry tomato. I’m not sure I do…

Chocolate Cherry is the darker cherry tomato in the picture. I’ve loved the taste of every black tomato I’ve ever grown, and Chocolate Cherry is no exception.  This year we also grew two other  black tomatoes, Black Prince and Paul Robeson.  PR is the biggest tomato in the picture, a mix of greenish-purple and dark red.  Excellent flavor.

The medium sized red tomatoes that you see are Jet Star and Early Goliath .  They’re both hybrid beefsteak tomatoes, and are supposed to produce big tomatoes.  This year neither one would win any prizes for size. If you want a traditional tomato, disease resistant and productive, either of these two are good choices.  The flavor is pretty good. In May I heard from a customer that Champion (another beefsteak type) was better in his garden last year. We sold out of Champion early this year and I didn’t get one for my own, but next year I’ll grow more and try it here.

Taxi is an heirloom, a medium sized yellow tomato, and you can see five or six of them in the picture.  I have considered it a necessity for my own tomato garden for many years.  It produces early, and despite it’s determinate growth pattern, it continues producing all summer.  It has a sweet and mild flavor, like most of the yellow tomatoes. It’s definitely a good one for high elevation folks.

The oblong, gold tomato you see is Amish Gold, a cross between Sungold and Amish Paste.  If you like to dry tomatoes, or can them, this is one to grow, because it’s  prolific and  meaty.  For fresh eating it’s okay, but the flavor really comes out when it is cooked.

Those are the tomatoes in the picture. Not pictured is Sophie’s Choice, an heirloom we tried that was  supposed to be early and productive. Unless I hear a great success story from someone else, I won’t grow it again. In my garden it was late to ripen and kind of tasteless.

Also not pictured is Angora, or Red Velvet.  I grew that tomato years ago as Angora, now it’s being sold, if you can find it, as Red Velvet. It has a velvety, almost white leaf.  It’s amazing, really, the color and texture of the leaf and that’s why I wanted it.  I’ve tried ordering seed from an online tomato company for two years and didn’t get the fuzzy white leaf that I wanted, just regular green colored leaves.

My friend Penn, over at  grew it this year and gave me a couple. She said that she got her seed from Seed Saver’s Exchange, and that they warn everyone that only about half of them are true to type, the others are green-leafed. My supplier gave no such warning and in their case 100% were green-leafed.  Penn and her husband teach classes on seed saving and high elevation gardening. If you click on the link, you can find out more about this talented family.  Here is one of the Angora tomato plants from Penn. One I planted outside, one I kept in a pot in the greenhouse. I moved it around this morning, trying to find a good spot to show its silver leaves. Here are two different pictures of it.

Every year we try new tomatoes, and every year we refine the list of tomato plants we grow to sell.  We’ll always have Sungold, it’s not just our favorite, it has quite a following all over Colorado. We’ll always have Taxi and one or two of the delicious heirloom black tomatoes.  As for the red tomatoes, I’m still trying to find one I like as much as Taxi or Paul Robeson. I want a rich flavor, sweet and tomato-y.  I know taste is subjective, so we try to grow a wide enough variety to suit almost anyone. Tomatoes vary year to year, too. Some do better in hot dry years, other like the cool wet springs and summers.  Some will produce well at any elevation, others are more particular.  I’m working on our seed orders now, not just for tomatoes  of course, but all the annuals and perennials and woody plants that we’ll grow from seed this year.  As always, we welcome your suggestions and requests.

P.S. I just checked Penn’s blog and found that she posted about tomatoes two days ago!






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