A Few Notes on This Year's Tomato Varieties

All varieties are indeterminate and heirloom and/or open pollinated unless otherwise noted.

Red Zebra (Seed Savers Exchange): This has been a pretty productive variety–baseball-sized fruits, very pretty.  They’re not particularly flavorful though.  Grow again? No.  This is one of those varieties that will draw people to a market table with its looks, but in my book, if the flavor’s not great, it’s not worth keeping.

Nyagous (Seed Savers Exchange): Nice black tomato–slightly smaller than baseball-sized and prolific.  Not quite as tasty as some other black fruits I’ve tried, but more resistant to cracking.  Grow again? Maybe.

Hillbilly Potato Leaf (Seed Savers Exchange): Big yellow fruits with red streaking.  Very much like “Big Rainbow,” but I don’t think it’s as flavorful.  It does bear earlier.  Very pretty.  Grow again? No–I’d go back to Big Rainbow if I wanted a big stripey slicer.

Japanese Black Trifele (Johnny’s Selected Seeds): This is a cool-looking black tomato–really sized and shaped just like a pear.  It’s also a potato-leaf plant, which makes it susceptible to crossing with other tomatoes–harder to save seeds.  Nice flavor, but other blacks are better.  Grow again? Probably not.

Black from Tula (Saved): This is my favorite black tomato–fabulous flavor and yields well even under stress.  It is not as productive as Nyagous, though. Grow again? Yes.

Yellow Perfection (Seeds of Change): Potato-leafed plants bear a profusion of yellow salad-sized tomatoes.  These are really susceptible to cracking–especially in heat of the season.  Once slightly cooler weather hits, they ripen like crazy and are more deserving of their name.  They have the light, clean flavor typical of yellow tomatoes.  Grow again? Yeah.  I grew these before and then quit because of the cracking.  But they really are a nice tomato if you give them consistent water, and they really do well in cooler, wetter weather, when other tomatoes whimper.

Red Pear/Red Fig (Saved): Much better flavor than yellow pear, these are also really susceptible to cracking along their necks.  I am selecting and saving seed from fruits with shorter, thicker necks that are less likely to crack.  A great tomato for drying.  Incredibly prolific.  Grow again? Yes.  Hope to develop a crack-resistant strain.

San Marzano (Saved): As my previous post suggests, I think this is the best sauce/paste tomato.  Lots of good-sized fleshy fruits, few seeds, thick skins so they don’t damage/rot easily. No cracking.  Grow again? Absolutely.

Principe Borghese (Saved): Small, apricot-shaped red fruits that have thick flesh and dry nicely.  Nice for sauce too, and they are very prolific even under stress.  They don’t ever crack.  Grow again? Yes.

Nebraska Wedding (Seed Savers Exchange): This is a nice, good-sized (softball, or a little smaller) orange tomato.  Fairly good yields even under stress.  Dependable.  Pretty.  Nicer flavor than true yellow tomatoes.  No problems with cracking.  Grow again? If I have room.

Stupice (Seed Savers Exchange):  Bar none, the best new tomato I’ve tried.  Incredibly productive starting very early and continuing through the season, even when blighted.  The vine has to be completely dead to quit pumping out small (golf ball or slightly larger), tasty tomatoes.  Had a few cracks, but only when seriously stressed.  Potato leaf type.  Grow again? Absolutely.

Zapotec Pleated (Saved): I love this weird-looking, string purse-shaped reddish-pink tomato.  It makes a good addition to sauces because the flesh is thick, and it would make a good stuffing tomato, too.  Really nice flavor.  Produces well under stress.  Size varies.  Grow again? Always.

Black Cherry a.k.a. Brown Berry (Territorial Seeds):  This is a good-sized “black” cherry tomato.  Nice flavor, though it’s hard to tell when they’re really ripe.  Kind of a fun addition to a mixed cherry tomato box.  Grow again? If I have room.

Sun Gold Cherry F1 Hybrid (Johnny’s Selected Seeds): Absolutely the best cherry tomato I have ever tasted.  The color is molten, glowing, and gorgeous; the plant is prolific.  The taste is fruity, but rich and with a little complexity, too. Some cracking. If I could find an heirloom cherry tomato that tasted this good, I would grow it, but I haven’t yet.  Grow again? As long as I can get the seed, I will grow it.

Isis Candy (Seed Savers Exchange): This was supposed to be a really large, marbled red and yellow cherry type.  Of the three plants I put in, I got one entirely red, one sort of peachy-orange, and one bearing pink grape type tomatoes.  So, I can’t really say much about the variety other than perhaps it’s unstable.  I like the pink grape type, and may save seed from some of those.  Grow again? No.

Polish Linguisa (Saved): This is a massive, blocky paste tomato tapering to a pointy tip.  The skin is fairly thin, so it has some cracking issues, and the plants aren’t incredibly prolific or hardy, but the flavor is fantastic and the flesh is thick.  I am saving seed from the best of the best of these fruits to see if I can develop a hardier strain.  Grow again? Yes.

Red Currant (Seed Savers Exchange): I only ended up getting two plants in the ground, and they both died.  The plants were much more slender and spindly than a regular tomato plant.  I like the idea of a “sprig” of tomatoes for garnish, but no success this time.  Grow again? Maybe.

San Marzano x Zapotec Cross (Saved): I first noticed some of these in the garden last year, and I have some again this year.  It’s like a three-lobed Marzano or a less-pleated Zapotec.  They’re very prolific and have the thick flesh and good flavor of both their parents.  A little on the pinky side of red, like Zapotec.  Not too many seeds, and nice thick skin that doesn’t blemish easily.  I should say I’m not completely sure these are the two parents–but it’s definitely a Zapotec baby.  Grow again? Yes, I’m going to see if I can stabilize this new variety.  I’ll take suggestions on what to call it!


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