New Tomatoes! New Tomatoes!

I’m trying a few more new (to me) tomato varieties this year.  More, of course, than I initially meant to.

But who can resist?

I’m going for Old Pink Plum–a smallish pink heirloom for slicing and canning and Green Zebra, which I’ve been planning to try for while. Blondkopfchen, which apparently means “little blonde girl,” is a yellow, nippled smallish tomato (large cherry size, I’m thinking); Millett’s Dakota is an all-purpose red slicer/canner.

I’m also ordering Pruden’s Purple, which is supposed to be one of the best of the purples–with the added bonus that (according to the catalogs), it rarely cracks.  Santorini is also new to me–a sample sent by Skyfire Garden Seeds last fall.  I don’t really know much about it, but I’m planning to grow it.

Japanese Black Trifele

The newbies will be started alongside old and new-ish favorites: Sun Gold Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, Coyote Cherry, Red Pear, Principe Borghese, Polish Linguisa, San Marzano, Japanese Black Trifele, Stupice, Zapotec Pleated, the Zapotec-Marzano cross I’m working on, Nyagous, Yellow Perfection, Cuore di Bue, and Ananas Noire.

Frankly, I don’t know how I’ll fit them all in the starting tray.  If I go beyond one tray, it’ll be far too out of control once I pot them into 4-packs.  But, if I simply divide a couple of the twenty channels and put two varieties of cherry tomato in each…

I could probably order a few more!  Hmm.  I was thinking of bringing back Big Rainbow, and I don’t have a round red cherry…Riesentraube?  But SSE has a grape-shaped red that’s supposed to actually taste good, unlike grocery store grape tomatoes.  I don’t have a grape tomato….

Coyote (pale yellow), Red Pear/Black Cherry, Red Currant/Sun Gold

Tomatoes I grew last year that are dropping off the list: Hillbilly Potato Leaf (pretty, but it doesn’t taste as good as Big Rainbow), Purple Calabash (I know some people really liked this one, but I didn’t, even though it was quite productive), Nebraska Wedding (I might grow this again, but I’m out of seed), Red Currant (totally unimpressed).

I almost decided to quit growing the black cherry, but I have a regular customer who raved about them, and they do look nice in the mixed cherry tomato packs.

Another factor in the mix is that Old Pink Plum, Blondkopfchen, and Millett’s Dakota were all put on order with substitute selections (which of course I failed to write down in my own records), so one or more of those may end up being something else–and I won’t know what that’ll be until I get the seed packs.

I think most of the tomatoes I’m ordering and growing are different-looking enough from each other either by fruit size, color, and/or shape or by foliage type (regular tomato vs. potato-leafed) that I should be able to tell them all apart in the field.  I hope.

Hillbilly Potato Leaf & Ananas NoireAnd this year I swear I won’t be waiting weeks for those big green tomatoes to turn some color or other, only to realize that was their ripe color.  Maybe I should hang ID tags on the trellises rather than sticking them in the ground where they end up getting swallowed by the monster plants?

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14 responses

  1. Wow, it’s so helpful to know what tomatoes grow best in the area. Thanks so much for posting. The photos are awesome.

    I grew two successful varieties last year and I can’t remember the name of one of them, but the other was Heirloom German Queens–they were large and luscious and had no pests or predators feeding off them. I didn’t spray them with anything, just planted them in organic potting mix in my Square Foot Garden and watered them from my well as often as needed.

    • As many tomatoes as I grow, I generally don’t have pest problems with them (currently knocking on wood). I’ve only seen a tomato hornworm once ever–didn’t even realize what it was right away. Cutworms don’t tend to be too much of a problem for me either–maybe they get one or two (out of a hundred or more) plants a year–and I don’t use collars or anything. I generally have a back-up plant (or two, or twenty) to fill in the gap.

      I’ve never seen German Queens–“Old German” I have seen. It looks like I’m going to try Kellogg’s Breakfast instead of going back to Big Rainbow. I prefer the more complex, richer, spicier-tasting tomatoes to the just-plain-sweet ones.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Ha ha..these look amazing. I didnt know there were so many types. I’m growing them successfully for the first time ever – but they are still to ripen. I check them every day. It’s summer here – Australia.
    Cheers, Sim

  3. I love costoluto genovese, they are a lovely tomato, excellent for canning, thick and meaty, but not large. I have had great years and a couple of not so great years, not so great is probably weather related.
    I still like the flavor of the old brandywines too.
    I have a vitamix and that is the absolute best thing i own for canning sauce, i can include the skin and seeds and you would never know. No waste, no skinning the tomatoes and losing vitamins. It was well worth the expense.

    • Oh, you and your Vitamix! You’ll get me to buy one yet!

      I’ve grown Brandywines as well, but I’m starting to see transplants of them in the local greenhouses, so I’ve been going for slightly less-known varieties. It’s funny, too, how many different strains you’ll find of some of the more popular heirlooms–it’s getting to be so a Brandywine isn’t necessarily a Brandywine. Lately, I’m seeing pictures of San Marzanos in catalogs that don’t really look like the ones I grow, either.

      I’ve always heard good things about Costoluto Genoveses, but I haven’t grown them yet–maybe next year!

  4. I grew orange blossoms, green zebras, speckled roman, and two red varieties I can’t remember last summer. All produced well, and the green zebras make for an interesting pizza or pasta sauce. I’m planning on making one final big pot of chili with the orange blossoms I have frozen – they really came out bright orange.
    The best canning tomatoes I’ve found are the romas.
    BTW, I had terrible luck with those hanging tomato planters you see on TV. They didn’t hold enough soil to keep my ‘maters growing, and didn’t hold enough water to keep them from cracking. I wonder if chili peppers would do better in them.

    • With the enormous size of the tomato plants I grow, I’d pull down whatever I tried to hang those topsy-turvy planters on. I think you’d have better luck using a variety bred specifically for container planting.

      I can pretty much any tomato I get my hands on toward the end of the season, but my favorites are San Marzano, Polish Linguisa, and Principe Borghese. I’m pretty happy with Japanese Black Trifele as a canning tomato as well.

  5. speckled roman and striped roman are both excellent tomatoes. I like san marzanos because they have a better flavor than many paste tomatoes.
    someone told me that cattle panels 2 put together like a house roof are better than any tomato cages. Tomato cages are the plague of my life. Bext year i am trying cattle panels.
    Keep an eye open at your local thrift shop, you just might find an old vita-mix, and you will wonder why you waited so long. I found one for my daughter for just a few dollars.You can make soup in it and ice cream too.
    I need to get serious with my catalogues and look up some of these tomatoes all of you are discussing.
    BTW, i am considering keeping bees this year, but with a daughter getting married in our yard, i might wait a year before i begin.

    • Yeah, I use cattle panels (actually, I use combo panels–grid closer together on the bottom). But I’m thinking of using hog or combo panels laid horizontally on supports (blocks? to hold down landscape fabric?) this year, so the plants can grow up through and sprawl over the tops–that way I’m not mashing the plants against the vertical panels when I tie them up (I don’t do a lot of pruning).

      Maybe I’ll still use upright supports for cherry toms. I hear you about tomato support being the bane of existence–I’m still working out the best ways for my operation. I don’t use those flimsy store cages for anything but sweet peppers–my tomato varieties eat them alive.

      Bees! Yay! I haven’t done that yet–I work more on supporting the native pollinators for now.

  6. Heh. I tried bamboo canes last summer for my tomatoes. They looked great until the plants started to bear fruit. My little teepees couldn’t handle the weight. Lesson learned.

    This year I’m either going with cattle panels or steel fenceposts. I prune the plants pretty religiously (I only grow eight, so it’s not too much work to do), so training them up a fencepost shouldn’t be too difficult.

    BTW, Jolie, the best seed catalogue I’ve found is Seed Savers. Lots and lots of heirlooms.

  7. Drooling. I love Green Zebra.
    I don’t grow many tomatoes, just a handful of plants, so I buy seedlings from a woman at the greenmarket. Alas, last year, they succumbed to the blight. I hope it doesn’t happen again.

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