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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Official 2017 Tomato Variety List

Utilizing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds once again for 2017.

Gold Rush Currant Tomato
Orange - Heirloom - small - 75 Days - Sweet

Lucid Gem Tomato
Striped Black - Heirloom - 5 ounce -70 Days - Sweet, Juicy

Emerald Apple Tomato
Green - Heirloom - 85 Days - Tart, Sweet

Black Icicle Tomato
Purple/Brown - 80 Days - Rich & Earth

German Johnson Tomato
Red - 80-90 Days

Black Vernissage
Black/Striped - Petite

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Official 2016 Tomato Variety List

While most years I've taken to sourcing a variety of seed companies in order to be able to cultivate the best tomatoes with the greatest-known germination rates, for the majority of the seeds this year, I've chosen to order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Update: Green Zebra is the 2016 winner!
A delightful, fun tomato that adds color to everything. Delicious!
Green Zebra Tomato
Striped Green - 75 Days - Sweet & Sharp

Black Prince Tomato
Black/Brown - Heirloom - 70 Days - Deep, Rich

Kentucky Beefsteak Tomato
Orange - Heirloom - 80-90 Days - Sweet, Mild

Blue Cream Berry Tomato
Purple/Blue/Orange - Cherry

Weissbehaarte Tomato
Cream/Pale - German Heirloom - Juicy, sweet

Bradley Tomato
Red - Heirloom

Celebrity Tomato
Red - Hybrid - 69-80 Days

I have a good amount of seeds from last year, so I will likely utilize some of those, as well.

If you would like a pack of the seven once they've been started, come Spring, or a mix of the above variety, please let me know in the coming weeks. Message me on FB or leave a comment here. :)

2015 Tomato Review

Relative comparative sizes of the crop.

Garden Layout
Row 1: 3 Super Beefsteak, 1 Indigo Rose
Row 2: 3 Red Ponderosa, 1 Violet Jasper
Row 3: 3 Big Rainbow, 1 Nectar Hybrid
Row 4: 3 Cosmonaut Volkov, 1 Pineapple
Row 5: 3 Jersey Devil, 1 Supersteak Hybrid

Instead of delving into the review right off-the-bat, let's first take a look at the glorious sights of the 2015 tomato crop! Despite how each variety tasted and placed in the review, the physical specimens this year were magnificent. There were no real "monster" mutations.

The tomato pictures below were all taken after the first pick of the season.

Nectar Hybrid
Super Beefsteak
Cosmonaut Volkov
Red Ponderosa
Big Rainbow
Indigo Rose
Jersey Devil
Violet Jasper

This year, I conducted two separate reviews: one with my dad, my loyal taste-tester from the last 3 years, and one with my coworkers. The winner from both rounds was the Cosmonaut Volkov.

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 Garden: Update

The tomato kids are happy and healthy!
Happy and healthy!
Back-up crop!
In my attempt and haste to get a tomato harvest earlier in the summer than the end-of-July, I put my tomatoes out for the hardening phase about 2 or 3 weeks earlier than I usually do. After an unfortunate twist of weather-fate, I lost about fifteen of my good "strong" tomatoes to an unexpected storm. I had my "back-up" crop to supplement the loss, so it didn't end too badly.

We live and we learn.

After giving the rest of my crop to family and friends, my tomato garden layout:

1. 3 Super Beefsteak, 1 Indigo Rose
2. 3 Red Ponderosa, 1 Violet Jasper
3. 3 Big Rainbows 1 Nectar Hybrid
4. 3 Cosmonaut Volkov, 1 Pineapple
5. 3 Jersey Devil, 1 Supersteak Hybrid

The Cosmonaut Volkov variety is my "oddball" of choice this year, and it's doing really well thus-far.

Most of the leaves on the plants this year are similar in shape as opposed to prior tomato-seasons. The only real stand-out difference is between the Jersey Devils and the rest of the crop; they're quite "army" and the color is a darker green. I've never seen tomatoes with such foliage.

I also did some peppers this year (Poblano, Anaheim, other various), which are looking good. Cucumbers and zucchinis are looking mighty fine, as well.

The tomatoes have been flowering like crazy, so I am excited to see what the season brings!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Official 2015 Tomato Variety List

Indigo Rose - Read more about the "Purple tomato" here.

Carry-overs from 2013 & 2014

Big Rainbow
Orange/yellow/red marble. Large. 85-90 days. Origin: The Gods. Flavor profile: perfection & worth the long harvest wait.

Black Krim
Dark red. Medium. 80 days. Heirloom. Origin: Russian. Flavor profile: rich, sweet.

New for 2015

Cosmonaut Volkov
Red. Medium-large. 60-75 days. Open-pollinated heirloom. Origin: Dniepropetrousk, Ukraine. Flavor profile: Rich, deep with a balance between sweet & tangy.

Indigo rose
Dark purple/red. 1-3 ounces. 70-80 days. Huge amounts of anthocyanins in skin. Darkest tomato. Flavor profile: More of a novelty, newly released (2012) variety, so there's not much info on the flavor profile available. I guess I will have to find out for myself!

Jersey Devil
Ruby-red. 5-6 inch long. 90 days. Pointed & pepper-like. Few seeds. Good for sauces/paste. Is an ancestor to the "Jersey Giant."

Yellow. Giant. 75-95 days. Red starburst in center. Flavor profile: super sweet, fruity.

Violet Jasper
Violet-purple w/green marbling. 1-3 ounces. 70-75 days. High-yielding. Origin: China. Flavor profile: mild.

Red Ponderosa (Crimson Cushion or "Beefsteak")
Red. Huge. 85 days. One of the original "Jersey tomatoes." Flavor profile: Everything.

Nectar Hybrid
Red. Cherry variety/small clusters. 65 days. Flavor profile: Ultra sweet.

I have a variety of tomato seeds in my seed box, so I may throw in a couple of different ones when the time comes. For now, this is my list. Seeds bought and ordered (or pulled out of storage)!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Garden: Planning

It feels like I was just pulling out the remnants from my vegetable gardens a month ago! Fall came and went so quickly I barely had time to notice! That was, at least, until I started to get that gnawing in my soul for dirt, grow-lights, and the waiting game. It's that time of year to plan for the sowing season!

After a debacle last year with my seeds not getting here in time (a month late), I figured I might get an earlier start in 2015. Order ahead of time, just in case. Right? Right!

Every year I write up a list of the different varieties of tomato I want to try, then whittle the list down until I have a group that's fairly balanced. Usually it consists of a cherry/small/cluster tomato, a plum tomato, an heirloom beefsteak, a hybrid, and then a balanced variety of oddballs in size, shape, texture, and purpose (sandwich, canning, salsa, sauce, etc.).

2015's list-of-tomatoes at the moment breaks down like this (has yet to be whittled down):
Big Rainbow
Black Krim
Nectar Hybrid
Violet Jasper
Big Mama
Cosmonaut Volkov (the name alone almost guarantees a place for 2015's peat pods!)
Indigo Rose
Watermelon Beefsteak
Beefsteak Red Ponderosa/Crimson Cushion
Jersey Devil
Marianna's Peace

Aside from sugar snap peas, string beans, and other staples, this year I plan on starting some peppers, as well. I've been missing them in my gardens!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 Tomato Review

Detailed pictures of varieties & garden time-lapse coming this weekend!

The seeds (brands/descriptions/links).

Sowing to Harvest
Sowed indoors: February 22nd
Transplanted: April 19th
Transplanted outside for hardening: May 3rd
Planted in garden: May 18th

Harvest: Early August (slightly later than usual)

Harvest sample
(L to R: Certified Organic, Great White Wonder, Brandywine, 4th of July, Rutgers, Big Rainbow, Sweeties)

As with last year, I conducted a taste-test with the help of my dad, and these were the results.

1.) Big Rainbow
  • For the second year in a row, Big Rainbow was the CLEAR winner. We probably shouldn't have started with these, as it immediately set the rest of the varieties up for failure and our taste-buds on a downward spiral.
  • Orange/yellow/red (can vary) outside; swirled insides w/perfect texture.
  • It is a perfect, sweet, meaty tomato--the kind of tomato you're going to give someone who doesn't like tomatoes if they give you ONE chance to change their minds. 
  • Almost like a candy, delicious. As with last year, even sweeter as the season goes on.
  • Sizes can vary from small & round to... gigantic mutants.

2.) Brandywine
  • Dusty pink in color
  • Medium size
  • Sweet and sour
  • Absolutely beautiful insides; meaty, okay texture.
2a.) Sweeties
  • Varied from size of grapes to golf balls
  • Delicious, sweet, pop-'em-in-your-mouth flavor. 
  • These are the way to go. Love them.
3.) Rutgers
  • Good, plain tomato.
  • Mild.
  • Small, round.
4.) Certified Organic Beefsteaks
  • Sour, nothing particularly special. 
  • All plants produced very small tomatoes the same size as the Rutgers variety. Plants given away to others yielded the same results.
5.) 4th of July
  • I wanted to love these just based on the name alone!
  • Produces BEAUTIFUL consistently round, vibrant red fruits.
  • Taste wise, a mediocre tomato which didn't place with the best. 
  • What really placed this so far down is, wait for it, the unbelievably mealy texture. I didn't even finish my test slices.
  • Good candidate for sauces and stews.
6.) Great White Wonder
  • Pale yellow
  • Very large!
  • This was my pride and joy for the growing season (aka my "oddball" variety, as my dad would call it). I had tried one earlier in the season, and it had a delightful, light, very mild taste. However, when the full crop came and it was time to taste test, the taste of these can't even be explained. Not good.

Unranked is the Giant Belgium Pink. I had a whole entire row planted, which produced plenty of foliage... and not one (edible) fruit!

Next year, from this crop, I will again grow Big Rainbows and add the Sweeties. Nothing else particularly stood out like the BR and Black Krim had from 2013.


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