Posted by: locaphile | September 22, 2013

Tomatoes 2013: Summing up

This was the best summer for tomatoes that I can remember here in Maple Ridge.  I seeded the tomatoes about a month too early in early March.  The varieties I seeded in early April did just as well and took much less time under the growlights.  I must remember to control myself next year.  We mixed the soil-less mix on the driveway in early May and the tomatoes were out in to their growing pots (many galvanized garbage cans parked under the south and west facing eaves of the house).

The season was warm and dry almost to a fault.  It was so warm and dry that the tomato leaves were scorched in the heat and so offered little protection for the fruits below.  By the end of August it was almost impossible to keep up with the watering and the fruits were popping off the vines.  It was a fantastic bounty of tomatoes of all sorts, cherries, roams, plums and beefsteaks.  With rain threatening last week we took in all the remaining fruit and pulled down the vines, thus ending a fantastic tomato growing season.

This year we grew 15 varieties of tomatoes in 31 pots.  Here is our annual assessment:

Angora Super Sweet – I keep thinking that this cherry tomato is going to do something  impressive but it hasn’t yet.  The fruit is fuzzy which is endearing… but not endearing enough to grow it again next year.

Azoychka – This is a yellow-orange variety that is really impressive though only a moderate producer this year for some reason.

Black Cherry – Our best cherry tomato with a truly delicious flavour and a good production.

Black Ethiopian – One of my favourites, a reliable purple-black plum with a rich and almost smokey flavour.

Blondkopfchen – This is a charming yellow cherry tomato that brightens everything.

Boxcar Willie – Another reliable red tomato with great flavour and production.

Costoluto Genovese – One of the gnarliest and most flavour-full of the sauce tomatoes.  The skins are tough but the flavour is worth the effort to get through them.  Also a great producer this year.

Cream Sausage – This is a determinate variety that always looks a little sickly and then goes into fruiting overdrive.  I use this yellow plum to make yellow paste to keep the yellow salsa yellow.  It’s a thing.

Hillbilly – Also a delight to slice into, Hillbilly is an orangey-yellow with red streaks within.

Indigo Rose –This variety is the only one still growing outside under cover after we took all the rest of the vines down last week.  The deep purple skin is due to high levels of anthocyanins, supposedly powerful antioxidants.  Regardless of health benefits, the deep purple colour looks great in a salad.

Orlov Yellow Giant – When this variety produces it does produce big, beautiful yellow fruit.  We just need more of them.

Paul Robeson – Yet another favorite with tasty purple-black fruit and good production.  It would be good in sauces, pastes and salsas but it usually gets eaten before it gets near a pot.

Purple Russian – This variety did exceptionally well this year with loads of tasty plum-shaped fruits.

San Marzano Redorta – Once more these were the most impressive tomatoes of the whole season – huge, plentiful fruit that make the most yummy sauce and paste.  We grew four of this variety and would love to find space for more.

Tumbling Toms – I put these in our hanging buckets but I think that I should find something more interesting for next year.

With the vines down we will miss the shade that the growing curtains of tomatoes gave our kitchen windows.  Now the window sills and tables are full of still-ripening fruit.  There are a few more salads and sauces on the way.  Meanwhile, the tomato pots on the south-facing wall are full of sprouting winter greens: kale, cress, arugula, mustard greens, chard, etc.  So, with Autumn now official, our tomato conclusions for this year: a)  Wow, that was fantastic,  b) find good determinate varieties to grow in the greenhouse so the vines don’t lift the roof off and, c) grow fewer cherry tomatoes.



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