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Archive for September, 2010

“Whaaaa, whaaa!”

This was the sound I made when I entered the kitchen to find my plates of tomato seed had gotten turned over by a rogue wind gust during the night. 3 varieties, one of which was bagged, were all scattered on my unsorted mail and floor. The ones on the floor were also being rolled around on by our cat Zoie.

After wallowing for a few minutes, I gathered up all my almost-dry-but-not-quite-yet seed and threw it in the compost bin. Maybe I’ll get lucky next year with voluteers…

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This is one variety I grew based on Amy Goldman’s recommendation in her book, The Heirloom Tomato. It is supposed to be a well balanced globe tomato great for sandwiches or other fresh eating.

This red rose tomato had uneven ripening (the yellow areas)

The Description from where I got my seed:

This cross between Brandywine and Rutgers produces good yields of 6 to 10 oz. delicious dark pink fruit. Disease and crack-resistance are inherited from Rutgers, and the tomato’s taste and texture is more like that of Brandywine. Indeterminate. 85 days.

First Impressions:
This tomato is spotty. As in distinct round spots are covering it like a pox. It looks like uneven ripening, as the spots are very green and are firmer to the touch than the surrounding pink areas. I wonder if this seed is pure.

Note the tomato in the top left: see the spots?

Slicing reveals a rather normal looking tomato, with the less-ripe areas confined mostly to the outer edges. I hope it doesn’t affect taste.

My taste review:
Tastes very tangy–almost assertive. Low sweetness, but may be because it is unevenly ripe. Very juicy, good texture, skin thickness is acceptable. On a blt: bold but so good.

Will I grow again?
I’m not sure. These spotty tomatoes aren’t in the description. But the flavor was very good. I’ll wait until the end of the season and evaluate based on production. So far, fruit set has been poor.


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I got these seeds a year ago as a free packet with a purchase but never did anything with them. Scott wanted me to grow some to see how big they would get, but the thought of a super sweet tomato made me cringe.

Oh how wrong I was! These tomatoes are super good:

This is the largest one, at 1 lb 4 oz.

The Description from where I got my seed:

Developed in Ohio, this variety is distinctive for its fruit that averages 2 lbs., but has been known to grow to an enormous 5 lbs. Tomatoes are dark pink and solid meat with smooth blossom ends and a delicious sweet flavor. Some folks make wine from these very sweet tomatoes. Indeterminate. 90 days.

First Impressions:
It feels light compared to its size (this tomato is on one of my large dinner plates, by the way). I suspect it has hollow chambers or corking. Slicing it reveals the hollow chambers around the perimeter of the slices. Very nice dark pink color, very juicy.

Giant Belgium, sliced. Note the hollow chambers

My taste review:
Well balanced taste, tart on my tongue, so no notable sweetness. Instead, it has bold flavor. Great smooth texture and juicy. Thin skin, some hollow chambers. On a blt: very good, almost perfect

Will I grow again?
Surprisingly yes. I was so shocked that a tomato that is reportedly so sweet could taste so balanced in my garden. It just goes to show you that different garden conditions will produce variations in taste in established varieties. Looking forward to it!

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This was another unexpected tomato to review. I started Giant Belgium plants from seed and planted 2 seedlings. One of them turned out fruit that looked a bit orange. I let the fruit set for a couple days but it never turned red. Turns out it was actually a bicolor: a tomato that shows both yellow or orange and pink or red. This one looked very orange with dark pink extending up from the blossom end.

The slices are so beautiful with their two colors.

Since most bicolors taste pretty much the same, it doesn’t really matter what variety it actually is, so I am reviewing it even though it is unidentified.

The Description from where I got my seed:
Ha, ha to me!

First Impressions:
As I said, I thought these were just small Giant Belgiums that looked orange until I looked closer. Cutting one open sealed the deal that the plant was a bicolor. The flesh looked very yellow with a streak of pink in the middle. Juicy and smooth looking flesh.

My taste review:
Tastes well balanced, with juicy flesh, smooth texture. Overall, a mild tomato flavor with a subtle fruity element. Skins a bit thick. On a blt: mild but good.

Will I grow again?
Not next year, but I’m saving seeds to keep my options open. Bicolors in general are more mild, which isn’t what I want in a tomato. But the slices are beautiful. The plant itself isn’t doing that great: half the lower foliage is drying up. It just isn’t that healthy in this heat.

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This is my 3rd year growing Swiss Chard (with the same seed packet, btw). The first year, 2008 I grew it for my rabbit. It came up mostly red and pink. I didn’t thin the seedlings so they were stunted in growth habit.

The second year, 2009, I got white, red, pink and one yellow. I ventured to eat some for human consumption as raw greens in a salad and as a wilted salad. But the stalks got left on the plant.

For my third year, 2010, Chessie decided she didn’t like it anymore. I grew the seeds out as starts first and transplanted them to be about 6 or 8″ apart. They are growing very well. I got mostly white plants with one pink and one red.

One harvest of many this season

The Description from where I got my seed:

This stunning chard seed mix has stems in yellow, gold, pink and crimson. A few plants will be white and pink striped, orange, scarlet, purple, green and white. All are delicious to eat, though they are at their best harvested young for salads. Easy to grow; eat it like spinach or beet greens. Pick from late spring until winter. Grows best in full sun and will tolerate light shade.

First Impressions:
The pink/red stalks and leaves have a more “dirty” taste than the pure white. Also the younger leaves taste more “dirty” this may be because of the concentration of beet flavor. If you don’t like beets, you may not like Chard. The plants are very healthy and pretty. I’d grow the colorful ones for ornamental purposes only because of the flavor.

My taste review:
The white stalks have crinkley dark green foliage. These are the best for eating. Raw in salad they are good, but don’t put more than 40-50% of the greens as these. With ranch dressing they are superb. For other uses, blanch them first. Leaves get blanched for 1 minute; stalks for 3 minutes or so. Then use the stalks in place of celery and the leafy greens like kale or spinach. They are just fine in my Winter Kale Soup recipe.

Will I grow again?
Yes. But next year I’m getting the all white seed packet. You get more seed for a cheaper price (bonus) and they are the most usable. Plus the plants are very productive when spaced properly. I’ve got many cups of both stalks and greens in my freezer.

End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield_______Yield per Plant
__6____________60_____________-________44 cu leaves______7 cu
_____________________________________& 12.5 cu stalks_____2 cu

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This is another new variety, one that was unexpected for me this year. See, I wanted to grow 3 Siletz plants, but the seeds all had trouble germinating, and I only got 2 Siletz seedlings. I was out of Siletz seeds, but I had gotten a free packet of Early Wonder with my purchase. So I planted out one plant. It makes rather square looking pink tomatoes.

The early wonder is a rather square, pale pink tomato

The Description from where I got my seed:

This extra-early maturing, compact variety makes an impressive crop of round, dark pink tomatoes with an average weight of 6 ounces. They have excellent, full tomato flavor, and earn their name since it is a wonder when an early variety tastes this good. Perfect for gardeners in short-season areas. Determinate. 55 days.

First Impressions:
I didn’t know if this was supposed to be pink or red, so when the first one started changing color, I thought it looked rather pale. The fruit shape is funny: it is very square and blocky looking. Cutting it open it looks rather typical.

Very attractive slices belie the flat taste

My taste review:
Tastes a bit watery, with a slightly soft or mealy texture. Balanced flavor, sure, but not enough of it. Very close to being just plain bland. Skins a bit thick. In a sandwich: good but nothing remarkable.

Will I grow again?
No. This plant is one of the few that actually has decent to good fruit set in the heat. It is twice the size of both my Siletz plants. But the taste isn’t worth it and it certainly wasn’t ready in 55 days!

End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield_______Yield per Plant
__1____________84___________32_______14__________14

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Yea, finally a new tomato variety to review! I’ve been looking forward with great anticipation to tasting this famous variety and the day is finally here.

My green zebras were all rather small, when compared with black cherry tomatoes

The Description from where I got my seed:

A unique and delicious salad tomato. 3 oz. green fruits ripen to amber-green with darker green stripes. The light green flesh is very flavorful, sweet yet zingy. This one is a real taste treat. Indeterminate. 75 days.

First Impressions:
A novelty tomato, firm to the touch. Rather small, even for a saladette. Fruit set in this heat has been incredibly poor: I’ve got about 5 fruits on 2 plants. After slicing, it looks technicolor, but smooth and juicy. The striping is limited to the skin. It’s kinda hard to tell when it’s ripe. There is some flesh softening prior to the background skin color changing to amber.

Sliced, it looks nice and juicy.

My taste review:
Delicious, crisp texture, very juicy. Skins a bit thick. Zippy flavor: acidic but fruity and tangy too. In a sandwich: still lends some zippiness but loses its tomato flavor.
Will I grow again?
Yes, it’s just not fair to assume these are poor producers when this heat has been so oppressive. Lets try again next year. Maybe then I’ll get enough at once to actually do something with them. I’d really like to try salsa made with these.
End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield_______Yield per Plant
__2____________83____________8_______13__________6

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