It is the end of July and the tomatoes are busy setting and ripening fruit. I have already harvested a few of the smaller tomatoes, but the rest will have to wait until August. Since the plants are a lot more interesting with fruit hanging on them, here is a quick tour.
I have four Opalka plants, a Polish paste tomato I first saw at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens. Fruits range from big blocky fruits to long and skinny. Unfortunately, The skinnier fruits are highly susceptible to blossom end rot and I have removed a lot of them to conserve the plants’ resources.
The bottom tomato shows why it is useless to try to ripen the fruit, thinking you can just cut the end off. By the time the tomato is ripe, the rot usually affects the entire tomato.
I am also growing four generic Roma determinate tomatoes. These plants were started from seed saved by a neighbor gardener from some amazing no-name Roma plants that produced bushel baskets of tomatoes. The fruit have the typical Roma oval shape. I am not sure we will get the same results this year but there are some nice trusses of fruit, and BER has been less of a problem than with the Opalka tomatoes.
I have two Sunkist tomatoes, a yellow slicer with large, meaty fruits. Plants are very stocky and built to hold large clusters of fruit. This is an F1 hybrid from High Mowing Seeds, bred by Dr. Brent Loyof of the University of New Hampshire with seed grown on HM’s farm in Wolcott, Vermont. I grew these last year and they were terrific. Fruits are large, perfect complexion, very meaty with a mild tomato flavor. Yeah, I know, they are not red, but they are still beautiful tomatoes.
Another Sunkist cluster of large fruit.
Another slicer and at last a red one is Celebrity, a gift from a neighbor. It is an AAS winner developed by plant breeder Colen Wyatt of Petoseed and is supposed to be highly disease resistant. Celebrity is determinate and is already showing a nice setting of fruit. While determinate and growing to 3-4 feet in height, Celebrity is supposed to produce tomatoes all season long. The only negative on it is a lack of great flavor, but I have yet to taste it.
This is the second year growing Jaune Flamme, a French heirloom tomato that produces large trusses of 2 inch orange fruit. I have tasted these and they are very juicy, with an intense sweet-tart, citrus-like flavor. They make a great salad tomato and are supposed to be good for drying. Last year I had mixed results, but it was not a great tomato year. This year all of my plants, both in raised beds and in soil, are doing great and setting large trusses of fruit.
Thus truss of Jaune Flamme could have twelve fruit set if the pollination gods do their thing.
This is a Jaune Flamme planted in soil under red plastic and it is doing as well as the three plants in the raised beds.
Juliet is a reliable variety I have grown for years, a sort of mini-plum tomato. I have four plants this year, two in raised beds and two planted in soil under red plastic. Both are doing well and I have harvested quite a few, with large numbers still to come, as evidenced by the trusses on this plant. Juliet is great for salads, sauces and drying.
And here is one the Juliet plants grown in soil under red plastic, with large trusses of fruit on the bottom of the plant. Note how healthy the foliage looks. Juliet is fairly disease resistant, and I did use a soil drench when planting and have sprayed with copper and Actinovate to try to head off disease. What I did not do right is my selection of tomato stakes. Juliet is pretty robust and I just happened to pick the two shortest stakes. The plants are now over the tops of the stakes and I have to do something soon.
Again this year I am growing Esterina, an F1 hybrid yellow cherry tomato. Esterina has an excellent, sweet tomato flavor and is more crack resistant then Sungold, which used to split on me anytime it even looked like rain. I already have harvested several hands full of these with plenty more to come.
This is Chocolate Pear, a black, pear-shaped red heirloom tomato from Baker Creek Seeds. I decided to try this last year because I got so little yield from Black Cherry and these were described as very productive. They are slow to get going but once they start producing, you will have tomatoes until frost, and the vines are now loaded with fruit.
This tomato is going to be my one (or two) really large heirloom red slicers. This is Pruden’s Purple and this one plant was an impulse buy, since I swore off heirloom beefsteak types because of BER, catfacing, disease and cracking. The plant is huge and robust but is not setting a lot of fruit (a good sign?) and most of the early ones were lost to BER. Lots of yellow leaves, however.
Finally, this is Sweet Treats, another tomato I first saw growing at Tower Hill Botanical Garden. It is a pink cherry tomato (pink is almost red), an F1 hybrid developed by Sakata Seeds. Seeds were hard to find last year but a lot more seed catalogs are carrying it this year and I purchased my seeds from Fedco. The fruits are large and ripen to a matte rose color. Taste is supposed to be excellent and disease resistance good.I am looking forward to my first taste.
That is the tour of the garden. I have 28 plants, fourteen in the raised beds and fourteen in the other plot planted in soil under red plastic mulch. Plants in both plots look healthy, although there are more yellow leaves (mostly septoria) on the raised bed plants. Yield looks like it will be good from both plots.