Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tomato Census

Sungold: 3 My favorite cherry.  It's orange and sweetly delicious and I can't imagine anything better.  They also get started pretty early.  As the weather gets cold, the sweetness definitely fades, though, and they can be mealy in October.

Matt's Wild Cherry: 2 This plant suffered from being oversold.  Johnny's seed catalog says, "The wild tomato with lucious taste.  These small cherry tomatoes are packed with more taste thatn you can believe.  5/8-3/4", deep red, round fruits have a tender, smooth texture, and loads of sweet, full flavor.  High sugar content.  Shawn heard that the founder of Johnny's was given some as he got into his car for a drive.  He ate one and it was so delicious that he didn't eat any more so he could save the seeds.  We were very excited to grow this.  They were terrible!  They were tiny, but sour and thick-skinned.  I don't think we'll grow them again.

Giant Tree: 2 I can't exactly remember these, but I do remember that the plant was nicely upright.  I think I was happy with the fruits as well.  We'll grow them again this year.

Tomcat: 3 These tomatoes with the ruined name have been very good for us.  We're out of seed or would have had more last year.  They make smallish fruits (c.3" diameter) that are perfectly red and round.  Several are often ready at the same time so they can be on the vine--just like at the grocery store! They also remain pretty firm when ripe.  They are very popular with our customers who believe a tomato should be red and round.  On the other hand, the stems pull off without injuring the fruit, so they can be easily stacked without poking holes in their neighbors.

Siletz: 2 These are an early variety from right here in Oregon.  They don't taste great, but they do come early.  We'll continue to grow them.

Marvel Stripe: 4 This was our first year for these and they are definitely keepers.  I LOVE the combination of red and yellow, which was also popular at Foley Station, our favorite restaurant and excellent customers.  ason and Christian gave us the book The Heirloom Tomato last year, which is what I refer to as garden pornography--incredible, sumptuous photographs of tomatoes, which makes you drool in the middle of winter.  Anyway, it says this plant is from Oaxaca and was grown at San Juan Pueblo at 6000 and was introducted by Peace Seeds of Corvallis.  How could I not love it?

Ana Russian: 4 This would be my favorite if it didn't look so sickly in the early part of the season.  The fruit is a giant, ox-heart shaped fruit which is very meaty.  It is delicious to eat, good for canning, and for saucing.  It has a nice pinky-redness too.  Apparently another plant out of Corvallis.

Aunt Ruby: 3 I like having a green beefsteak, but I'm not 100% sure this is the best one.  Aunt Ruby is relatively early, but not so prolific.  Maybe she just had a bad year.

San Marzano: 5 I know I'm supposed to be super excited about these, but I'm really not.  Saucing tomatoes aren't good for anything but canning and saucing.  I did actually do a whole batch of just saucers, and since they minimize seeds/water, they work for that, but don't really taste any better.  I think we'll just have a few Roma-styles.

Green Zebra: 2 I do love these.  They have a fantastic citrusy flavor.  The Heirloom Tomato has a great story about the development of this plant by Tom Wagner at the age of 10:
"I bred that up when I was a kid back in the fifties.  I was getting seeds from Glecklers, and I got the Evergreen and thought it was a crazy-ooking tomato.  It was late-maturing and I couldn't get the thing to ripen; I didn't know when it was ripe.  It was cracking and by the time I picked it I had to almost carry it in both hands to get to the house before it would either crack more or fall apart in my hands.  I thought it was the perfect tomato for trowing at people; they would be all green and nobody would know what hit them.  Well, Evergreen cracked, so I went down to Atchison, Kansas [nine miles away] because there was a fellow there growing some old tomatoes, and he said they were the best tomatoes he had, and they didn't crack.  So I thought, 'I'm going to make my Green Zebra a noncracking tomato.'  So I crossed those two tomatoes.  The Kansas fellow's hybrid was red.  I didn't know what the results would be, but the Evergreen crossed with a red tomato is a red tomato.  So I saved the seed again, thinking maybe I could to better than that.  I finally got a good green tomato that didn't crack, and I called that Glamour Evergreen.
"But then I didn't stop there.  I wanted something different, and I was crossing some striped tomatoes...I picked up varieties that had a little striping on them--it wasn't very much.  I crossed the striped tomato in with another variety that didn't crack, and I was trying to get more stripes on it.  I was working on different levels of stripe--10, 20, 40, 60 percent--I wanted different leves fo striping on it to make it more beautiful.  So when I crossed this improvement with my Glamour Evergreen, once again, I got a red tomato.  It was worthless.  I could hardly see the stripes on it.  So I saved the seed, put the plants out in the garden, saved seed from those, put them in the greenhouse that I had built, saved the seed, put the plants out in the garden, doubling up the seeds.  And finally I realized that I wasn't getting the flavor I wanted in the greenhouse.  I was looking for something that had more zing to it.  So as I was going through my Green Zebra look-alikes at the time, I found one that had 80% stripes, some 90, 60, 20%.  I settled on one with about 60% stripes.  I liked the flavor and I thought that had to be it: It has stripes and it's green and I know when it's ripe and it doesn't crack.  I had to show it to my dad and mom and all my relatives.  Their response was, 'We'll see you in the funny papers.  You're not going anywhere with that!'  So then I thought Green Zebra was going to be a total loser and nobody would want it."

Moonglow: 2 This too is a favorite.  Shawn picked it out of Seeds of Change because it won tomato of the year.  It has a great yellow/orange color.  It is firm and meaty and lasts well.  It tastes fantastic--one of my favorites on a sandwich.

Wapsipilicum Peach (or something like that): 2 Peach tomatoes are just a little too weird.  It's fuzzy like a peach.  They are very small--too big to be a cherry but too small to be much else.  Merlyn from Foley Station really likes them. They are sweet and perfumey; more in a fruity sort of way that in a savory tomato sort of way.  We'll keep growing them, but not more than two plants.  The plants are prolific with very thick foliage--it's hard to get to the tomatoes.

Kellogg's Breakfast: 4 My favorite orange tomato.  Meaty and delicious.

American Dream: 2 If I'm remembering properly, these were impressive.  I have to check where they were and make sure I remember.  If so, I wouldn't mind growing more.

Celebrity: 6 This was our red, round tomato for the year.  It did well.  I think they came on a little later than I would have liked, but so did everything else last year.

Legend: 2 Another early that is good for being early but otherwise unremarkable.

Viva Italia: 3 Another Roma-styel.

Wins All: 5 Also don't quite remember.  I think it's just a basic brandywine.  Tasty in the way brandywines are.

Jefferson Brandywine: 4 We bought seeds from Monticello on a trip many years ago and have grown them ever since.  I think we had Jason and Christian resupply us once, but I suspect we're really out this year.

Brandywine: 2

Black Krim: 2 These are weird looking, but satisfactory.  They have some nice tang.  Their color doesn't appeal to me as much as the Marvel Stripe, but we'll keep growing them.


  1. I'm so sad you had a bad Matt's Wild Cherry experience. We buy them a lot at the farmers' market here and they are amazing! Let us know if you want anything from Monticello!

  2. Yes, it's strange. I wonder if it has something to do with the difference in the soil? If we'd just grown one, we would have figured it was just a not-true seed. Turns out we have several years worth of Jefferson Brandywine--not sure whether you already gave us some or if we just knew we were going to love them and bought a lot. The date is 2005.