I concentrated on heirloom tomatoes this year as I keep hearing what a difference in taste these have. I certainly wasn't disappointed. I grew 8 varieties this year and all had positives and negatives.
Andrina cherry tomato
These red cherry tomatoes were described as small plants perfect for containers and they lived up to that description. I was looking for something to grow on the deck for easy picking and these plants did well, growing less than a foot high and maturing early. However, that's about the only good thing I have to say. It started out poorly for me with bad germination rates which resulted in only two plants surviving. Those two plants didn't put out a lot of fruit and that fruit has a very strong tomato taste. Not a bad thing but I like my cherry tomatoes sweet. Jody ate them but it was a pass for me.
Thank goodness I was given seeds for this wonderful plant as it more than made up for the deficit of cherry tomatoes. These seeds also had poor germination rates but thankfully all you need is one because this guy gets BIG. In fact, that is probably the only negative I had. I cut this plant back hard in July to try and keep it under control but it still has managed to cover an area about 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, growing overtop of other tomato plants, marigolds and basil. I intend to grow this again but will be giving it more room next time as well as cutting it back. On the positive side this plant is prolific, fruits early and is tasty. I've been picking tomatoes off this plant every single day for a month and it's not slowing down. In fact, every time I pick my hands are covered in a thick layer of yellow pollen. The fruit is about the size of a blueberry (as seen below) and sweet as can be. Perfect for salads and snacking.
|A pint of blueberries on the left and Mexico Midgets on the right|
The next tomato to ripen was Bison and this was a hit all around. From my perspective they had excellent germination, were generally healthy plants that didn't grow too big, plenty of flowers, and early mid-sized fruit. Jody (the tomato lover and expert taste tester) says he liked them because they were somewhat sweet and good for just about anything. You can slice them on sandwiches, dice them up on salads, put them in soups, chili or pasta. Just an easy all around tomato. The only negative was they had a slight touch of blossom end rot but it didn't affect all the fruit and didn't really affect harvest all that much. Will definitely grow this again.
|Left to right - Bison, Black Plum, Andrina in the back, |
Martino's Roma and Mexico Midget in the front
Next to ripen after the Bison were these small size plum tomatoes. It was difficult to guess when they were ripe at first as the shoulders remained dark green and the bottoms have a mottled look but once we got the hang of it we were hooked. These are a must have now. Out of this world taste, very smoky and strong. I liked them in salads and added them to soups and salsa for an extra hit of flavour. Germination wasn't too bad and the plants grew quite well. Unfortunately this plant had a lot of trouble with blossom end rot. We threw out a lot of tomatoes but were able to eat enough that I would still grow this again.
This plant gave me grief right from the start. Poor germination, refusing to grow up it's stake, blossom end rot, cracking, small sized fruit. This is a Nova Scotia heritage variety so I had high hopes but the advertised large beefsteak tomatoes were not to be in my garden. They were a very sweet tomato (Jody really liked these) but smaller than the mid-sized Bison and I barely got a half dozen fruits off this vine throughout the whole season. I won't be trying these again.
Great germination rates and heavy production are what comes to mind with this plant. These tomatoes were slightly later than the other varieties but once they started they kept me very busy for weeks (in fact I'm still collecting fruit from them!) Large trusses of fruit hang off these plants and they make a great base for soups and stews. The negatives are there was a small touch of blossom end rot and the fruit is not that tasty. Some of my co-workers disagreed, saying they liked them very much and I'm just spoiled by having so many other varieties to choose from. That may be true but the flavour just isn't there for me. However, if you want large quantities of tomatoes for cooking these were great value. I still have lots of seeds so will likely grow these again as I'm terribly fond of tomato soup.
|Unripened roma tomatoes in mid-August|
The last tomatoes to ripen were the big beefsteaks. Although the plant is small (dwarf size) Rosella is a very large tomato. I didn't have great germination from these plants and one plant (a runt) just outright refused to grow and produce fruit. But the one plant that did produce gave us some very interesting fruit.
|Rosella is huge compared to Bison|
The last tomato to ripen, we have only begun eating these in the last week. They are another big beefsteak and bright yellow colour as the name suggests.
|Rosella Purple on left and German Gold on right|
Well that's a wrap for this year folks. In the next couple of weeks the vines will be pulled out of the ground and I'll be cleaning up the garden in preparation for next spring's trials. I have about a dozen more varieties I didn't get to grow this year so I look forward to doing this all over again next season.