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My 2008 tomato trials

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By The Staff

My 2008 tomato trials

I have finally made it back to the garden after all the desiccation, drought and damage that resulted from the Ike winds. It was just too depressing. I neglected the garden for about a week and half which was clear from the looks of some plants; but not all.

Most of the tomatoes were still doing what they do regardless of my attention. Some where lying on the ground with fruit chewed on by four-legged pests or pecked by birds but most were still producing and ripening.

For several years now I’ve grown only heirloom varieties of tomatoes and it’s time to share what our impressions were for this year’s selections. I’ll start with my favorites: “Arkansas Traveler” and “Momotaro.” Both had high yield, great taste, beautiful shape and storability. Amazingly long storability, in fact, just sitting piled high on a plate in the kitchen. I will definitely grow theses again (with my long-time favorite “Cherokee Purple”).

“Tiffin Mennonite” was a very good large, pink tomato. It had a tendency to crack on its shoulders but it still stayed rather clean. The sweet, juicy fruit made up for any deficiency in form. I do not need a perfect looking tomato, only one that performs well and tastes delicious.

I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I really don’t like yellow beef steak types of tomatoes. They either lack taste or bust open just as they ripen. “Pineapple” has great taste but I didn’t grow it this year because it is usually a mess. I decided to try “Flame” and “Old German” instead. “Flame” (also called “Hillbilly”) was the most disappointing, the flavor was watery and the fruit formed woody cores that made them hardly worth picking. “Old German” formed well and had decent flavor but there has to be a better one out there. Let me know if you have a favorite big yellow.

I did get some satisfaction from yellow. I received some heirloom seeds from a friend last year that we started indoors this spring. Among the collection our two favorites were “Garden Peach” and “Lillipop.” The names say it all: “Garden Peach,” although a tomato, really did look like a little peach with a tinge of fuzz and a peachy color when fully ripe. “Lillipop” is one of the best yellow cherry tomato varieties I have had with large round fruit on a very prolific plant.

“Stupice” and “Bonito Ojo” were okay. Their value was that they were early and prolific. Both varieties bear small round fruit, the flavor was good, just not what I was looking for. They both came in handy for canning and making other tomato products for processing and storing, so I was glad to have them none the less.

With all this said I have to add that the weather and fertility have much to do with how well a tomato plant does, how well it fruits and how well that fruit develops and ripens so I can’t say definitively that these varieties will perform or taste the same from one year to the next. I do know that I will recommend “Arkansas Traveler,” Momotaro,” “Garden Peach,” “Lillipop” and “Tiffin Mennonite” to gardeners interested in heirloom tomatoes.