2013 has been a disappointing tomato growing year for me. In my area of Southern Ontario the ground stayed frozen late. All of the crops went in a month late! The weather went from freezing to 100F and muggy overnight, causing the 1st blossoms to drop. Once the plants started to bloom again it started to rain. It was cold and rainy all summer. As the rains began Septoria swept through the plants. I pulled the affected leaves, but couldn’t keep up. After a few weeks most of the plants had turned brown and died, with the rain spreading disease through the beds. The taste of the tomatoes didn’t develop as well with less sun & production was only about 1/10th of a usual summer. At least I got to try some new to me varieties! All of my taste tests were done over 3 days in September. Here are the results:
HAWAIIAN PINEAPPLE is an OK bicolour, but should have been solid orange, as pointed out by Trudi Davidoff of http://www.wintersown.org/. This is a great site, full of information on seed saving & winter sowing. This tomato was mainly orange with light red streaks running from the bottom. Must have been a cross. Production wasn’t great, but not many of the bicolours seem to produce well in my climate. I rate it a 6.5.
GILDO PIETROBONI Not a great tomato for fresh eating from my garden. 5.5, very plain with no tang or sweet – watery tasting. Luckily, it is very meaty with few seeds. It cooked down quickly and made excellent deep flavoured sauce. I will sauce the rest. I’m not sure if production warrants a grow again, although the ones that I got were huge. Hard to tell with the weather and septoria this year. Cooked I gave it an 8 rating. Nice to have the large ones to chop up!
CAROL CHYKO’S BIG PASTE This Chyko family of Pennsylvania heirloom was my largest tomato of the year. All of the fruit was at least 1lb. Huge meaty blunt hearts with very few seeds. It has very light red coloured flesh that doesn’t look particularly appetizing, but the flavour is very strong. A solid 8.5 with great balance. I would grow this one again. I think that production would be better with a better summer.
LITHUANIAN & UNKNOWN CROSS F2 – This tomato showed up in my garden last year and was one of my favourites. I saved the seed to try to repeat a potato leaf pink small round fruit. The taste is the same as last year, but the fruit is not round and pink, it is slightly oblate red. I would rate it a 9 with excellent tangy sweet taste, just like last year’s fruit. I don’t know whether to grow more of the F2 generation next year or to keep going with the F3′s 2014. Love it!
BLUSH This plant is an “always grow” for me! So pretty, elongated bicolour yellow, orange and pink with metallic stripes that glint in the sunlight. The skin is quite thick but the taste is explosive. They are so sweet and strong tasting that not many make it into the house. Production was down this year, but the leaves seemed more resistant to Septoria than other varieties. This variety was developed by Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm.
SEEK NO FURTHER LOVE APPLE A pink beefsteak on a tall regular leaf plant. Gary (Tormato from Tomatoville), who distributed the seeds says that it has a tangy unusual taste. Mine are a gorgeous deep red inside. They have a clear epidermis – so classified as a pink fruit. Sadly, they were a very bland 6. Maybe warmer summer would develop its taste, because it seems to get very high taste ratings from other gardeners.
HUMPH This is one of Remy from the http://www.sampleseeds.com/ favourites. I tried to grow it last year, but lost the seedlings early in the season. This year I got a few tomatoes. The amber blush appeared almost red & I think that I let it get over-ripe. It had too much tang compared to the sweetness, but definitely had the “green tomato” taste profile. I like it & would try again in a better growing year. It is hard to compare them during a terrible summer. 7.5 rating.
PINK BUMBLE BEE This is a tomato that was on my most wanted list and I ended up getting just 1 seed from Gary in the Totally Tomatoes swap (thank you!) What a cool cherry. Large and round with a sharply pointed end. A unique colour; pinkish pale orange with silver streaks. The metallic sheen is gorgeous. Fred Hempel, who bred Blush, also came up with this one. It is extra sweet. I love it. It will join Blush in my grow every year category! A 9.5.
ANNA MARIA’S HEART A large pink Russian heart on a wispy leaf plant. It did not do well in my Septoria ridden garden. It was one of the 1st plants to shrivel. I have read that it tastes best when almost over-ripe. So I waited and wow! 9.5 extra sweet with tang – HUGE taste. The aftertaste was great. Outstanding. This was my favourite of the year. All of the hearts that I picked today have been amazing. An absolutely grow again variety.
MALAKHITOVAYA SHKATULKA (Malachite Box) This is an outstanding 9.5 rated green tomato! It is the perfect blend of sweet and tang. Great acid balance and very tomatoey tasting! There is something about those green when ripe tomatoes that I love. This variety is one of the best. This year the amber blush of the skin was very dark, as seen in the photo. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of sunlight?
LITTLE LUCKY HEART I don’t think that this variety is stable yet. The last 2 years have produced very blunt hearts, maybe not even hearts. I don’t think that I would classify them as true hearts. Even if not a heart it is outstanding. Said to be a 3 way cross with Ukrainian Heart or Yellow Oxheart, Tad and Brandywine. It ripens late in my garden, but is worth the wait. Extra-sweet and fruity, a solid 9 rating.
LIMMONY This is a small light yellow oblate Russian heirloom variety known for the lemon overtones in its unusual taste. I really loved this one in 2012, but 2013 it just doesn’t have the same depth to the taste. A 6.5. Juicy and still lemony, but no zing. Sort of watered down. A lot of the tomatoes that did well last year didn’t seem as good this year, maybe they need more heat and sun to bring out the taste. Production was good again this year.
BLACK PEAR (Chyomaya Grusha) A Moldovan variety. The tomatoes are really cute. Saladette sized brown pear shapes with green shoulders hang in clusters all over the potato leaf plant. Fantastic production. Also fantastic taste! 9.5. Very sweet with just a little less tang that Brad’s Black Heart. I think that I liked Brad’s just a touch better for taste, but would take Black Pear’s prduction. A grow again next year.
HESHPOLE This is a unique tomato. Less commonly heart shaped fruit that grows on a potato leaf plant. The name is from the 1st 2 letters of HEart SHaped POtato LEaf. Found by Darrel Jones. I loved it. A lovely sweet pink heart. 8.5 with the buttery texture typical of heart shaped tomatoes. The Septoria didn’t affect this plant very much. The potato leaf plants lasted longer. I will grow multiple plants next year. Great tomato.
LARGE BARRED BOAR One of my favourite looking varieties. Black and green stripes glint almost metallic in the sun. The inside is a rich brown and red. It is variety from Brad Gates at http://www.wildboarfarms.com/. This year’s tasting wasn’t as good as 2012. I rated it a 7; too tart. My black tomatoes benefit from more sun. Sunlight and warmth seems to develop the deeper, richer taste that black tomatoes are known for.
JDs SPECIAL C-TEX This black beefsteak is a cross of Early Girl F1 and Black Krim from Conroe, Texas (C-Tex). This year’s crop was a bit smaller & less productive than previous seasons. I think that the taste is richer and deeper in sunnier summers, but even with no sun & rain it still rates a 9. It has a rich spiciness that I love. One of my favourite blacks, it is a grow almost every year variety for me.
MONOMAKH’S HAT is a pretty semi-determinate plant that produces large pink hearts. It is a Russian commercial variety. My plant had good production but the fruit was bland with no real taste. I picked them at several stages of “ripeness” but none stood out. Maybe this one needs heat for flavour developement, but most of the Russian hearts were outstanding, so likely not a grow again for me. I rated the taste at a neutral 5.
FEUERWERK Supposed to be late to ripen but mine are always one of the 1st ripe tomatoes in the garden. It is a red tomato with yellow stripes and flecks that resemble fireworks. Some weather brings out the flecks more. The picture shows less pronounced flecking. Last year this was a great tasting tomato. In 2013 it was a 7. Tangy with not much sweet to balance the taste. The production wasn’t as good either.
REBEL YELL F6 This is my largest beefsteak plant for the 2nd year in a row. The septoria didn’t affect its potato leaf foliage as much. Bred from Stump of the World and Bear Claw, this plant has outstanding tasting lines & follows suit. Rated 9.5 both years. Juicy with outstanding traditional tomato taste. Great production both years. Overall, the most successful plant in my garden for the last 2 years.
2013 has been the year of Septoria and fantastic heart shaped tomatoes! My favourite was Anna Maria’s Heart, but all of the hearts did well. Its too bad that other than Heshpole, the heart shaped tomatoes are usually on wispy leaf foliage plants that the Septoria decimated. Ah well, next year will be better!