Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tomatoes! And a Taste Test.

From left to right: Miracle of the Market (large red), Early Ssubakus Aliana (yellow), Black Cherry (black, top), Black Moor (black plum, bottom), Sungold F2 (orange and red), Chocolate Cherry (black)

When I left for vacation, I had no one to take care of my garden. I have half of my tomatoes in pails and late blight had just struck. I figured at least the tomatoes in pails were goners without someone to look after them.

I did rig up a makeshift irrigation system for them. A friend of mine had some electronic timers that he no longer needed. I took one off of his hands. My problem was how to get the water to the plants. I tried several things that didn't work. Then I cut a portion out of an old hose and put holes along the bottom spaced so they would go into the pails. This seemed to work, but the hose kept coming out of the pails. The morning before I left I was still trying to arrange rocks to keep the hose down.

When I got out of the car from our trip. I dumped my load by the front door and went over to the plants. It was too dark to see them, but I could tell by feel that they were still alive - every single one of them. It worked. I was very happy, but I swear I don't want to grow things in pails any more. It is too nerve wracking if I don't have someone taking care of it and when I do I feel guilty over making someone come over every day to water.

The next morning I went out to see if the late blight had taken over. Nope. We had no rain while I was gone and the temps were about 80°F. There were a few more leaves with brown blotches, but not many. I'll remove them.

My Sungold F2s had a lot of ripe tomatoes covering the plants. I should have taken photos before I picked most of them. The above photo is after I took the ripest ones off the vines - almost four pounds of them.

I did find one bad thing. My first ripe Miracle of the Market tomatoes had fallen to the ground. One had landed on the rock in the pail, one behind the pail, and one had been caught by a branch and was precariously perched. They didn't seem to be horribly damaged. The one that fell to the ground was eaten yesterday with basil and mozzarella cheese. Yum. Sadly I didn't save some to eat without the basil and cheese so I didn't really do a taste test on it.

Of the Sungolds the best orange was from Emma. She also has the smallest of the orange tomatoes, but hey taste is the most important. The best tasting of the reds is Gabrielle. I need to save seeds from both of them. I started the process with Emma before I left for vacation, but Gabrielle deserves to live too. I'm not saving seeds from any of the others. I don't know if I should save seeds from even Emma since I don't know if late blight can be carried on the seed. The plants aren't heavily infected, but still it is there. I have a feeling though that my whole garden has spores all over it and a few spores on the seed won't mean much.

I had three small blacks to taste. The Black Cherry and the Chocolate Cherry are both good and are almost identical in taste. The latter is better by a hair, more prolific and earlier, so that is the one that I'm going to save. Black Moor is different than the other two as it is a plum tomato. It is very meaty. It isn't quite as tasty as the other two, but still has that nice black tomato flavor. It seems like a good tomato for making sauce if you want a very weird colored sauce.

Early Ssubakus Aliana is the only yellow tomato. It is a very weird size. It is too small to be a slicer, too big to be a cherry and though it is slightly longer than it is wide, it is not plum shaped. The flavor is OK, but doesn't have a very strong taste and is very sweet. I won't be growing this one again.

Of all of these seeds that I received from, Chocolate Cherry is my favorite. I like Miracle of the Market too. It is the first beefsteak tomato that has grown well for me here. Usually I have all sorts of trouble from beefsteaks. I'm lucky to get a few tomatoes that needs spots cut out of them before the plants die a horrible death. I'll save seed from these too. I probably should have saved some seeds from last nights meal, but I didn't even think about it.


  1. WOW - I can't believe how many tomatoes you have, and all different colours. They look fantastic. It is brilliant to get your views on taste and usage, to give ideas for next year's planting.

  2. Daphne - those tomatoes look like they've been polished! Man, none of mine look that good...BTW, i'll be taking part in the Monday harvest thing next week.

  3. I have heard very good things about the Sun Gold tomatoes. I thought they were a hybrid though and thus not a seed saving candidate? I honestly am not familiar with that variety though other than some word of mouth recommendations.

    Glad your plants survived your absence and you were rewarded for your efforts at setting up an irrigation system for them.

  4. ReapWhatYouGrow, and those aren't all of them. I have so many sungolds that they didn't fit in the photo. That might have been a quarter of the Sungold tomatoes.

    EG, I did wash them before their photo shoot. Had to get nice and clean for the camera. The Miracles are pretty shiny though.

    kitsapFG, Sungolds are hybrids. These are plants from saved seed from last year (so F2 not F1). Just because it is a hybrid doesn't mean you can't save the seed, it just means that you don't know what your going to get. I'm fine with that. I'm saving seed from the best of my F2s. Next year I'll grow the F3s and I still won't know what I'm going to get, but if I keep doing it eventually they will be homozygous open pollinated plants. Hopefully I'll succeed in good tasting OP plants. If one year I don't get good tasting tomatoes, I won't save seed that year and go back to the last seed I saved.

  5. Your tomatoes look great! I'm glad to hear they survived by themselves while you were gone.

  6. I think I'm seeing tomatoes everywhere in cyber space. What is it with tomatoes? Everyone seems to have tomatoes on their table.

  7. What a gorgeous plate of colors !
    I have no golds this year but I must add them next year. I’m glad you like choco cherry. The trusses have filled out nicely on mine but none have ripened yet. I can’t wait to taste them.
    Your toms look great and that 2nd pic is absolutely lovely.

  8. I love all the different forms. I'm going to have to work out a systematic tomato approach one of these days.

    I know taste is most important, but the picture of them all lined up is so beautiful! Food for the eyes.

  9. Your tomatoes are absolutely beautiful! So glad that blight didn't kill them all while you were away... between that and relying on the makeshift irrigation, you must have been so worried.

    Are you sure it's Late Blight? Mine were killed in a matter of days after seeing a few of the leaves with the telltale dark splotches of Late Blight. Maybe it's something else? I hope so as it looks like you are harvesting a wonderful amount.

  10. Such a beautiful display of tomatoes! It must have been a little difficult to eat those beauties, I'd be tempted to just leave them sitting on a pretty plate for all to admire.

  11. Hah! You beat me to it. I have my draft ready to publish, but waiting for one more tomato to test. I'm happy to hear Miracle of the Market is a good one. I have those seeds, but didn't have room to try them this year, I'll be sure to make a notation to plant them in 2010. I'm in the process of removing all the plants that don't have really tasty tomatoes on them. I've had more than enough this year, I don't need to keep babying the second-rate ones.

  12. What a beautiful display of tomatoes, such luscious colors! Kim

  13. Emily, I'm pretty happy about it too. I would be so sad to miss tomato season.

    Blossom, lol it is August which is tomato season around here. Our season is pretty short. The season starts in August and ends sometime in September. One of our local farms (Verrill Farms) is having its tomato and corn festival this weekend. I hope to be there. I think I'm insane to want to go with pounds of tomatoes waiting for me to eat them and pounds already eaten this week, but yes I'll go and eat even more. They will have 30 varieties to try out. I can't wait.

    Miss M, oh yes. Chocolate Cherry is a real keeper. I'm really loving it. I love my sungolds better, but their flavor isn't is complex as a black tomato.

    Stefaneener, I have no systematic approach. I got all of my non sungolds from wintersown. I found the ones I marked to have sent to me were mostly black cherry types, so I figured what the heck. I should trial small black tomatoes. :> Maybe next year it will be the large ones, or maybe I'll just grow from seed that I saved.

    GrafixMuse, I was quite worried about it at the beginning of the trip. Towards the end I figured they were dead already and I'd have a good story for Death Day. And yes I'm pretty sure it is Late Blight. I showed a photo of it on the last death day. It has been slowly getting worse. I try to keep any sign of it picked off the plants to keep the spores from spreading. If I see any sign on a leaf I pick off the whole branch. If it is on the stem I cut way below where I see it. But recently I've seen it on the tomatoes too :<. I'll have to keep an eye on them more. Today was the first I've seen it on the fruits. Sadly the last couple of days have been cool and wet which has made is spread more. Luckily when I was gone it was warm and sunny and the disease doesn't spread much then. I've noticed that my eggplants seem to be getting it too. My Slim Jim so far haven't but the Lavender Touch seems to be pretty susceptible.

    Michelle, Oh dear. I could just imagine not eating them. I'd be buried in tomatoes by the end of the week. My goal is to eat them all by the time I go out and pick more. I'm not doing a good job. I think I'm going to try to make sauce from cherry tomatoes to get rid of them all.

    Annie's Granny, Ha! I'm one step ahead of Granny. That doesn't happen very often.

    the inadvertent farmer, thanks!

  14. Glad to see all your lovely tomatoes. I'm thinking about trying Chocolate Cherry next year. Cherry tomatoes do pretty well in cool summers. -Jackie

  15. Jackie, I know what you mean. I have trouble growing the big tomatoes due to a mixture of the weather and the diseases. I try them every year and every year they do terribly. This year Miracle of the Market worked well for me. I think I might have to try more of the Siberian tomatoes. But then Granny raved about Kellogg's Breakfast Tomato and it is an 80 day huge tomato. I so want to grow it and I just now it won't do well here.

  16. Those tomatoes look excellent. I have a feeling use easterners are going to be swamp with tomatoes all at once this year. Potted plants can certainly be a challenge in summer heat. I use to grow all my tomatoes in huge pots (24+" across) and they even dried out daily. Drip irrigation is definitely the way to go with them.

  17. I am really sorry about the late blight. I couldn't tell for sure from the leaf picture you posted a little while back. I was hoping it was something else. I hope you are able to get more harvested tomatoes before the blight takes over.

  18. Dan, I hope to be swamped. So farm I'm having no trouble keeping up.

    GrafixMuse, luckily we are having some really hot and sunny weather right now. That ought to keep it from killing things for a least a little more. I thought one plant was toast, but with the weather it seems to be holding on OK. There are so many tomatoes on the vine I hope the hot weather makes them get ripe fast.

  19. Great report! I'm about to post the results of my own, much more humble, taste test. Here's the spoiler in case you're waiting on bated breath - Hillbilly is the winner. I may try the chocolate cherry next year. Your display of colors, sizes and shapes is good evidence to anyone who may wonder why we garden. Gorgeous!