Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm Losing It

My counter that is. Tomato season is in full swing here. Right now the tomatoes own half of my counter. I've got Cherokee Purple, Purple Calibash, Market Miracle, Amish Paste, Sungold, Black Cherry, and the massive pile of Heinz in the bowls.

Cherokee Purple left, Purple Calibash right

Cherokee Purple continues to be my favorite of the large tomatoes. Purple Calibash isn't bad, but it isn't as prolific, not quite as good tasting, and a lot more weirdly shaped. It may be fun seeing weirdly shaped tomatoes, but using them is much more of a pain. Smooth more normal shaped tomatoes are easier. This year the Cherokee Purples in the back row just aren't growing as well as they did last year. The plants just stopped growing at about four feet. Last year you couldn't stop the vines. I don't know if it was being behind another row of tomatoes and not getting enough sun (which I won't do next year). Or if it is the weather. But I hacked back one that was accidentally put in the front to keep it in bounds and it just can't be stopped. It wants to keep growing. It just doesn't have the cage for it. So for next year I'll keep Cherokee Purple and give the boot to Purple Calibash.

Usually Market Miracle is 8oz and more perfectly round

My Market Miracle tomato is my one red tomato in the garden that isn't a paste. It isn't particularly early. Cherokee Purple tends to produce before it does. But it seems to always produce for me no matter the weather. No matter if it is hidden behind other foliage or in the shade of the neighbor's fence, or getting rained on all year. Unlike the Cherokee Purple, it is still growing strong and setting new fruit. It is right up against the fence and in the back row of tomatoes. Yet still it produces. I've found it tolerates partial shade better than any other tomato I've grown. It grew well this year during the heat. It grew well during the summer of '09 when we had constant cool weather and rain (that year it was the best producer). So it continues to have a place in the garden. It tastes good, but isn't up to the standards in taste of a tomato like Cherokee Purple. I have a neighbor I gave one transplant to. He planted it in a place which I'm guessing gets about four hours of sun. It is setting tomatoes. Not quite like mine, but still he will have home grown tomatoes this year. Then again Laura is growing it and it hasn't set yet for her. But for me it works.

Not quite ripe Amish Paste left, Heinz right

The two paste tomatoes I'm growing are Amish Paste and Heinz 2653. The Amish Paste tastes fabulous just like last year and is just now getting started as it is a pretty late producing paste. As you can see it is a huge paste tomato where Heinz is a very small one. Amish Paste just tastes too good to get rid of even though it is such a late tomato. I'll grow a couple plants again next year.

The Heinz I'm not happy with this year. The taste is just so-so even though last year it was one of the best tasting tomatoes. If I had another paste tomato that acted like it, I would replace it in a heartbeat. But I keep it because of what you see above. The plants are almost finished producing and it is still early August. It is a super early determinate paste. Here that is good. All we need is a bad year and getting the tomatoes to ripen would be challenging. In a good year I have time for succession planting or at the very least a cover crop. I worry about it though. It seems very susceptible to the leaf spot we have around here (I'm guessing septoria leaf spot, but who knows, tomato spot diseases are numerous and hard to distinguish). So would it really survive in a bad year? It is always the sickest tomato plant in the patch. Anyone know of a really good early determinate paste? It actually isn't the determinate that matters. It matters if it sets its fruits all at once. For instance Bellstar is an early determinate paste, but it ripens fruit over a long period, which isn't what I want when I can. I might try Grandma Mary's since at least it is early. I think I need yet another paste tomato trial next year. I'll probably put in Heinz again next year, but not so many. I'll give it another chance.


  1. Wow! Look at all those tomatoes. Ya, I have a couple of baskets overflowing on my counter as well. My cherokee purple seems to be kinda short too, but this is my first year growing it, so I might not know any different if I didn't read about other gardener's. But it is still producing and some of the healthiest tomato plants in the garden while most of the others are turning yellow for some reason or another. I am definitely loving CP too!

  2. Cherokee Purple is my favorite slicing tomato. Great flavor, sort of a smoky undertone. I'm not happy yet with any of my paste varieties. Next year I'll concentrate again on San Marzano, I think. Always an adventure.

    Nothing is red yet, as far as I know.

  3. I'm so jealous! I'm still buying tomatoes at the farmer's market and giving the little green rocks hanging on the vines in my garden the evil eye. Not to mention the danged fog that keeps hanging around too long. I'm not sure that we are going to have summer this year.

  4. You sure have a lot of tomatoes. Sorry your Purple Calabash are ending up so funky. I often have one that looks like that from the plant, but then the rest are more normal shaped. Cherokee Purple hasn't produced well for me. Last year I got 2 tomatoes from the plant.This year the first two tomatoes I picked from the plant I had labeled that aren't even purple :) We'll see if the color is true on the later ones. But I'll continue to grow at least one of it since it does have good flavor.

  5. Great information on tomatoes. I will have to give a few of those a try next year,

  6. I have 7 varieties of tomato in my garden at present, but none of them are the same as yours. For me one of the joys of growing tomatoes is the huge range of cultivars available. There is truly something for everybody. My current favourite is "Ferline", a blight-resistant variety that is very productive and has great texture and flavour.

  7. You and me both! My tomatoes are starting to overwhelm me! Told hubby we have to can some this weekend or we'll have tons of rotten ones!

  8. I'm losing it too, not because I have too many tomatoes, but because I have none! ok, one measly one. sigh! It is embarassing that I have atleast 16 good tall tomato plants, blossoming and setting tiny random fruits, but nothing so far. Maybe August will be good or is it going to be Sept, before my counter fills up....I don't know.

    Are Cherokee purple heirlooms? If so, do you mind sharing some seeds? I hear about them a lot, but never seen those varieties around our place.

  9. My kitchen has been totally taken over by produce! There's hardly any room to cook! It's getting a bit better the past two days as I have been trying to get things canned up.

    A lot of the tomatoes seem to be extra funky in shape this year. I definitely think it is the weather. I seem to be having the same problem getting enough of a paste varieties to ripen at the same time. That is due in part to my later maters germinating problem I had with the starting mix. I didn't get to plant the number of each variety I wanted to. There's always next year.

  10. Wonderful toms. Almost time to plant seeds here... I'll definately be planing Cp's; they were my favourite last year.

  11. I've lost it too! The counter is covered and the frig is full of cukes, eggplants and other veggies.

    I like Viva Italia for a det. paste tomato. It's fairly early and pretty consistent for me.

  12. Oh wowsers! You sure have lots of tomatoes!! The only tomatoes that I have ripe right now are the Sungolds. I can't wait until the slicers are ready to harvest!!

  13. so awesome, seriously so awesome, but so so so jealous. They just look so tasty. Great work on the 'mato front. :)

  14. Thanks for the tips and reviews on your tomatoes. For pastes this year I have Roma and San Marzano. I have a bunch of different heirlooms too but no ripe tomatoes. Not even a stinkin cherry tomato! Congrats on your harvest! I'm itching to make sauce and salsa!

  15. Good harvest for such a great varieties of tomatoes u have there, Daphne..:)

  16. Your tomatoes are colorful and beautiful! I have a San Marzano this year and I am not thrilled with it. Over half have blossom end rot and none of my other varieties are having this problem. It also doesn't set all at once, which I didn't think about it terms of canning, I need lots more to make a proper tomato sauce.

  17. Shawn Ann, It really is hard not to love CP. So pretty and so tasty. Some people have issues with yield, but in my climate it yields a love of tomato per plant.

    Stefaneener, I tried San Marzano last year and wasn't really happy with it. There are just so dang many varieties, but not so many in paste.

    michelle, So sad about your weather this year. I hope you get some warm weather before fall hits.

    Emily, I'm glad that in my climate the CPs produce lots and lots of tomatoes for me. My counter gets covered in them.

    Mrs. Pickles, Heinz might be good for where you live. It is just a super early paste. I don't think there is a paste tomato that is earlier and since they produce over only few weeks, you can pick them all ripe. It really is a sad looking plant but fast as the dickens.

    Mark Willis, I love that too. There are just so many. I'm already thinking about what I ought to grow next year. I'm thinking I have to try Pineapple since it was my favorite in some local taste trials, but I'll needs seed. I think that Granny or EG might be willing to send me some. I hope so. But the rest I want to try are other early pastes. I've tried a lot of them last year though. But there are always more to try. A blight resistant variety sounds really nice. I really need something resistant to septoria leaf spot though That is our worst.

    Tamara, I keep giving them away. A couple days ago it was to the little girl that was over for dinner on Monday. She kept eating my paste tomatoes and I felts sorry that she thought they were good. So I sent a selection to her. Today I sent some to immediate neighbor. And I've given my townhouse mates freedom to take what they want. But today is sauce day again. Luckily it is a cool day so not so hot.

    RandomGardener, Oh how sad. I hope they start to set for you. I hate when they do that. All foliage and no flowers. I've got some of my beans acting that way. And yes Cherokee Purple are heirlooms. I will save seed this year and share it in the fall, usually I get a page up in November or early December. I like to do it all at once because I send out so many seeds it is easier like that and all the seed I've collected is ready.

    Funkbunny, I'm glad to hear that CPs are a favorite down under too. I always wonder what seeds make the rounds in different countries.

    villager, I was looking at Viva Italia as a possibility. Its flaw is that it is an heirloom so I can't save seed. I can live with that. But is it early or late? Some say it is late some say mid season.

    Meemsnyc, I hope they come soon for you.

    Prue, thanks

    Holly, I tried San Marzano last year and it wasn't all that great for me. I've done Roma in the past and it was just so so for me. Some day I'll find the perfect paste lol At least I hope so.

    HangKebon, thanks

    Vanessa, I wasn't thrilled with it either when I grew it last year. When I don't have enough I often throw the odd ones into the freezer until I get enough. I'm sure I'll do that later in the season.

  18. I love your tomato updates - so full of good information. My market miracles are finally setting some fruit. They are definitely behind my Legend, Siletz, and Defiant tomatoes but if they continue well into the late summer then I will be content. Definitely are healthy plants, just took a while to set some fruit this year.

  19. Laura, I'm glad MM is finally setting. I'm really happy this year it is being a late tomato. My CPs have produced well, but the heat took them out of commission. As soon as the last few are picked there are no more tomatoes on the vine. Same with PC. So I'll be pulling them to put in spinach. The MMs are going strong and still setting. I've got all sorts of sizes on the vine. So they will keep me in fresh tomatoes into September. While the CPs are giving up in mid August. It has been a weird tomato year with the wild weather swings in June and massive heat in July. So far August seems more like our normal temps.

  20. We grew Amish paste for this first time this year and are very happy with them as well. Our other paste tomato this year was a Roma that we got from Mimi (gardening in the boroughs of nyc) and we're quite happy with them as well. Last year we grew San Marzanos as our paste tomato and were underwhelmed with them.

  21. It has been a tough season for tomatoes along the eastern seaboard it seems. Mine cranked out an enormous amount of fruit, but half of my plants are/were diseased. I think next year any heirloom I grow will be by itself with lots of airflow. These cool wet springs are trouble for an overcrowded tomato-alley bed in New England.

    Good luck with your early paste tomato hunt!

  22. This is very helpful. We have dandelions every year here! I am going to grow some herbs, mint, lemon balm for the bugs, and I am going to try catnip.