• Grading the Tomatoes – 2010

    by  • September 16, 2010 • Miscellaneous

    I grew 21 tomato plants this year, some old favorites, some new-to-me varieties in hopes of finding new favorites. There were some standouts, some duds, and plenty of in-between plants.

    I’m looking at the whole picture here – sometimes a tomato tasted wonderful, but produced a measly one or two tomatoes the entire season. I’m considering those duds. A few plants gave me very little in return for the space I gave them, and I won’t be growing those again. Happily, I had many standout plants this year, and I’ll most likely be growing those again next year.

    So, without further ado:

    The Best

    Japanese Black Trifele

    Japanese Black Trifele (3 Plants)
    Trying to pick a favorite tomato is almost impossible, but, if pressed, I’d probably have to name the ‘Japanese Black Trifele’ as my favorite. The fruity, smoky flavor of these tomatoes is absolutely amazing, and we ate them as quickly as they ripened.

    Brandywine (2 Plants)
    Truthfully, ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Japanese Black Trifele’ would probably have to duke it out to see who would be named my favorite tomato. I fell in love with this tomato the first time I grew it years ago in a borrowed garden bed in my inlaws’ back yard (before we had our house, obviously!) and it has continued to be one of my favorites.

    Yellow Pear (2 Plants)
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: ‘Yellow Pear’ is the best snacking tomato, ever. Period. Non-acidic, very tasty, and prolific — this one is a must in my garden. All four kids look for the ripe ‘Yellow Pears’ and snack sitting right in the garden (and who can blame them?)

    Wapsipinicon Peach (1 Plant)
    This was my first year growing ‘Wapsipinicon Peach,’ courtesy of seeds from my Michigan garden blogging pal Monica, and I am in love. These cute, fuzzy little tomatoes are sweet, juicy, and just beautiful to look at. In fact, they’re so good that every time I got a ripe one, someone ate it before I was able to save seeds. I have a few more ripening on the plant right now and I am guarding them against snacking children so I can save some seeds for next year!


    Tiger-Like (1 Plant)
    I grew ‘Tiger-Like’ for the first time two years ago, and I will probably always grow this tasty little tomato. First off, the fruits are beautiful — yellow and orange striped tomatoes, a little larger than a typical cherry tomato. And then there’s the taste: a little sweet, a little tangy, very, very juicy. Yum.

    Polish Linguisa (2 Plants)
    I’ve finally decided: these are my favorite paste tomatoes. They are meaty, large, very tasty, and much less susceptible to blossom end rot than the other paste tomatoes I have grown. Three years in a row, these have been the best-producing paste tomatoes in my garden. I’m pretty sure I will just grow them and stop wasting space on the ones that don’t do as well for me (see “So-So” and “Dud” tomatoes, below).

    The So-So Tomatoes

    Roma (3 Plants)
    These are fairly dependable, but the yield has not been as high as that of the ‘Polish Linguisas,’ and the flavor is (in my humble opinion) not nearly as good. Also, I had quite a bit of blossom end rot on these, and they just weren’t worth the space they took up.

    Black Krim (2 Plants)
    I received these plants to trial from Hort Couture, and while the plants are very healthy, and the tomatoes have a very tasty smoky/tangy flavor that I enjoy, they just don’t produce enough for me to devote the space to them. They are quite attractive tomatoes, with purplish shoulders and pinkish-purplish skin and flesh — worth growing, but not something I’m sure I’ll grow every year.

    Juliet (1 Plant)
    I grew these grape tomatoes again because my kids liked them so much last year. This year, they are all about the ‘Yellow Pear’ tomatoes, and pretty much have been ignoring these. We eat them in salads, and they are fairly tasty tomatoes, but they’re not standouts, in my opinion. They are very prolific, so they definitely have that in their favor. I’m not sure if I’ll be growing these again next year or not. After four years, we may have had our fill of ‘Juliet.’

    Red Pear (1 Plant)
    I grew these because we like ‘Yellow Pear’ so much. ‘Red Pear’ is not as prolific (as far as I’ve noticed) as ‘Yellow Pear.’ The fruits are very pretty, and look great in a salad or on a crudite platter. However, they lack the awesome flavor of ‘Yellow Pear’. They’re a good, fairly tasty tomato, but not anything to write home about. I might grow them again because I like the way they look in salads, but probably only one plant per year.

    The Duds

    Cherokee Purple (1 Plant)
    I have grown these for four years now, and year after year I am disappointed by the low yields. I have gotten precisely two fruits from my ‘Cherokee Purple’ this year, which is about on par with how things have gone the last several years of growing this tomato. The flavor of ‘Cherokee Purple’ is wonderful — just as good as ‘Brandywine,’ if not (maybe) a little better. But if something’s going to be in my garden, it has to produce and ‘Cherokee Purple’ just doesn’t cut it. I’ll be taking a break from growing these.

    San Marzano (2 Plants)
    I know there are some people who absolutely love ‘San Marzano,’ and I can see why — the flavor is terrific – tangy, very tomato-ey, meaty — just as a paste tomato should be. But these produced cruddy little fruits, most of which had blossom end rot (incidentally — planted right next to a ‘Polish Linguisa’ that had zero end rot once we got past the wet spring weather we had). Wimpy plants have no place in my garden, and, unfortunately after giving it two years to convince me otherwise, I’m going to have to call ‘San Marzano’ a wimp. At least in my Detroit-area garden.

    So there we have it. I’ll grow several of these again, but am looking forward to trying new varieties next year. I already have seeds of ‘Woodle Orange’ from Dave from Growing the Home Garden that I can’t wait to grow and taste, and I’ll be scoping out Seed Savers Exchange and Botanical Interests for other interesting heirlooms to try.

    What were your tomato hits and misses this year?

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