Navigation Bar

 photo Jane Richmond_zpsux4wawxl.png

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In the Garden // Tomato Review


Last weekend I moved from a house to an apartment and said good bye to my beloved garden. This meant harvesting all of the tomatoes left on the vine whether green or red and putting my little vegetable patch to rest. I am sad to say that my new balcony is in full shade (totally out of my control) but I've saved my essentials in a little gardening box in hopes of having soil to dig in the future.

My last In the Garden post will be this tomato review. I started a total of 15 varieties at the beginning of the year and 12 made it into my garden. I kept very detailed notes on each plant in hopes of narrowing down the varieties I would grow in years to come, choosing only the proven winners. I promised to share my findings for those who might find it useful in their own gardening adventures. The varieties ordered from West Coast Seeds were all chosen specifically for their early-ness, this is important due to the short seasons we experience here on the coast. If you are not a gardener, or you are but have no interest in growing tomatoes, you may want to skip this post altogether. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tomato Review
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The tomato varieties below are listed in order of early-ness (ie. Golden Nugget was the first to ripen, then Rocket, Glacier... and so on)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvest: July 23rd
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gold Nugget

Size: Cherry
Variety: Bush
Flavor: Nice acidity.
Source: Last years crop, originally from Seedy Saturday in Victoria
Would you grow again? Yes, yellow tomatoes aren't my fave in terms of flavor but I would grow these again solely because they were the first to ripen.



Rocket

Size: Cocktail
Variety: Bush
Flavor: Mildly sweet, thinner skin than the Glacier.
Source: West Coast Seeds
Would you grow again? Yes but only because it's such an early tomato, the flavor could have been better.



Glacier

Size: Cocktail
Variety: Bush
Flavor: Mildly sweet, thicker skin is not so nice.
Source: West Coast Seeds
Would you grow again? Probably not. It ripened at the same time as Rocket but was a little less flavorful and had a less desirable texture and a slightly thicker skin.







-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvest: August 13th
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweetie

Size: Small Cherry
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Super sweet, flavor winner!
Source: West Coast Seeds
Would you grow again? Absolutely, this was my all time favorite tomato. It wasn't the first to ripen but it certainly was ready in time to have a good season. The flavor was incredible and the baby cherry tomatoes were perfection. I would grow an entire garden of these! Yum yum.






-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvest: August 18th
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OSU Blue

Size: Cocktail
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Very bland, flavor looser.
Source: Last years crop, originally from Chorus Frog Farm on Salt Spring Island
Would you grow again? No way. These were a bit of a mystery, the seeds were marked Sweet Million but what grew from them is nothing else but an OSU Blue from last years crop. These plants produce stunning fruit but mine were completely flavorless.


Ailsa Craig

Size: Cocktail
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Bland.
Source: Last years crop, originally from Cannor Nursery
Would you grow again? Nope. I'm not sure what happened with these because last year they were quite tasty, this year they were completely flavorless and not worth the wait.


Siletz

Size: Slicing
Variety: Bush
Flavor: Watery and bland.
Source: West Coast Seeds
Would you grow again? Never! These were very watery, had zero flavor, and were pretty mealy. I strongly prefer cherry and cocktail tomatoes and don't normally eat slicing varieties but wanted to try these just for a little variety in the garden. Next time I'll stay true to my preferences, it's sort of like choosing to knit a sweater that doesn't really suite your body type.


Yellow Pear

Size: Cherry
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Mild acidity and sweetness. Less flavor than the Golden Nugget.
Source: Seedy Saturday Victoria (2011), Sunbird Seeds
Would you grow again? Probably not. As mentioned above, yellow tomatoes are not my favorite, I like to grow them for their colour, and because the Golden Nugget was tastier and earlier, I would choose to grow it over the Yellow Pear.






-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvest: September 12th
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Peaceful Cherry

Size: Cherry
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Acidic and flavorful, nice bite.
Source: Seedy Saturday Victoria (2011), Vibrant Seeds
Would you grow again? Yes although I think in the end I would choose to grow Sweet Millions over this variety, they are more productive.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvest: September 28th
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nic's Tomatoes

Size: Slicing
Variety: Bush
Flavor: Mildly sweet, good flavor for a slicing variety.
Source: My landlord
Would you grow again? Every year my landlord would leave a bucket of young tomato plants he had started, on my stairs to add to the garden. I have no idea what these were but they had a neat shape much like an heirloom and good flavor for being a slicing tomato. I realize this isn't very helpful because the variety is a mystery but I've included them here as a reference for myself.


San Marzano Lampadina 2

Size: Roma
Variety: Vine
Source: My Aunt bought these for my Mom, I believe the distributor is Weston Seeds
Would you grow again? No, these tomatoes were totally depressed to be growing in my garden and not in Italian soil where they belong. Our season is too short and the temperatures don't get hot enough. I grew these for my Mom so I can't comment on how they tasted in the end.


Early Cascade

Size: Cocktail
Variety: Vine
Flavor: Good balance of acidity and sweetness, best of the bunch for this size. Thinner skin than Glacier and Rocket.
Source: West Coast Seeds
Would you grow again? Don't think so. The whole time I was growing them I thought that their name "Early Cascade" was some sort of joke, they were one of the last to produce fruit, and when they finally did, the fruit remained green forever! They were just beginning to turn when I pulled them off the plants at the end of the season, I had to put them in a brown paper bag in order to ripen them. That being said, they were yummy for being picked prematurely and the plant itself was by far the healthiest plant in the garden.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I really enjoyed myself this gardening season, I was well organized and payed close attention to what was working and what clearly shouldn't be repeated. I feel better prepared for my next vegetable bed, whenever that may be (a community garden plot perhaps). 

And the Winner is...

All in all the Sweeties were the winner, hands down! They were SO yummy, bite size, and fell off the vine when picked. They were shiny and perfectly round and the plant was extremely prolific. If I could grow only one variety these would be the ones. I highly recommend!

Rocket and Golden Nugget are definitely runners up because of their early-ness to ripen, choosing the wrong varieties here on the coast can mean no red tomatoes by the time the frost comes... a huge let down for all the time spent caring for the plants. 

I hope that this review is useful to some, especially those living in coastal regions where tomatoes don't normally thrive. I'd love to hear your winners and losers of the season! Let's compare notes. 

11 comments:

  1. Y'know what's really interesting? Here in Montreal, on the other side of the continent, my favourite tomato from my garden this summer was the small, red cherry tomatoes I grew called Sweet 100. We grew several different varieties as well, and those were the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every year I grow a variety of shapes and sizes and at the end of each season I wish I had grown an entire garden of cherry tomatoes... they're just that good! Thanks for sharing your fave Tanis!

      Delete
  2. Yay! Thanks for the review Jane. It will definitely help my future tomato growing :-) XO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As promised :) I know you and Matt will have a better crop next year Julia! Hope you had a good thanksgiving sweets!

      Delete
  3. I love this post, Jane! Sooo informative. I'm going to take your advice and look for sweeties next year. Like you, I prefer the grape/cherry varieties for their flavour. I also like how easy and mess-free they are to pack in school lunches.

    Knowing how much you love to be in the garden, I can imagine how difficult it was to give up your patch of dirt. But you will have a garden again one day soon because good things come to good people and you're one of the best.

    Amy

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the way how you present your tomatoes, it is indeed a very nice job. Hope to see more.

    ReplyDelete
  5. thanks for the awesome tomato review! Up here in Quesnel, BC, we're not really in a prime tomato growing zone either, except for inside my greenhouse ;) This year's winner was an incredible tomato called Cobra, bought at the local farmer's market. It's a nice bush tomato, good slicer, great flavour, and nice interior texture. I also grew Principe Borghese, an Italian cocktail tomato. It produced early, often, and late into the season. I picked the last ones off the vine last week when we had a frost warning, and brought a branch inside to root for the winter. I'll add Sweeties to my tomato list for next year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh boy, both Cobra and Principe Borghese sound like they need to be added to my list! It's hard to find a slicer with good flavor and nice texture.

      Delete
  6. My "Early Girls" were some of the last to ripen in my garden! So frustrating.
    Have you tried Sungold? They are my hands-down have cherry tomato. Yellow-gold and super-sweet and I always get a great yield. Every year I wish I planted more than just one. Maybe next year I will remember!
    I also have luck with Green Zebra, but find them a little acidic.
    Black Krim usually do well for me. they are not too big and have great flavour, but this year's were a bust.
    Also liked Black Cherokee this year. And I love Big Rainbow, but can't rely on getting great yields year after year.
    I grow plain old Romas every year and always get a good yield.Not as great as usual this particular year, but my tomatoes didn't thrive this year in general, with the cold Vancouver spring, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, our Spring was unusually cold, not nice for the tomato crop. I'll have to try the Sungold, I always like to grow one yellow tom. I grew Cherokee Purple one year and boy were they a hit! They were the tastiest slicer I've ever eaten... I'll have to look into Black Cherokee.

      Delete
  7. the peaceful cherry tomatoes are one of my favorite varieties! must be our super hot summers that does it for them..

    ReplyDelete