Seed catalogs have been arriving in my mailbox for two months now, and in another two months tomato seedlings will be coming up in the greenhouse. For all of us northerners who start our summer vegetables from seed, it’s time to consider which varieties to order, or re-order, or beg from friends in the next few weeks. For my record and, I hope, a little help with your own choices, here is the fourth installment of my annual Tomato Report. For reports from prior years, click here.
Although we had another cool summer in 2012, unusually dry, warm weather in September and October made for an abundant and disease-free tomato harvest. All the varieties that produced well in 2011 did so again in 2012. This year’s report focuses on two varieties that were new to my garden as well as the year’s standouts.
Indigo Rose, a new selection from Jim Myers of Oregon State University, is a large cherry tomato that’s purple—eggplant purple, not muddy purple like a “black” tomato—with a green patch on the bottom side. When the tomato ripens, the green patch turns orange-red. My single plant set fruit early, but the fruits hung hard on the vine all summer before finally ripening in early October. Harvest was a bit of trouble, since I had to either lie on the ground looking up to see the red patches or else palpate each tomato. Although the fruits looked pretty in mixed-tomato salads, their flavor was uninteresting. If I grow Indigo Rose again, I’ll try it in a green-tomato pickle.
Developed by Jim Baggett at Oregon State University, Siletz produces medium-size red tomatoes, supposedly very reliably in our region. My friend Sally started my single Siletz plant. Although it was bigger and sturdier and quicker to set fruit than all the seedlings I started myself, the fruits were few and slow to ripen. I may try this cultivar again another year.
Jersey Devil ripened well this year, unlike in 2011. This horn-shaped tomato, about 5 inches long, has deep red, very meaty flesh that’s surprisingly sweet and tart.
Anna Russian was once again my biggest producer of large tomatoes. (See a description of this oxheart tomato in my 2011 report. My friend Sally, who grew Anna Russian for the first time this year, had great success with it as well.
Again I grew loads of Jaune Flamme, the French heirloom with the creamy orange-yellow flesh. For some reason many of the fruits were quite small, not much larger than an inch in diameter. Could Jaune Flamme have crossed with a yellow cherry? I don’t see how.
My other big producer, as usual, was little Juliet, a hybrid (see my 2009 report).
Varieties I may try for the first time in 2013 include two I tasted at the home of my friend Lisa: Sungold, a yellow cherry tomato with a tropical tang, and Purple Cherokee, a delicious black tomato similar to Carbon. I may also try a tomato recommended by Martin Smith: Ramapo, an old hybrid from Rutgers University. And I must get some more seeds of Black Prince (see my 2011 report), which I missed last year.