Vegetables and Fruit forum: extending the tomato season

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southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 14, 2016 10:29 AM CST
I'm sure this has been discussed, and I've scanned through some of the threads here but not spotted it. This year I grew Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple & an hybrid tomato I think was Big Boy. I grew the heirlooms from seed, & later picked up the Big Boy. I liked the flavor better of the Cherokee Purple & Mortgage Lifter, but seemed like all my tomatoes ripened at the same time. I'm hoping someone can recommend an early tomato and maybe a late one. Right now I have only a few very small tomatoes that I doubt will ripen before frost. Of course, this was a really wet year here, especially in July, the wettest on record. I got plenty of tomatoes despite a problem with splitting, but maybe ripening times may have been affected. Anyway, I'm hoping for suggestions. We like big meaty tomatoes that make a nice big sandwich. I tend to roast the extras & blend up into sort of a sauce & freeze, so canning type for acidity is not necessary. I was happy with the heirlooms, both for size & taste, but maybe someone has better suggestions? I've not really tried a lot of different varieties. I meant to get to the farmer's market & get some different ones this year, & maybe not too late. I've never tried the green ones, my husband doesn't like the pink/yellow ones very much, although I like them. I'm open to heirloom or hybrids.
Name: Judy
Simpsonville SC (Zone 7b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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SCButtercup
Sep 14, 2016 5:42 PM CST
What you want is indeterminate tomatoes (not determinate) because they keep producing and don't usually all ripen at the same time. It seems like the ones you mention are indeterminate so maybe the problem was the wet weather that skewed things. I do grow heirlooms but I also throw in some hybrids because they are very dependable, usually grow at least one hybrid Parks Big Beef, and next summer I'm going to do one Legend tomato, which is a hybrid but not a huge beefsteak, however it is supposed to be a great all season producer, midsized slicer type.
southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 15, 2016 6:37 AM CST
Thank you! I guess I have the right plants, just not the right conditions.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Sep 15, 2016 9:26 AM CST
Try, different plants next season. Heirlooms can be finicky sometimes.

The standard early tomato at nurseries is Early Girl. It is very reliable and productive over a long period of time. Big slicers like Beefsteak or Beefmaster are later tomatoes probably just because of their size. But they do come on late.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Sep 15, 2016 11:43 AM CST
Hi alilyfan.

I have a list of "early" tomatoes, but they are all small or smallish. Also, most are adapted to cool or cold climates, because that's what I searched for.

I think that, mostly, you can either have "early", or "big". Usually, not both in the same tomato. I often read comments like "this variety is relatively early for such a big tomato".

====

ULTRA-EARLY & COLD-TOLERANT:

Glacier - ultra-early, cold-tolerant, SEMI-DET
Stupice - ultra-early, cold-tolerant, compact DET


EXTRA-EARLY & COLD-TOLERANT:

Oregon Spring - extra-early, very cold-tolerant, "plant 4 wks before last frost & protect only when there's frost"
Manitoba - extra-early, cold-tolerant, 3'-4' DET, "Canadian for colder climates"
Matina - extra-early, INDET, "dependable even in cold/wet summers"
Sub-Artic Plenty - extra-early, "Canadian", DET Allegedly developed in the 1940's by the U.S. Military to provide fresh tomatoes to their troops in Greenland.

Northern Delight - ultra-early, "for the Far North", 2' DET
Beaverlodge series - ultra-early, compact DET, containers
Sophie's Choice: Heirloom from Edmonton, Canada, introduced by Carolyn Male in 1997.
Extra early, flavorful. 2' DET vines suited to containers. 6-12 ounce globes red-orange outside and deep red flesh.
Strong disease resistance. Not heat-tolerant or drought-tolerant. Best production in cooler climates.


EXTRA-EARLY:

Early Cascade - (hybrid but seems pretty true) - early, short-summer, PNW, "reliable: sets fruit in any climate"
Early Wonder - extra-early, 3'-4' SEMI-DET, med red globe
Early Wonder - extra-early, SEMI-INDET
Siletz - extra-early, reliable, DET,
Sungold F1 - extra-early, 4'-8' INDET, containers, sweet orange cherry with 'tropical' flavor
Ildi - extra-early, yellow grape pear, 8'-10' INDET
Gold Nugget - extra-early, 2-3' DET, bland yellow cherry


EARLY:

Yellow Plum - early, productive even in cold, 4'-6' INDET, yellow cherry
Bloody Butcher - early, cool climate, 4'-6'
Maskabec - early, 18"-36" DET, 4-6 oz. red globe
Golden Rave (hybrid) - early, gold Roma plum6'-8' INDET
Husky Cherry Red - early, semi-DET or dwarf INDET
Sub Artic Cherry - early, DET, pink, "developed in Alberta for short seasons"
Early Cascade - early, short summer, red-orange

LESS EARLY:

Marmande - semi-early, cool climate, med-large red beefsteak type, full flavor
Santa Cherry / Santa Sweets - mid-season, tolerates cool summers, 4'-8' INDET
Morden Yellow - mid-late, Canadian for colder climates, 2'-3' DET, med yellow globe
Early Girl (hybrid) - semi-early, med red globe, flavorful






Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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farmerdill
Sep 15, 2016 1:43 PM CST
Concur , Rick.
Extra early tomatoes like the extra early sweet corn usually leave a lot to be desired. The Canadien tomatoes are early, but leave much to be desired for flavor. The June Pink that I use to grow as a kid apparently dissappeared with the demise of T.W. Wood. My main competition in early tomato contests at that time was Spark's Earlianna ( still available from Victory seeds) 65 DTM. Oregon Spring, Polbig and Valley Girl are baseball size 65 DTM round reds. I tried Early Girl when it first came out and was not impressed with its earliness. It does continue bearing where many of the better earlies are one and done but starts out with maybe baseball size and gets smaller and smaller until late crop is golfball size. have not tried its successors, Fourth of July and New Girl.
Of course there are current and cherry tomatoes with shorter DTM.
When I lived in Z6 (south west Virginia) planted a few Hi-X for early tomatoes, Ace 55 or similar for canning, Mortgage Lifter and Trip-L-Crop for big slicers. Did not have disease problems there that destroy those varieties here in Georgia.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Sep 15, 2016 5:26 PM CST
Early Girl is not really that much early but it certainly is not a late one. And then it simply keeps on producing. Other extra earlies I had tried turned out to be gold ball size and then as soon as the heat heat the plants just up and died. Not even worth the garden space for me.
southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 15, 2016 6:48 PM CST
Early Girl is one easily available here as plants, or seeds for that matter. I'll try that one. I grew it once several years ago. It was a bit earlier than my other tomatoes & I think I did like it pretty well. I'm remembering too though that the fruit got smaller with heat, but my father in law said I should have fertilized better. I may try Stupice too, I'm pretty sure that one is sold at the farmer's market, so should do well here in KY. Thank you for the list Rick, I'll got through & see what I can find seeds for. Some I can see might not do well here just because we seem to skip spring fairly often.Although I'm thinking I grew Bloody Butcher one year & it did well... Then I may run into a new problem....so many tomatoes I want to try. On the plus side, I just got some nice looking tomato cages on clearance for 25 cents ea. I hope they will hold Mortgage Lifter better than the flimsy ones I used this year. Next year I'll have to watch out for those big green worms! First year I've ever had them, guess I was just lucky. Wasn't watching for a few days because there weren't any tomatoes that would be ripe, & when I did, the vines were pretty well cleaned.
Thank you all for the help, I will go over these & have the fun of looking through seed catalogs in a couple months.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Sep 15, 2016 7:34 PM CST
Fruit size getting smaller with heat or after the first big glut of tomatoes has finished is not uncommon. Doesn't seem to be it heirloom or hybrid.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Sep 16, 2016 6:04 PM CST
Not only with heat, but with age, I think. I had a Mortgage lifter that overwintered this year...still growing like crazy, but produced golf ball sized fruit. I just pulled it.
southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 18, 2016 7:12 AM CST
Interesting. I really liked the amount of tomatoes that Mortgage Lifter produced. It has a few small ones on the plants now, maybe there will be hope for them to ripen if they aren't going to get big. Thanks!
Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
Sep 18, 2016 7:43 AM CST
Here the end of the season tomatoes generally produce smaller sized fruit...except this year. The larger varieties are hanging in there with big ones; just as large as the first tomatoes. The Mortgage Lifter variety growing this year (not sure which of the 16 different it is because a guy sent the seeds to me and didn't say except ML) is very productive, large and tasty. Most likely as the season progresses everything will either get smaller or stay green waiting for the big freeze.

My choices are for mid and late season varieties. The reason is as stated; the early ones have little flavor and after all is said and done, if they don't taste good there is no real reason to have them take up valuable space. Around here there are folks who love to say they have the earliest tomatoes, but they are like grocery store tomatoes...round, red, hard and tasteless. I would rather wait a couple of weeks for the real thing.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Sep 18, 2016 10:38 AM CST
It does seem to be difficult to find those early tasty tomato varieties. This year I tried a yellow early one called Taxi. Well, I was not impressed. Really bland and its not as if the tomatoes were big or anything like that. Once they finished that flush of tomatoes I yanked them out and will not be planting them next year. But I don't know what I could find that might be better. And I usually like yellow tomatoes.
southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 18, 2016 1:27 PM CST
If the early ones don't have good flavor, I know in my heart you are right, not worth giving the space over to. Still, those first garden tomatoes after the long winter & spring are what I so look forward to. I didn't realize there were more than one variety of Mortgage Lifter, always something new to learn. I've never heard of Taxi tomato, I'll know to avoid it. I like yellow tomatoes, but my husband doesn't like anything except red tomatoes. Oddly, he didn't figure out that Purple Cherokee was anything except a dark red tomato, if I had told him the name he probably wouldn't have tried it.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Sep 18, 2016 1:52 PM CST
I think anything you grow yourself, even the bland extra early tomatoes, taste better than the store bought tomatoes. So don't necessarily avoid all early tomatoes. Still it is pretty much true that the early ones don't have the flavor as good as the main season varieties.
Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
Sep 18, 2016 3:28 PM CST
Here is the list of Mortgage Lifter tomatoes from the pre-eminent tomato knowledge source, Tatiana's Tomatobase. How close they are to each other I do not know. Like Cherokee and Brandywine several may be hooking on to a popular name rather than being similar or another version. Personally I have grown Mortgage Lifter, Estler's and Radiator Charlie's. I am not sure I can tell the difference since they were all in different years under different conditions.

Mortgage Lifter
Mortgage Lifter Bicolor
Mortgage Lifter, Carter's
Mortgage Lifter, Estler's
Mortgage Lifter, German
Mortgage Lifter, Halladay's
Mortgage Lifter, Mullen's
Mortgage Lifter, O'Driscoll's
Mortgage Lifter, Pesta
Mortgage Lifter, Quisenberry's
Mortgage Lifter, Radiator Charlie's
Mortgage Lifter, Red
Mortgage Lifter, Rieger's
Mortgage Lifter, Watson's
Mortgage Lifter, Yellow
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Sep 18, 2016 4:25 PM CST
I had no idea there were so many different versions!
southern Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Sep 19, 2016 6:46 PM CST
I had no idea either, I've seen radiator Charlie's name attached, but who knew. At least not me!
Name: Don Shirer
Westbrook, CT (Zone 6a)
Seed Starter
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DonShirer
Sep 20, 2016 6:53 AM CST
     Rick has given a nice list of early tomatoes. I've grown Stupid, Matina, Sophie's Choice, Sungold, and Ildi on his list and agree that while they are ok, none taste quite as good as later maturing varieties like Cherokee Purple.

Since few posters seemed to respond to the OP's request for a late tomato, here are a few big tomatoes I have grown that mature a bit later than most and also taste good.
Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red (large red)
Nepal (large red)
Neve's Azores Red (large red)
Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter (large pink)
Russian 117 (large pink heart)

     I have some Cherokee Purples grown in part shade that ripened 2-3 weeks after the same variety grown in full sun, so that might be a way to extend the season for other cultivars as well.
Name: Paul Fish
Brownville, Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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PaulF
Sep 20, 2016 9:02 AM CST
First, my definition of late season: here in southeast Nebraska a late season tomato first ripens after August 1. The second part of late season is that it continues to produce into September and even October. Since a lot of tomatoes that do produce later in my season lose flavor and texture, that needs to be taken into account. Over the years having kept a journal of variety production and dates and flavor this is a list of large tomatoes that meet all my requirements.

Don's list is a good one and all are on my list also. These are the others I might suggest:

Heatherington Pink
Joe's Pink Oxheart
Hungarian Heart
Marianna's Peace
Butter and Bull Heart
Reif Red Heart
Aussie
Cuostralee/Coustralee...depending on who spells it
Neve's Azorean Red
Tsar Kolokol

There are a large number of large varieties that produce well into the late season, but for me begin production earlier or lose production or flavor later in the year. Each year is a little different, so these varieties were consistently later tomatoes for me. This is from 15 years of record keeping and just one year on the list didn't get considered. I am sure the list could get to be much longer if I fiddled with the parameters a little.

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