Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2005
Regional Report

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Cabbage and garlic make good partners; garlic deters cabbage pests, and both are done by early summer.

Let's Talk Tomatoes

I really enjoyed last year's relatively mild weather since I'm not a scorching-heat-lover. As long as the tomatoes go in early, develop well, bear heavily, and ripen up nicely, I'm happy. They did that last year, but I was disappointed that I didn't have more green ones left on the vines to ripen up for the holidays! That was my fault, however, since I depend mostly on heirloom varieties because of their flavor. I'm one of those gardeners who refuses to harvest more than 15 minutes before eating!

Now's the time for tomato-maniacs to choose their seeds and get plants started!

My Favorites
Here are the varieties I love and always include in my garden:

'Stupice' bears early, middle, and late, is nicely balanced in flavor, and mouth-sized for easy in-the-garden munching. I'd first planted it because it, like my Mom, came from the Czech Republic and I wanted to give her a taste of home. I've grown it ever since on its own merits.

Others on my list include 'Pineapple' (also called 'Hawaiian Pineapple') for its brilliant yellow/orange/red coloring and almost candy-sweet flavor that still smacks of tomato; 'Cherokee Purple' and 'Black Krim' for their intriguing pink/purple/brown coloring and perfect-for-my-taste balance of sweet and tart; 'Black Plum' for its brown-shouldered red coloring and full flavor; 'Green Zebra' for its rich green-stripe-turned-mustard color and slightly tart sweet flavor; and 'Sungold', which displaced all my other cherry and pear-shaped varieties because of its golden color and sweet but still tomatoey flavor.

My other dependables include 'Dona', 'Celebrity', and 'Ace'. Some that do well some years but are disappointing other years include 'Odoriko', 'Pruden's Purple', 'Green Grape', 'Big Rainbow', and the Brandywine variations.

Worth a Try
I usually try another five or so based on friends' recommendations, and either add them to my regular lineup, or dump them. Last year I tried 'Tangerine', which was the brightest clear orange I've ever seen, had good texture, but only an OK flavor. I also tried 'Isis Candy', which was a 1-inch cherry that had good sweet flavor but wasn't a spectacular producer, so I won't bother growing it again. 'Crimson Carmelo' and 'Chianti Rose' bore well and tasted wonderful, so I'll include them in my batch for this year.

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