Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2006
Regional Report

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'Pineapple' is a beautiful and delicious beefsteak tomato.

Tomato Favorites

Everyone has their favorite tomato varieties, and after receiving recommendations from Master Gardeners, community gardeners, school gardeners, backyard gardeners, and farmers' market tasters, I'm happy to share them with readers. Here's a compendium, grouped by heirloom (all sizes), midsized hybrid, cherry/plum/pear, and paste. They are sure to get us all thinking and salivating about next year's crop!

Heirlooms (Will Come True From Seed)
'Anna Russian' - Gigantic (easily 1-1/2 to 2 lbs each); cold-hardy, lovely rose red, irregularly lobed; very smooth flavor with just enough acidity to give it punch; very juicy but also meaty; thin-skinned, slices beautifully. Very prolific producer for a two-month period. This tomato is a winner -- the best tomato I've ever eaten in my entire life!

'Arkansas Traveler' - Beefsteak; juicy slicer; slightly orangish; midseason.

'Aunt Ruby's Green' - Large beefsteak; sweet, juicy, soft; green with blushes of red streaks at bottom; mid to late season.

'Cherokee Purple' - Midsize to large round; very sweet, juicy with nice acid and some smokeyness, soft but slices well; purple/red/black with hints of red and green, mid to late season.

'Costoluto Genovese' - Large; reddish with natural deep ridges; fabulous flavor!

'Green Zebra' - Small salad slicer; spicy/tangy; firm; light green with darker green vertical stripes that turn softer and more orangy yellow when ripe.

'Hillbilly' - Large beefsteak; sweet with some acid; juicy, soft; bicolored with yellow and red streaks; late season.

'Mango' - Beefsteak; sweet, juicy, soft; large deep orange/yellow; late season.

'Noire Charbonneuse' - Medium-sized; extremely juicy; black fruit with an extra shot of sugar that lends more flavor; great sliced or in salsa; excellent producer.

'Paul Robeson' - Midsized; nice balance between acid and sweet with hint of smoke; soft; purple/black with green shoulders; midseason. An all-time favorite.

'Pierce's Pride' - Medium to large, slightly flattened; dark rosy red with purple shoulders; full and rich and sweet; midseason (early for a larger tomato); terrific producer, even in a pot.

'Pineapple' - Large beefsteak; very sweet, juicy, good balance of flavor; soft but slices beautifully; yellow with blushes of red streaks at blossom end; late season.

'Striped German' - Large beefsteak; very sweet, juicy, nice tomatoey flavor; soft; bicolored yellow with blushes of red streaks at blossom end; midseason.

Midsized Hybrid (Won't Come True from Seed)
'Carmelo' - Medium-sized red fruit with great flavor; good producer.

'Celebrity' - Large to beefsteak; classic balance of sweet and acid for perfect tomatoey flavor; red; very productive; VFFNTA disease resistance; midseason.

'Banana Legs' - Small, yellow, sweet, prolific producer all season long.

'Black Plum' - Large plum-shaped; very good balance between sweet and acid with a hint of smokeyness; firm , purple-black with a hint of green on the shoulders; mid to late season.

'Isis Candy' - 1-inch cherry; sweet with a fruity undertone; soft; blushes of red and yellow; midseason.

'Juliet' - Elongated grape; sweet but not super sweet with acid undertones; firm; red; early.

'Sun Gold' - Small cherry; very sweet but still a little bit of tang; yellow that turns orange when ripe; heavy producer but not as vigorous as some other cherries; tastes like a fruit; long-season producer starting earlier than Sweet 100;

'Sweet 100' - Small cherry; very sweet; red; long-season producer; thin skin that's prone to cracking.

'Amish Paste' - Mid size; reliable flavor; good slicer.

'Carrot Tomato' - Paste or slicer; elongated carrot shape; fat and red; not juicy. Vine is extremely slight and delicate.

Seed Sources
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,
Pinetree Garden Seeds,
Tomato Grower's Supply,

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