Rediscovering Tomatoes

By psa
January 16, 2013

What could you compare to a ripe tomato, fresh from the garden? Tomatoes are consistently one of the most popular edible garden plants, grown all over the world, yet most people have only tried a bland handful of the thousands of varieties available. For decades tomato availability was controlled by canning, shipping, and mechanical harvesting and processing needs, but now we're finally seeing a return to the flavors, textures, and versatility that made tomatoes so compelling in the first place.

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Jan 16, 2013 12:53 AM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Excellent article, full of helpful information.
I'll be starting my seeds in a couple more weeks. I can almost taste the vine ripened tomatoes.

Which ones do you recommend for the old fashioned tomato taste of nice balance between acid and sweet?
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Jan 16, 2013 6:26 AM CST
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Bulbs Winter Sowing Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Charter ATP Member
Region: Canadian Enjoys or suffers cold winters Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
It is still early here for tomato starting.
But I can hardly wait to start!
I try different ones every year.
This year I hope to try the "blue" tomato.
I'll also grow other varieties---not sure which ones. Double Rich, Caro Rich and Healthkick?
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Jan 16, 2013 7:42 AM CST
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Nice article. There really is a whole world of tomatoes out there waiting to be explored. I'm going with 'Heirloom Yellow Pear', 'Tennessee Britche's' and 'Traveler '76' this year. And maybe some others as well.

Nice to know about your business too. nodding
I garden for the pollinators.
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Jan 16, 2013 7:56 PM CST
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
valleylynn said:Which ones do you recommend for the old fashioned tomato taste of nice balance between acid and sweet?


I hear this question a lot, so I have a list to give people, but I've really found that taste is an individual thing. Opinions vary even more when applied to an ideal, like 'old fashioned.' I would recommend trying some of the old University releases, like Sioux and Rutgers, and a few of the depression era heirlooms like Mortgage Lifter, and some of the old standbys like German Johnson and Cherokee Purple.
Mid-Columbia Gardens
Geodesic Greenhouse
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.


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Jan 16, 2013 8:00 PM CST
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
CarolineScott said:
This year I hope to try the "blue" tomato.

I've had blue tomatoes that were terrible tasting and others that were quite good. Like many other things, the blue skin is a single trait in a vast genetic pool that makes up a tomato's characteristics. Tom Wagner's Helsing Junction Blues were very good this last year, but we found that inexperienced growers had a difficult time telling when they were ripe, because there was no visible color change to indicate maturity.
Mid-Columbia Gardens
Geodesic Greenhouse
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.


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Jan 17, 2013 10:13 AM CST
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
This is good info for the novice. I have never had a really good tomato crop. I will copy this article and keep it close while I start to pick my seeds.
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Jan 17, 2013 2:08 PM CST
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
And speaking of advice on tomato growing.....
Blossom end rot. Sometimes I have problems with this, sometimes not. I came across this brief article on Gardeners Supply. Does this sound right to the experts? Smiling
http://www.gardeners.com/Bloss...
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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Jan 19, 2013 11:56 PM CST
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
Daylilies Hybridizer Seed Starter Pollen collector Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Butterflies Birds Dragonflies Canning and food preservation Herbs Vegetable Grower
Fabulous article, Paul. Jam packed with info. I will be starting seedlings
near the end of March or early April.
Last edited by mistyfog Jan 21, 2013 7:00 PM Icon for preview
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Jan 21, 2013 1:34 AM CST
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
woofie, that sounds like a pretty good description in the article you linked. I would also point out that it's very unlikely to be an actual calcium deficiency in your soil, but even if it is (as might be the case if you're growing in a soilless mix or some other non-native soil) a bit of lime will do the trick for you.
Mid-Columbia Gardens
Geodesic Greenhouse
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.


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Jan 21, 2013 11:44 AM CST
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
I always add lime when planting in soilless mix, so I'm thinking it's one of the other factors mentioned, which is why I wondered if the information was accurate. Perhaps I'm using a fertilizer that's too high in nitrogen. I've been growing them in Earthboxes and follow their directions for tomatoes, but had a problem with BER the last couple of years.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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Jan 21, 2013 1:54 PM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Notice what that article says about watering. Fluctuations in water availability can cause blossom end rot.
Last edited by valleylynn Jan 21, 2013 1:54 PM Icon for preview
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Jan 21, 2013 2:44 PM CST
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Oddly enough, I had more of a problem with BER in the earthboxes, which are supposed to provide an optimal level of moisture if you keep the reservoir full. I'm wondering if it has more to do with temperature fluctuations where I have them. Might be getting a bit too cold in the afternoons. I don't have the fertilizer box any more, so I can't check the nitrogen level in the one I was using. Anyway, I thought the information in that article was a bit more comprehensive that others I've seen, so I thought I'd share it. Does anyone have recommendations for slicing varieties that are less susceptible to BER?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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Jan 21, 2013 5:10 PM CST
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
I know of no generally accepted list of more BER resistant varieties (though there are some heavily refuted lists I've seen on the internet). Plum/paste tomatoes tend to be more susceptible. Cherries are immune. Everything else is in the middle. Heart tomatoes are often offered as an alternative to plum/Roma types, and smaller tomatoes tend to be less susceptible. It seems that results vary considerably for people comparing BER incidence in different varieties, in different places, in different years. It may be that just as there are a large number of contributing factors to BER, tomato varieties vary in their resistance to these factors individually. This would mean that which types do better for you will depend on the particular combination of BER susceptibility factors at work in your own garden.

pH and mineral availability can be a problem in containers. Nitrogen heavy fertilizers are always a bad idea for tomatoes, but will be especially damaging once fruit are set. Cool weather is known to be a factor, as well as small plant size. Many people find that their plants outgrow BER after the first few fruit are produced. Be sure to pick off fruit with BER as soon as you spot them so that the plant can put its energies into new, healthy fruit.
Mid-Columbia Gardens
Geodesic Greenhouse
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.


Image
Jan 21, 2013 5:53 PM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
There are years we have had a problem with BER because of the weather. I did as you suggest above and ended up with some good tomatoes.
Not all varieties (6 or 7) had the problem. I can see where it would be a good idea to keep the tomato seeds from these for the next years plants.
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Jan 21, 2013 9:03 PM CST
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Thinking back to just the past year in particular, the same variety of plant, in different containers in different areas of the garden, with different soil types, all had the same incidence of BER. So I'm going to make a big guess that weather was a big factor. Smiling At least for that year. Think I'll try to find a place in the ground for a couple this year, see if that makes a difference. Interesting discussion! Thanks!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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Jan 21, 2013 9:37 PM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
And try different varieties, maybe 3 or 4?
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Jan 21, 2013 9:45 PM CST
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Any suggestions?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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Jan 21, 2013 10:20 PM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Rosy Morn did well for us. And it had good flavor.


Whopper


We also grew Brandywine & Pineapple



I also grew the OSU Blue which was interesting. And very prolific and healthy.


We grew about 10 different varieties last time. All of the cherry tomatoes did well.
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Apr 3, 2013 8:31 AM CST
Name: Jackie
Michigan (Zone 5b)
Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener
Beautiful Tomatoes Lynn!!! Mine are about 10 inches so far Smiling
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Apr 3, 2013 8:45 AM CST
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Thank you Jackie. We didn't plant any last year because we where gone during the time to plant. But we will plant them this year. Thumbs up

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