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Homegrown tomatoes

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What are your favorite tomatoes to grown in your garden?

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Heirlooms, only.  Brandywines in pink, purple and yellow with a pink stripe, and mortgage lifters (2-4 lbs fruit per piece).  I can buy all hybrids at my local farm stands for $1 per pound, but these guys at the same store cost $4 per pound.  I plant enough to have about 750 pounds of very good tomatoes.  I stopped planting cherry tomatoes -- too much trouble to pick them.

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May I volunteer to help you with excess tomato growth?  :smile:

I'm a frequent buyer of bruised, unwanted tomatoes. I feel it is my Egulletarian duty to rescue the tomatoes considered ugly and useless by others, and transform them, Cinderella-like, into delicious sauces. I've been known to have 20-25 sauces in the freezer come November.

That said, I also love Brandywines, 'specially if they have dark 'shoulders'. That said, Sungolds, little orange cherry tomatoes, are like pure candy. And I like the fuzzy-textured peach tomatoes, the beautifully arrayed Zebra stripes, and I'd like to strike a deal whereby if you buy the tomatoes, I'll sauce them, with a cut of the sauce going to the house, of course.

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Liza,

Your offer sounds very interesting.  On which side of the Continental Divide do you reside?

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Sungold indeed. At tomato tastings I've been involved with they have won time after time. Homegrown tomatos allowed to ripen on the vine and eaten soon after they're picked are, compared with any tomatoes bought from any supplier, like Chateau Mouton Rothschild compared with vin ordinaire.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This weekend we planted:

Small/Cherry: Riesentraube, Isis Candy, Red Currant, Grape, Yellow Pear

Medium/Plum: Martino's Roma, San Marzano, White Beauty, Green Zebra (does anyone know how you are supposed to know when green tomatoes are ripe?)

Large: Black from Tula, German Red Strawberry, Hawaiian Pineapple

I bought them all at Cross Country Nurseries in NJ. Here is a link to their website: http://www.chileplants.com/. They are primarily known for their enormous selection of chilies, which you can mail order, and there are great pictures of most types of chilies on the website. If you want tomatoes you have to go to the nursery, they only mail order the chilies. Here's a link to my post in the Special Occasions forum about my visit to the nursery.

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Okay, we bought some tomato plants (thanks for the advice): Brandywine, Peach, Costoluto Genovese, Red Pear, Yellow Pear, Enchantment, and Celebrity (how did that one get in there??)  Sorry Liza, deals off: we're 2500+ miles away!  We've tried green ones before, and couldn't really tell when they were ripe.  Some members of our household think 20 plants are too many, but I disagree.

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Sunday I planted 2 Early Girls (not an heirloom variety, but the most dependable and tasty early tomato I've grown in the last 25 years), a Sungold, and a Green Zebra.

Rachel...I planted the Green Zebra last year for the first time, and I puzzled over ripeness, too. The fruits will start to get a little yellow tinge as they fully ripen, and I found picking them then was best. I also picked quite a few while still pretty bright green, and they weren't bad...they'll ripen in a bowl with other tomatoes, too. These have a great, tomato-y flavor, a little more acidic than some.

I'm debating over a paste tomato or two...my space is tight, and I can always buy a flat at the Farmers Mkt for drying at the end of the summer. I'm tempted to make sun-dried paste like we saw in Sicily, but don't think it's hot enough here in September.

The Sungolds are hard to beat for eating off the vine. When I get home on a hot summer afternoon, sweating from my bike ride and craving a cold beer, I'll still head back into the garden to eat a few handfuls...when they are warm from the sun and near to bursting with sugar, they taste great.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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cherry tomatoes too much trouble to pick?  i've grown to think of them as garden sustenance--my husband and i just stand at the plant and eat off it for refreshment while we're stripping our other plants--yellow pears are my favorite, too

liza, it sounds like you've got a good deal going on.  as for me, i want a balance between eating/slicing tomatoes and canning/sauce tomatoes.  we plant at least half romas--depends on your space?  my largest tomato garden was 68 plants--a more managable average is around 35.  this number guarantees me at least three good cannings.  when i do a canning, i can everything, but the romas are so much easier to work with--require less surgery.  my husband is the seed man--he starts all his tomatoes from seed in february.  we've had some luck with yellow-fleshed heirlooms, but havne't gotten too exotic or esoteric.  georgia's summers have been so hot and dry the last four years we've just been going for hardy and easy-to-grow.  many of our fruits have ended up with sun damage.

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There is a Mennonite farm in eastern Pennsylvania called Meadowview Farms that specializes in Heirloom tomatoes, chiles and herbs (They host the annual Bowers Chile Festival)  Here is some of their wares...

Heirloom tomatoes

heirloomaters.jpg

Selection of Chiles

chiles1.jpg

I know they aren't technically homegrown, but it does make for a fun day of shopping and sampling!  They let you roam the fields and munch off the plants...


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Great photos Mark.  In Seattle, we have a pretty short tomato growing season, so we maximize our efforts by planting several Early Girls (the most popular tomato in the NW).  Last year we also tried a super early one called Stupice, (a mid size tomato nice for salads).  It was by far our earliest producer, so we'll look for that one again this year-does well even in cool summers.  My favorite (and looks like everyone elses, too) is the Sungold.  The sweetness is almost tropical in flavor.  If anyone has not tried this yellow cherry (not pear shaped), I highly recommend it.  We also plant Sweet 100's, Champion, Celebrity, Roma & Mamma Mia.  This year I'm also going to try a few Heirloom tomato plants and see how they do.  Hubby usually plants about 30 plants each year.

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Darn! They had Stupice at Cross Country Nurseries and I didn't buy any. Live and learn, next year it'll be on my list.

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The Mennonite picture reminds me of a time years ago, when we lived in Texas, and we grew jalapenos.  I gave a bag of them to a Cambodian colleague.  I told him to be careful because they were pretty hot.  He took a bite of one and as tears were streaming down his face he said, "Yes, they're very good."

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I am interested in searching out Sungold, after reading all the affirmations here.  Sweet 100 has been our cherry tomato, the little green end-of-season ones are so good pickled according to Paul Prudhomme's method, used as martini garni.

This year I've planted Roma and Brandywine, and Castoluto Genovese, (which Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello, I read), like a tomato TREE last year, which was my first experience with it.  Hope it thrives again.  So much of gardening, for me at least, is luck.

Priscilla


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Here's what I'll have growing this year (tomato stuff - the rest is in the kitchen garden thread):

Principe Borghese (Territorial Seeds), sauce/drying - grew this years ago and recall liking them

Tiger Like (T.S) - heirloom, small striped, great flavor and prolific, short plant - prize winner at taste-off 2000

Costoluto Genovese (T.S.) - heirloom, great flavor, hard to peel as the skin is ruffled - another prize winner 2000

Jubilee (Solly's Choice) - yellow (end of old seeds)

Oregon Spring (Ed Hume and Seeds West) - because I have them and they are reliable

Red and Yellow Pear (Renee's Garden) - terrible growing conditions last year, yet they still produced

Camp Joy (Shephard's Seeds) - cherry, clusters - they were great last year

Isis Candy - start, yellow cherry, new to me

Yellow Brandywine - start, heirloom, no production last year

Master Caruso - start, I know nothing about it

Tomatillo - Toma Verde (Renee's Garden) - easy and prolific

In case anyone doesn't know, Shephard's Seeds was sold to a big distributor (White Flower Farms?) and Renee Shephard started back up as Renee's Garden. At least that is my understanding. The fun thing about Renee's Garden is they mix in a couple of color coded varieties in a packet (tomatoes, squash, etc), so you can get more variation in a single year.

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I'm hoping someone here has a green thumb and can advise me as to the feasability of my plan to grow tomatoes in a potted plant on my very small balcony.  I wonder, first off, if two or three plants will yield enough tomatoes to make red sauce from scratch and have enough to freeze for the winter?  I'm not the most experienced gardener (have done some landscaping, but that's out of the question on the balcony) and would also appreciate some pointers on caring for the tomato plants: e.g. what to clip, when and why?, how to tell if the tomatoes are ready for plukkin', and finally how to go about taking the seeds and preparing them for seeding next year.  

Any and all input is welcomed


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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This weekend I took out the blackberry vines (a friend asked if I was picking the blackberries or harvesting kittens) and replaced them with Roma's and Celebrities. Celebrity tomatos are also called beefsteak tomatos right?

The first time I went to a Morton's restaurant they had a beefsteak tomato salad which looked pretty good. So after I finished my first glass of wine, I asked for the "beefcake" tomato salad. I wonder if the waiter thought I was coming on to him?

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Brace yourself my dear hopleaf, as I warm to the topic and really begin to drone onandonandon about the blessed tomato. Here in rural Texas we consider growing a backyard patch our civic duty....

1.  You can have great success with patio crops. While you still have the summer's worth of long sunny days and some measure of heat control, start your container garden with whatever variety you wish, with the proviso that all small plants that begin to thrive in these warm weeks will eventually need accommodations in 5-gal pots each, minimum if you are planning to move them inside later on to borrow a few more weeks out of a late season.

2.  plukkin':  a.If you wish to pull 'em green and thwart the birds, follow the aforementioned dark shoulders advice I saw earlier in this thread for reds and pull a greenie when its blossom end is noticeably darker than its jade-ish butt-end. b.This is an old wives' tale, but if you keep greens on their heads in a cool dark setting, they will turn faster and you can window-cure them once they are a light orange.  c.This advice is particularly arcane, but I have an old red plastic coca cola crate, and line red paper between two layers to "quicken the cure"; frankly, it may be hogwash, but some local gardeners here go so far as to buy red mulch netting to encourage the same effect on the vine. I can tell you it is faster than paper bags.

3.  heirlooming seeds: I've frozen okra and tomato seeds, and my uncle simply dries them on a towel and puts them in envelopes for the next year.  He and I have success with our methods, so do as you like.  He is partial to some really hardy, old-fashioned varieties that do well in our brutal summers:  Lemon Boy, Merced, Celebrity and Early Girl.  My earliest producers this year were Celebrity and Beefsteak.  I do not recall your mention of climate or growing season, so some of the fancier or more delicate varieties mentioned by everyone else may be an option for you.

My question to the gallery is this:  Can anyone tell me how to dry/roast/smoke tomatoes like they do at Boggy Creek Farms?

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many of our fruits have ended up with sun damage.

Miss Sb, if you tent the patch a' la Don Corleone (Godfather I, death scene), you can buy a few more precious, pre-90 degrees.

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Thanks so much jess!  Really quite informative; I'm cuttin' and pasting for my kitchen journal.  Plus you also turned me on to some good technical terms: hierlooming, red plastic coca cola crate  :wink: .  I'm gonna give it a whirl.  

Not sure how Boggy Creek does it, but my long term plan is to roast all my veggies for my red sauce.  What I planned, and I think I'll give it a 'dry run' with store-bought produce, was to simply drizzle plain olive oil (the extra virgin has a lower smoke point) and coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper over tomatoes, garlic, onion and carrots, cook 'til their done at 350° F. Then peal the garlic and blitz in the Cuisinart with the onions and carrots.  Lightly fork smash the tomatoes and add blitzed veggies.  Voila, the base of my red sauce with a wonderful roasted flavor.  If I could grill (it's prohibited by my condo board, believe it or not, and I can't do the grill pan thing) I might try grilling all the veggies, but I'm not sure how the tomatoes would hold up.  

Thanks again for you input.


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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I'm hoping someone here has a green thumb and can advise me as to the feasability of my plan to grow tomatoes in a potted plant on my very small balcony.  I wonder, first off, if two or three plants will yield enough tomatoes to make red sauce from scratch and have enough to freeze for the winter?  I'm not the most experienced gardener (have done some landscaping, but that's out of the question on the balcony) and would also appreciate some pointers on caring for the tomato plants: e.g. what to clip, when and why?, how to tell if the tomatoes are ready for plukkin', and finally how to go about taking the seeds and preparing them for seeding next year.  

Any and all input is welcomed

Where are you located?  That makes a big difference.  I think one of the main keys to success (especially when you're just starting) is to be sure to get tomatoes that are recommended for your area.  Gardening in containers on a deck is hard enough...I'd suggest you don't make it any harder by trying some variety that has a history of not performing well in your climate, except maybe when grown by master gardeners.

I'm in Austin and have just a small deck off of my condo.  It faces west, so the infamous Texas sun really beats down.  I do all of my gardening in containers, and have been growing tomatoes for years.  At first I just grew patio varieties, and cherry tomatoes, but had such good luck, I tried larger varieties.  I now grow Early Girl, Celebrity and Merced.  I know there may be more exotic, or better, varieties but have had great luck with these three and, like you, have very little space and have to make every square inch count!

The first time I tried the larger varieties, I put them, one plant each, in the large black pastic pots that come from the nurseries.  But the first week of June, they stopped setting, and eventually just burned up despite all of the watering I was doing.  A friend told me that tomatoes stop setting when their ROOTS get to 95 degrees (not the ambient temperature), and my roots were absolutely cooking up there in the sun in those black pots.  

So, I went out and got five cheap big (the largest size available) white styrofoam coolers, jabbed holes in the bottoms, turned the tops upside down to make drain saucers, and planted my tomatoes, one per cooler, with lots of mulch on top to help keep them cool.  I fertilize with Miracle Grow for Tomatoes.

This all works for me pretty well.  I get at least 70-100 tomatoes per year.

Good luck to you.  There's sure nothing like homegrown tomatoes.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Oops, Jess asked me the same thing. I'm in Chicago and my balcony faces South Southeast, so we get a lot of morning and mid-day sun but start to lose direct sunlight around 3:30 or 4.  

Any recommendations of good varieties for my climate with the amount of sun I get, Jaymes (or anyone else)?


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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