What Are Your Favourite Tomatoes?

BluenoseDee(2a)August 21, 2013

What are your favourite tomatoes for growing during our short summers? Which varieties have thrived for you?

If you could tell me whether the ones you mention are heirloom or hybrid, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks! :)

As for me, this is my first summer growing Cole tomatoes. I'm in zone 2a. They are a small (1-2 inches across), red, determinate heirloom variety. They have been prolific and are the only tomatoes of the 7 varieties I planted this year that are ripening, at this point!

A description of the Cole tomato can be found here:


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mctiggs(2b (WPG, MB))

Black from Tula is the best producer I've come across, for whatever reason, I've been planting it for 5 years now, after testing other black/dark tomatoes. The only hitch is that the first few fruits on each plant almost always have wicked BER. After that, it's game on. Plus, they're ridiculously tasty.

Emmy also does well, it has a thicker skin and appears to like the cooler temps.

I'm going to have a huge surplus of seeds from my plants, if you want some feel free to email me, you can have some.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 4:44PM
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I started my plants from seed indoors and they went in the garden on June 1st. I'm harvesting several varieties now. The 2 that I like the most are (1) Super Steak - a hybrid seed from Burpee's (2) Pink Brandwine open pollinated.

They set a lot of fruit, ripened fairly early considering our late spring, and have very good taste. These were only about 1 week behind my early varieties for ripening. They have way better flavor than the earlies.

The two in the picture are both Super steaks. A deer took some bites out of the one on the left and tore it off of the vine. Still weighed 1# 11oz with the bites out of it. The one on the right was 1# 14oz. These look a little ratty, but all of the fruit under 1.5# were blemish free, great fruit.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Great to see recommendations of tomatoes for short summers. I've spent a fair bit of time on the tomato forum, but many are posting from much warmer zones, some are posting about frost warnings for the end of October/mid November and how they'd better get out to pick the rest of their tomatoes. I just get cranky reading that, since our average killing frost is mid to late September, and even though that frost may not occur till the end of the month the days are shorter and the evenings so cool, that not much happens with the 'maters anyway.

Enough said. BIG BEEF is a hybrid beefsteak, a robust grower and not at all cheap on the fruit production. I may only receive one or two large vine ripened fruits, the rest are picked green and they've tasted the same ripening inside. I ripen in a garden tray set on concrete basement floor. Once ripe, they've held for a good week without getting soft. Can't save seed and be guaranteed the same plant. Good old tomato flavor in my soil.

CHEROKEE PURPLE: beefsteak, heirloom Or open pollinated (sorry, don't Know the difference, but I save the seed just fine). Shoulders stay dark green when ripe. A great sloppy juicy tomato sandwich kind of tomato. Most fruit has to ripen indoors since it takes the whole summer to produce.

SUNSUGAR CHERRY: small orange fruit. Very sweet, prolific plant. Hybrid.i read it is similar to SUNGOLD CHERRY, but has thicker skin which I don't notice and keeps the fruit from cracking from heavy rain. What isn't devoured as snacks while out in the garden, gets added to salads or quartered and tossed into freshly made pasta along with minced garlic and olive oil, with a heavy hand on the Parmesan cheese!

Would like to try BLACK KRIM again. Supposed to be similar in taste to the Cherokee Purple with a hint of smokiness. Grew it for the first time last year but was still trying to figure out the watering schedule for the garden boxes which dried out faster than the open garden - all the fruits had a mealie texture - blech! Open pollinated. Considered a "black" tomato. Size similar to the cocktail tomatoes that can be purchased at the grocer. I want a smaller tomato because husband does not care for juicy soft tomato (I think he's used to the harder ones we buy from the grocery during the winter). If memory serves me correct (at my age my memory is not always reliable!) it offered ripening fruit near the last week of July onwards. Big plant once it got going.

My "typical" growing season: last spring frost the Victoria day long weekend (@ May 20-24), first frost in autumn could be September 10-12. I usually hold out until first week of June to plant out tenders as we've had snow and frost near June 7 some years. Just never know.

Apologies for long windedness, I'm sure the regulars see my name and think "oh geez, I should go put in a load of laundry first, or grab something to drink before I start!"

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 2:01PM
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koni, black krim are big tomatoes, i just brought a 2+ pounder to market on thursday
i find they are a better producer than cherokee purple in our zone

try black cherry, it might satisfy you and your husband,
firm, golf ball sized fruit with a smoky black flavor

for open plantings (determinates) prairie pride, sub-arctic plenty and principe bourghese (for drying)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:31AM
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kioni, black krim are big tomatoes, i just brought a 2+ pounder to market on thursday
i find they are a better producer than cherokee purple in our zone

try black cherry, it might satisfy you and your husband,
firm, golf ball sized fruit with a smoky black tomato flavor

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions! I am growing Black Krims this summer. They look beautiful but are still very green and haven't started ripening yet. I am hoping for a long, hot September to make up for the cool, rainy summer we've had.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Here's my take on my tomatoes this summer. These are all heirloom varieties, and I chose them specifically for their ability to set fruit in cool, short summer areas.

Yah, the plants look like crap in the photos, except for the ones grown on the deck, because some tiny black insect got on the leaves of the garden tomatoes early on, then they got hit with moderate hail.

These pics were all taken August 2 -- by then I had only picked a limited amount of tomatoes so it's a pretty good comparison of how they ripened compared to each other... to take the same photos now would be misleading since some plants have ripened all fruit and have been picked clean, other plants not so much.

Beaverlodge Slicer: Has the biggest fruits but the last to ripen. And they ripen very unevenly so some parts are ripe-red, some are green, and it's not just a case of "green shoulder". They also tend to fall off before being fully ripe, which is a bother if you aren't checking them every day. Taste was good, size was good, but I won't grow this variety again.

Stupice. This is an indeterminate variety that produces golf-ball sized fruit. The plant in this pic is about 4 feet tall, and they aren't really any taller now. I wish the fruit were a bit bigger, but other than that I love everything about this tomato. I grew it last year also and it was hit hard by hail in July but recovered to produce fall tomatoes. I grew 2 plants this year, I'll be expanding my planting of it next year.

Latah: Wow, such an early tomato, giving a nice tomato crop starting in late-July. But it finishes as quickly as it starts -- I ripped out one of the two plants last week, and the other really should go too. Might grow 1 plant of this in future years, just for the earliness.

Then up on our deck I grew some cherry tomatoes. Both of these were nice and filled my desire of an early, tasty, tomato that was produced on a small plant so didnt' need daily watering. They were tasty, they were early, they met me requirements, but they just weren't what I was hoping for. Might grow them again, might not. A good choice if you want a potted plant that produces early, flavourful small tomatoes.

Yagodka: Very sweet cherry tomatoes but a bit mushy texture:

Centennial Rocket: Tasty small tomatoes, bigger than cherry tomatoes. But limited production.

Long story short, I will grow Stupice again next year, more plants than this year's two, and probably will grow one plant of Latah (for its earliness). I'll grow other varieties too, but they are yet to be decided...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 3:20AM
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Oops seem to have forgotten the pic of Centennial Rocket:

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Well yippee, STUPICE & BLACK CHERRY seed is available from one of my favorite mail order spots, so I want to try them next year. Thanks for suggestions you all, and to Don and Northernmn for taking time to post photos. Those deer sound like trouble for taking nibbles, would be a fair amount of work to keep them out of the garden.

Don: can you describe stupice's flavor and texture please. On the tomato forum the biggest complaint about early toms is their lack of flavor compared to the later varieties, which by the way, gardeners in zones 5 and higher don't seem to have problems with getting the toms to ripen on the vine before frost hits.

Intotheark: seed site states Black Cherry is an 80 day tomato. Did you find it took all summer, since the fruit seems small I figured it would offer up ripe toms mid July like most cherry sized (but then I was wrong about black krim's size).

BluenoseDee: what size are those black krim's you've got? And how does Cole taste, I could only find a description on the site you provided, seed does not seem to be offered in a lot of places.

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Hi Kioni,

The Black Krims I have are about 2 inches across, though I know they grow even larger for many people having a good season. Ours are still green (arhg!). They require sturdier staking than I anticipated, too. I have heard nothing but positive things about their flavour.

I was actually surprised and quite pleased at how good the flavour of the Cole tomatoes is, considering they are an early variety. I don't know how to describe it other than to say it's a typical "tomato" flavour, but more intense than I expected. Can't be compared to a larger, late-season variety, though. My fingers are in a constant state of being crossed, hoping for a warm September as even the Coles aren't all ripe yet.

The Coles are not that common and right now I think Annapolis Seeds is the only place in Canada that sells the seeds. I could be wrong about that (for example, they might be offered through the Seeds of Diversity annual heirloom exchange). A similar variety that I have not tried yet (also sold through Annapolis Seeds) is the Scotia tomato. Good Maritimer that I am, I will be growing those next year! *L*

I am in the process of saving a small batch of Cole seeds. If you would like some for a SASE, feel free to send me an email.

I forgot to mention the variety that got me hooked on gardening in the first place and clinched my devotion to heirlooms. The first heirloom tomatoes I ever grew were Carbons (another "black" tomato). They seem to do well in short seasons and are delicious.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 1:53PM
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I like the texture of the Stupice -- good balance of meatiness and juiciness, not mushy. The skin is thin so is easy to eat, unilike say the Yagodka which has a thick skin that you want to spit out.

As for flavour, it is good but somewhat mild. If you compare it to a grocery store tomato, you'll be wildly impressed. If you compare it to a vine-ripened beefsteak tomato (like I used to grow in Ottawa when I lived there), you'll be disappointed. So it seems like most early tomatoes that way, although I would argue Stupice is meatier, not watery like some early tomatoes.

Here's a typical Stupice fruit, about 2" diameter:

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 6:14PM
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The only good thing about "early" tomatoes is that they are early. I grew Stupice for the first time this year and I've been feeding them to my husband, who actually enjoys flavourless grocery store tomatoes.

I had my first ripe Black Krim tomato yesterday and it was divine. I also have a Persimmon, Mortgage Lifter and Japanese Black Trifele ripening on my counter right now...can't wait for those...

My beloved Big Beef, which is grown every year for my "insurance crop" aka salsa tomatoes, well...they've been hit with quite a bit of BER for some reason...none of the other tomatoes are suffering from it, and the watering has been the same for them all. I might need to make salsa with the Rutgers and other misc heirlooms this year.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 11:49AM
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These two varieties I have grown for the first time but really do like them Bonnie Best and Matina. Only thing is Matina get Very tall. But they both have clusters of medium tomatoes and they do taste good. And I'm not really crazy about tomatoes but grow them as a challenge to myself. Friends get lots of them

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:41PM
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i'll second bonnie best, it is a good all-round, consistent tomato

another excellent, somewhat early tomato is 'mountain princess'
beautiful & tasty, medium-sized red fruit, with many fruit per cluster

i just harvested the first black cherries about a week ago
all our indeterminates are in a greenhouse,
and the determinates are outside
although i have started black cherries in early march,
they were 6' tall at planting out, and i had to hand-pollinate before planting out
i had them potted up into bathroom garbage cans from ikea,
with duct tape to exude the light in the end
but we had fruit from late-may to october
and these were planted outside that year with no issues
i also save seed from nice early specimens,
so after 7 generations they are more acclimatized to my zone

so it all depends on when you start your seeds,
if you want earlier tomatoes, start your seed earlier

This post was edited by intotheark on Mon, Sep 2, 13 at 11:07

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 11:50AM
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bluegoat_gw(Zone 3b)

For cool climates the cherry tomatoes ripen earlier than the full sized ones. They are also less likely to suffer from BER.

The orange tomatoes are in my opinion the tasties one in cultivation. Of those, Sungold F1 is the best. Last year I grew five different orange tomatoes and I have to say that Sungold beat the others.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 1:42PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

So far haven't had any wow taste tests, but overall this wasn't a good tomato summer. July was wet and cold for the most part and I started having disease issues.
But here's a bowl showing you the variety I grew...Among them, Viva Italia, Black Cherry, Sweet Baby Girl, Terenzo, Bison, Silver Fir Tree, Jaune Flamee, Mountain Spring and Mountain Magic.
Sweet Baby Girl was from old seed I had. It is a good tasting cherry type. Black cherry is pretty, but hasn't wowed me yet. Terenzo is a very small container plant, but bland to me in taste.
I'm challenged in my taste tests because I sprayed my tomatoes so can't just wander around popping tomatoes in my mouth. By the time i get them into the house and washed, chances are they will get mixed up.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 11:49AM
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I used to grow Celebrity tomatoes in Florida. Very tasty medium sized fruit. I didn't try them after my move to MN.

I grew Brandywine, Steak Sandwich and Sweet 100 from seeds. The weather's been such a pain, I've only gotten about a pint of sweet 100's and a few Brandywines. The BW's seem to have quite the potential for yumminess if given some warmer weather. They're definitely worth a shot.

As for the Steak Sandwich, I'm wondering if aliens abducted the plants.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 3:58PM
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I didn't plant Black Cherry this year but I was surprised to see volunteers growing where I had them last year. My plants are well over five feet tall. They've been ripening on the vine for the past few weeks now.

I grew Sweet Baby Girl for the first time this year, and I'm not sure if I got mislabeled seeds or not, these don't have any flavour at all, and certainly not sweet.

I am quite impressed with Isis Candy. The first few fruits weren't that good, but the ones that are producing right now are sweet and flavourful. I will definitely grow these again.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:06PM
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BIG BEEF Hybrid - staking variety
Better Boy - staking
Fantastic - staking
Celebrity Hybrid - staking

These have gotten us consitent results. They get started inside on our windows April 1st. and are trasplanted out into the garden in the middle of June. We stake the tomatoes on poplar saplings and prune them religiously, leaving only 4 sets of fruit per plant. We grow about 100 plants.

This year we had very poor flavor across the board. I put it down to very cold July temperatures. The fruit sized up beautifully, but no flavor. Early blight was a real problem so we picked mostly green fruit.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:01PM
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