2012 Tomato Grow List

Okiedawn OK Zone 7January 5, 2012

I've been waiting for the drought outlook to improve so I could add a lot of my favorite varieties to this list, but that seems unlikely, so I guess I'll go with a bare bones (for me) tomato growing plan for 2012.

Last year, I made a very deliberate choice to not plant tomatoes in containers (except for the early ones purchased and transplanted into containers in Feb.) because of the constant watering needed to keep them happy in our climate in the worst drought summers. Then, I found it almost impossible to keep in-ground tomatoes moist enough, and I was wishing I'd planted a lot in containers. So, this year the pendulum has swung the other way and I am planting a lot in containers and will put them on a drip irrigation system with a timer. This actually is a great time to experiment with tomatoes in containers because Vegetalis and a few other companies have been busy developing lots of downsized tomato plants for containers, particularly cascading ones.

So, here's the downsized list. I reserve the right to drastically enlarge this list if wet, liquid stuff suddenly starts falling from the sky with consistency before transplanting time arrives.

If known, estimated DTMs are in parentheses after the variety name.

* = bite-sized tomatoes or some, like Mountain Magic, that are slightly larger than bite-sized. I grow a lot of these because they produce well in the heat, and I dehydrate them for year-round enjoyment long after the fresh tomato season has ended. Bite-sized tomatoes include cherry, currant, and grape types.


1. *Rambling Stripe Red (60)

2. *Rambling Stripe Gold (60)

3. *Tumbling Tom Red (63)

4. *Tumbling Tom Yellow (63)

5. *Tumbling Tom Yellow Jr. (63)

6. *Pear Drops (55)

7. *Cherry Falls (60)

8. *Terrenzo (63)

9. *Lizzano (63)

  1. Sweet-N-Neat Yellow (60)

  2. Sweet-N-Neat Red (60)

  3. *Red Robin (55)

  4. *Orange Pixie (52)

  5. *Yellow Canary (55)

  6. Little Sun (62)

  7. Totem (70)

  8. Early Doll (55)

  9. Bush Goliath (55)

  10. New Big Dwarf (60)

  11. Tasmanian Chocolate

  12. Rosella Purple


Bite Sized:

  1. *Mountain Magic (72)

  2. *Black Cherry (68)

  3. *SunGold (57)

  4. *Ildi (68)

  5. *Matt's Wild Cherry (55)

  6. *Tess's Land Race Currant (70)


  1. Fourth of July (49)

  2. Goliath (65)

  3. Cluster Goliath (65)


  1. Phoenix (72)

  2. Celebration (72)

  3. Celebrity (70)

  4. Jaune Flammee' (70)

  5. Pruden's Purple (70)

  6. Gary O Sena (70-75)

  7. Fioletovyi Kruglyi (75)

  8. JD's Special C-Tex (75)

  9. Carmello (75)


  1. Stump of the World (80-85)

41 Mortgage Lifter (80)

  1. Traveler 76 (76-78)

  2. Dora (80-85)

  3. Burpee's Big Boy (78)

  4. Brandy Boy (78-80)

  5. Big Beef (78)


  1. San Marzano Redorta (78)

  2. Astro (70-75)

  3. Scatalone (75)

  4. Santa Clara Canner (80)

  5. Heidi (75)

  6. Speckled Roman (75)

  7. Rutgers Original Strain (75)

  8. Principe' Borghese (78)

  9. Roma VF (75)

There's a lot of favorite heirlooms I won't be growing this year because they just do not produce very well in extreme heat like we had last year.

I also have very few with DTMs over 78 days because it is important to get fruitset relatively early in hot, dry years before the temps are high enough day and night to impede fertilization. Last year we got that hot really early, so this year I picked the varieties most likely to beat the heat.

Most of the experimental, aka new-to-me, varieties this year are in the containers.

This list doesn't include the early, purchased plants I put into containers in February, since I can't be sure what they'll be until I see what arrives in the stores.

OK, y'all, I showed you my list. Now show me yours.

A separate veggie list will follow in a day or two on a different thread, and the flower and herb list will be along eventually.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess I'm throwing caution to the wind then, because I've never grown a non-red tomato before, and I was intrigued by the Cherokee Purple. So, here's my list for this year:

3 Cherokee Purple
3 Black Cherry
3 Beefsteak (I don't think the seed packet specifies a variety)
3 Chadwick

I don't think I really had any special reason for picking the Chadwick over other cherry types. I just saw the seeds, shrugged, and thought "eh, why not?" If they fail to produce much then at least I'll learn something.

My list looks like nothing compared to yours, but it's an upgrade from the four cherry tomato plants I tried to grow last year. :p

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I always look forward to your list, and must say this one certainly looks different from years' past.

I'm going to give a small bit of effort to categorizing my list somewhat in the way you have, because it does make it more readable. If I can't get to it, I'll post as is.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 4:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Miraje, I like your list. Often, when a tomato is simply labeled as 'Beefsteak', it is an old heirloom variety that is really, really good and produces very large tomatoes.

Seedmama, It took me simply forever just to type the list, even though I have worked on it for weeks, because I kept wanting to go back and add in a few favorites like Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Indian Stripe, Brandywine Sudduth's, Chocolate Stripes, True Black Brandywine, Livingston's Golden Queen, Tennessee Britches, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Estler's Mortgage Lifter, Momotaro, Nebraska Wedding, etc., etc., etc. I'd put one in, then delete it out, then put it in, then delete it out. How can I possibly plant a garden with no Brandywines in it? Aarggghhh! However, with a second straight year of drought looming, I really, really tried hard to make myself go with the ones that have produced the most consistently in past drought years, which means a lot more hybrids bred for higher production and a lot fewer heirlooms. And, yes, I am not really happy about it, but better to plant the varieties, whether hybrid or heirloom, that have produced best for me in the past, than to plant faves that don't like our droughts. Maybe next year it will be rainier and milder and I can go back to planting more of my old faves.

Even as I went through my seed box and pulled all the seeds I'm going to use, it was hard to skip over the heirlooms I'm not planting. I hope to start a new batch in June for fall, but that will depend of whether it is raining and whether my county is burning up. Maybe a few faves can make it onto the fall list. Or, maybe at least some longkeepers will be on the fall list.

Who knows? Maybe I will go berserk in April and run through the local nurseries grabbing every heirloom I wish I'd planted, and didn't. Only time will tell.

As long as it took me to come up with the tomato list, the rest of the veggie list has been surprisingly easy. Well, except for beans. I want to grow all the beans in my seed box, but won't be able to, unless we rototill up the front yard, plant beans in place of grass, and then put up a fence to keep out the rabbits. That's not likely either, but if I had a choice, I'd rather spend my summer watering beans instead of bermuda grass.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 5:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

im not sure what I will do this year but I do know what I wont do, brandywine and black krim. They both got big as trees but fruit set was near zero for me.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 8:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cherokee Purple was my heaviest bearing black last year, so of course one of the two was the one that the deer took over the fence in a 5" CRW cage. Ripped it right out of the ground and left tomatoes strewn for a 100 ft. Vorlon was next best and True Black Brandywine next, then Black Krim. Black Cherry as usual was very prolific but the yellow pears were so much better that we didn't eat many BCs until the yellows succumbed to the heat.

You all are so much more organized than I am. I make my list in a very haphazard way. When it comes time to plant I will pick up a packet of seed, hold it in my hand and ask myself, "Does this one feel right?" That said, I know that I will plant a few old favorites. I will definitely have Early Girl again, because it put on like CRAZY when we got that rain and cool down in Aug. (Most years I sacrifice the Early Girls to the hornworms, but this year I had Costoluto Genovese for that. It was tasteless, but the worms ate on it.) I had over 50 tomatoes on one plant of Early Girl that put on in Aug. And that was after bearing heavily in June and July. Vorlon bore heavy in Sept and Oct too. I'm giving up on Tess's. It must not like my soil because tho it bears heavy, it's not very tasty and the skins are tough. (I will have Tess's because it selfseeds, but they will be late.) I will always have Arkansas Traveler and Thessalonike, because even tho heirlooms, they bear well and we like the flavor. I will have Better Boy because it is so dependable. I ordered Fourth of July on Dawn's recommendation, and plan to plant that Sunday. I also bought Sun Gold and Bush Early Girl so will have those. And I still plan to get the Tumbling Toms for the greenhouse next fall along with some others.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm still waiting to see if some seeds will arrive. Also need to cut at least 4 more of the Darks/Pinks. So this list will change some but this will be what I work with. I hope to direct/wintersow a few plants, graft 20-30 if I don't kill them all and will grow most of the determinate varieties in containers. I will grow more determinate types than I usually do this year along with more hybrids. Jay

2012 Tomato grow out list
Rough draft 1-1-012

All around varieties- 8

Amish Canner
Burrell's Special - D
Glick's 18 Mennonite
Heinz 1350 - D
Heinz 1439 - D
St Pierre

Cherries -7

Ambrosia Giant
Ambrosia Gold - Sungold cross
Roller Coaster
Sungold hybrid
Sweet Treats Hybrid
Texas Star Cherry X
WOW hybrid

Plum,Pear and other small varieties - 6

Bedouin - Pear 3-6 ounces - Dark
Bosque Blue
Cody's Paste
J&L Select Blue
Juane Flammee' - Orange
Lil' Fudge smooth & ribbed

Reds med -large - 8

4th of July Hybrid
Big Daddy Hybrid
Germaid Red
Geronimo hybrid
Jetsonic hybrid
Jet Star hybrid
Prime Beef Goliath
Top Gun - D - if I obtain seeds
Super Tasty Hybrid

Pinks/Darks -14
Barlow Jap
Big Cheef
Black from Tula - Usually does well in our heat and wind
Brandyboy hybrid - Was the best Brandywine type I had grown till Randy's Brandy
Cherokee Purple - A favorite
County Agent
Dana's Dusky Rose - Has been a good producer for me with good flavor. 6-8 ounce for me usually. Another favorite
Ed's Millenium
Grandma Suzy's - The heaviest setter I had last summer in the heat of the larger slicers
JD's Special Pink Heart - The best heart I've grown. Still trying to stabilize it.
Prudence Purple - Seed from George. New to me.
Randy's Brandy - 3-5 ounce. Very heavy producer last year. Flavor very good. 9 on a 1-10 scale
Royal Hillbilly
Vorlon - Growing it trying to find a great black I grew 3 years ago that I didn't label.

Bi- Colors - 3

Ana's Noire - Usually a heavy producing large 10-16 ounce slicer.
Texas Star - Still trying to find seed as good as the first time I grew it.
Vintage Wine Striped - Usually a very reliable heavy producting bi color

Orange/Yellow - 3

1884 Yellow Pink Heart
Belarus Orange 1 - A heavy producer of small to med orange fruits
KB - Another favorite must grow. Does better for me than KBX

GWR - 1

Emerald Evergreen - The best GWR I've grown

Container plants - 5

Dwarf's/Small Determinates/Ect

Dwarf Beryl Beauty
Muchacha - A container sized heavy producing cherry type
Pre'cocibec _ Det. Container
Rosella Purple
Tasmanian Chocolate

Grafting stock

D - Determinate
I - Indeterminate

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 10:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've already noticed I left off Indigo Rose, Early Girl and Green Envy

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 11:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn, Does Ildi grow large for you? TomatoFest shows it as a 6 foot vine. I have only grown it once and it wasn't nearly that large for me. In fact, I was thinking it might be a good candidate for a container until I saw the size they posted. Maybe mine was just growing in a poor spot and didn't get as big as it should have. It had a lot of tomatoes tho. I think I will plant a couple this year because it is a pretty tasty tomato.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 11:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was gowning through the Burpees catalogue to order my 4th of July seed, I came across a variety called Heat Wave II. The claim is that the Heat Wave will continue to set fruit when temps reach the mid 90's. The reviews were positive with several reviews from growers in Texas. I thought "what the heck, for $3.99 I'll give 'em a try."

Do you have any experience with Heat Wave and if so, what do you think? Thanks,


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 8:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Keith I'm not Dawn but I'll give my 2 cents worth. A few I plan on planting have the heat/hot set gene.Heat Wave is just one of several. Top Gun is another.And Top Gun also have a disease package that would be beneficial here. Back to your question. I've seen this discusse by a few experts a few times. Most agree heat and humidity are the primary factors affecting fruit set . If you have low humidity yes the gene can/will help in my experience. If humidity is high or temps get above the mid 90 then fruit set will drop off. From my personal experience humidity plays as much of a role as heat. And the combination can stop all fruit set. So yes it gives you a chance to increase yields some.Jay

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Keith, I tried Heat Wave last year and it did not produce as well as some of the others. All my plants were planted in the ground, Black Cherry and Sungold were the only ones that went the distance. I did however pull plants before a fall crop and started amending the soil for a cover crop.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 9:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Dorothy, Early Girl was probably my best producer in the summer of 2010, but it didn't do much until about July. In July and August it was going crazy setting fruit when other varieties had slowed down a great deal. I usually don't grow it because it is never early for me and I get frustrated waiting for it to start producing---but once it starts, it never stops. In our garden, I label it as "UnEarly Girl". Based on its' 2010 performance, maybe I should label it "Late Girl".

Jay, I love your list. I am somewhat appalled to find that we both are growing a lot more hybrids this year, but tough times have forced it upon us. : )

I have some Texas Star seed that you sent me a couple of years ago...maybe 3 years ago? It grew well for me, but the heavy rainfall that year was hard on it because it was at the bottom end of the garden that flooded. If you want me to send you back the Texas Star seeds that I still have in case they were saved in the year that Tx Star performed well for you, let me know and I'll mail them to you right away.

I left off Indigo Rose too, but I think I may save it for fall just so I will have something to look forward to with regards to fall gardening.

Carol, Ildi does grow quite tall for me in the ground, but less so in a container. It usually gets between 5.5 and 6.5' tall in the ground, but if I grow it in a 5-gallon bucket, it tops out around 4'. I think much depends on how big it is when it starts setting fruit. It carries such an extremely heavy load of fruit once it starts bearing that I think the plants' energy goes into fruit production more than foliage/stem growth. I've noticed that once my Ildi plants start bearing fruit, their growth slows a lot whereas other cherry and currant types keep growing rapidly for a much longer period of time.

I love Ildi and plant it every year, but just talking about it makes me want to add Galina's and Fargo to my list just because they are so good as well. Would y'all notice if I came back and added 20 or 30 varieties to my grow list?

Keith, I agree with everything Jay said. I have grown just about every so called heat-setting tomato out there and have found they have their limits. The humidity, if high, is a major one that affects them adversely, and they only set fruit in temps a few degrees higher than regular tomatoes, so they do not set endlessly in the heat. They just set fruit maybe a couple of weeks longer, except in cool, wet summers when they might set fruit all summer. However, if it is a cool, wet summer, you don't really need them because your other varieties still will be producing well.

The problem I have with Heat Wave II and most other heat-setting types is that the flavor is poor compared to other varieties. The best heat-set tomato I ever grew was Merced, but it was dropped from seed production several years ago and I have not found a heat-setting type since then that has the flavor to make it worth growing. To me, it seems that whatever they do to breed in the additional heat-setting capability absolutely destroys the flavor gene.

The heat-setting type I am trying this year is Phoenix F-1. I bought the seed for fall tomatoes last year, but never put any seedlings in the ground because I got busy with the firefighting activity and that left me no time to garden. Clearly I am a sucker or a fool because I keep trying heat-setting types even though most all of them have been flavor/production failures.

My experience with heat-setting types as an overall group is that they have been a waste of time, space and money. Nowadays I usually only try one heat-set hybrid a year so I am not spending endless amounts of money on varieties that are not much of an improvement in terms of heat-setting ability and that are a step backwards in flavor.

Larry, After I completely stopped watering my garden, SunGold continued to produce until frost even though it received almost no rainfall in July and August. I was surprised at how drought-tolerant it proved to me. Matt's Wild Cherry is another one that produced in an almost total absence of moisture in July and August. That's pretty incredible when you think about how hot and dry it was.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 11:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sungold seems to ignore the weather and just keep producing. I love the taste and the color and it is the perfect snack to eat in the garden. I would say that the one bad feature is that it has weak elbows and if you don't pick until it is fully ripe, you will have some drop from the vine while you are trying to pick.

Dawn, I also planted Yellow Jelly Bean last year and I think you gave me the seeds. It produced a long time also, and it isn't a bad tomato. I like the taste of Sungold a little better, but YJB was good also. Years ago I didn't even bother with cherry types and now I plant plenty.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jay, Larry and Dawn,
Thanks for the replies. I don't plan on going Hog Wild with the Heat Wave and I did expect perhaps a mediocre flavor but if we have an ongoing drought, then maybe the humidity will stay lower and I can harvest longer than many other varieties. As Dawn has said many times, a homegrown tomato with a mediocre flavor is still much better than store bought.

I started my grow list several weeks ago with a rough draft of my tomato map. This map has been revised several times until today when I think I have the final ready.

My plan is to start seed tomorrow for plants that will be ready for transplanting in mid-march (of course weather permiting). I know I'll have to do some protection against freezing nightime temps, but think I can protect seedlings by planting in 5 gal. buckets w/lids if needed, short visqueen wrapped 2X4 welded wire cages open at the top with air flow from the bottom along with 2 strings of old fashioned incandescent outside Christmas lights and heavy painter's drop cloths on extra cold nights.

Then around the end of January I'll start seed again for plants that will be ready for transplanting around the 10th of April.

How wonderful it would be if we did have a cool, wet summer with no 100 degree temps until August and a nice soft, gentle rain each week!

I've only grown the heirloom varieties for a couple of years and I do plan on going with more hybrid varieties, but can't rule out the heirlooms entirely because I still don't believe the weather of the last 2 seasons is a good barometer for growing heirlooms in our climate and conditions. Oh well on to my grow list...

Super Fantastic: 7 plants total. (My favorite)

4th of July: 5 plants total. My second favorite,Good early production last year and came back nicely last fall and produced until the freeze.

Better Boy: 5 plants total.

Celebrity: 5 plants total. Last year was my first time to grow Celebrity and it produced well early and even came back somewhat in the fall.

Heat Wave II: 5 plants total. Worth a try.

Superboy 785: 3 plants total. I bought a pack of Ferry Morse seed last spring from Walmart and started a few for backups in case of bad hail storms but never set them in the garden. I've googled Superboy and not really found much except good in salsa. Not anything on the Ferry Morse web site either. Has anyone grown Superboy?

Black Krim: 3 plants total. Last year was the first time and loved the taste but only harvested 3 or 4 tomatoes.

Mortgage Lifter: 3 plants total. Produced better in 2010, only a couple last year.

Black Cherry: 3 plants total. First time last year but only produced about 1/2 dozen tomatoes.

"No garden is ever a good as the one next year will be."


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 2:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Keith, last year was the only year I have tried Heat Wave, and last year was the worst garden year I have ever had, so it is not a good comparison.

You can tell everyone is getting excited about this gardening year. I went through my seed stash a few minutes ago, bought two bundles of PVC at town this morning to use for fence post and irrigation tubes. I was digging around the shop yesterday trying to find something to build a cold frame with.

DW is ordering tomato, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli seeds now. She has read about a tomato, Big Daddy, I think she said the name was.

I say every year that I am cutting back, well maybe next year.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 5:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I grew Superboy for a couple of years between about 2003 thru 2007 or thereabouts. It reminded me a lot of Fourth of July in that it produced pretty early and it produced oodles and oodles and oodles of tomatoes. It just wouldn't stop. I got sick of picking them and I gave away Wal-mart bags full of them all summer long. It certainly did not have the best flavor fresh, but it cans well, and it still did taste better and have better texture than a store tomato. I picked up a packet of Superboy seed on the seed racks last year, figuring it would at least produce well in a drought, but I never planted it. I almost put it on the list this year because it produces no matter what. I do think it is better as a canner or for salsa or sauce than for fresh eating right off the vine.

Larry, Big Daddy is one of Burpee's new introductions for this year. The tomato 'Big Boy' was used in its breeding, and for me, Big Boy always produces lots of tomatoes, nicely-sized tomatoes and pretty wonderful flavor for a hybrid. I bet the two Big Boys I had in containers last year outproduced all other varieties in terms of pounds of fruit per plant. So, with Big Boy in its breeding, Big Daddy might turn out to be a good one. I was really skeptical when they introduced Brandy Boy a couple of years ago, but it is a really good one, so maybe they are getting better at breeding hybrid tomatoes with fine flavor. For a long time they focused on producing hybrid varieties with early yields, heavy yields, round red shape, disease resistance or shelf life and didn't worry much about the flavor (and it showed). The last 8 or 10 years, it seems like they are working hard to breed flavor back into their hybrids. I think that's a good sign.

I don't know why any of us ever say we're going to cut back because we never do it. : )


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Please don't tell my DH that there is a tomato named 'Top Gun', I would have to plant a garden full....and so would Dawn, and Paula...Please, please!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 7:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

lol lol lol

It has been around since at least 2006 or 2007 and is supposed to have the heat-set gene and resistance to TSWV.

It is hard to find, so if no one blabs to our men, they won't know it exists.

If you must have it, I know Twilley Seed had it last year. I don't know about this year.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 9:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn Twilley had it earlier not sure about now. I was going to order mine from them but when I started placing my order they were out of the items I really wanted from them which was mainly some onion varieties. So I decided to wait and try to find everything in one place so I wouldn't have 2 sets of shipping charges. Well that didn't work and Twilley wasn't open today. And everyone else was out. I finally found some at a garden center today. At least it said they had them. Guess I'll know for sure next week. Not only were they cheaper but shipping for 6 packets( Had to buy a few other things with the cheap shipping) was only $1.97. I was able to finish up everything left I needed except for one onion variety. So may wait till next year on it. The reason I wanted to try Top Gun is a few of the members of one forum I frequent say it has good flavor. They think the best variety with the heat set gene since Merced and it also has a good disease package including TSWV resistance. I should have extra seeds for anyone who wants to try it. Jay

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 10:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


So okay....So much for scaling back......Last year I grew 36 different tomatoe varieties and I'm working on a list for this year that is less than 20. The total number is climbing...AGAIN!


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 11:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW! that is great list Dawn, thank you so much. You are great inspiration for me last year to grow many types tomatoes, last time I planted about 45 types. Despite of all those hardships, we have decent harvest. I am going to try at least half that this time. -Chandra

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn and Jay, I see you're both going to grow Tasmanian Chocolate and Rosella Purple (Dwarf Tomato Project) and I'll be anxious to see what you think of them.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Susan, I will also be interested in their results. I was reading about the Dwarf Tomato Project just last night.

I would be interested in knowing how large a container you are using for the Dwarfs, because some plants seem to be quite small. I first wrote 'how large a pot for the Dwarfs', but decided I needed to say container. LOL

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Susan and Carol,
The Dwarf Beryl Beauty is another from that project. I'm growing several more compact varieties this year. I may use 5 gallon buckets for some of the early ones I will keep in the lean to. But most will go in the molasses feed tubs as I can get them for free. Jay

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 12:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So you think it needs to be as big as most determinate plants? I need to catalog my tomato seeds and put info on size with each one because many of my packages don't have that info. My tomato plants don't seem to get as many roots as others do, but that is probably because they don't have to go deep for water in the Spring because it is always raining too much right after they go into the ground.

Jay, did you finish your big greenhouse are do you just plan to use the lean-to this year?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 12:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No I don't think on every variety you would need that big of container. It is I have the bigger containers and can get more free and 5 gallon buckets are hard to get here unless you want to buy them. But like non dwarf's you will need to look at each variety. Take Dwarf Beryl Beauty. They say it will reach 4' or taller. That is as tall or taller than some determinates I grow. In my opinion it might do better and be easier to handle in a larger container. The other thing with larger containers is you don't have to water as often during the heat and where I'm gone all day that is important to me. So each grower has to determine what will work best for them.

No I haven't finished my greenhouse. Now with the moisture I should be able to work on it some when the weather allows. I plan to put poly carbonate sides on it and pull plastic over the top for now. Then if I ever want to grow anything in it during the warmer months I can pull the plastic off and pull shade cloth over it. Jay

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 6:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'll be planting the tomatoes from the Dwarf Project in large containers too, either molasses feed tubs or purchased containers about the same size. Because they produce full-sized tomatoes and not bite-sized ones, I feel like, in our hot climate, they need the larger container with the room for more root growth in order to perform to their best potential. CostCo had some lightweight containers last year that are only a tad smaller than molasses feed tubs, and I bought two. I really liked them and will buy more of them this year whenever they arrive in the store.

As you know, I grow all kinds of stuff in 5-gallon containers, but increasingly, the tomatoes are only going into larger containers except for the smaller plants like the bite-sized tomatoes listed at the top of my Grow List. When I plant tomato plants in 5-gallon buckets, they have to be watered twice a day on hot summer days, and I think last year they would have needed to be watered more often if I had planted any in 5-gallon containers, which I didn't. On some of the worst summer days in 2008, I had to water the tomato plants in 5-gallon containers 3 times a day to keep this happy enough to flower and set fruit. The last year in which tomato plants were truly happy in 5-gallon containers that did not require daily watering in the summer months was in 2007, and look at how far back that was. The twice-daily watering of smaller containers in hot months gets pretty old pretty fast, and also costs quite a lot when you have a large number of containers.

This year, I'll be planting peppers and the smallest tomato plants (about the first 15 or 16 on my list) in 5-gallon containers and larger tomato plants in larger containers. It is all about production, and I'll use New Big Dwarf as an example. In a 5 gallon pot, it will reach a couple of feet in height and produce early, albeit not at heavy levels. After that, it is not very productive once the high heat hits. It just sits there and sets a tomato every now and then. In a 10-20 gallon pot it gets significantly taller and produces a much larger yield and is perfectly happy all summer long. What I really want to do if I can find the space in the garden is to plant one of each type of dwarf in a larger container and one in the ground, so I can compare how they perform in the large container vs. in the ground.

A lot depends on the spring weather. It if seems like the drought is going to drag on and deepen and worsen, I'll put fewer tomato plants in the ground with wider spacing. If it seems like it will be somewhat cooler and wetter than last year, I will cram too many tomato plants into the beds much too close to one another, because I can get away with doing that in an average year. I can't get away with packing them in that tightly in a very wet year because closer spacing = more widespread foliar diseases in a year like that.

I should emphasize that it isn't that the plants won't grow and produce in 5-gallon pots because pretty much everything I've ever planted in a 5-gallon pot did grow and it did produce. It is just that plants both grew and produced much, much better in a larger pot, and you know how I am---I am always going to try for the best production possible.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 8:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn, I think my bite-size list is going to be almost the same as yours, other than Mountain Magic. I haven't grown that one before, but I will probably grow all of the rest and maybe Isis Candy and Suncherry. I haven't grown Suncherry but I have 2 packs of seed from T&M, so I think I will try it.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 12:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If you want to try Mountain Magic, let me know and I'll send you some seed. It produced incredibly well last summer and that includes even after I stopped watering.

Suncherry is pretty good, but most years I grow Sweet Million instead, and this year neither one is on my list at the present time because I'm growing all those container cherries.

Last night I was engaged in the endless task of trying to restore some semblance of order to my seed box (somebody keeps messing it up!) and I was flipping through all the seed packets of tomato varieties I am not growing this year, and it was just killing me.

Y'all probably shouldn't be too surprised if I come back and add 20 more varieties to my list. Even in a a good year my grow list is shorter than I want it to be, and this year it is even shorter. I think I should at least go back and add in all the Goliath varieties I bought last year, and all the black tomatoes we love....and a few purple ones. See there, this is how I lose control.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn, I have so many seeds, but I do appreciate the offer. I don't expect drought but I am trying to keep my numbers down also. I think I am going to plant a few new ones, like the Boar types you shared with me last year, and New Big Dwarf, but there are some oldies that I just have to have. I am sure I will have some containers in additional to the in-ground plants.

The Suncherry packs came in a T&M grab bag, so I thought I would try a couple. I placed a Willhite order last night for Better Boy and Early Doll, which are also new to me. I needed a couple of other things so added those two. I always forget to plant those that produce early except for the cherries. This year I am hoping that Early Doll, Cluster Goliath, and Early Goliath fill that early slot, because I will plant heirlooms for the great taste for a lot of the later maturing types. I haven't made a list yet, but I have been going through my seeds.

I can probably sort through the tomatoes easier than I can select from the peppers. I just want to plant all of those, but I don't have nearly as many packs to choose from as I do with tomatoes. When I planted mostly bells and jalapenos it wasn't much of a problem, but Pablano, Marconi and Yellow Monster are huge plants. I will probably put some smaller peppers in containers also otherwise I will run out of room.

My bean problem is like yours. I probably have 20 different kinds, but not large quantities of most of them. I ordered a couple of kinds of southern peas from Willhite which is really why I placed an order with them. I will plant bush beans for the first early crop, but I really like pole beans best, and they keep producing for a lot longer. I will probably grow a lot of different beans this year.

Dawn, thanks again for the offer, but I don't think I have room for them this year. Do I have anything you want? I have lots of choices. By the way, a few nights ago I told Al that I had a jar of salsa that I had been saving for a special occasion, and I was declaring it a special occasion. So we enjoyed your jar of salsa together. I think that was what made my interest in 'things for the garden' finally peak. Don't you hope we have a good tomato and pepper year?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 12:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Well, the offer stands if you suddenly develop a wild urge to plant Mountain Magic. lol The one thing about it that I found really intriguing is its supposed good tolerance of Late Blight, but I doubt that is relevant in my garden, unless we suddenly have a wet, cold summer, which seems very unlikely.

Thanks for the offer of seeds, but I cannot think of anything I need that you have. You know how the two of us are----we both have seed boxes full of more seeds than we'll ever plant.

I cannot believe you saved that jar of salsa for so long. You have so much more discipline than we do. We finished our last jar in December. I am glad y'all enjoyed it. You know, I always come down with the dreaded disease of Garden Fever at this time of year, but it did arrive early---back in December when I spent a couple of weeks canning like a maniac so we could give everyone jars of Habanero Gold, Apple Pie Jam and a few other jams and jellies for Christmas. From that moment on, I was eager for planting time to get here. I really missed canning last summer.

I desperately hope we have a good tomato and pepper year. If we don't, I guess I'll break down and (gasp!) buy paste tomatoes to make salsa this summer. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and you know that it is a priority here at our house to always have jars of Annie's Salsa in the canning closet. It just chaps me to have to buy paste tomatoes when I can grow them myself, if the weather permits. After last year, we deserve to have a bumper crop of tomatoes and peppers this year.

I suppose it is just as well that the heat shut down production in the garden at the height of the summer, because with those outrageously high outdoor temperatures, the kitchen would have been incredibly hot if I had been trying to can something. Still, it seemed like an odd year with no tomatoes dehydrating and the canning equipment sitting in a cabinet out of sight and out of mind.

For me, at least half the full of edible gardening is the fun we have preserving, cooking and eating the fruits of our labors.

I still have about a dozen batches of extracted, frozen plum juice in the freezer from the incredible plum harvest of 2010, and I need to get busy canning it. If I don't, and if by chance it is a good plum year again this year, the last thing I need is frozen plum juice that needs to be canned at the same time the fresh plums are demanding attention.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think I jinxed myself because I bought a tomato mill and was ready for a big crop. We had plenty to eat but I didn't have any to can. I had lots of peppers but we ate them everyday and I froze a lot. My beans were a disaster last year. In the fall I started to get a few from vines that had been planted in Spring. One type was hit heavy by the Japanese Beetles, but recovered and produced late. I think we had 2 or 3 meals from them before a freeze took the vines. The other one produced enough to replenish my seed but I had to pick them before they were totally dry, so I hope it wasn't too soon.

Plum jelly was always my favorite as a child but I liked it tart. As an adult about the only jam I ever ate was strawberry, but even that was rare....then thanks to you, I discovered Hab Gold and I love that one. I have to watch my sugar consumption, or otherwise I would by just like seedmama and eat it out of the jar with a spoon. LOL

My only canning in 2011 was pepper jelly and I think I did about 26 jars. I had to use several kinds of peppers and I kept the taste a little tame. This year I will probably make it a little hotter, or at least make a couple of batches just for me that are hotter. I had one plant of white habanero which produced like crazy, but they weren't extremely hot. Now they were too hot just to eat one 'out of hand', but as habs go, they were pretty mild. I love to grow peppers anyway and the jelly just gave me one more reason to grow a lot. LOL

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi everybody,

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's lists. I am a fairly new to gardening and have lived in OK for a few years but didn't grow up here so I'm not as familiar with the climate and what grows best here. I grew up in Canada, Zone 2 I think, so the climate couldn't be more different.

I have about 100 square feet of raised beds in my little suburban backyard, so I'm planning about 6 tomato plants. I was thinking of trying at least one or two in containers so I could put them out really early and bring them inside on cold nights. I'd like to plant at least 4 in one of my raised beds. Which varieties would you all recommend, if you only had to pick say half a dozen varieties? For sure I'd like a couple of them to be grape/cherry size, a couple good for canning sauce, and probably one or two larger/multipurpose ones.

Here are the seeds I have (not sure if they are good choices for here or not). I'm certainly open to buying more seeds or plants.

Sugar Sweetie
Super Sweet 100
San Marzana

Would appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 11:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your seeds for Rutgers, Roma, and San Marzana should all be good here. I haven't grown the two cherries that you list, but they would probably be OK, but my choice for cherries would be Sungold and Black Cherry if I could only plant two. I also like Ildi, Yellow Jellybean, Dr Carolyn, and several others. I'm sure you will get lots of recommendations here. I would suggest for your 6th choice you plant a nice big slicer like Carbon, Cherokee Purple, or Black Krim, but I just love the black tomatoes.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome Canokie,

I really like your screen name. I think your choices will serve you well for salsa, sauces and salads. I agree with Carol that you might consider adding a slicer, if that's your thing.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This has been the most painful list I have ever put together, leaving off so many "likes". I made my definitive list back in August, only including ones that produced well in 2011. I was so relieved to just have it done, but then panicked in December when I couldn't find it. I have now located it, and this list shows very little resemblance to the August one.

I liked the way Dawn presented her list, so I reworked mine somewhat to resemble her formatting. Notice I have a weakness for striped/bicolors and slicers. I think I have way too many slicers listed, but interestingly many of those were on my best producing list last year. There are also a couple that I just can't turn away, even if they aren't the most prolific.

I'm finding that what grows well for Jay tends to grow well for me, so I'm somewhat concerned that many on my list are ones he's grown in the past but aren't on his list this year. He always has the best list of new-to-tries, but I'm worried about the missing old stand-bys.

I'm also growing more cherries than usual. Like Carol, 10 years ago I would have said, "I don't like cherries" but Black Cherry and Sungold changed that for me. Many of the cherries represent an effort to clean out my seed box in a year I don't expect to be great. We'll see.

There are several I've included based on recommendations above. I recognized some as a 4 seed bonus packs from a trade here and there, and thought, what the heck, this is the year to try them. Ask the audience generally serves a player well.

Husky Cherry(65)
Baby Beefsteak
Bush Goliath(55)
Husky Red
Tiny Tiger(75-80)
Tiny Tim(58)
Tumbling Tom Red(63)
Tumbling Tom Yellow(63)

Bite Sized:
Black Cherry(68)
Cuban Yellow Grape(85-90)
Sara's Galapagos(75)
Gardener's Delight(65)
Sungold Select II
Sungold (65)
Supersweet 100's
WOW Cherry
Jelly Bean (Red)(66)

Woodle Orange
Tiger Like(70)
Juan Flamme(70)
Green Zebra(78)

Super Boy
Principe Borghese(78)
San Marzano Redorta(78)
Roma Rio Grande(75-85)

Ananas Noire(80)
Arkansas Traveler(80)
Beefmaster Hybrid(80)
Big Beef(80)
Big Cheef Brandywine Cross
Big Daddy(78)
Box Car Willie(80)
Brandy Boy(82)
Burpee's Big Boy Hybrid(78)
Costoluto Genovese(90)
Dana's Duksy Rose(80)
Indian Stripe(85)
Striped German(78)
Super Fantastic(85)
Vintage Wine(84)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've worked up my spreadsheet of how many of each tomato to grow. I'm over my allotment. Please help me decide which 5 in-grounds to cull. I am out of cages and room, so something has to go. I picked each one on the list for a reason, so I'm not able to be objective. Bite sized do well in drought years, I love bi-colors, I have a preference for slicers. I opened my last jar of salsa last week, so I really need to grow more processing types, not less. Ah! Please help me pick 5!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 6:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is hard for me to make suggestions to others. Also I'm facing the same dilemma myself and not having much success in trimming my list to where it needs to be. I assume from the bite sized down will be in ground. Remember I only started growing cherries/bite sized around 4-5 years ago and larger amounts of them the last 3. I would probably try to cut 2-3 of the bite sized. Maybe where you are growing Sungold I would cut Sungold II. Again easy to suggest but I'm growing 2 Sungold types. You have a few scattered through your list I have never grown and know nothing about. So hard to make decisions about them. The one year I tried Rio Grande and Rutgers neither produced heavy here while overs did. That was before the last 3 tough years. But I know they do well for others. Of the slicers I would probably cut Vintage Wine and Sioux. Vintage Wine has always produced well for me regardless of conditions. It and Moneymaker have produced as well consistently as any hybrid I've grown. In fact as any tomato period in my garden besides a few cherry types. Flavor is better than store bought on both but not as great as many of the others on your list. Empire is one I hadn't even heard of. And I've never grown Homestead or Costoluto Genovese. I had Costoluto on my grow list this year but cut it due to the DTM time frame. I've grown all of the others. Arkansas Traveler produced a little less than the others you have listed. Have fun making the decisions. I will be interested in what others have to say. I have several additions to the above list. The way I will handle it is I will mark those I must grow. Then count. Then procrastinate. Then cut some more by DTM dates ect. I do plan on growing more early and mid season varieties this year. Then when I start planting I will add most back. With the thought I will have some germination failure. Then I will try to give a few away and then will end up squeezing way more than I should in every nook and cranny. Jay

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 8:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Seedmama, If I cannot find ways to reduce my own grow list, how in the world am I going to suggest what you reduce? lol And, if I suggested 5 to cut and you cut them, are you going to be mad at me this summer when you're wishing you had planted them?

Why not cut one from each category? I'd suggest cutting these:

Husky Red (thick skin)

Sungold Select II (you'd still have SunGold and WOW)

Tiger Like (no specific reason, but had to choose 1 to cut)

Rutgers (because Super Boy will really outproduce it)

either Costoluto Genovese or Vintage Striped Wine (neither one has ever produced well for me in my garden)

Really, though, I'd start seeds of all of them and watch the seedling growth carefully. First of all, you could have a crop failure with any given seed. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Then, even though I doubt you lose many to damping off, sometimes that happens as well. Imagine how frustrated you'd be if you cut the 5 varieties before sowing seed, and then discovered that because of an issue with a variety not germinating well or damping off after it germinated, you would have had space for the 5 varieties you cut. Sometimes I cut a variety merely because the seedlings remained weaker and less vigorous than the other seedlings while still indoors on the light shelf.

While you're working on cutting your list, I'd adding to mine. It isn't sensible, but we've had a lot of rain here this year and I am feeling better about the spring planting season (though not about the summer), so I am going to plant more tomatoes than I originally intended to grow. Of course, if another drop of rain doesn't fall for the next two months, I'll change my mind about that again.

Jay, I do what you do. I make my list and labor mightily over cutting it down to size, then when I sow the seeds, I add some back just in case the weather is better than expected or I have some seedling crop failures. And, I do cram in far more than I planned because once I have the plants, I hate to not use them. I still give away oodles too. I have absolutely no self-discipline at planting time.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jay and Dawn,
Your input helped me sort things in my brain a lot. I'm ditching vintage Wine because it was a last minute add. Conversely, last minute Super Boy will replace Rutgers. Sioux was my fourth best producer in last Year's heat so ill keep it. I'm going to ditch Arkansas traveler. It nicer does well for me. I put it on because of its heat tolerance
, but really why would it do any better for me this year. Jay, I put Empire and homestead in the list for heat tolerance, though I've.never grown them. I have modest expectations for flavor. I might postpone WOW until next year. I was giving it a second chance this year but this is not a year for second chances. Husky red it a good candidate for cutting. See there? I made all my own decisions and no one is on the hook? Thanks.for getting my brain juices going.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

So glad we could help, but you know, Jay and I are probably the last two people on earth who should be advising anyone to CUT tomatoes from their grow list. Just don't expect us to lead by example in this area. : )

I've started seeds that aren't even on my grow list, and I intend to start more. I am so bad.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is my 2012 Tomato Grow List. I wanted to cut down number of tomato varieties this time, but send up with 36 types. I had no luck last year to see their actual performance, I am planting many as a provenance trial. However will limit 2-3 plats per type for most of the varieties. Most of the varieties in the list are from Dawn. I also brought well know commercial type tomatoes from India for dry and arid region (last four in the list). Dawn, Please let me if you would like try them.

1. Aunt Ruby's German-Green slice
2. Baker's Family*
3. Beef Master
4. Beefsteak
5. Better Boy
6. Black Cherry- Black slice
7. Black Krim
8. Black Russian
9. Celebrity

  1. Cherokee Purple- Purple slice
  2. Dr. Wyche's Yellow- Yellow slice
  3. Eva's Purple Ball
  4. Goliath
  5. Ildi-Yellow bite
  6. Indian Stripe- BiC- slice
  7. Jet Star
  8. Orange Banana-Orange paste
  9. P20 OSU Blue-Blue bite
  10. Paquebot Roma
  11. Porter-Pink slice
  12. Red Pear Franchi
  13. Royal Hillbilly-pink
  14. Russian Persimmon-Orange slice
  15. Rutgers
  16. Santiam
  17. Santorini
  18. Snow White- White bite
  19. SunGold-Orange bite
  20. Super Sweet 100 Hybrid
  21. Sweet Million-Red bite
  22. Tess's Land Race*
  23. Tommy Toes
  24. SK F1
  25. Nitya Triveni
  26. SPTH-10
  27. PKM-1

I started few seeds this morning. Will start many probabl second of Feb.

regards -Chandra
regards -Chandra

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
helenh(z6 SW MO)

Dawn since you are optimistic about your garden this year and talked about getting rain, what tomatoes have you added to your list? Also I am still curious about what you said about snakes getting in the wildlife netting. Were they big headed rattlesnakes only or does it catch copperheads?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Talk about a red-neck garden. I have 8 or 9 new containers for tomato planting. They are those big square trash cans that you find in the fast food places. You know the ones, where you open the little door and slide everything off of your tray and into the can below. LOL

They aren't pretty, but they are big, and with a few holes drilled in the bottom they should grow a big plant. To make matters worse, they are several colors, so I am looking for a way to hide them a little. Maybe they will get some shorter containers to their south, and I will just have to endure looking at the north side of them. I haven't had much luck with painting plastic.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
helenh(z6 SW MO)

Maybe you could wrap them in burlap if you can get it cheap.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 4:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


These are the ones I added:

The first batch I added:

Black and Brown Boar
Black Brandywine
Black Krim
Black From Tula
Black Plum
Cherokee Chocolate
Cherokee Purple
Dr. Wyche's Yellow
Dwarf Mr. Snow
German Giant
Greek Rose
Indian Stripe
Michael Pollan
Red Rose
Schiavonne Italian Paste
Spudakee Purple
Super Boy
Woodle Orange

(This group was heavy on pinks, purples and blacks because I felt like I wasn't growing enough of them.)

Then, in the final group that I added, there are these:

Indigo Rose (was going to save it for fall, but decided I couldn't wait that long)
San Marzano Gigante 3
Yellow Submarine
Black Mystery
Orange Minsk
Burgundy Traveler

Then, for the big containers I traditionally plant in February, carrying them inside the garage on cold nights, I purchased these from Home Depot in 5" peat pots and 3" peat pots:

Big Boy
Better Boy
Cherry Chocolate
Red Beefsteak (if this is the same one they sold under this name last year, I think it is the one aka Crimson Cushion or Red Ponderosa, and it had amazing production in a bad year)

Of this last group, three have blossoms though I don't know if they have set any fruit yet, and I am not inclined to go out in the rain to look at them and see.

So, despite my vow to cut back, once I started thinking about how much rain we've had (at least 20" here since September), I decided to go hog wild and plant all I can. This is the first winter we've run out of home-canned salsa in years because I didn't can any last summer. The harvest was good early on so we ate them and gave them away thinking there would be more later on, but then the heat went crazy and that was the end of the good tomato production.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

soonergrandmom - bury them. I know that could be back breaking to bury that deep, but that is what I would do. Bury them part of the way down, then plant something on the outside of them.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn you are truly the Tomato Baroness. I've basically finished planting tomatoes and peppers. I will plant a few more this weekend. Two varieties that failed to germinate, one twice and a few others for late grafting prospects in case needed. After tonight I will be about 1/4 done grafting. I've had the best germination rates I've ever had. I believe I only had 2 varieties totally fail to germinate out of all I planted. And have over 90% on every tray. Had 100% on all but one rootstock tray. I had 98% on my first full 72 cell tray. Not sure why I experienced such high rates this year. Many of these seeds were 6-8 years old. I'm also going to soak 2 varieties I bought at an auction that were packed in 68 and 69 in the clorox solution I use to see if I can germinate any of them. I've started way more varieties than I will plant out. More hybrids than I've grown for some time. Several new crosses that I was sent. Five different blue types. I'm grafting a wide range of varieties and types. I would be ashamed to post my planted list after seeing yours and Carol's. LOL. Jay

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, I often plant trailing plants in large containers that have tomato plants in them and let the trailing plants trail down over the edges of the containers. I generally use either nasturtiums or ornamental sweet potatoes. I use the trailers to shade the sides of the containers to help keep the root zones of the plants cooler.

I liked Helen's suggestion of burlap too. Sometimes I'll see rolls of burlap in some nurseries and garden centers. This year I am cutting open Tomato Tone and Purina Chicken Feed bags and "wrapping" most of the cat litter buckets with them, using yellow or red duck tape as a border to attach the bag to the top and bottom of the bucket. I do not yet know how it will look or how long it will hold up, but it will be more attractive than Tidy Cat buckets.

I have had mixed results with painting the buckets and some flower pots with Fusion spray paint for plastic. It seemed to hold up the first couple of years pretty well, but they were dry years. Either the paint formula has changed or something because with the ones I've painted the last couple of years, the paint hasn't adhered to the plastic very well and washes off over time. So, I think I'm through using the Fusion paint.

Jay, I fear I have lost my mind. Tomato madness. lol I don't know how you have time to do all that grafting. You know what---it has been a magical year here for tomatoes from seeds too. Great germination rates. Fast germination times. Great growing---very speedy and very healthy. Maybe all this is an omen that it is going to be a great tomato year?

Do you mean you bought tomato seeds that were packed in 1968 and 1969? What varieties? Maybe they are some varieties that our parents were growing back then! Isn't that something to think about?

Come hell or high water, as my dad used to say, I am going to have enough tomatoes to make lots of salsa this year. If not, I swear I will buy (gasp! yes I will!) enough paste tomatoes at the store or farmer's market to make Annie's Salsa. We are severely homemade-salsa-deprived this year and it is tragic to have to eat store-bought salsa.

I can't wait to see how your grafted varieties do this year! I am so caught up on garden chores for once that I am not worried about how I'll find time to get everything done "on time". It only rained a little here, and they've dropped our rain chances for tomorrow to 20%. We're supposed to have rain on Saturday and Sunday, so I guess I'll have to resort to doing something dull like laundry and housework. I'd rather be out in the garden.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I left one off the list:

Medovaya Kaplya

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Chandra - WAIT UP!!!! On that list of yours - the last one - the "PKM-1"....it has my name on it, literally!!! Do you have an extra or could you start one for me??? Please, please, pretty please????

And Dawn - I'm going to have several "paste" types extra if you are in need (Opalka and Rio Grande).

I know Jay & Dawn are the Tomatoe King & Queen, but I'm so excited that I have both pepper and tomatoe seedlings with REAL leaves already! Yea for the Rookie!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am glad you noticed it. Yes I have lot of "PKM-1" seeds and also started couple of seedlings for you! -Chandra

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I saw a role of burlap in Arkansas the other day. It was on a display rack with the rolls of floating row cover and frost blankets. I may have to go back and look at that.

It isn't that they are so ugly, it just that they are different. I got the lightest colors, so they are beige, brown, grey, etc. I had not thought of trailing plants, but that would work because there is room for a lot of roots in this size container.

Thanks folks, you have given me another idea as well. I like brainstorming. LOL

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula, Hooray for true leaves!

Thanks for the offer of plants, but I think I'll be OK. I think I have about a dozen different kinds of paste tomatoes or canning tomatoes planted. The real issue will be finding room for all of them, but then that is an issue every year.

Carol, That's one of the things I love about big containers---you can put something else in there with the tomatoes without having to worry about the roots competing for space.

We can brainstorm all day long when it is raining, and then we have too many ideas we want to try and not enough time to try them all when it is sunny.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And I was thinking I overdid it with a minimum of 30 tomato plants! haha I'll be lucky to get mine to set before the heat. We shall see!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 6:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I have to add one more variety that I've planted in the garden, but I didn't raise it from seed.

Maybe this is the last tomato variety I'll add to this list.

It is:


I have 2 of these plants, and have no idea if they were grown by someone who bought up a huge supply of Merced seed before it was dropped from production or if someone has dehybridized it and is saving seed every year.

Jay, If you see this, wouldn't Gone Fishin' be proud I tracked down some Merced plants? It is a variety he really liked.

I don't necessarily like it as much as he did, but it produces well in July and August. I am planting it and Phoenix F-1 side by side so I can see how they compare. I want a good heat-setter that won't mind if we stay in the 100s for a couple of months. (I know, I know....dream on....)


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am planning on these: Sioux, Tommy Toes, Cherokee Purple, Yellow 1884 Pinkheart, Royal Hillbilly, and maybe either Grandma Suzy's beefsteak or Brandy Boy if I can get a plant.

Sioux produced pretty well for me in the heat last year, but I hope it's not that bad again this year. Everything else I grew made just a few tomatoes that got eaten by caterpillars before I picked them. The plants looked great until that heat hit, they were enormous, just not much fruit.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Julie, Last year was a horrible year because of the weather. The heat makes it even more complicated because it seems like pests arrive earlier and just thrive in the hotter weather. Surely this year will be better. It just has to be.

Spider mites, grasshoppers and blister beetles all arrived about 3 months ahead of "schedule" at our house last year and I just hated seeing them that early.

Sioux always has set well for me in heat.

For the best chance of getting good fruitset on your tomato plants, get them in the ground as early as you reasonably can without subjecting them to temperatures dangerously close to freezing. Once the daytime highs are exceeding 95 degrees and the nighttime lows are exceeding roughly 72-75 degrees, fruitset on tomato plants decreases greatly. In general, the larger the size of the fruit, the worse the heat affects a variety. Most plants that produce bite-sized tomatoes are barely affected by heat in the average summer, though a lot of them were affected last year.

Last year, I had huge amounts of fruit from the first couple of rows of tomatoes that I had in the ground right around the earliest recommended tomato planting date of April 10th. After that, I noticed the later a plant went into the ground, the poorer its fruitset.

This year, to beat the heat, I put 8 plants into containers in late February. Four of those plants still are in containers, are waist-high and have fruit and flowers. The other 4 are in the ground and are not quite as large, but also have fruit and flowers. I expect the earliest fruit I harvest will be from those 8 plants. The rest of my tomatoes will be in the ground by the end of today. Then, after that, all I have to do is plant the ones that are strictly for containers into those containers. Normally I plant the containers first, but the early onset of warm weather has me doing things backwards this year. I've never had all the in-ground plants done before starting on the containers (except those February-planted containers) before. It seems odd.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 2:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
owiebrain(5 MO)

I've purposely avoided this thread until now. I simply am not strong enough to read through all of the yummy varieties and resist finding seed & starting half of those.

But, now, I've got all of my seeds started and growing so I should be safe. It's far too late to start more seeds. Right? Right?!

Here's what I've started in the tomato department this year:

Ace 55
Arkansas Traveler
Aunt Gertie�s Gold
Aunt Ruby�s German Green
Banana Legs
Black Brandywine
Black Cherry
Black from Tula
Black Krim
Black & Red Boar
Black Sea Man
Blue Streak
Box Car Willie
Break O� Day
Burning Spear
Campbell�s 1327
Cherokee Purple
Chocolate Cherry
Cowlick�s Brandywine
Crimson Cushion
Dana�s Dusky Rose
Dix Doights de Naples
Dr. Wyche�s Yellow
Earl�s Faux
Egg Yolk Cherry
Estler�s Mortgage Lifter
Eva Purple Ball
Galina�s Yellow Cherry
Gary�O Sena
German Johnson
German Red Strawberry
Goji Faranji
Golden Jubilee
Granny Cantrell
Great White
Heart�s Delite Black
Indian Stripe
Isis Candy cherry
JD�s Special C-Tex
Japanese Trifele Black
Juane Flammee
Kang Bing
Kardinal Tshyornyi
Kellogg�s Breakfast
Livingston�s Paragon
Ludmilla�s Red Plum
Marianna�s Peace
Matt�s Wild Cherry
New Big Dwarf
New Yorker
NOT German
OSU Blue
Out of the Blue Cherry
Pink Floyd
Pruden�s Purple
Red House Free Standing
Tasmanian Chocolate
Tommy Toes Cherry
Hawaiian currant
Peacevine Cherry
San Marzano Redorta
Sandul Moldovan
Snow White Cherry
Speckled Roman
Tess� Landrace currant
White Princess
Wisconsin 55
Woodle Orange

In addition to those 80-90 varieties, I also have a couple hundred seedlings from my beginning landrace which includes even more varieties. I'm hoping to squeeze in at least one or two of everything above plus a chunk from the landrace... somewhere.

At least my pepper lists are smaller this year. Um, I think.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn I posted a reply earlier and it acted like it was posted. Now don't see it.
Yes he would be. I grew it most years. Was growing it before I ever found the forums. I didn't consider it a great tomato but was almost a for sure producer. Much like 4th of July and Goliath. All 3 hybrids that seem to tolerate the elements here, produce well and with decent flavor. I knew several people were attempting to stabilize it. Tom Wagner supposedly has done some work with it. Understand he took it to the F5 stage or so and it was fairly stable and then has used it for crossing. I knew of at least one person who received some seeds from him. I heard he has a nice cross that is better but who knows if and when he might release it. I see a man in LA is advertising Merced plants for sale. He says they are F1. I also read once where they were considering reintroducing it like Ramapo. But never heard anything again.

I'm still chugging away with my garden along with handling some other issues. After seeing all these impressive lists it makes me wonder whether I should even bother putting my bland list or boys,girls and a few others in the ground. LOL. I didn't plant Early Girl this year. Hadn't in several then planted it as a replacement after the hail last year. I did plant Early Doll and New Girl. Both supposedly Early Girl improvements. Early Doll has been impressive so far. Very vigorous and will be in blooming by next weekend. Will have a report on it as the season progresses. Overall it has went well. I have several large plants that will have to go in the ground or in larger pots next weekend. The earliest ones have fruit on them. I did set one tray back and then killed a few in it due more to my lack of attention with another potting soil. But I already have more plants 10 inches or taller than I can ever plant. I have noticed with the shade cover pulled over the lean to the plants are a little taller than my plants are normally. But don't think with the heat I dare remove it or even go to a lower percentage of shade cloth. And they are fine just not as stocky. Trying my last effort at grafting for the year probably. Have plants in 3 different trays/domes healing off now. Hopefully I have figured out some of my pitfalls and can save a few more this time. I have 2 that have healed and been back under the lights and now in the lean to. They are catching up fast to the other plants. Jay

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 5:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Dawn, thanks I am going to try to buy my plants and get them in the ground next weekend, that's the first weekend my tomato place will be open for sales. Last year I planted in mid-April and then it got all cold and rainy for a few weeks--I don't think the earliness helped me any since they had to bounce back from the cold.

But this year it is so freakishly warm, I think I will risk it anyway.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 5:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's my list for this year. It's pretty small compared to most of the ones here, but there are lots of things I like more than tomatoes, so those get the space.

  1. Sun gold
  2. Black Cherry
  3. 4th of July
  4. Rutgers Select
  5. San Marzano Redorta
  6. Heidi

I have one of each planted, but I have room for three more. I think I'll plant another Sungold and another 4th of July, but I don't know what to plant for the third. If you all had to pick, would you choose Rutgers Select, San Marzano Redorta, or Heidi?


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 7:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

Your tomato lists blow me away! Dawn, your list has 21 varieties for containers. In other posts, I read that you plant potatoes and/or sweet potatoes in containers too. Anything else?

What kind of containers and where do you get them?

Bird and Owie - your tomato lists are HUGE! How many plants do you grow? In rows? How many feet of rows? I just can't wrap my brain what I'm reading here.

I live on 5.5 acres on the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia. I found the OK forum by great good luck - was looking for info about growing sweet potatoes, found links here, was so impressed by the great advice and encouragement y'all gave each other. I am still working on my sweet potato list - I haven't grown sweets before, love them, and based on info I read here, I contacted Gary at Duck Creek Farm.

I always bite off more than I can chew so am trying to exercise more restraint and self discipline this year. I think I'll put my sweet potato list on the wall, and make choices by throwing darts at the list.

My parents lived in OK during WWII - my dad was in the Army Air Corp, taught people to fly at a place called Cimarron Field. I think I'll adopt Oklahoma and visit this forum a lot more often.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 1:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome, Pam! My husband's family are all from Virginia and North Carolina (Fredericksburg, VA, Currituck, NC, and Clinton, NC). Love it out there.

My list is quite small. I'm in Norman and growing all in containers this year (unless I get a wild hair and decide to throw some in the ground in the coming weeks...totally possible). I planted a large garden with my parents at their house in Garvin County last year, but with the lack of rain and the wildfires that threatened their home more than a couple of times over the summer the whole thing just fried. They got a few tomatoes toward the end of the season, but our efforts were mostly wasted.

This year I am growing the following:

Black Krim
Black Prince
Cherokee Purple (2)
Mortgage Lifter
Mr. Stripey

And one other that I have no clue about. It looked like it needed rescuing from the garden center and I got home without any label. Some little cherry variety that's got fruit already.

All the ones that I have planted are new for me except Cherokee Purple (favorite) and Mortgage Lifter. How have the others faired for you around here?

Tomatoes are my favorites, by far, and I'd like to plant more (and do most years). Yeah, I may end up planting a few more before it's all said and done :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not starting my own from seed, but today went to Atwood's in Norman and found a pretty good selection. I took Dawn's list with me, hoping that I could find some of those shorter DTM varieties in case we have a repeat of the heat this summer. One of the ones I came home with is Independence Day. It's described as 49 days to maturity and sounds exactly like Fourth of July. I googled it and it does appear to be the same thing - does anyone know anything about it? I tried to get something from every category except containers. I bought Celebrity, Black Cherry, Early Girl, Arkansas Traveler, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, and Lemon Boy.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All of my tomato seedlings died, and the new ones I started are still too small, so I picked up a Black Cherry and an Early Girl and planted them about a week ago. So far they are doing well. I have room for at least two more, which I will probably pick up this week. Trying to decide which varieties to plant. I was thinking maybe a grape variety and something for sauce. Any recommendations? Is Sioux a sauce type tomato?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

okielizabeth: Thanks for taking the time to welcome me. We live in a village called Deltaville about two hrs southeast of Fredericksburg. Most folks farm, work the water, or both.

I have friends in OK so I keep an eye on your weather. Last summer was cruel! I don't know how ya'll kept anything alive.

This year, I'm late getting seeds started. Here is my tomato list so far -

Red Brandywine
Yellow Brandywine
Kelloggs Breakfast
Cherokee Purple
Chuda Rinka
Better Boy
Dr. Carolyn
Amish Paste
San Marzano la Padino
Principe Borghese

I think you're right - we'll both plant more before it's all said and done.

We have a long growing season so I often start a fall crop in late July-early August. Depends on the weather. ;-)

Take care,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Wowowowowow, (y'all that's wow oh wow oh wow, lol). Great list!

So, where's the pepper list? You know that enquiring minds want to know.

Jay, I always considered Merced a sort of ho-hum-yes-it-will-produce-in-heat-but-what-about-flavor type of tomato, but Bill really drove home to me the point that even if Merced wasn't dazzling in flavor, it still beat grocery store tomatoes and he was right. So, here I am growing it again, and thinking of him as I do so.

If you want seeds of Ramapo, go to the website linked below. I bought seed the first year they re-released it and grew it for 3 or 4 years. I don't think I have any seed left, or I'd pop it into an envelope and mail it to you. It is really good, but not any more special than something like Supersonic or Jetstar. Well, the fruit were larger, but you know what I mean. I thought maybe they'd take it all the way commercial and we'd see seeds from someplace like Harris (like that did with Moreton) or TGSC but so far that just has not happened.

Like you, I have oodles of plants growing too fast and blooming while still in their little pots in the greenhouse. Last week's 4 days spent at fire training just killed my gardening, so this week I'll be planting like an insane lunatic if my wet northside of the garden dried up enough today. I think I could grow rice or watercress in it right now.

Leslie, In your climate, I'd plant Heidi. The hotter it gets, the more it fruits. I love it, love it, love it! Need proof? I have 18 of them in the ground, including an area where I originally planned to put heirloom slicers. Once I started planting Heidi, I couldn't stop, and I still have a handful of backup Heidi plants in the greenhouse just in case a weather disaster occurs.

Hi Pam, Welcome to the forum! I grow oodles of stuff in containers, but mostly put potatoes in the ground. I just don't get great results from potatoes or sweet potatoes in pots.

I have containers in a multitude of sizes, from 5 to 20 gallons or larger. The largest containers I use hold 20 gallons or more and are molasses cattle feed tubs. They hold 200 lbs. of feed, I think, and most ranchers have more of them than they know what to do with. I already had 8 or 10 of them, and then a rancher friend gave me 36 more last week.

I like containers because I have horrible red clay soil that takes forever to amend. Using containers allows me to plant more without having to break and amend a lot more red clay.

I'm glad you contacted Gary at Duck Creek Farms. His plants are awesome---they are perfectly healthy and a nice size.

This may be the wrong forum to visit if you're looking for people who exercise restraint and self-discipline. We always talk about cutting back how much we grow but we never do it. My goal for this year is 140 plants in the ground and another 30 or so in containers. We can, dehydrate, freeze and give away a lot of tomatoes.

My dad did some sort of military training in OK too during WWII, but by the time we moved here from Texas, his Alzheimer's was so far advanced that he couldn't tell me much about his years here, although he said he was based someplace close to Norman.

I do hope you'll visit often. I imagine your climate is a lot like ours, though you likely have worse summer himidity. In a dry year, our humidity can get pretty low, though it can be really high in a wet summer.

Okielizabeth, Black Krim and Cherokee Purple are two favorites of mine, and both do well here. Black Prince is only so-so for me, but Mortgage Lifter is another favorite, and was one of the first heirloom tomato varieties I ever planted. Some years it seems like it takes Mortgage Lifter forever to start setting fruit but then it does continue setting well late into the season. When I grew Mr. Stripey, it was nothing special.

If you like Cherokee Purple, you might want to try the very similar Indian Stripe, which produces better for me and tastes very similar.

Shelley, I'm sorry to hear your tomato seedlings died. For a paste tomato, you cannot go wrong with San Marzano or Viva Italia. For grape, I like the red one simply labeled "Grape". I generally don't use Sioux for sauce, but you can use any tomato for sauce. The ones with a higher water level just have to be cooked down bit longer.

Pam, Our first freeze can come early here some years but not others. I like to plant at mid-summer for fall production. Our average first autumn freeze generally occurs around Thanksgiving, but every now and then it comes as late as mid-December.

If it wasn't for the weather, gardening would be a breeze, wouldn't it?


Here is a link that might be useful: Ramapo at NJAES

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 1:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

Hi Dawn:

Thanks for the warm welcome. As I read more posts in this forum, I understand your comment about this not being a group who exercises discipline and restraint! If you love to grow stuff, and I do, it can be an obsession.

My husband and I travel in our work so may be away from home for a few days to a couple of weeks. I have planted out seedlings by the light of a headlamp because they wouldn't survive until we came back from a trip. No fun.

Yes, our climate is similar although I'm sure were are more humid. Because we live on the Bay, our soil is sandy and acidic. Wind is a huge problem so I'm always looking for easier, more effective ways to create windbreaks. Flooding during tropical storms can also be a big problem.

I'll continue to read posts - so much good advice here.

Take care,

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
owiebrain(5 MO)

Pam, I'll only end up with maybe 200 in the ground -- if I'm lucky. If I'm not lucky, I'll have to survive with only 150 or so. I'm growing a few dwarves this year to test out pot growing here. Er, growing in pots. In OK, I grew in pots as little as possible because it was just too stinking hot & dry. Being more moderate here in NE MO, I'm hoping pots will do better so I have an excuse to plant more. :-P

I have... 250-275' of row in my Tomato Henge, if I remember correctly (and I'm sure I'm not). Other than that, I squeeze a few in here, a few in there, and convince the kids to let me take over every ounce of spare space in their beds as well. It's not difficult since they're all tomato freaks like me.

Dawn, I briefly considered planting the entire front lawn with Tess LR. Can you imagine the jungle fun the kids could have?? (And I wouldn't have to mow...) I do think, maybe next year after we have the goats & fencing settled, that I'll grow a maze/fort from Tess in the front.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Pam, I haven't planted by headlamp but have planted by flashlight or by car headlights. So, I believe we are kindred spirits. You'll find many others here just like us.

Diane, Please oh please, if you have a chance, post "those photos" (or a link to your blog page containing them) of your kids with Tess's for Pam to see. A person cannot believe the monster Tess's can be until they see the plant about to swallow up your children. : )

I think a Tess's Land Race Currant maze or henge would be great, but it would drive me stark raving mad to try to pick all those tiny little tomatoes from all those plants. Who needs a lawn anyway?


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeh, but Dawn, Diane she has plenty of kids to help pick those little tomatoes. Actually, I can see Diane doing that to her lawn. LOL

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

It is a win-win situation. If the kids eat as many currant tomatoes while picking them as I do (you know, there's one for me, one for the bucket, two for me, one for the bucket, three for me, one for the bucket....), Diane won't even have to cook dinner.

I expect to see a TomatoHenge TomatoMaze take over Owie's yard next year. Or, maybe the tomatoes will be planted in a circular spiral like a labyrinth. That would keep the kids busy!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 11:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As long as it takes to pick a Tess vine, the first one would be ready to pick again by the time they worked there way around the spiral.

And what's with my writing tonight. 'Diane' and 'she', pick one. Gee, I really am tired.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mother and I are determined to start a garden this year. I've not managed to keep one single plant alive on purpose in 29 years of life! However, I've never given it a lot of research and effort, so I'm starting now. I'm the most excited to plant tomatoes. At the recommendation of a gardening friend, I purchased Homestead and Solar Fire plants, and I'll be hardening them this week while we get our gardening boxes ready. I also grabbed a Rutgers that was there. My mom is wanting "organic" type of plants, so we've been looking for heirloom varieties. I'm clueless on that whole debate. If you could only plant 3 tomato varieties, which would you choose? :) I'm thinking this might be an impossible question for those of you who can't narrow it down to 30, but could you try? =D What tastes great that is hard to kill? So far, from researching the ones I bought, it doesn't look like they'll be the best tasting. So I'd like to add a couple that are. Thanks so much if you can help.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 2:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tulsastorm(z6 Tulsa OK)

@mommyrosalynn, it doesn't really matter what tomato variety you grow...they will all taste far better than those red things they call tomatoes at the grocery store. The heirloom varieties produce some tasty tomatoes, but don't usually produce as much fruit as hybrids and easily succumb to disease/pests. If I could only plant 3, which ones would it be? Ugh, that is such a difficult and subjective question. I would want some that would produce well, but still taste good. For slicing, I suppose I would plant Celebrity and one of the "boy" varieties (Big Boy, Better Boy, etc.). I would absolutely have to plant a cherry type...preferably Sungold. Despite our unpredictable weather, I can almost guarantee I'll at least have some cherry tomatoes. They seem to produce no matter what and can withstand diseases and pests right on through to the first frost. All are hybrids.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am totally convinced that grocery store tomatos should only be used at the dunking booth at the carnival.

Dawn, now you have me rethinking the planting of Black Prince. I may just go back and get Black Krim instead. Does BK get as large as Black Prince? I read somewhere that BP can get humongous.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn, that endorsement of Heidi makes me want to plant more than just the one extra! I had originally planned to put it in a container because it was listed as determinate, but then I saw it listed as indeterminate, so I figured I should plant it in the ground to be safe. I'm still not sure what it is, so I may do another in a container anyway to see how it fares.

Mommyrosalynn, I don't really have 3 must have varieties yet, so I'm not the best person to answer, but Sungold is definitely on the list. You may have trouble finding plants unless you order online, though. I don't think I've ever seen it in stores. But I'd bet someone here is bringing one/many to the Spring Fling, if you're going.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mommyrosalyn first I want to say taste preference is different for each persona and also the flavor of a variety can vary due to soil, environmental and gardening practices. Kellogg's Breakfast is a prime example. For best taste you need low temps in the mid 50's and above and either good draining soil or water only enough to keep the plant going. Although I end up trialing several new to me varieties every year I also grow several of the same varieties every year. I hardly ever just grow a variety for good taste. It must also produce well and prove itself to withstand my conditions. With that being said what does well for me may not for you. Cherokee Purple is one that does well for me and has what I consider very good flavor. Indian Stripe thought by some to be related doesn't produce near as well for me. And to me personally if you grow the original Cherokee Purple strain it has better flavor. But I know Dawn says that her results are opposite. That Indian Stripe produces better for her. Of the darks that you might find available to buy Black from Tula and Carbon does well normally for me. Not knowing where you are located it is hard to know what you might be able to find to buy. If in the Tulsa area you have some more choices than many do. Two of top performers last year were Randy's Brandy and Grandma Suzy's both from that area and I know Duckcreek Farms and also the Tomato Man's Daughter sells them along with Royal Hillbilly another good one. The one hybrid I recommend any grower around here grow is 4th/Fourth of July. Not a large tomato but will almost always produce well and has good disease resistance. Of the more popular hybrids you can find I suggest Jetstar to me better flavor than any of the Boys and again a very dependable producer for me. If you could find a Brandyboy F1 plant at a farmers market or somewhere it is very good also. Personally I'm not a Boy fan but due to a hail out last summer I planted some and it was a terrible year but they didn't produce well for me again and the flavor is very average. Big Beef is one that I plant sometimes that should be readily available. It produces well, has good disease tolerance and better flavor than many of the hybrids. Besides the hybrids I've mentioned the others to produce decent last year were Beefy Boy and Talladega. There are several threads on this forum where each of us has posted our preferences. In the end as stated above any home grown tomato is better than a store bought one.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I forgot to comment on cherry types. Most really like Sungold. It is good but I have splitting issues with it. I do grow it every few years and still trying to find a cross/stabilized version that compares. I'm growing a couple now and one of them I felt last summer was very comparable but you won't find it available anywhere. One hybrid I see available around here that does well for me that I grow every year is Sweet Treats. It outproduces Sungold here after I throw away the splitters. Not hardly as good of flavor as Sungold but a flavor I still like and set right through the heat of last summer.

Dawn I may have to try Heidi again sometime. Sure I still have seeds for it. Only grew it once and can't remember why it didn't impress me. Maybe it was the year. Jay

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

Diane -What is a Tomato Henge? I'd love to see photos - and that goes for all of you. Maybe start another thread since this one is pretty long.

Dawn: If you get a headlamp, look for one by Rayovac that has a red light, in addition to white and yellow. The red light works great at night because it doesn't mess up your night vision. We use headlamps with red lights when we go fishing or sailing at night. When you use the red light, the batteries last for weeks.

Owie: How do you support 150-200 tomatoes? What do you do with them? I can't wrap my brain around the idea of one person growing and processing so many tomatoes - and there's all the other stuff.

In 2010, I planted 75-80 tomatoes grown from seed in what was supposed to be the community garden. Several neighbors wanted gardens but didn't have room. We have 5.5 acres, mostly open field, so I offered a big chunk for everyone to use as a community garden. DH and I cleared the land, tilled it. We fenced it in. (Doing all that work was our first mistake)

The neighbors came a couple of times, but faded as the temps got hotter. The "community garden" became Pam's garden. That year, we had drought - D2 /D3 and record high temps for weeks. Sound familiar? To keep the toms alive, I bought soaker hoses and ran them every day. Sometimes twice a day.

Had lots of toms and lots of weeds because of the tilling. Little ones like Principe Borghese produced 1000s of tiny tomatoes. The big ones failed to thrive. The community garden was a disaster. I was burned out and gun-shy about planting more than DH and I can use. (our kids are grown and live a few hours away) Extra stuff goes to the office or the food bank.

I'd love to plant more varieties if I could care for them properly, so that brings me to the first question. How do ya'll support and care for so many?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pam I'm not Owie or Dawn but will speak for myself. I'm single so everything that gets done around here I do myself. I've grown over 100 plants many years. Last year 85 and this year was shooting for 65 but imagine I will run over some. Depending on the amount I put in containers I may reach 85 or so again. My area is semi arid naturally and has been in a 4 year drought cycle. We just got lowered from a Class D4 drought area to D3. Fortunately we have been receiving some moisture. Here I mulch heavily and blessed with deep sandy loam soil that drains well but still retains moisture well. Even during the extreme heat and hot dry winds of last summer I could go 3 days without watering. The deep mulch controls 90% of the weeds. I also grow many other veggies. I will plant 40-50 pepper plants mainly chile types also. I imagine the issues and even the weed pressure I see is totally different than you see. I mulch shortly after I put my tomato plants out. In fact in areas where I put WOW's or plastic buckets with the bottoms cut out I'll mulch around them as soon as I put them out. This stops the germination of most weeds. On the bare ground where sow crops like beans, okra, ect I mulch it as son as possible and cultivate it with either a hand plow, the Mantis or the Troy Bilt I bought and then hand weed around the plants. My main garden area including 3 patches would be over 6,000 sq ft. I have some smaller areas and also asparagus and horseradish beds not figured into that. I cage between 40-50 plants every year and anything over that is left to sprawl on a bed of mulch. Jay

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

mommyrosalyn, As Tulsastorm already said, many heirlooms do not produce as heavily as hybrids, so if I had a very limited number of plants, I am not sure I'd plant an heirloom if I wanted a lot of tomatoes.

If I could plant only one, I'd plant Reisentraube which is an heirloom cherry type that produces large red cherry tomatoes that have the traditional flavor found in large slicing tomatoes, not the extra-sweet flavor of most cherry tomatoes. For a full-sized heirloom, I'd plant Neve's Azorean Red but I don't know if you'll find that anywhere in Oklahoma. The Tomatoman's Daughter might have it in NE OK. If I wanted a paste type for salsa or pasta sauce, I'd plant San Marzano Redorta. My favorite cherry is Black Cherry but I also love SunGold, which is not an heirloom.

Celebrity is a great producer with moderately good flavor and it is almost impossible to kill. It is a hybrid, and my favorite hybrid is Big Beef which is a lot like Big Boy and Better Boy but produces more fruit with what I feel is better flavor. I also like Ramapo, Primetime, Jetstar and Supersonic hybrid varieties.

Another couple of really good heirlooms are Mortgage Lifter, Pruden's Purple and Bradley Pink.

The reason many of us grow so many is that the flavor of heirloom tomatoes in particular is like the flavor of wine---each variety has its own specific flavor notes and nuances just like wine vintages are very different. It gets really complicated because every person's taste buds perceive flavor differently. You might like the flavor of one variety and I might not or vice versa. Soil is one thing believed to influence flavor as is weather.

Susan, BP certainly is not humongous at all. I have grown it several times and its fruit is in the 2 to 4 oz. range at best. Black Krim produces fruit in about the 10 to 14 oz. range. They seem bigger earlier in the year and smaller as the heat builds and available moisture drops. The blacks I've grown that produce huge tomatoes are Chocolate Stripes and Black Brandywine.

Leslie, I just love Heidi because it produces its head off for me. It is a determinate but in years with good moisture it can get pretty tall for a determinate. Some people describe it as a semi-determinate, which I think probably is true.

Any time you have a question about any heirloom variety, you can go to Tatiana's Tomatobase and check her listed info. She strives to provide accurate data and has thousands of tomatoes listed. Well, I have not counted, but I am sure there are thousands. I've linked her Heidi entry below.

Jay, SunSugar doesn't split for me and I cannot tell it from SunGold when I grow them side by side. For some reason though, I like SunGold better so I always plant it. I think if I had a bowl of the fruit mixed together, I couldn't tell one from the other as I ate them.

Heidi is great for salsa and sauce. It is one of the few paste tomatoes that can produce more tomatoes than I care to can most years and I sometimes leave them for the birds. One year I made the mistake of planting Heidi, Heinz 1439, Santa Clara Canner and San Marzano Redorta all in the same year and we had canning tomatoes coming out of our ears. It was the same year the peaches and plums went bonkers and I learned it is physically possible to harvest and can for 18 hours a day if you have to. : ) I think that was 2010.

Pam, I have a fairly new policy of always being in out of the garden before dark. I used to work after dark a lot in the garden several years ago but after large predators visited my garden in broad daylight a couple of years ago while I was in it or leaving it, I found it hard enough to return to the garden in daylight, much less after dark. If I am not inside before dark my family comes outside to drag me in, or they call me from work and say "it is dark, are you inside"....or at least they come out to see if anything is stalking me out there. I am in a really wild area that's crawling with snakes at night, so that alone discourages me from night gardening 99.9% of the time.

We do use after-market headlamps on our fire helmets, so I'm pretty familiar with them and I like them but since I tend to come in before dark, I don't really need one for the garden any more.

To raise a large amount of tomatoes, I employ a lot of techniques that allow me to work smarter, not harder. After the ground is ready, I lay down a very heavy duty woven landscape fabric which is pinned to the ground with U-shaped landscape pins. I cut holes in the fabric, plant through the hole, stake each tomato with a labeled stake, cage the tomato, stake the cage, and put 2 to 4" of mulch down on top of the fabric. Then, drip irrigation line is run down each row. It takes me a while to do all the planting/support/dripline stuff, but once it is in place, I can just harvest and weed if anything is popping up in the mulch. It certainly isn't maintenance-free, but is as low-maintenance as I can make it. So, while my tomato growing is labor intensive at planting time, it is pretty easy after that, which is good because that leaves me free to harvest and can, dehydrate, etc. all summer long. I do use woven wire cages, and have accumulated about 400 of them over the years, although I've also given away some of those to neighbors in recent years because, believe it or not, I grow fewer tomato plants now than I did in the early thru mid-2000s. The most I've ever grown in one year was 400 plants and I did it so I could trial a great many varieties--about 150 of them--in one year side by side. That was way too many plants. It seemed like all I did that year was pick tomatoes and give them away. The next couple of years I cut back and back and back and now I usually plant 150 but I am shooting for 200 plants this year because in last year's D4 drought I canned nothing. The year before, I canned around 700 jars of fruit, tomatoes, peppers and pickles. I normally freeze beans, corn and the like. We consider it a bad year if I don't put up at least 100 jars of salsa ebcause we like to give them as gifts.

I mulch everything and I add more and more mulch as the weather heats up. I am very fortunate to have lovely ranching and farming neighbors who tolerate my gardening obsession and feed the obsession by giving me hay and manure. I use the manure in the compost pile and the hay as mulch. Last year our friends gave us 206 bales of old hay, so my mulching needs for this year are covered.

Every square inch of my garden gets mulched--pathways included, and this year I am mulching a 6' wide area outside and along the garden fence to try to keep the pasture grasses from invading. They are my biggest problem.

It seems like I never stop mulching, but I'd rather mulch than weed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Heidi at Tatiana's T

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 5:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn I'm not sure I've grown Sun Sugar or not. I just went back and looked at my 09 lists. I started it and Sun Gold Select and for some reason planted SGS instead of SS. Not sure for the reason. I've grown several Sun Gold selections from grow outs and a couple of crosses. I'm growing Ambrosia Gold this year. It is a cross. And some growers who I respect their opinions say it is the best of the Sun Gold efforts they've tasted. And at least one likes it as good or better than Sun Gold. They say a little sweeter on brix levels. But one said it didn't appear to be stable and the others felt it was. So time will tell. I lost the plant I had growing last year to the hail. The Ambrosia Red which is a cross with one of the same parents was very good. So have hopes for this cross. I didn't grow any of the Wild Boar Farms varieties last year. Was sent seeds of Solar Flare to try. I already have more tomatoes potted up than I can grow this year but will add Heidi tot he list for next year. I'm trying Cody's Paste that Gary sent me seeds for also. Jay

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oops, sorry, Dawn, I was referring to the size of the plant, not the tomatos. I knew Black Prince was a smaller tomato than BK. I had heard that the vines of BP get much larger than BK. True, or not true?

Jay, I am trying Sun Sugar this year as well as Sungold. This is driving me nuts - are these names written as Sun Sugar and Sun Gold, or Sunsugar and Sungold??? Sorry to be so anal.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Plant size is highly variable depending on soil, water, temperatures, etc. but for me Black Prince plants never have been all that big. It is a typical indeterminate that gets maybe 5' or 5.5' tall, but not a tall indeterminate like Sweet Million or Jetstar for comparison's sake, and it certainly is not at all a big monster plant like Tess's Land Race Currant.

As for the Sun Gold/SunGold and Sun Sugar/SunSugar issue, when I first started growing them about a decade ago, they were spelled as one word, as is the name of their sibling, SunCherry. So, I've continued spelling them that way, even though some catalogs have, since that time, changed the name to two separate words.

I went to the ultimate authority, Tatiana's Tomatobase, to see how she listed them in her index and you can see what she does by clicking on the link below.

Jay, You probably shouldn't click on the link below because if you do, you might find 3 or 4 Sungold crosses you haven't tried yet.


Here is a link that might be useful: The S Listing at Tatiana's T-base

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

Hi Jay. Nice to meet you. I appreciate your advice - mulch, mulch, mulch - and will use it. Most years, it doesn't get very cold here, this year less than usual. First frost in mid-Dec, last frost in Feb. In normal years, we get 45-50" of rain. About 20-25' less for past 2-3 yrs. Summers are hot and humid so it can feel like the tropics in the summer.

Our "back yard" is a big open field. The field used to have lots of mature hardwoods and pines but Hurricane Isabel took down all the trees in 2003, leaving an empty barren field of weeds. In 2008, I planted 1,100 tree seedlings - I love forests and wanted to help Mother Nature create a forest faster than she would on her own. Four years later, many of the seedlings have grown into 20'-25' trees. I thought shade from trees would mean less grass to cut but that hasn't happened yet. I do rake grass clippings and use them to mulch beds but am not as diligent as I could be. I'm on good terms with all the tree trimmers who bring truckloads of chips. I use the front loader to turn new chips and speed up decomposition. You can never have too many chips or too much mulch. I want to learn how to use cover crops to improve the soil, and to produce another source of mulch. Maybe alfalfa.

Dawn, bad thoughts about the large predators. Humans or other animals? Thanks for the detailed step-by-step description of how you raise so many tomatoes and other crops. I stopped using landscape fabric in flower and herb beds a few years ago. I was working to improve the soil with compost so having to remove landscape fabric from beds filled wit flowers and shrubs made that job more difficult. I don't recall why I stopped using it in vegetable gardens. I need to rethink that.

400 tomato plants! Holy moly! I think some of us need to peer over the edge of a cliff before we realize that we need to take a few steps back.

On a different note - you must type 200 wpm!! Your thoughts are clear, spelling is excellent. I am in awe!

It's getting late and I still have some real work to do before I can hit the hay. I'll probably dream about mulch mulch mulch!

Take care,

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Pam, Sorry. I should have made it more clear. Cougars. Two different ones. About six weeks apart. A few years ago. Scared me more than anyone can ever imagine if they haven't been through it.

I myself haven't seen a single one the last couple of years, but close neighbors on either side of us have seen them in the last year. One saw a cougar crossing our yard last April or May right by my garden. It was right around sunrise. Another saw one in his backyard. It saw him and jumped the fence headed for the creek just beyond his fenceline. That was back around Thanksgiving.

All kinds of smaller predators are common here...coyotes, bobcats, foxes, etc. and they worry me for the sake of my pet cats and poultry, but when it coes to the cougars, they scare me for myself. Feral pigs occasionally come onto our land and they are very dangerous, but whenever I've seen them on or near our property, there's been a barbed wire fence between them and me. Seeing one of those pigs is a good reason to head for the house.

I lift the fabric in the winter and slide the mostly decomposed mulch off of it and directly into that bed. Then I scoop up all the decoposed mulch in the pathways and put that in the paths. Then I remulch the paths. That way the soil is continually fed by regular additions of organic matter every year, which explains how we're slowly turning dense red clay into brown loamy-clayey soil. Is the fabric mulch worth all the time and effort? It is to me. Since I use hay for mulch and hay can be full of weed seeds, I'd go nuts weeding nonstop every day without that fabric mulch.

In some areas I've used sheets of newspaper and sheets of cardboard instead of landscape fabric, but my garden is quite large and it is almost impossible to save that much newspaper or cardboard. I buy the mulch on very large rolls (I think they are either 220' or 230' long and 4' wide) at CostCo and buy at least 2 rolls a year. I reuse it as much as I can, and often the older used fabric mulch goes from a bed to a pathway, folded in half since my paths are half as wide as my beds. I cannot necessarily reuse the fabric mulch in the same beds every year because of crop rotation. I only wish I could buy it custom pre-cut with planting holes at the distances apart that I need. (How lazy does that make me sound?)

My garden slopes and the adjacent land is higher so water flows down into the garden from the neighbor's pasture. The fabric mulch helps reduce erosion during periods of extra-heavy rainfall. Around here rain comes in two amounts: too much or too little. Our lowest annual rainfall in any year since we moved here in 1999 was just under 19" and our highest was a little over 50". Our highest one-day rainfall total is 12.89" and I don't have to tell you what that rain did to plants in a slow-draining clay.

I am trying hard to give up rototilling and build soil from the top down, just like nature builds soil in woodland areas. If I could do only one thing to improve my soil, I'd just keep adding mulch to the surface. As it breaks down it enriches the soil over time. Sometimes I feel like the soil improvement is going so very slow, but then I remember what the soil was like when we moved here and that makes me realize how much it has improved.

If you haven't read any of Ruth Stout's books on mulch gardening, you've missed a huge treat! They are old, but still amazing. Reading her books began my conversion to using huge amounts of mulch.

Hope you're dreaming about mulch right now.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 11:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_chesbay(VA 8a/7b)

I did dream of mulch.

I have tons of mulch but it's in the form of wood chips - young and old. The tree trimmers who clear the power lines come through every two years. I bribe them with fancy pen/highlighters from the office, cookies, and donuts so they will bring their chips to my place. I use the front loader to turn big mountains chips when they are new - by spring, the mountains have shrunk to manageable hills. Some hills are only 1-2 years old, others are several years old and are no longer identifiable as "wood chips."

I've always heard that you shouldn't use pine bark to mulch vegetables, even if it is composted. I don't know if that's correct but I don't want to take that risk so I use chips to make berms and build up low lying areas, on paths between beds.I'm also taking inventory of large containers because I'd like to experiment this year. Have two bales of Pro-Mix BX/Mycorise Pro. Found a link to your recipe for potting soil on a current post about "Potting Mixes and garden updates." Am trying to decide whether I should amend the Pro-Mix BX since it has supplements - perlite, vermiculite, lime, and "mycorise." I think I should. The main ingredient in Pro-Mix BX is peat, so adding pine bark fines should make it better. The potting soil would benefit from the low nitrogen slow release fertilizer. I really liked the idea of adding Epsom salt, bonemeal, and greensand when you plant.

You can get an awfully good education on this forum!

Thank you!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the input everyone! I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the info, Dawn! I'll be growing in containers, of course, so that will limit plant size. Later this month, I'll be setting up the trellising unit (conduit/rebar). I was driving down the street day before yesterday and it's close to big trash day, so someone had put out a soccer goal set up. I know this would have been purrrrfect for cukes. I got out and tried to pick it up and haul it home but it was too big to fit in the "hatch" of my car. Darn! I noticed yesterday it was gone, so I bet someone else had the same idea.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 6:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


"My" recipe is just my adaptation of Al's 5-1-1 mix from the Container Forum. I've tried to tailor it to the kind of conditions I have here, as well as to my wish to largely avoid peat as much as possible. I even vary what I put in it and in what proportions depending on whether I'm expecting a year that is wet, dry or average. For example, if we were expecting an El Nino spring with heavy rainfall, I'd mix it so it drains better but if I was expecting a drier year, I'd add coir to help it hold moisture. When it is very hot and dry here, even 20-gallon and larger containers often need to be watered twice or three times daily in hot weather so my container plants suffer in a dry year if the mix drains too quickly.

As far as the ProMix, that's a lot of peat. If I was going to grow regular plants in it, I'd add pine bark fines for sure. If I was growing acid-lovers like blueberries or azaleas, I'd still add pine fines, but less of them. I can only dream of growing anything here that likes acidity because my soil and water both test at about 8.2 to 8.3. I can modity the soil and lower its pH pretty easily but not the water, so I don't grow anything that prefers highly acidic conditions.

Peat is so peculiar. When it is wet, it can hold moisture forever, and that's what I don't like about it. And, when peat gets really, really dry it is hard to rewet it. In climates where the weather can swing from dropping several inches of rain in a few hours to virtually no rain at all for weeks or even months, I feel like mixes that have a heavy peat component underperform compared to mixes that have only a moderate amount of peat, or no peat at all. I do agree that pine bark fines improve any mix heavy in peat, and would drastically improved most any mix you can buy. The heavier peat component in starter mixes is necessary for great drainage, but I don't like that heavier percentage of peat for growing plants beyond the starter stage.

Pine bark mulch seems controversial in terms of being used in a veggie garden and I suppose it might not be helpful in every situation and every climate. However, I have used it in years when I couldn't find much hay to use as mulch, and I loved it. It looked wonderful, didn't wash away in heavy downpours and didn't cause me any problems.

I read a magazine article once that I think was written by a Texas gardener who was coping with high clay content...as in almost pure clay. Defying the conventional wisdom, he routinely rototilled huge amounts of pine fines and pine mulch (the smaller pieces, not the gigantic ones) into his clay and had huge improvement in a pretty fast time frame. He didn't even state whether he added additional nitrogen to compensate for whatever nitrogen is depeleting as the bark decomposes, but he had enormous soil improvement and was very pleased. His article made me smile because I had started adding some pine mulch to my soil about 3 years before and hadn't noticed any problems and also had huge improvement. For me, the amazing thing is how fast the mulch rototilled into soil breaks down. If I rototill it into soil in January or February, it is largely gone by the following winter. Only a few pieces that were larger than average to begin with will remain a year later. I started adding the pine mulch because so much of my compost was disappearing every year (as the old saying goes, "heat eats compost") and it seemed like I just couldn't add enough to the red clay to fix it. And, I should add, that my red clay is flower pot clay---I believe I could wet it down and work with it and make flower pots---so it takes massive amounts of improvement to make it workable. I wouldn't necessarily add pine bark to fairly normal soil. Having never had fairly normal soil, though, I use lots of pine.

This year I added vast amounts of pine fines and humus to one 8' x 4' raised bed that had amended clay that just was not well-amended enough for potatoes. I then immediately planted the potatoes. That was probably in late January or very early February. Those potato plants are growing incredibly well and are about to flower. By contrast, the four long rows of potato plants planted at the west end of the main garden are 1/3 their size and a lot way from flowering. Those were planted in an 8" deep trench and I covered the seed potatoes with a couple of inches of soil, and then continued to add soil as they grew until the trenches were filled in. It really isn't even fair to compare the performance of potatoes in a raised bed to those in grade-level beds, but it is such a striking difference that I cannot believe it. I do think heavy, heavy rain that filled those trenches with water for several days likely had a negative impact on the potatoes and slowed them down. Clearly I need to add a gazillion tons of pine bark fines and compost to the west end of the veggie garden before next season. It is a sandier-clayier loam than the rest of the veggie garden, but no matter how much compost I add to it, it still seems like it isn't as improved as the heavier clay. I usually grow either sweet potatoes or potatoes there, but then find the soil rock-hard at digging time. It probably is the least-improved soil in which I grow veggies because it started out in better shape than the clay, so I kind of ignored it and didn't amend it nearly as much. Now that the rest of the soil is so much better than the west end, I need to work on the west end a lot to bring it up to speed.

Susan, I'm sorry you couldn't get the soccer goal. That would have been so perfect. I find so many interesting things at garage sales that

can be used in the garden. I got a wooden ladder for $3 once, painted it a medium purple, and now grow purple hyacinth beans on it. It is just the coolest-looking thing when you see only hints of the purple ladder peeking out through all that bean foliage and flowers.

Mommyrosalyn, You're welcome and be sure to let us know what you end up with and how they do for you. That's how we all learn from one another.

I did forget to list one favorite (not hard to do when you have 100 or 200 favorites) that doesn't get a lot of attention but which does produce very well in our climate, and it is one called Fantastic. There's also an improved version of it called Super Fantastic. I actually prefer Fantastic, which I have to raise from seed myself because I usually don't see it in stores, but I see Super Fantastic in stores pretty often.

When you are tomato shopping in chain stores or nursery chain stores watch for tomato plants from Chef Jeff. That particular line carries oodles of heirlooms. However, if you can shop at The Tomatoman's Daughter or at any of the festivals where Duck Creek Farms sells heirloom tomato plants (see link to Duck Creek Farms website below---their schedule of farmer's market and festivals is available there), then any variety they sell likely would please you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Duck Creek Farms

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Fearing the drought and the hot, I went for a mostly cherry and grape tomato garden this year. I have:

1. Rainbow Cherry
2. Green Grape
3. Black Cherry
4. Jellybean Hybrid
5. Patio
6. Yellow Cherry
7. Riesenstraube

For regular tomatoes, I have:

1. Sub-Arctic Plenty
2. St. Pierre
3. Marmande
4. Peach Blow Sutton

I'm trying really hard to limit the amount of tomato plants I have to 12 this year. Right now, 11 are in the ground. I think I could keep 12 watered all summer. Last year's 25 was just too much trouble, especially given the weather.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 5:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
helenh(z6 SW MO)

Sorry bumping so I can find all this information again easily.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 5:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Purchased comppost and soil.
Somewhere recently I read a post that had a phone number...
AmyinOwasso/zone 6b
Wave Pansy Giveaway
Enter through this Sunday, March 1st. 45 randomly-selected...
Goji or honeyberries
Has anyone planted goji or honeyberries looking to...
Classic Armadillo Thread From 2005-2013
I mentioned the thread linked below in a different...
Okiedawn OK Zone 7
Rattlesnakes Out in February: Not A Good Thing
Last week, our silver tabby cat, Casper, thought he...
Okiedawn OK Zone 7
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™