FYI - Bonnie Tomato Varieties You May Find This Year

susanlynne48(OKC7a)February 15, 2013

I'm attaching a list of the varieties Bonnie is growing for outsourcing to their retail stores this year. Last year, I didn't see all of the varieties they grew here locally, but most. Seems like they added some heat tolerant hybrids hybrids and a few more heirlooms to this year's group.

Lowe's was one of the retail stores where I found Bonnie Plants.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Bonnie Plants Tomato Varieties

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Down here you cannot avoid BP plants. They are in every Wal-Mart, every Lowe's, every Home Depot and at every feed store or garden supply store.

I try to avoid BP as much as possible, but they're about the only option available here in January or February if I want to buy 4 or 5 plants for an April harvest. I don't have anything against BP, but I don't like the way they so strongly dominate the market so I go out of my way to buy plants from someone else (any one else)when they are available just to encourage more competition at the wholesale and retail level.

This year the BP plants popped up in the Gainesville (TX) Wal-mart in the last week in January, a full 3 weeks earlier than I used to find them in Dallas-Fort Worth as recently as last year. I didn't check the stores in D-FW since I found the plants in Gainesville.

If I want to buy a tomato plant that is not from BP, I have to drive to the metroplex to Mike's Garden Center off Hwy 114 in Southlake. Their plants are locally-grown and you can find hard-to-find varieties there like Merced. There are more tomato options down there in the DFW metro area than we have up here. Down there, while BP is dominant, there are tomatoes available from several other growers. Calloway's Nursery, for example, will have something other than BP. They often have the Chef Jeff's plants, which are always nice and big and healthy.

I miss the olden days when we could walk into a local store and buy plants raised right out back by someone we knew n a greenhouse behind the store. Y'all might still have nurseries up there in OKC (or there's places like Sunrise Acres) that raise and sell their own plants, but down here it is BP, BP, BP.

I mostly raise my own, but last year I bought Merced from Mike's Garden Center and I may do it again this year.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:12AM
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ponderpaul(7a)

We don't get them quite this early, but most of our plants come from the nurseries in the New Summerfield/Tyler, TX area. Some very large operations some not so large.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:49PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I don't like to buy BP either, but as you say, they are generally available earlier than local growers' plants are.

I did take a look at the Sunrise Acres website to see what plants (they participate in the OSU/OKC Farmer's Market) they are growing for transplants this year. Of the two market growers I checked, Lisa and Sunrise Acres, both have added at least a couple of varieties touted for heat performance and tagged with indicative names like heatwave and Solar Fire. I just haven't heard too many good things about their flavor. Maybe the prevailing theory is that production outweighs flavor at that point. But I think a sense of humor should be thrown into the mix with some clever names like 'Hot Concrete'. But people might think the fruit is hard as cement block with that name. Maybe 'Helter Swelter', 'Sizzler', 'Roasted' or 'Torched' would be better? Okay, so my mind wandered there for a minute while thinking about our hot summer ahead.......

Anyway, I just thought there might be some folks who might be interested in seeing in advance what they might find at the big box stores from BP. In all likelihood I will probably p/u a couple of Bush Goliath plants at Lowe's because they did so well last year for me.

There is another local grower that Horn's used to purchase their tomatos from called Red Dirt Farms, I think, but I haven't been able to get any info on them.

Ta ta for now.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:31PM
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chrholme

Susan,

Red Dirt Farms is Guthrie Greenhouse's brand :)

Christina

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:22AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Thanks, Christina! I'll see if they have a website. I'd like to know where I can find their plants now that Horn's is gone.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Susan,

I am convinced that whatever they have to do in the breeding program to get plants that set fruit at higher temps just automatically destroys the flavor genes. As heat-setting types go, Merced was not bad, but it is almost impossible to find because the seed company dropped its seed in the mid-2000s. I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have at the time because it wasn't as good as regular home-grown tomatoes. However, compared to the other heat setting types that replaced it, it was positively wonderful.

Phoenix is not bad and gives me hope that eventually they will be able to breed a heat-setting type that tastes like a home-grown tomato, though I am not sure if that will happen in our lifetime.

One year I went to the Organic Home and Garden Show in OKC. I think it was either the week before the plant swap that year or maybe the same day and I met the folks from Sunrise Acres. At that time, their list of heirloom tomatoes was substantial---they were growing almost as many heirloom varieties as I was, and I was growing 100-150 varieties a year back then. I've noticed their list is shorter in recent years, but then mine is too as I have discarded many heirloom varieties that don't like our heat. Maybe they did the same.

I've grown Heat Wave and Solar Fire and many other heatsetter types, and I wouldn't grow them again for any reason whatsoever. Phoenix is on its third year here and I've never grown any single heat-setting type for 3 years, so I guess maybe they are getting better at breeding flavor into the heat setting types of tomatoes. Or, maybe my taste buds are aging and aren't as picky as they used to be.

If they had to name tomato varieties honestly, no one would buy a lot of them. There are a lot of poorly-flavored or poorly-textured or hard-as-a-rock tomato imposters out there. (grin) Knowing that, it is even more special when we find a tomato variety that has the right blend of excellent flavor, thin skin, and great texture. One of my friends told me once he'd never liked tomatoes until he had a home-grown one. It is understandable---if a person has only ever eaten grocery store tomatoes, then their first taste of a home-grown tomato just blows their mind. The question is not "why do home-grown tomatoes taste so good?" because they taste the way tomatoes should taste. The question is why grocery store tomatoes are so bad. (That's a rhetorical question---I know the answer!)

I've seen some Red Dirt Farms plants someplace before, but I don't remember where I saw them or what they were.

Christina, Hurray for local growers!!!!!

Dawn

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:35AM
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lat0403

Atwoods sells Red Dirt plants. I found the website, but there's not a list of retailers. There's a Facebook page, so you can probably ask.

Leslie

Here is a link that might be useful: Guthrie Greenhouses

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 2:57PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Hi, Leslie! I checked the website a few days ago and again following your post. Guthrie Greenhouses doesn't have their 2013 inventory list published on the site yet. I notice it was not until March 22nd last year that they posted it, so I am assuming it will probably be close to that same time again this year. I'll be interested to see what varieties they'll have this year.

I found out that the following retailers, as well as Atwoods, carry Red Dirt Plants:

Farmers Grain (Edmond, OK)
John Deere Landscape (Bixby, OK)
Pams (OKC Farmer's Market)
Sanders Nursery & Distribution (Broken Arrow, OK)
Southwood Landscape & Nursery (Tulsa, OK)
Steve's Lawn & Landscape (Amarillo, TX)
Total Environment Wholesale (OKC)
TLC Florist & Greenhouses
Under The Sun Garden Centers
Westlake Ace Hardware Stores

This is last year's list of retailers, so they may have added others for this year. I have an Ace that is really close to me.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:31PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Hi, Leslie! I checked the website a few days ago and again following your post. Guthrie Greenhouses doesn't have their 2013 inventory list published on the site yet. I notice it was not until March 22nd last year that they posted it, so I am assuming it will probably be close to that same time again this year. I'll be interested to see what varieties they'll have this year.

I found out that the following retailers, as well as Atwoods, carry Red Dirt Plants:

Farmers Grain (Edmond, OK)
John Deere Landscape (Bixby, OK)
Pams (OKC Farmer's Market)
Sanders Nursery & Distribution (Broken Arrow, OK)
Southwood Landscape & Nursery (Tulsa, OK)
Steve's Lawn & Landscape (Amarillo, TX)
Total Environment Wholesale (OKC)
TLC Florist & Greenhouses
Under The Sun Garden Centers
Westlake Ace Hardware Stores

This is last year's list of retailers, so they may have added others for this year. I have an Ace that is really close to me.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:32PM
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