First tomatoes!

pauln(z7B Arkansas)June 17, 2013

I finally picked a couple of tomatoes this weekend. 'Glacier' heirlooms are one of my favorites for production and extended season. They start blooming when the babies are about 6 inches tall.

I start all of my heirloom plants about Superbowl Sunday under lights, then pot up to 4 inch peat pots as they grow and the weather warms up. These were in the ground late - April 13, with a couple of cold snaps after that requiring a tarp cover.

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sunnyside1(z6/SW Mo.)

Pauln, I made a note about Glacier for next year. This year I stayed pretty much with heirlooms, and the star of it all is Helen's Muleskinner. It's really husky. Lots of green tomatoes ping pong ball sized on most of them, and I'm just dying to bite into a real tomato after a winter of W-M Romas, ripened until they cry.

Why don't you send us some photos?
P.S. I have two newly born baby rabbits in my main tomato bed. Katy brought one to me yesterday (she's a labrador retriever, after all - lol) and I put it back with a paper towel. Guess that takes care of the weeding/mulching I was going to do in that bed today!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:11AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Sunny you are close. It is Mule Team. I hope it produces for you. Are you saying the baby rabbit was still alive! That is a miracle. It is embarrassing but there are a couple of small rabbits living in my yard with two 'hunting' dogs. I hope they don't catch them because they are cute. I grew Glacier before and it was early and productive. After the big tomatoes started I liked them better. I may grow it again though because now is when a garden tomato would taste really good. I am eating lettuce still and onions out of my garden. Worms are eating the kale and I'm not wild about its taste anyway. Dr. Oz makes kale chips. I think a worm with garlic and salt roasted in the oven might be good for you - high in antioxidants. Thanks for the warning about an invasive jasmine. The last thing I need is another invasive vine. Without Round up or its generic I would totally lose the battle around here. I am not complaining about the grass growing because that is a good thing, but didn't I just mow?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Paul, I am so glad you posted. I have been searching online to see when Arkansas' tomatoes would be available. We used to drive down and buy at roadside stands. do people still do that? and if so about when?

Helen, poor Biscuit would let rabbit get within 4 feet of him and if he didn't see it,he didn't chase it. I don't know yet how Sugar will be. She currently just chases cats!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 11:42AM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Max the cat sometimes brings in baby rabbits, and it's not pretty at all. Sometimes, I get to catch and liberate them before he gets tired of playing with them. Alas, that hardwiring goes back millions of years.

I've been growing heirloom tomatoes from seed for about 5 years now, but last year and this is the first time I've had much success. I live in the city, and my yard is shady, but North Little Rock has allowed for development of several neighborhood community gardens, and we've got a really good group.

Last year, I planted my tomatoes in the ground on March 18! I knew it was way early, but I just had the feeling that no cold weather was coming. I picked my first Glacier on May 5! Out of about 25 heirloom varieties, these are hard to beat. They're just a tad bigger than a cherry tomato, but I picked them all summer, even through the awful heat up until the first freeze in November. I have found that the smaller varieties have much better fruit set in high temps than the large fruit varieties.

As the years pass, I try to pay attention to what works and what doesn't. Every year, I try a few new "old" varieties and keep planting my favorites from previous years. In addition to Glacier, I've had good luck with Amana Orange (good size orange, but with more acid 'tomato' flavor than most oranges), Pruden's Purple (like Cherokee, but earlier and a better performer for me), Tangella (small tart orange), black cherry, Sunset Red Horizon (rich red large), pink ping pong (the hits just keep on coming!), Andes (large rich paste), and Oaxacan Jewel (large sweet yellow red that looks like a stained glass window if you slice it.This year's new varieties include tomatillos (large and beautiful, but dreadful fruit set), Abe Lincoln, Japanese Black Trifelle, Ozark Pink, Tiger Paw, Green Zebra, Homestead, Yellow Pear. Also, some chilies I've started from seed include Jalapeno (real ones, not fake-o), Anaheim, Hungarian Hot Wax, Fresno (like bright red jalapenos), and Aji Amarillo (Peruvian hot long yellow).

I'll report on taste and performance for the new ones once they start coming in.

Commercial tomatoes are finally at the markets and roadside stands. I tend to avoid shipper tomatoes if possible. Some truck farms still grow juicy tasty tomatoes.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:12PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter. I've read so much about this variety, I had to try it this year. The story goes that Radiator Charlie lived at the bottom of a mountain in TN or KY somewhere in the 30's. He had lots of business because people kept overheating as they climbed the mountain. In his spare time, he fiddled with 4 large tomato varieties to come up with the perfect variety. The story goes that people paid $1 a plant back in the 30's to get his variety. He made so much money on his tomato plants that he paid off his mortgate, hense the name.

If these tomatoes live up to the hype, then they'll be awesome!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:30PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Paul these people on here made me grow to tomatoes and now I don't take care of my flowers. It was sweet William and ceresone who did it to me.

Be careful not to get addicted.

I am growing Estler's Mortgage Lifter but I don't have it in the best spot. You recommended Pink Ping Pong before and I ordered the seed from Sandhill but I got yellow Ping Pong or something not what I ordered. I didn't try it again. Juan Flamee' is another small one that is very productive. The year I grew Glacier we had a cool spring and I had tomatoes weeks before neighbors. That year was good for other tomatoes so I got tired of the millions of little Glacier tomatoes that kept coming. Last two years nothing put out late produced for me, Siberian had tomatoes all summer. I also had Pale Perfect Purple which is a medium sized tomato and some C. Purple. All those produced tomatoes because they were planted too early and we had no winter. Siberian does not taste as good as PPP and CP and you keep having to pick all these small tomatoes. Right now I wish I had an early tomato to eat and I hope I remember that next spring.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 6:46PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

I grew yellow ping pongs last year and enjoyed them too. This year I've got one yellow and two pinks. I like the little ones for making mini caprese salad on a stick...half a small tomato, and poke it on a stick with the little mozzarella balls and some torn basil leaves. If you can find the marinated mozzarellas, so much the better! I coat these all up some of my famous roasted red bell pepper vinnegrette.

Come to think of it, I've got lots of small varieties this year: glacier, tangella, black cherry, pink and yellow ping pongs, japanese black trifellas. Guess I'll be doing lots of caprese on a stick. I grew a flamme last year, but accidentally gave it away to a fellow community gardener. It had tiny orange/red maders all summer.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:41PM
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