Tomato Characteristics, what I imagine I know
I could sum up most of what I know about growing tomatoes in 3 or 4 sentences but I've been thinking a little about what I believe I know about varieties as my selections from the seed catalogs are made.
Here are my notions. Please feel free to critique these stereotypes, add to them, and just do some mental ambling thru my tomato patch. There's about 60 plants out there every year so there should be room for everyone!
Let's start with the large and small of it: I read somewhere (sorry, I hate to start out like that) that a large tomato cannot be as sweet as a small one because it would be impossible to handle it. I suspect that's true, altho' I know nothing of the physics of tomatoes. Squeeze a supersweet large tomato and it explodes!
It doesn't mean that all cherries are sweet and all beefsteaks are tart - just that the sweetest tomatoes are the little guys. And, most folks, really enjoy the sweetness in vegetables. A tomato is a fruit but an annual plant has only a few months to pack sugar into a sweet fruit.
That quickly brings us to plant maturity and the speed of ripening. I'm coming to the opinion that the sweetest fruit will benefit from the weeks and months needed by some varieties to ripen their fruit. Once again, this isn't an absolute but it just seems so and may be particularly true of those plants with larger fruit.
As well, I'm all but convinced that flavor is enhanced by long weeks of development for the plant and fruit. This may just be a part of a "tomato envy" issue, however. Is it possible that folks in places with much longer growing seasons, are enjoying much more flavorful tomatoes than I'm permitted??
That aside, let's go back to size but consider the size of the plant. Varieties that grow only to a small size, have the opportunity to ripen fruit earlier in the season. They also may develop more flavor in their fruit. There are other factors at play here, however.
If plant breeding emphasizes earliness of maturity - flavor, sweetness, everything else may be compromised. I have some deep-seated prejudices against certain varieties because of what I consider failures by the plant breeders.
Let's go at this flavor thing from a different direction: color. Pigmentation has a good deal to do with nutrients, those who know something about the subject tell us. I'm inclined to believe that these phytonutrients, outside of the sweetness/acidity, make up the flavor of the fruit.
This will be the 1st year for me to grow a "black" tomato. I have come to know DW's flavor preferences and varieties with a strong flavor rate very low. Well, not me! But, I'm very easily made happy with a tomato - of just about any sort.
DW doesn't have an "unsophisticated" palate. I've done my very best, to make sure of that. But, I think there is very little chance that she will like the Black Cherries that I'm growing this year unless their sweetness, just overpowers everything else.
DW likes pink tomatoes . . . I won't roll my eyes at that because I've discovered some exceptional pink tomatoes! A complexity of flavor isn't restricted to any one color but is there a "strong-flavored" pink? I've yet to taste one.
Yellow and orange tomatoes are of a special, personal delight. Maybe it's mostly visual. Partly it must have to do with my experiences trying to decide which gold cherry, I prefer most - Sungold or SunSugar. Okay, my tastes incline me to the sweeties.
Some red cherries have just been wonderful! I would like to shake the hand of the folks who developed Sweet Baby Girl or Sweet Chelsea or SugarSnack or SunCherry! I'm not even sure if the lighter colors have topped some of these, even in a single instant.
And, there you may see some of my prejudices and stereotypical thinking. All this, is designed to reassure me that garden space and months of care will be rewarded with tomato happiness.
Please forgive me, here in the depths of winter, for allowing my imagination to get the best of me, here in my garden.