Early tomatoes for zone 5?

2ajsmamaJanuary 5, 2013

Don't know if I want to try Glacier again, grew it past 2 years (2011 wasn't a good test, it was so wet), it tasted OK but wasn't really that early in 2012. Had Burpee's Bloody Butcher (RL, not PL!) and that was OK, but the name didn't sell well, and it wasn't all that early either.

I'm growing Sudduth BWs, Black Krims and CPs just b/c they're my favorites (and people ask for BWs by name at market), may grow German Johnsons again this year (didn't get any seedlings last year from my cousin so I'll start my own) but those are all big late-season beefsteaks. Looking for something earlier and a bit smaller, more "single serving" (for non-tomato lovers) than "family sized" (though I can certainly eat a 1 lb beefsteak tomato in a single sitting - or standing over the sink).

I'm thinking Cosmonaut Volkov for an early marketable variety. Any opinions? Any other suggestions? I usually start from seed in early March and set out mid to late May depending on weather. Markets start in June - it would be nice to have ripe tomatoes by July 1 and I don't have a tunnel (yet).

Also looking for a paste tomato for canning - loved the Speckled Romans last year but Fedco doesn't have them any more. I know some folks like to use beefsteaks but I really would like something meatier/not as juicy.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Indet. - Matina

Det. - Clear Pink Early and Early Wonder


    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 11:52AM
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As Rule of Thumb smaller is earlier. The question then is how small you want to go. Cherry varieties might not be what you had in mind but many cherry varieties are a few weeks earlier than full size varieties. Burpee's "4th of July" usually holds to it's name if planted in mid May in your area but it will only produce 4 oz. fruits. Beyond just starting other moderately early varieties a few weeks earlier and protecting plants you won't gain alot of time on harvest. My experience has been that once you start harvesting a few 60-70 day fruits you'll also notice a few 70-80 day fruits ripening and what one seed catelog clams as early might be listed as mid-season on another. Once you get your tunnel built you will be able to make a real difference in harvest date but until then you can take chances with row covers, those wall-of-water shrouds or just stick inverted baskets with a plastic cover over your early plants. Just be sure not to cook the plants once the sun comes up.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:06AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I have no answer for your question about early varieties, but you can get Speckled Roman from Johnny's and they do sell in larger quantities for market growers. Cheers!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Matina and Jaune Flammee are the two best earlies that I've grown.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:45AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I really like Anna Russian, which is listed as 65-70, probably not early enough for you unless you plant early and cover. I've grown early girl (57 DTM) and just didn't find it all that appealing taste-wise.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Thanks everyone. I've been sick so haven't looked since Monday, found a few places that sold Matina but price with shipping just for those seeds was 25 cents a seed! I usually buy from Fedco, Johnny's I know is $$ but if I am shopping for greenhouse plastic too the seeds would cost nothing to ship. Don't know when we can get the hoophouse up (not soon, too much snow, then mud, still have to level the land) but maybe I can just cover the tomatoes if I can plant them near the house - going to put green beans and edamame out back where I had tomatoes last year, may not grow peppers or squash at all. Maybe we can get the hoophouse up for some fall crops.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Moskvich is another medium sized earlier red, and if you like hearts and can find a source for seed, Fish Lake Oxheart is quite early and very good.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 2:01PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Pale Perfect Purple is not an early tomato. I put mine out under walls of water last year and had tomatoes early. It is a one serving size for me. It is productive here and tastes much better than Glacier or Bloody Butcher. Mine don't crack but then it doesn't rain here.

Here is a link that might be useful: pale perfect purple

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 11:05PM
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I'm trying 4th of July. www.tomatoefest.com

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Here's another vote for Early Wonder for an early slicing-size tomato. Both Kimberley and Moravsky Div are very early and have good flavor, but both are smaller tomatoes.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:34PM
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I'm no expert but the earliest tomato I grow is Latah. It's more bush than vine, and indeterminate. In my garden (south coastal BC) it's usually fading by the time others are into their stride; but oddly this year it just kept going all season.

I recently saw a TV clip about a chap in Newfoundland who said he'd been searching years to find a tomato he could grow, and finally found one - Latah!

I could send you some seed?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Year after year I have great luck with Early Girl. Nothing sexy about them, but they are consistently good producers.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 10:36PM
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ajsmama, you can try the seed exchange forum here on GW. That Matina would cost you 2 stamps and a recycled bubble envelope. It sounds like you have some tomato seeds people would trade for Matina.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 11:44PM
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Hi all,

I'm only looking at planting one or two of the early varieties so I'd like to get your opinion on the following:

Manitoba (determinate)

It seems like the Kimbery and Matina are popular here and I've grown Stupice and thought it was fine. But if you had to choose two from the list which would you prefer? I did Oregon Spring and Glacier last year and both were pretty bad performers. My Jaune Flamee (which I'll be planting again) came up almost the same time and was spectacular all season.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:49PM
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I've been lazy about ordering seed and haven't even started my pepper seeds yet (been too cold to do it out in garage and too messy to do it anywhere else). But I went through my seeds yesterday, have some Gardener's Delight and SuperSweet 100 left (not enough to trade, I could order more but I really want to figure out which one had the tiny currant-sized fruit last year before I order more - NOT that kind!) but that's it for tomatoes.

So, I still have things in my cart at Fedco, ready to place order but need help narrowing it down. I want to grow either BK or CP again - BK is tempting but I think it's a bit more thin-skinned than CP, was hard to get to market so I'm not sure about that since I don't know if I'll have room for both? But it seemed more productive than CP, the fruit was a little smaller but more of it (though I did have more BK plants than CP last year). Which would you choose?

Then wanted to try Mark Twain (should have last year but they were sold out), just b/c of the name I think it will sell well here.

I love Suddduth BW and I have people ask for it by name, but I was wondering if Rose de Berne would be good substitute since it has some LB resistance and fruit is smaller, may be more marketable? This may be a question for Market forum, but if BW has a following (it's one of my favorites too) should I just stick with that? Order seeds for both and give Rose a trial? What about Pruden's Purple?

Still looking for early and Cosmonaut Volkov is the only one Fedco has (besides Glacier and Oregon Spring, which I've heard is so-so, and Ida Gold which I'm not looking for yellow). Maybe someone would be willing to trade some Latah and/or Matina, Early Wonder, Jaune Flamme seeds for other varieties I'm ordering? Should I bother ordering Cosmonaut at all?

Then for sauce (not necessary paste) tomatoes - Rutgers (original ind.), Heinz 2653, or Grandma Mary's?


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:19AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

ajsmama, I was looking for something on Territorial Seed Company's website a few days ago, and happened to see that Cosmonaut V. won first place at their 2012 tomato-tasting. I don't know if that's a recommendation; I've never grown or tasted it.

No real info, but here's the link:

Thank you for mentioning that Rose de Berne has LB resistance (it's on my list to try, but I did not know it was resistant). Then again, this should be my year not to get LB, since last year I did.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:41AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Fourth of July is a Burpee hybrid. It has some disease resistance and is very early under the right conditions. Indeterminate. Thick skin, small tomato, can crack. Sweetens nicely in our high summer heat.

Cosmonaut Volkov is a very nice tomato, and I've also been considering Rose de Berne.

Carolyn137 recommends Moravsky Div (The Wonder from Moravia) for good flavor in a very early tomato. Listed as a variation on Stupice by Tatiana's. Determinate or semi-determinate.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:58AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

AJSMAMA, If I were ordering from Fedco with an eye on reducing per-seed costs, I wouldn't worry too much about limiting the number of OP tomatoes I tried from them in a single year, since their shipping costs stay the same up to a pound. Tomato seeds keep better than many (if kept cool and dry). Looking through their offerings, you might also consider Rutgers for nostalgia (not just for canning), Orange Banana for a paste (BER concerns, though), and any they list as market types. Also take a look through their hybrids for types that might appeal to your customers. Speaking of expensive seed, they also have Mountain Magic a little cheaper than most places if you're concerned about blight. Take a look through their other hybrids, too.

If I were a market grower buying from Fedco, I would also consider picking up some Oasis turnips, and maybe some Gold Ball and Gilfeather seeds for fall. Along with greens, etc.

I tend to go overboard on trying new varieties, so you can take that into consideration, too.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Thanks, I've been looking for a source for Haruki turnips and Oasis sounds good. I'd never heard of Gilfeather but anything on Ark of Taste is worth trying, though with markets ending in Sept (I really want to try a new market this year but it's got a really short season, late June to mid-Sept) I don't know if I'll be able to sell that many turnips. Haruki at least can be sold small for salads.

I've got lots of greens to plant for June market. I was worried about berries (strawberries heaving, newly-planted blueberry roots freezing, Triple Crown blackberry canes with temps in single digits - 0 tonight) but we got about 2ft of snow in the last 24 hours so I guess they're well-insulated now. Hard to even think about starting seeds...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:47PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

And I thought things were worrisome here because we got a little frost . . . Fortunately you still have some time to order seeds, but Fedco tends to run out of varieties during the ordering season.

I have trouble getting quality turnips in spring here because the weather turns hot so early and affects flavor, but Hakeuri and Oasis are both great in fall for me. Could work in spring for you (they're called "summer turnips"). I think Oasis has a little more vigorous plant, especially as weather turns cold. Both will crack when it gets REALLY cold and wet. White Lady comes fairly close in quality to the two above - flavor sweet but not as fruity - and may be a little earlier for baby turnips. If your market ends in September, Gilfeather may not be a good market choice. It is a storage turnip (or rutabaga) with a firm texture and sweet white flesh. Not real attractive. Plant some for yourself. "Just Right" is a softer, big, sweet, mild late fall turnip that I like a lot, but it is useless for baby turnips as it starts out with mostly tops over a skinny root (though those tops hold some potential - mild and hairless with a stringy midrib when big, like the "summer turnips" above). Don't try this one in spring. Available mostly from catalogs for market growers.

I notice that Fedco is also selling the superlative Fortex pole bean if you're up to picking those for market. Here, we have to hit the season perfectly for those to work. The newer heat-tolerant bush varieties like Brio or Festina are more reliable here. I will probably order some Fortex seeds to give to friends and relatives, though, as well as to gamble with myself. (I tend to order from Fedco once every 3 years or so).

But back to your tomato order: Fedco puts a lot more seeds in their packets of OP varieties than in their packets of many of the hybrids. Could give you some extra seed for trading. Although it is on the late side, Nyagous is a fine black which stays picture-perfect for market - no cracking at all here. AAA Sweet Solano is another variety which I think would be appealing for market. Firm texture, very sweet, small, attractive. Probably not as productive as Jaune Flamme, and it's kind of late, too. A really different tomato for a display, though. Pinetree has Speckled Roman this year if you really like that one.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Closer to 3 t of snow here - officially 29" in town but we're at 900ft and I think we got a few inches more. Finally got out to get milk (and Chinese food!) last night, maybe I can get the porch shoveled (not much there, just drifted in couple of feet) today. Kids are out of school again (Friday was canceled in advance of the storm) due to freezing rain and a lot of the side streets (like ours) being barely passable. At least the center of the road is open, but there just isn't a lot of room to push it - we saw the state trucks clearing the highway last night with a front-end loader and a dump truck.

Any recommendations for paste/sauce tomatoes - again, looking at Rutgers (original ind.), Heinz 2653, and Grandma Mary's? I'm only ordering from Fedco.

Going to get the order in these next couple of days, then start my peppers since Tues-Wed are supposed to be around 40 and I won't be freezing out in my garage.

I'm ordering lots of BW if anyone wants to trade.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:18AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

I don't know much about paste/sauce tomatoes. If you download their catalog, it might be easier to compare Fedco's offerings in this category and decide which characteristics are important to you. The paper catalog has varieties listed roughly by ripening order in each category, and I assume the downloadable one would be the same.

I personally think that Rutgers would be a good choice, even if only to add to paste or oxheart varieties for canning/cooking. I've read that Stupice is great cooked if you're looking for something earlier, but I have no personal experience. Among the true pastes, Orange Banana sounded interesting for market appeal. Other than that, I'm kind of a "don't put all your eggs in one basket" type. If I were a market grower, I would probably try more than one paste/sauce type per year for comparison and as a bit of insurance if one didn't work out too well for one reason or another.

Fedco seems to be carrying only one hybrid paste tomato. As for "early", the Honey Bunch Red Grape Hybrid at 45 days might be a good market choice for the first of the season. Wonder if all the tomatoes in a bunch ripen at the same time, like the Koralik cherry tomato?

Here is a link that might be useful: Honey Bunch Red Grape Hybrid

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:01PM
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I like to grow a variety of slicers, but yellow/orange tomatoes don't seem to sell well around here. I did have a couple of customers looking for paste tomatoes, but not many around here can, I did want some early to bring to market just in case (hence the Grandma Mary's, though some name recognition like Marzano might sell better). Not something I'm willing to devote major real estate too since the slicers sell better. And while I'm willing to take the chance on BWs and later heirlooms just b/c of the name (and I know I'll get some late August -early Sept), with market ending Sept 10 I really need early, can't count on something like Opalka.

Maybe we can get market to extend their season to late Sept-early Oct next year but this is only their 2nd year and they're really only open the high season.

Does Grandma Mary's taste good? Productive? Look bigger than Heinz so I'm leaning toward them, more meat/skin ratio?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:37PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Going just from the catalog descriptions, you have limited choices if you need to skip the late varieties well-known for flavor: A relatively concentrated set from a productive determinate with small tomatoes (Heinz or the slightly earlier, more disease-resistant San Diego Hybrid) and/or a more prolonged set of larger tomatoes - Grandma Mary's or Bellstar. The catalog notes that the latter, a round paste, tastes good enough to use in salads.

If your (few) customers for pastes have sauce-making gizmos that remove seeds and skin, I would probably go with the early little tomatoes. If they're making salsa or peeling by hand for sauce, the bigger varieties would probably be better.

Sometimes it's hard to predict what people will like. A friend's daughter likes Roma tomatoes fresh mostly because they come in a smaller size than "regular" tomatoes. She's not a real fan of tomatoes, though. Some of your customers, conditioned by "store-bought" tomatoes, may have similar preferences. She would probably like Juliet fresh (also suitable for roasting).

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Thanks - it's hard to predict, esp. since I'm planning on moving to a new market. I looked at Bellstar, but don't think people who are looking for "paste" tomatoes are going to go for round ones, just like I don't think they'll go for orange ones. So I'll just buy Grandma Mary's since they're larger and still early, won't buy a lot in case they're spitters. I'll buy Rutgers too for canning just as a backup. Hybrids are just so expensive. I did find a few packets of Best Boy I picked up (at Walmart?) last year so I have some hybrid slicers.

My dad always wanted Celebrity or Jet Star, I gave him some Pink BW seedlings last year and now he's a convert! My mom still prefers the smaller "regular" tomatoes though. Of course, she puts them in the fridge b/c of fruit flies so even the BW don't taste like anything after that - my dad has to eat his outside as soon as he picks them b/c anything that goes inside gets put in the fridge right away. Funny, she leaves bananas and apples out...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:34AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

To keep out fruit flies, try the Ziplock "Fresh Produce" bags. It's not what they're designed for, but the holes are small enough to keep fruit flies out.

Not every place carries them. In one grocery, they're cleverly hidden with the oven and microwave bags -- well away from the simple storage bags. I've occasionally seen them at K-Mart (of all places).


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:43AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Good tip on the bags for tomatoes.

Bellstar might not attract people looking for a paste, but might sell as a salsa or salad tomato - not too juicy. Fedco's hybrids vary quite a bit in cost -- look at the amount of seed as well as the price. I've always wondered why hybrids for the greenhouse are especially expensive.

Wonder if your Mom would go for, say, Moravsky Div or another of the smaller early tomatoes named above. Your Dad would have some tomatoes before the Brandywines came on.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 5:39PM
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FWIW, my choices for early tomatoes this year are Stupice, Juane Flamee AND Anna Russian. I started them all about 10 days ago, and am planning to put them into a cold frame around March 15. Thusfar, the coldframe is averaging 20 degrees over the ambient temp during the day, and 10 degrees at night.

THis is still somewhat agressive as my normal plant out date is not til the end of April. Still, since this is only 3 of the 15-16 tomatoes I plan to plant this year, I am willing to risk some loss of production due to chilling injuries - all in an effort to get a ripe tomato in the month of may!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:05PM
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lartomato(5 northern AZ 7000 feet)

I am looking for Latah seed. Just want to give them a try. I don't have anything to trade as I'm starting over.

Thanks for your help



    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:28AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Sand Hill has Latah (and an awful lot of other good things):

Also Heritage Harvest Seed in Manitoba.

Also Wood Prairie Farm in Maine; never heard of them before.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:23AM
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loved the Speckled Romans last year but Fedco doesn't have them any more

so plant the seeds you saved from last year from the tomatoes that you loved.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 12:06AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I am already fermenting 3 varieties to save seeds for the next season.

Early varieties, as Bmoser has mentioned, tend to be smaller., about 1.5 oz avrge.

In the top 10 earlies are:
I am growing the first 3 of them. They are indet, PL and prolific. Matina is nice round red, very juicy (salad type). Stupice and BB are lobed and meaty (sauce type). Siletz has almost no seeds (good slicer on sandwich) .

I have found another one which has fairly bigger fruits, in 4 to 6 oz range. It is called SILETZ. I was neck to neck with Bloody Butcher in my garden

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:50AM
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