Tomato Review 2011
So here in no particular order is my review of the varieties I grew in my upstate NY garden during this very wet and sometimes very hot summer.
Black From Tula: My favorite for a number of years now. This year the plant was modestly sized and the fruit production was even more modest. I only got four decent fruit from it although there is a green one hanging on the vine now that will probably ripen before frost. Delicious, rich, smoky sweet flavor and beautiful to look at. My opinion is that taste is better than Brandywine and the plants are slightly lower maintenance. Moderate tolerance to environmental stresses such as excessive rain and heat.
Stupice: As many have said, the primary benefit of this variety is early fruitset. The fruits themselves are small and often watery tasting. Heavy rainfall made this worse. It is still a decent variety to have in your garden and still better than most grocery store tomatoes, which I am also happy to eat if there is nothing better around. Fairly resistant to environmental stress, especially cold.
Mexico Midget: I thought I wouldn't have any plants this year because of failure to germinate. I had one scraggly seedling that died. There was a slight mixup in my seedling trays and I ended up with four plants that I was not 100% sure of what they were. I segregated these and one of them grew up to be a MM which is a good thing. Every tomato gardener should have one or two of these plants. They start slow, stay wispy but grow like a weed once they get established. They need warmer weather to wake up but once they do, they are tolerant of environmental stress. Productive plants bearing an abundance of delicious little bold tasting, currant-sized fruits. Beefsteak taste in a very small package. The best thing about this plant is that it was one of only a few plants that produced the same quality fruit despite excessive rainfall. No cracking and the taste was the same. A definite winner.
K*m*to: F3 still seems to be growing true to form which makes me think it is not F3 but an OP variety. I like this tomato. It seems to have a good balance of commercial and heirloom properties. It is firm but not crunchy-hard, it produces pretty, blemish-free fruits in abundance and the plant itself is very tolerant of environmental stress. Taste is very sweet, almost a little too sweet. If you are into that, then by all means grow this tomato.
Speckled Roman: wipsy, sick looking plants that produce interesting looking fruits. The fruits are tasty but nearly 100% had blossom end rot. A few other varieties had this issue at first but BER seems to persist in Speckled Roman throughout the season. I pulled a few of the least effected fruits off at the breaker stage and these were all I got. If you google this issue, it seems that it is common in SR. I have limited space so SR will not be in my garden next year. I did, however attempt a cross of SR and Native. Will see next year if the cross took.
Native: seed obtained in the Philippines. I originally thought I had Nagcarlang and maybe I do since Nagcarlang is a heterozygous variety and hence is about as specific as calling it "tomato". On a more recent trip, I revisited a number of vendors in different cities and they all said it was called Native. It is the most common tomato you will see in markets. It is also the least enjoyable variety I have ever tasted. Extremely acidic to the point of being astringent. I will grow again because I see tomatoes as living mementos of trips. The plant itself is very vigorous. They germinated early and were the strongest seedlings in my tray. Also very tolerant of wet feet (well they are from the Philippines!). Very productive and things were looking good until they also developed a bad, persisting case of BER although not quite as bad as SR. I was surprised to see this in a market variety, especially a wet-season tomato. I dealt with this by making a few large batches of fried green tomatoes which is probably about the best use for this fleshy little tomato. I also made a batch of green pasta sauce with it but the acidity came out too much again. Fresh eating is possible but again, you would get a more pleasant tasting tomato at any grocery store. I am doing a paste tomato project with a friend in the Philippines. Apparently there is a dearth of paste varieties that grow well over there that are not extremely acidic. Hence my cross with SR. If the crossed fruit result in something between the two parents, it would be a success. SR is very soft, Native is very hard. SR is very sweet, Native is almost bitter. Unfortunately both have BER badly this year. Perhaps hybrid vigor could amend that.
Squarehead Pink: A surprise standout. Seeds obtained in a Korean produce market. Went to a number of markets in Seoul and this seemed to be the prevalent variety. I have no idea what the real name of this tomato is so I gave it my own moniker. Compact, bushy and vigorous plants that produce an abundance of blemish free fruit that resist cracking. Fruit grew true to parent fruit so possible OP variety although I only grew one plant so hard to tell. Some fruit had a strawberry shape and some were almost perfectly round. They are firm fruits through the breaker stage but once the green is gone from their shoulders, they are soft, sweet and very pleasant if you like pink tomatoes. Also, first ripe fruit was only 3 days behind Stupice, hence making Stupice obsolete in my garden. Great resistance to stress, highly recommended. I have a few extra seeds so I can offer some to those who are interested and who will later share with others. Email me, I can probably send about 10 people a pack of 5 seeds each.
Brandywine: what is there to say that hasn't been said before? It is a nice fruit with a lot of depth in taste, although admittedly not my favorite. It is not the most vigorous plant nor the most productive and the fruits are very delicate to handling. I will probably still keep a plant or two in my garden, especially for tastings.
Yellow Pear: another real winner. I got seeds from a reception at a job fair in Washington DC. I didn't get a job but at least the seeds didn't leave me empty handed. I started seeds 6-8 weeks later than my other plants but they caught up nicely. I have two plants now that are insanely productive. Fruits are delicious. I don't have much experience with yellow varieties but I heard they can be somewhat insipid. These are delicious. Sweet yet balanced and crack free despite the heavy rains. This plus Mexico Midget are about the only two small-fruited tomatoes that you need (of course need is a relative term when it comes to hobby gardening:)
Naturesweet: I used to love those red mesh bags of cherry tomatoes. Sweet like candy, I would eat the whole bag in one sitting. I decided to save seed and grow my own. Two plants produced uniform fruit that look like parent in truss formation and fruit size and shape. So far, the rain has given them a beating. Watery, insipid fruits that are very susceptible to cracking. On beefsteaks, a little cracking is no big deal but in cherry tomatoes I have found significant cracks to affect the taste. Interesting to grow this commercial variety but nothing special.
Red Target: another great Asian variety. Somewhere between a roma and a beefsteak. Fruits are a nice balance of flesh and gel with a subtle, sweet but full taste. Late variety but quite productive when they finally start ripening. A good tomato for almost any purpose including fresh eating, sandwiches, sauce, salsa, fried green tomatoes. Vigorous, pretty, dark green plant. Very tolerant of wet feet but doesn't like to be dried out. Evergreen Seeds was my source. The name comes from the tendency to ripen on the blossom end first (like most tomatoes). Apparently in Asian cuisine, this tomato is sometimes used with green shoulders. I let mine fully ripen. Great tomato, highly recommended, especially since the wet summers in the northeast seem to be here to stay (my one rain barrel has not been empty in years).
Dirka Red: a commercial variety I obtained in a military dining facility in Iraq. Perfect, blemish free, red baseballs on a compact plant. If you like grocery store tomatoes, then you would like these. Again, a memento more than a great variety. Most likely these fruits were imported and are not native to Iraq but I don't know for sure. They do show a strong preference for dryer soil if that is any indication of a mid-eastern origin....If you are an Iraq veteran or expatriate, I have a limited number of extra seeds I can send out. Again, email me.
Serbian Heart: pink oxheart from seeds that my Serbian cousin brought as a Christmas present. Firm fruits. A good market variety but not exactly hard and they have a very nice "pink tomato" taste. Insanely productive on a fairly compact plant. A good choice for a one-tomato garden. Again, limited seeds available for those who will share with others after growing their own.
Hungarian Heart: wispy plants produce a moderate output of huge pink oxhearts with a flavor reminiscent of pumpkins. Fairly dry fruits, good for salsa or sauces.
Here are a few pics:
From right: Balck from Tula, Dirka Red, Serbian Heart, Squarehead Pink (SP looks kinda red here but it is really pink)
Native. A Filipino market variety.
Serbian Heart plant bent over with fruit. My flimsy stakes didn't stand a chance.