Minnesota Tomatoes

soilent_greenSeptember 2, 2013

Images show why I expend so much effort taking notes, saving and acquiring seed, trying new varieties, starting plants and babying them for such a long time, caring for and tending to the plants once in the garden, and fretting nervously about hail when the summer thunderstorms roll through - so I can smile with satisfaction when finally having a slice of that first beefsteak on the dinner plate. Pure heaven. I put up with eleven months of mostly crappy Minnesota weather every year for the one month of peak tomato harvest. As far as I am concerned every other vegetable I grow could fail and I would not care as long as I get my tomatoes.

At present I have nine crates like shown, ready for processing. A very good situation to be in, I must say. I am also supplying some local fellow gardeners who got hailed out this summer - hopefully this will keep the good karma going, because I fear that my turn is way past due.

Happy Tomato Harvest!

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They look wonderful! Well done!

What varieties did you grow and what are your favourites?

Linda, who is currently making tomato sauce from non-paste tomatoes. It should be a looong evening waiting for it to thicken!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 6:03PM
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"Linda, who is currently making tomato sauce from non-paste tomatoes. It should be a looong evening waiting for it to thicken!" - Yes, but a labor of love.

I grow many types, many varieties, both heirloom and hybrids. My preferences for flavor are the heirloom pink beefsteaks. Many of the varieties I try each year end up being one-offs that I never try again. Experimenting is the only way to find the gems.

I do have favorites, heirlooms and hybrids, that I grow every year for bulk processing needs. They may not have the best flavor but are dependable producers of many medium to large uniform fruits (I add heirloom varieties for flavor). I have been tinkering with the development of a few of my own varieties through cross pollination for just this purpose, some whose fruits are represented in the crate of paste tomatoes. My latest interest has been in trying to develop a large, thick-walled pink oxheart paste variety. Slow going, currently unstable but showing promise. Pretty fun.

Best tomato I have ever tasted in my life was a pink Brandywine, yet I do not grow that variety anymore because I found the exceptional flavor to be hit or miss each year (mostly miss), and an unreliable producer. Was no longer willing to put up with being disappointed so often.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:11PM
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I love the pink tomatoes too! Rose de Bern is my current favourite. However, this year I've really enjoyed Cherokee Purple.

I know what you mean about pink Brandywine. I grew it years ago and loved the flavour, but decided it wasn't worth bothering with because of low productivity and the fact that the tomatoes often rotted before they ripened. Very disappointing!

You sound as if you are having a lot of fun with your hybrid experiments. Wishing you lots of luck with your pink oxheart paste experiment.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:40PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

NIce looking tomatoes! The white variety is striking. A lot of those could make some interesting sauce!

Growing tomatoes in Minnesota must be challenging. What techniques to you use to help speed up the growing?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:14AM
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"Growing tomatoes in Minnesota must be challenging. What techniques do you use to help speed up the growing?" - In all honesty the only technique I have found to work is patience and acceptance of the fact that the tomatoes will come when they come. And to never fertilize tomato plants with a high nitrogen fertilizer unless you like giant tomato shrubs with poor fruit production. ;) A little bit of neglect in strategic areas can help in overall success and quality.

IMHO as much as I have experimented in the past I now accept that you simply cannot do anything to speed up the process of getting (good quality) ripe tomatoes, as much as I would dearly love to do so. All the more reason to appreciate and enjoy them when in season.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Btw, making sauce with non-paste tomatoes and taking all that time to reduce it until it thickens? My sister does that, best sauce I have ever tasted. IMO a simple method of achieving excellent results of which many people are not aware. As for me, I simply do not have that kind of patience in the kitchen...

The crate of pastes contains Incas, Classica, my own sausage-type, and other crosses.

The crate of beefsteaks include Zarnitsa, Earl's Faux, Big Boy, Oregon, Black from Tula, Mortgage Lifter, Tomesol White, a medium yellow/orange off-type from Kellogg's Breakfast that I saved and stabilized, and one or two crosses.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 1:49PM
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