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2013 Tomato Grow List

Posted by okiedawn Z7 OK (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 14, 12 at 21:01

It's that time of the year.

Lists have been made, edited, re-edited, torn-up and then started all over again. The result? I think I have a more or less final list of the tomato varieties I'll be planting in 2013.

Those of you are are used to seeing my incredibly long lists may be surprised because this year's list is short. The explanation is easy. Last year was easily the best tomato year I've had in 3 or 4 years. Maybe in 5 years. I preserved a 2 to 3 year supply, canning about 240 or 250 jars of tomato products and freezing and drying an equivalent amount. With a full pantry and full freezers, there's not as much of a need to preserve tomatoes in 2013, at least not in vast quantities. Hence, the reduced listing.

As always, I've tried to list them in categories, and the estimated date-to-maturity is listed for each tomato variety. I've also indicated whether they are hybrids or open-pollinated varieties.

FOR CONTAINERS:

The following varieties produce bite-sized tomatoes.
1. Cherry Falls F-1 (60)
2. Terenzo F-1 (63)
3. Lizzano F-1 (63)

EARLY (AND IN CONTAINERS)

4. Early Doll F-1 (57)
5. Early Wonder O-P (55)
6. 4th of July F-1 (49)

IN-GROUND PLANTINGS:

BITE SIZED:

7. Sun Gold F-1 (57)
8. Black Cherry O-P (68)
9. Riesentraube O-P (80)

MID-SEASON:

10. Jaune Flammee OP (70)
11. Orange Minsk OP (70)
12. Pruden's Purple O-P (70)
13. Gary 'O Sena O-P (70-75)
14. JD'S Special C-Tex O-P (70-75)
15. Spudatula O-P (70-75)
16. Black Mystery O-P (70-80)
17. Phoenix F-1 (72) (heat setting type)
18. Indigo Rose F-1 (75)
19. Crimson Carmello F-1 (75)
20. Burgundy Traveler O-P (75-80)

LATE:

21. Dr. Wyche's Yellow O-P (80)
22. Greek Rose O-P (75-80)
23. Spudakee Purple O-P (80)
24. Stump of the World O-P (80-85)
25. Brazilian Beauty O-P (75-85)

PROCESSING:

26. Heidi O-P (75)
27. Principe' Borghese O-P (75-80)
28. Speckled Roman O-P (75)

I might come back and add two more processing varieties later on.

That's my list, y'all. Now, where's yours?

Dawn


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

If you had to choose one of the first three, which would you choose? I'm just going to have a couple plants in baskets, so I don't really want to buy seeds for all three.

Leslie


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I'm using your list since I don't know anymore about tomatoes than I do about onions!
And I have decided that since you are roughly 2 hours to my south that I will plant 2 weeks after you do. So pretty please let me know when you plant. I know it is always iffy and risky, but I have to follow somebody's lead since I didn't listen to Granny and Papa close enough...


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Leslie,

Cherry Falls is excellent and if I had to choose only one of those two, that's the one I'd choose. I tried a lot of container types last year, and while many of them were good, Cherry Falls was great. I still have a Cherry Falls plant in a container in the greenhouse and it still is producing vast quantities of fruit (although the plant itself looks pretty pathetic at the end of a long, hard season). This particular Cherry Falls plant has been blooming and producing fruit since April.

Melony, I plant exceptionally early, with the earliest plants going into containers that I drag into the garage on cold nights. I try to plant those few container plants into the containers around Valentine's Day.

Depending on the weather (which itself is so undependable), I start putting plants in the ground as early as the first week in March in a warm winter, but 2-4 weeks later in a colder year. The earlier I get them into the ground, the better they produce.

This year, when I start seeds, I'll post the date, and when I start putting plants into containers and into the ground, I'll cheerfully announce it....then you can listen to me whining and wringing my hands over every cold night that threatens my tomato plants once they're in the ground. : )

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

For certain, you won't be whining and wringing your hands alone! Thanks for the help


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Thanks for the recommendation. My list is done now. I thought I was crazy for working on it yesterday, but if I'm crazy, at least I'm not alone.

01. Cherry Falls (60)
02. Sun Gold (57)
03. 4th of July (49)
04. Heidi (75)
05. San Marzano Redorta (78)
06. Rutgers Select (75)
07. Big Boy or Big Beef
08. Principe' Borghese

I know the list will change but that's what I'm starting with. I don't think I'll do San Marzano Redorta and Rutgers Select but I don't know which I'm going to mark off yet. Both were decimated by cutworms early on this year so I don't really have experience with either.

Dawn, are you still planning on starting your early plants this year instead of buying them? I think I may do that.

Leslie


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Leslie,

You're welcome. If you're crazy, then you and I are on the crazy bus together...and we're taking the bus to Tomato Town. lol

Look at it this way. You are very far south and west and I am very far south. It can get very hot in both our locations very early in the year, though obviously your area gets hotter earlier than mine. If we don't start early, what chances do our plants have in terms of setting fruit well before it gets insanely hot?

I am planning on starting my early plants instead of buying them. I plan to sow seed around the last week of November so they'll be a nice transplant size by mid-February. The plants I usually buy in 5" peat pots in mid-Feb have big stems but usually are only about 8 to 12" tall, so I think they are started from cuttings. My own seed-raised plants won't be as big, but hopefully they'll set fruit just about as early as the purchased plants do. I'd really like to start the seeds today and have a full three months to grow them indoors before I transplant them out into outside containers, but I am a realist and know there is little to no chance I'll find the time and energy to do that until after Thanksgiving. At least Thanksgiving is early this year!

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

You know, I grow and grow tomato plants and have yet to eat but maybe one or two small tomatoes! LOL...

Sungold
Early Girl
Siberian (I have to see if the 48 days thing holds out)
San marzano, they started to do very well this fall, but I got them out too late!!
whatever surprise one I buy as a transplant.

I will get a good crop of them yet, I swear. This year I really concentrated on peppers and had a great crop. Things just seem to grow slow in my yard. So I need a good soil test this year as well. LOL


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn an interesting list. Your impression of Indigo Rose must of been better than mine. My plant was loaded with ripe ones when the freeze hit and I didn't even bother to pick them. I put them in the same class as Sweet Beverly and Sweet Sharon. All 3 good producers but big disappointments. Very bland flavor. I would rate them 1.5 on a 1-10 scale. The two best blue varieties I grew last summer for taste were from J&L seeds in NM. One was J&L Select. The other I can't recall right now. I will regrow both of them along with at least one new blue variety. I started a very rough draft of a list for 013 during the season. Haven't looked at it since really till I saw yours. I will work around it. I'm still trying to finish up saving and cleaning my bean and chile seeds. I was very impressed with one of the grafted plants I grew this year. So if I can perfect my humidity chamber some I will be grafting several more this year. When I get my list a little more refined I will post it. Both Grandma Suzy's and Randy's Brandy were good, solid performers again. This was my second year to grow them. Cody's Paste didn't produce very heavy but a healthy, hardy plant with the best tasting roma type fruit I've grown. Burrell's Special showed promise as a newcomer also. I will be growing an interesting new variety named Piennolo del Vesuvio. I will grow Sungold and the J&L selection Ambrosia Gold. I liked it. I hope to stabilize it some. I will grow several proven hybrids along with a couple of new ones that showed promise in 012. Heritage F1 was one of them. I will grow a few of my favorites. CP, Barlow Jap and at least 3-4 others. I will choose 4-6 canner/all around types. The group will be selected from the Heinz varieties, Burrell's Special, Amish Canner, Glick's 18, St Pierre and a few others. I saved seeds from a new to me variety named MOX311S. It did well in a container. Will move it to the ground this year and see how it fares. I plan on starting a few early. I hope to insulate my greenhouse some so I can heat it easier and move some to it earlier. I was late potting up some last year and some plants really got root bound. I will be starting onion seeds in early to mid Dec. Was hoping Dixondale might add another variety or two that would grow in this area but Bruce replied to me on another site and stated they wouldn't be. So will start most if not all. I may not grow as many this year anyway. I planted way more garlic than planned. I have some of my other lists including beans fairly well completed. Will post them in a new thread. Jay


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Oh Heavens! When you posted this list I thought I was truly losing my mind. Way too early. You didn't post your list until January 5 last year. Well, okay, I am losing my mind, but the timing of this thread doesn't prove it.

I cut way back (for me) last year, and intend to do it even more so this year. Until I get my family raised, I no longer have time to try everything I want or make room for just a few more varieties. My shortened list, and limited number (72 in ground and 25 n containers) brought me some sanity last year. I'll be choosing, to some degree, productivity over flavor for now. I love my favorite heirlooms, but as I pass through what my mother calls "the middle years" I'll be planting for more bang for the buck, which in some ways means I'll be growing more hybrids. I probably won't even have a list this year (huge change for me) but I sure do enjoy reading ya'lls.
Seedmama


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Jay,

My impression of Indigo Rose happens to be exactly the same as yours. If not quite a spitter, it is nothing special. I am growing it right beside the driveway and the garage in 2013 strictly as an ornamental/conversation piece because I love seeing the expression on people's faces when they see the blue tomatoes! How often do you get to totally freak out people with something as simple as tomatoes that are the "wrong" color? I had the seed, so figured I might as well use it up. So, do you feel better about my sanity now that you know I'm growing it to look at, and not to eat? I imagine I'll give the fruit to the chickens. I have grown other worthless tomatoes before just because of the way they looked---like "Variegated", for example.

I preserved so many tomatoes last year that I actually toyed with only planting 6 or 8 plants for fresh eating in 2013, but I knew down deep that if I cut back that much, I'd likely freak out at planting time and fret I hadn't planted enough. Then I'd put all my backup plants in the ground and run to the store for even more, so the medium-sized list is my compromise between last year's list and the 6-8 plants I originally intended to plant. I hope I am mostly through experimenting. I don't intend to try more than 1-3 new-to-me varieties a year. I've looked long and hard for the ones that do best in my growing conditions and whose flavor we like the most, and I feel like this list really reflects that. I think my wild experimentation with vast numbers of tomato varieties is about done. I'll stick with the "old reliables" that do best for us, and that will leave me more space to experiment with more varieties of other vegetables. Just wait until you see my 2013 bean list!

Seedmama, I was trying to get my list done before the holidays because once Thanksgiving hits, it seems like life doesn't slow down until after New Year's Day (which explains last year's January 5th date) and I always feel like I am behind. I apologize for posting early and upsetting the natural order of things. : )

When I had a child in school and in after-school activities and was busy with stuff then like you are now, and worked full-time on top of that, my garden was tiny. I thought 12 tomato plants was a big year....6 Roma for sauce and salsa and 5 slicers and one cherry tomato plant. I didn't go hog wild with excessive planting until Chris went away to college, although I did have a largish garden when he was still in high school---about 40' x 50'. By the time he left for college, we had lived here a few years, and had sunny land (in Fort Worth we had too much shade), I no longer worked outside the home and my baby bird had flown the nest and I needed to do something to stay busy, and gardening was it. As my life changed, my garden evolved.

My dad, though he always grew tomatoes and peppers, didn't really have a big garden until all of us kids had grown up. Once he didn't have 4 children and a dog running all over the back yard, he tripled his growing space...and that was when he was in his late 50s or early 60s. Different ages, different stages....and all that stuff. Looking back, I realize what a big sacrifice it was for him to squeeze his garden into a relatively small part of the yard so that we had the rest of the yard to play in. It probably helped that we had gardening neighbors, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents who always shared their harvest with us in the same way we shared ours with them. The folks who had room to grow more just grew more and shared it with those who were space-challenged.

Don't make me laugh by saying you won't have a list. You'll have a list. It will be organized, indexed, cross-referenced, alphabetized, neat, tidy, and logically planned out. I know you too well to believe that there will not be a list.....(grinning as I type that).

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn, I am grinning as I read that. Seedmama will have the list you describe and the accompaning scaled drawings.

Seedmama, you can laugh also because Dawn's list will grow by at least one hundred percent.

Of course, I am the only one here in control. LOL


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Seedmama- Losing your mind? Same here!

Dawn, you are planning to start tomatoes from seed in late November? I can't imagine! This is when I really see how different our climates are.

If you look at a zone map of the US, you'll see a thin ribbon of land along the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay that is the same color as Charleston SC. Zone 8. That's us.

For folks who live on the ocean or the Bay in NC and SE VA, these huge bodies of water moderate our temps all year. Our first frost is at least one month later than for folks in town 2 miles away. The water keeps us cooler in the spring and summer (which is nice). While it gets hot here, it gets hotter inland. That is always true, but the differences have become more pronounced over the past 15-20 years.

You have already had a frost or freeze and anticipate temps in the 70s next week. We haven't had a frost, I doubt we will see the 70s until next year.

Over the past 10-15 years, winters got shorter. Our first frost is in late November (around Thanksgiving) at the earliest, in early to mid-December most years, and not until early January occasionally. Ticks are a problem all year. We had an explosion in the population of blister beetles and other pests.

In the Old Days, we had single digit temps during the 2nd week of Jan. In the 1990s, our biggest snowfalls were often in March. When I think about how much things have changed, it's a little unnerving.

I would love to grow big healthy tomato and pepper plants to plant out around April 1. I could plant them out earlier but the temps are cool, so they don't grow until the ground and air warm up. I usually buy a few tomato and pepper plants from Lowes or HD to supplement the little seedlings I start inside in March. This year, the Lowe's plants produced like crazy - I've never had harvests like this year. I planted them in a new garden that is closer to the house (and the Bay) and worried that they would be stunted or killed by the wind. I don't know how to account for this harvest - except that I planted in raised beds, used TomatoTone and Veg Tone, and used soaker hoses.

I'd like to grow large healthy plants instead of buying them but my timing will have to be very different from yours.

I need to give this some thought.

Thanks for your tomato list! I have Dawn's tomato lists for 2010-2012 and Jay's tomato list for 2009. I want to thank you both. Tonight, I went to the Cornell site and got Farmerdill's 4 and 5 star varieties of tomatoes.

I'll try to factor all this into what I learned this year, and make a list. I'm afraid I'll over-do. I don't want to grow more tomatoes or peppers than I did this year! I was drowning in vegetables, and gave buckets of tomatoes and peppers to the neighbors, the folks at the office and left buckets at the post office.

Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing!

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Always love to see your posts, Pam, from the other side of the continent (LOL). I need to check your post again about Farmerdill - was there a link to the Cornell site? I see him a lot on that other forum that we cannot speak about or suffer death by instrumentation.....most likely some kind of pitchfork!

I think I will grow Bush Goliath again, but 2 or 3 plants instead of 1. It produced very well for me in the heat we had. Also SunGold. I am searching for another slicer that produces very well. Big Beef and Better Boy just aren't what I am looking for. I am thinking New Big Dwarf. Yes, I do prefer a dwarf or semi-indet. at maximum. I had planned to grow NBD, but just didn't get around to it. Except for SunGold, I'll probably just buy the plants. I did a mix of purchased plants and seeds last year. With Horn's gone now, I guess I'll be stuck with Lowe's or HD. Their plants are nice, tho, when they first arrive at the stores. Give them a few weeks to care for them, and they'll really suck.

In searching the web, it seems there are many, many more seed offerings for container culture. It must be the trend now - a lot more people growing veggies in limited space.

I have gro bags to use, plus my big containers. I will plan to buy a few more containers, tho. I did not like the gro bags as much as I thought I would. They tore up easily. They also were not as stable as I thought they would be, tending to lean.....and lean......and lean some more, making them difficult to water, too. If anyone thinks they are good for more than one season, well, they aren't in my case. They were okay for planting my JMGs in, but for veggies, not so.

I think that is all I will grow for veggies. I just don't have the time or space to grow much more. I would like to, and maybe I can get around to putting in a few in the garden at my daughter's house. It was dug last summer, and we have been adding guinea pig bedding and compost into it since this last summer. It should be very good soil by next spring. The bedding (excluding waste) is made up up recycled paper, pine shavings, and/or hay.

If I do that, I'd love to try squash again - summer squash, that is. I'd do yellow, Zukes, and scallop, bush types. I guess that will be another post down the line.

Dawn, that list looks awfully thin for you! I'm with Carol, I expect to see about 100 more between now and planting time,

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam,

The seed I am going to sow at the end of November are meant to go into movable containers I can push, pull, carry or drag into the garage when the weather drops below 45 degrees. These are for my mid-February planting. I put about 6 to 8 plants into movable containers (except last year one wasn't movable) and we start harvesting fruit from them between mid- and late-April. In the past, we'd drive to the D-FW metro area around Feb 7th or 8th to see if the stores had the plants yet. If they didn't, they always had them the next week. I'd buy Bonnie Plants transplants in 5 or 6" plantable pots. Those plants usually are about 10-15" tall but very thick and bushy, leading me to believe they're cutting grown. Their main stem usually is about as big around as my little finger and they either are already in bloom or have buds forming they will bloom within a few days. Since BP has a really limited selection of early plants available in February (generally Red Beefsteak/Ponderosa, Better Bush, Husky Red Cherry, Early Girl, Better Boy and this past year Chocolate Cherry), I finally decided I'd just grow my own for February transplants.

The rest of my seeds likely will be started in early January for transplanting out into the ground and/or containers in early to mid-March. My actual last frost date is supposed to be March 29th, but ever since either 2007 or 2008, it was May 3rd or May 4th until last year, when we finally did not have the dreaded late frost in May. Last year the last frost was March 4th. The OSU-recommended planting dates for tomatoes here are April 1-10. Does any of this make sense? No, but it is the world in which I live and garden. When I wait until the OSU-recommended dates to plant, I run the risk of the heat arriving early and the plants not having a chance to set much fruit before the temperatures get so high that fruit set is impeded. So, I take extreme risks to plant in March, and the earlier the better. Last year I planted a month earlier than I had in 2011 and had at least 4 times as many fruit per plant.

I find it hard to trust our average first and last frost dates because our real weather fluctuates so much. Our average first frost is about the same as yours, but we had our first killing freeze and frost on September 29th in 1999 and in about 2003 or 2004 it didn't arrive until mid-December. This year? Would you believe October 4th? (sigh) That's why I mulch heavily, use floating row covers, etc. to extend the harvest in both spring and fall....because Mother Nature throws us too many curve balls.

The February-planted tomatoes actually were an attempt (the first year I planted them) to get a few plants started so we'd have early tomatoes without me risking the whole tomato crop by putting it into the ground too early in our oh-so-changeable weather. Of course, when we got our first fruit that year around April 15th, I was hooked on the idea of always having our first fruit that early. Meanwhile, if I put tomato plants in the ground in early to mid-March, depending on what the weather does and on how well I protect them from the scattered freezing nights, we normally are harvesting from in-ground plants no later than Memorial Day, and often by mid-May. Using container plants, row cover and the greenhouse to extend the season means we usually harvest our last tomatoes in November or December. This means one thing: we are very spoiled, very used to eating fresh tomatoes from April through November and often into December and not likely to be happy when the eating season starts later or ends earlier.

Our weather is so erratic it is almost beyond words. We usually hit the mid-teens for low temps in December but still have December and January days that will have highs anywhere from the 50s through the 70s, but they are interspersed with days that have highs only in the 30s or 40s. We usually go down into the single digits a few times each winter, though we did not last year, which was a very warm winter. In February through April, we have fairly frequent days with highs in the 70s and 80s and sometimes in the 90s, though highs in the 40s through 60s or low 70s would be more typical. It makes me crazy. Those early unseasonably warm days wreak havoc on the fruit trees, often causing them to bloom in February and then lose the flowers or young fruit sometime in the next month when colder temperatures return. Sometimes the blackberries bloom too early, even the native ones which you think would be more adapted to the local temperatures in which they've always grown.

Because of the occasional warm days, my soil temps usually are warm enough whenever the air temps are, and if they aren't, I force them to warm up. You can put down black plastic over the soil (or clear plastic, but I prefer black because weeds don't sprout under it as much as they do under clear plastic) when you want to plant your tomatoes and it will warm up the soil to an acceptable level in a week or two. I rarely have to do that because the warm days do it for me. I plant by the thermometer, relying on temperatures of soil and air to tell me when I can plant, rather than by relying on the calendar. After all, the plants grow whenever the soil and air temps hit the right range, not when the calendar says they should.

Susan, You have no idea how close I came to only planting 6 or 8 plants. It is hard to describe what this past summer was like, tomato-wise, without sounding like I am bragging. I wanted a lot of tomatoes because 2011 was such a poor year that I didn't have many to preserve, and I wanted really good production from all the plants. I wanted them to produce well both early and late. I gave the soil extra attention when I prepared it before planting, I planted early, mulched well, watered often, fought the dreaded climbing cutworms, and spent the rest of the spring and summer harvesting and canning. Did I get what I wished for? Yes, and I am here to tell you that too much of a good thing is still too much!

In late May through mid-July, I often spent 8 to 10 hours a day just harvesting tomatoes, and that was about every 3rd day. They were piled up all over the house on every flat surface, and in every basket, box, bucket or bowl I could round up. I canned literally every single day. Even after harvesting all day long, I'd come in totally exhausted from the heat, and then can tomatoes for a few hours. I canned hundreds of jars of anything/everything with tomatoes in it, putting up a 2-3 year supply of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, Annie's Salsa, chili base, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, catsup, tomato-peach salsa, etc. Once the pantry (which is deep and goes way back up under the staircase) was full, I started freezing tomatoes. I have about 40 quarts of tomato sauce in my big chest freezer still, and about 8 or 9 gallon ziplock bags each containing prepared tomatoes for Annie's Salsa. Each bag = one batch of Salsa. I have another 6 or 8 gallon bags of frozen, whole tomatoes which I can thaw and use in cooking. There's also 7 or 8 gallons of dehydrated, frozen tomatoes. It takes a ton of dehyhdrated tomatoes to fill up a gallon freezer bag, and it takes along time to eat and use up even one gallon of them. At this point, the ones in my freezer look like a lifetime supply. I try to use preserved tomatoes at least a couple of times a week and we are barely making a dent in the tons of preserved tomatoes. So, with all that in mind, we hardly need to grow any at all in 2013 and probably not in 2014, except for fresh eating.

It is going to take a lot of discipline for me not to come back and add, add, add to the list, but I do intend to exercise that discipline. I'm sure I'll add a few more varieties because I haven't even decided on which 2 paste varieties I want to try this year that will be new to me, and I usually grow any AAS-winning tomatoes their first year too, so if I find 'Jasper', I'll plant at least one of it.

I believe my memories of this past summer will keep be from going overboard on adding much to the list though. This past summer is just a blur of tomatoes....while I picked all day long once or twice a week, I often picked for an hour or two every day in between, and if I wasn't in the garden harvesting, I was in the kitchen processing produce, often from 7 a.m. to midnight. In between all that, we ate all that we could eat fresh so that I'd have fewer to process. I am too old to work that hard to process a huge tomato harvest every summer. I felt like a hamster running on a wheel and I couldn't stop and get off the wheel. I need to grow fewer and do things in moderation in the future. Towards the end of the 2012 season, I was wondering if my obituary would read "she worked herself to death trying to deal with a huge tomato harvest".

This summer I want to grow a lot more corn, beans and cucumbers. I didn't make as many jars of pickles as I would have liked. I made plenty for us, but only have an extra dozen or two jars to give away, and usually I give away a lot more than that. I also intend to plant fewer sweet peppers and more hot peppers. The sweets just do not produce as well in the summer in recent years as they did until about 2007. I'd rather use the space on hot peppers that give me a great harvest no matter what. It wasn't like the tomato harvest was the only thing I had. I still was picking, cooking, and eating all the other veggies, and preserving the excess from them as well. Since we have a winter garden, I still am picking and processing broccoli, cabbage and other stuff, and all 3 freezers are full. As soon as we use a few packages of frozen veggies or fruit and open up a spot in the freezer, I harvest broccoli or something else and fill it up again. In the meantime, I also am filling up the closet in the guest room with empty jars as we use up canned stuff. I already have 20 cases of unopened jars in there that I bought at the end-of-summer sales, and now I am stacking plastic storage totes of emptied jars on top of those.

I am not complaining. It is marvelous to have had such wonderful production this year and to have the time to put up so much of the produce. If I'd had this kind of production last year when we were fighting wildfires almost every day, the food would have gone to waste because I wouldn't have had time to pick it and process it. I am grateful for the wonderful harvests in 2012, but don't want to have a huge harvest of the same types of food in 2013. I need to have a huge harvest of other stuff, like corn. 2012 was a poor corn year and I intend to plant a lot of corn as early as possible to insure I get a great corn harvest next year. Maybe corn will take the place of tomatoes in terms of filling up my days with harvesting and preserving and filling my freezers with food. Of course, since most corn varieties tend to ripen sort of all-at-once, I'll need to plant several varieties with various DTMs so that I do not have more corn to harvest and deal with than I can manage at any given time.

I also want to leave more space for flowers. The drought has been so hard on flowers the last few years and I have missed having armloads of them to cut and bring into the house. I didn't dare cut any this year because the bees and butterflies needed them so much once the heat and drought dried up the native wildflowers. I am planning to plant lots of OP flowers this year, as much for the wild things as for myself.

Who knows what the potential drought of 2013 will do to our plans for the garden? My big plan is to plant everything as early as I can, including under protective low plastic tunnels, and try to get maximum production and harvest mostly done by the end of June, so I can mostly hibernate inside in the air conditioning in July while making plans for the fall garden.

When we first moved here, I met an older gentleman who had an amazing garden every year. Actually he had three--a huge one at the house where he lived and two others on separate family-owned property. He was an amazing gardener. He planted by the calendar. Strictly by the calendar. He'd lived here his whole life and didn't want to fret and worry over the weather, so he planted everything April 1st, and he stopped watering July 1st. Period. No matter the weather, he never seemed to deviate from his plan. Generally, his corn, tomatoes, okra and southern peas produced throughout July even without irrigation and he kept harvesting as long as they kept producing. He kept his irrigation costs down by not trying to keep stuff alive in July and August. I never have had his discipline, but I understand why he had developed that method of gardening. I'd like to develop the discipline to just let the garden go beginning July 1st and just not worry about it after that and not run up a big water bill. I don't know if I can do that, though. Once I have a garden growing and producing, it is hard for me to close the gate, turn off the water faucet and let the drought kill it.

I love, love, love tomatoes but I grew too many of them in 2012 and had to deal with a harvest that just wouldn't quit. I couldn't handle another year like that in 2013. I think it would kill me. So, I'll save my own life, y'all, by planting a lot fewer tomato plants this coming spring.

And, now for a word about hybrids versus open-pollinated heirloom types. In 2012 I had plenty of both, but what I noticed as I was picking and processing was that literally ALL the hybrids went into salsa, canned tomatoes, dehydrated tomatoes, etc. We never ate the hybrids fresh if we had ripe OPs at the same time, other than the cherry types, especially SunGold. We devoured the SunGolds. So, I decided since I didn't need a lot of tomatoes this year, I'd mostly go with OPs. I did include some hybrids because the ones I grow tend to produce well in the heat while some OPs do not. There was a point, though, where I toyed with not planting any hybrids at all this year.

I think it is good to shake up your garden plan and do things differently every now and then. For me, 2013 is going to be a year in which I do a lot of things differently, mostly because not "having to" plant a lot of tomatoes frees up the space for other stuff.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan:

Thanks for your kind words. I came to the Oklahoma forum to learn. Y'all live with temperature extremes, high wind, and drought. I live with temperature extremes, high wind, flooding, and (sometimes) drought. Most people in Virginia have to deal with temperature problems but not with flooding or extremely high winds that often go on and on for weeks.

Last February, two friends from Oklahoma came to visit. We live in an area with hundreds of miles of coastline, so you can't go anywhere directly. You drive on winding roads and over bridges. Our friends would leave in the morning to go sightseeing. After 10 or 15 minutes, they would call. They were lost. They were used to roads that go straight, N-S or E-W, not roads that wind around for miles, taking you away from your destination, before winding around more, and finally taking you to your destination.

They were also surprised by the forests. Our climate is mild so forests are large and trees grow tall. I think forests cover about 60% of Virginia. We love our trees!

Dawn, you are amazing. When I read about your canning, I felt your pain. I was also relieved that I decided NOT to can this year. When we were living in the cottage (672 sq ft and no closets), I had to get rid of a lot of stuff, including my canning stuff.

I tend to seriously under-estimate how long a job will take. This is a joke in my family. My husband loves to tell people about "Pam's reforestation project - one year, she planted 1,100 trees."

They were seedlings, not trees. But planting those seedlings took a lot longer than I expected. If they aren't planted soon after you receive them, mortality goes up. After that "learning experience," I've limited myself to 100-150 seedlings a year. No more.

Between you and me, limiting the seedlings to 100 or 150 is very very hard. But I know if I don't stick to these limits, I won't be able to get them in the ground fast enough and more will die. That keeps me in line.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, To tell you the truth, by the time I was halfway through canning the tomatoes, I was sick of canning. I was almost sick of tomatoes (not of growing them and eating them, but just sick of harvesting and processing them). I was questioning my sanity. I was determined that after I got finished with the tomatoes, I was through canning for the year.

Of course, once I'd had a break from canning that lasted a week or two, I went right back to canning other stuff. Still, there is no reason for 2013 to be a repeat of 2012 because we don't need more preserved tomatoes. I always can lots of peppers, pickles and jams, jellies and fruit butters as well, so I'm sure I'll be canning in 2013, but I won't be canning tomatoes.

Like you, I tend to underestimate how long planting (and other garden chores) will take. I also do tons of succession plantings, so no matter how full the garden is at any given moment, I always have something else in mind to go into a spot once the plants in it are through producing. Some people plant their garden once each year and are done. I'm not like that. I'm constantly planting something else.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn - I think we are birds of a feather.

I can't imagine canning that much. Well, I can imagine but I don't want to do it. This year, after I beat back the urge to order a pressure canner, I felt like I'd won a major battle.

I have six acres of land that I'm reforesting after a hurricane took down all the trees. I love my reforestation project but planting 1,100 seedlings at one time was too much. Now I'm planting more varieties to increase the diversity and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife. I still need to cut the grass on that land until the trees get big enough to shade it out. Cutting grass actually takes longer now because we have to cut around trees. And I have responsibilities at work so it's easy to over-commit.

I want to work on seed and seedling lists this weekend so I can order soon. I need to plant garlic and a few trees. The beat goes on. ;-)

I have talks with myself, and give myself advice that I would give a friend, like this:

"Your To-Do lists are so full, it will take months or years to do what's on those lists now. Before adding anything else, answer a few questions: Does it have to be done now? This week? This year? Can it wait? What's the worst thing that will happen if you don't do it now/soon?

"Your goal is to simplify your life and reduce stress. How will adding these things help you accomplish that goal?"

I don't always listen this advice but I'm doing better.

Have a peaceful Thanksgiving!
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Dawn's lists always blow me away. But they are very educational, for sure. My list changes, but little, every year. In 2012 I experimented with Rio Grande, for processing. I attempted to cross it with Tomato Rocky, my family heirloom which doesn't like Oklahoma. The cross failed, in part, due to my inexperience, and in part due to the fact that our weather heated up so abruptly. Rio Grande put on an impressive amount of fruit. But blister beetles got the plants before they could really go through their steps. I saved seed and will try it again.

I will plant about 6-7 Baker Family Heirlooms in the coming year. This one did impressively well in a year which was mainly a tomato flop for me.

I will also put in at least a dozen Roma VF. Just can't get around the fact that Roma will "fill a basket' for me when I need processing tomatoes. I'm toying with trying Heidi, due to Dawn's recommendation.

I'll put in a block of Prudence Purple, which I've kept since 1984. This beefsteak does surprisingly well in our climate.

I need to renew seed of Tuxhorn's Yellow and Red, another heirloom beefsteak, very similar to Hawaiian Pineapple. I received this seed from Mrs. Ed Tuxhorn of Warsaw, IN, when I was studying in Winona Lake, back in 1985. Tuxhorn's plants handle our conditions exceedingly well. But they won't set and mature fruit until late. The tomatoes have a large core, which is a disadvantage. But they truly shine when used for fried green tomatoes. This is the only variety I've ever tried with such a zingy flavor when green. This year's crop was the last to get transplanted to the garden and they failed to produce.

I may well put out a couple of plants of Polish Pastel, which is a hollow, yellow with red streaked, tomato; I use for processing. It was developed by a fellow in Australia. Anyway, the plants are large and very hardy. This one sets huge amounts of fruit, late in the year. I appreciate it mainly for that reason. And, I haven't grown it for a couple of years. So, it's time.

Okay, will have to go through my seeds to see if I grow anything else. But I have concluded that I need to put more emphasis on getting a good crop. These drought years are no good for planting a bunch of "iffy varieties."

Pam, I can relate to your comments about the forests out East. I grew up in NJ, and visited my parents in October. Walking through the woods there, I experienced one of the few times of missing the East. The moisture in the air and the extreme green in the ambiance of the wood and field, soft soil, which everyone seems to take for granted. Nah... i'll take Tahlequah anyway!

George


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Can anyone recommend a beefsteak or slicer with the following characteristics?

Short DTM
Produces well
Can be grown in 20-30 gal. container
Disease resistant heirloom*
Good flavor

*I realize that heirlooms don't have the disease resistance bred into them like hybrids do, but I think some are more naturally DR than others.

I don't care about color, growth habit (det., indet., semi-indet., dwarf, tree, etc.) but I do like the PLs or heavily leafed varieties for the sun protection. I believe I have my culture techniques pretty much handled. I just don't have the containers or container space to grow 5 or 6 containers, so am limited to maximum of 2 big pots. I know that no one was particularly impressed with the dwarf varieties from the Dwarf Tomato Project. If I can get them planted early, and harvest them before the heat really sets in, it won't bother me if they poop out after that and don't make it to fall production. I'll just plant for fall tomatos.

I know that's asking a lot, but with my growing situation, I am reduced to expecting a lot.

I wasn't impressed with Big Beef or Better Boy, but that could be the environmental conditions we have had to deal with, not to mention I am an inexperienced tomato grower, but have learned much quicker than those who don't have Dawn on their forums, lol! (I think Dawn holds her seeds in one hand and fairy dust in the other.....)

I just want to have a tomato that does well early, and then rely on the cherries, grapes, or whatever to get thru the entire growing season.

Pam, I know what those East Coast roads can be like. Living in Massachusetts taught me that East doesn't really mean East, North doesn't have anything to do with North, and so on and so on. Someone would tell me, just keep going on Route 128 South, and I'm like thinking they gave me the wrong directions a few miles down the road, when I am facing East or West, ya know? Oh, but the land is so beautiful. Lots of trees that folks don't tear down to build a house or a Walmart. Minimal commercial advertising signs to interrupt the scenery, where every 10 feet seems to be gouged out in restaurant, hotel, product, or whatever promotional signage here. I love, love, love the rocky coastline around Mass. in contrast to the sandy beaches of the Southern coastline. It sharply reminded me that we are not really in control of creating lovely landscapes, but that nature truly is the manufacturer of it all.

I wish you well in your reforestation project and applaud you for such a venture. Many of my friends on the Butterfly Forum work diligently to create meadows and wildlife habitat for the butterflies and other critters whether starting a new project or restoring one destroyed by hurricanes or man.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I hope I have a good tomato year next year, but I don't want to plant a huge number of plants either. My goal was to have enough to eat fresh and can a couple dozen pints of salsa, and I canned about 4 dozen jars. My plants got covered with those small bugs that just came in hoards and landed on the tomato plants. They didn't seem to chew on the plants but I suspect they carried some type of disease because my plants started to looked diseased. Along with the heat and no rain, they didn't have much of a chance to recover. Those little bugs didn't bother anything except the tomatoes and I had a good harvest of most things.

I wasn't real happy with my melons this year and will probably only plant Hales Jumbo next year since that seems to be our favorite. I will plant winter squash much earlier so it has time to ripen before the first frost. I will probably plant mostly butternut although Al doesn't like it much. If I get more than I can eat, I will make 'pumpkin' pies from them and he will never know the difference.

I froze a lot of things, and canned more than I had intended. I finally decided I had finished, then a friend gave me a 5 gallon bucket of plums, my son gave me 2 bushels of apples, and my friend wanted me to go pick pears with her. It is hard to turn down free food, so I just kept on taking it. LOL

I told my children they could take a dozen jars each. One took mostly dill pickles and salsa, and one wanted a variety of everything. One daughter always wants apple pie jam, but her kids like pickles and her DH likes salsa. I think I may end up with a lot of jam in my pantry, but I made much more than I normally do. My DIL in Texas also cans, so I don't know if she will even want her dozen jars.

Dawn, I never did see jars on sale this year, but I may have just missed it. I bought a lot of pints and jelly jars, then one of Al's friends gave him a couple of cases that they had never used. I did pickles in pints this year but I think I may do them in quarts next year. I used Mrs Wages for all of the pickles and it was super easy, and I have been happy with all three types I made.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, That is such a massive reforestration project. I so admire your drive to replace what was destroyed and to restore the woodland.

When we first moved here, in the spring my goal was just to find places to plant all the seedlings I raised. Then, when faced with empty flats, I started more seeds. Once those were in the ground, I started raising new seedlings for fall. I had to learn that there was a point in there where I needed to stop planting more seeds. It took me a few years though, because I finally had enough space to grow whatever I wanted to grow---and I wanted to plant it all, and endlessly. I do a better job of not overplanting nowadays, I think. I also don't keep starting seeds nonstop...not too much....not all the time....anyhow. The extreme heat of the last couple of summers has put a halt to a lot of the succession planting. There isn't much point in sowing a succession crop in July if it is 105-110 degrees out there and rain isn't falling.

George, I so despise those blister beetles. I try to tolerate them because they eat grasshopper eggs, but if they are damaging things too much, I stand in the garden with Fiskars garden scissors in my hands and cut every blister beetle I see in half. I used to just ignore them, but the last two years they have been incredibly damaging.

We went down to Texas for Thanksgiving where my aunt and cousins told me that the grasshoppers totally devoured their gardens before they produced much this year, so I was grateful for how well my garden did this year under pretty similar circumstances.

My above list of tomatoes is pretty much a bare bones list for me. I'm expecting drought to continue so I wanted to grow only the most reliable producers, especially since I'm growing only about one-third as many varieties as usual.

Susan, There are so many great choices that would fit your needs, except for that 'short day' thing. Most OPs that truly are short day types produce in 55 days or so and I don't care much for their flavor in comparison to the fuller flavor of mid-season types. It likely is not the fault of the early DTM types. They tend to grow and set fruit earlier with lower temperatures and shorter day length, and that affects their flavor. Pruden's Purple (which I think may be the same as or very close to George's Prudence Purple) is very reliable. Jaunne Flammee is a great producer with great flavor and wonderful heat tolerance, but the fruit are kinda smallish for slicers. It is earlier to produce than some of the others I'm listing here for you. I like my slicers to be large enough that one slice of tomato covers a slice of bread. Greek Rose fits the bill in that regard and produces heavily and has great flavor. For flavor, Stump of the World is as close to the fabled Brandywine as anything I've ever grown and it does produce really early for me. Burgundy Traveler produced remarkably good, tasty fruit until August despite the awful weather this year, but is not necessarily a short-day type. In fact, it is fairly late, but I like it anyhow. Greek Rose is amazing and I will grow it every year. Its size was just astonishing and its flavor and productivity were top notch. It produced well fairly early but still is more of a mid-season type than an early type. Amazon Chocolate produces pretty early for me and meets all your criteria. I've only grown it in containers, and it produced huge loads of fruit in a very hot, dry year. As a bonus, it is a gorgeous fruit with green and red striping.

The most reliable early variety I've ever grown is Early Girl, though it is not always early for me. (I keep thinking that is some weather-related quirk.) This year it was early for us, for once, and the thing it does better than any other early type is that it produces all summer long no matter what the weather is doing...cool, wet, hot, dry, etc. My Early Girl in a container set fruit in every month from February through September. What more can you expect from a tomato? It's a hybrid though. A good OP short-day would be Sophie's Choice, but the fruit are smallish too. In general, plants with short DTMs produce smaller fruit. You have to go with mid-season DTMs to get sizable fruit.

Carol, I don't know what is wrong with y'all's store managers up there! Our jars were on sale for at least 6 weeks and I bought oodles of them. I think I bought 20 cases, or possibly 22. I lost count somewhere along the way. As soon as they'd cleared their shelves and gotten rid of every last case of the "old" jars at really great prices, they restocked the shelves with a brand new bunch of jars at full prices. It makes no sense to me.

What color were the little bugs you had on your tomato plants? I wonder what in the world they were.

It is odd what a difference you saw in your garden from what I saw in mine. I had the best melon year we'd had in ages. We had so many melons that I fed plenty to the chickens. Normally I make melon balls and freeze them, but the freezers were full of tomatoes and the weather was hot and dry, so I gave the chickens melons and/or Armenian cucumbers just about every single day. I don't have a 'great' melon year too often because usually the cucumber beetles give them bacterial wilt or something, so this year's production was high partly because the cucumber beetles didn't show up here until August.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I had one early one that a possum stole, and I had oodles of Collective Farm Women, but they stayed green forever, and I picked most before the first freeze and fed to the chickens. The few we did get were not sweet. I can't say they weren't productive, but even with lots of water, they were not a success story. I planted other seeds as well but the only melons we got were from CFW.

The bugs were almost black, very tiny, and soft bodied. They flew in groups of thousands and just hovered over the tomato plants. I hit the first batch with a blast of water very early and knocked some of them off of the plants. The next day they hit again, and I tried knocking them out of the air with water, but they didn't move on. The first two times, they only hit the tomatoes in the garden and didn't touch the container plants. A few days later I went out to find that they were also on the container plants. It looked like they just landed and died on the leaf. They looked a little like gnats, but didn't have long legs. I would have to call them swarms, the way they flew in. It was all in a one week period and I had never seen them before nor have I seen them since.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I had a few - very few - Cucumber Beetles early on, but like you say, Dawn, I had the most beginning in August. I was out every morning squishing them and still they appeared in droves. I try to get bugs early morning because they seem the most lethargic and thus, easier to capture, that time of day. It's like after 10 a.m., they are fully aware they under attack of Big Mama and best be more elusive and quicker to take flight.

Okay, on the tomatoes, I think I'll try the Amazon Chocolate and Sophie's Choice, that way I'll have an early and mid-season. Thank you so much for the recommendations. I can't imagine trying to sort thru all of the descriptions and recommendations on various websites to make a decision. In fact, it would be virtually impossible (literally and figuratively). I do love the "full body" flavor of the blacks/purples, too, so Amazon Chocolate sounds delicious.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan, Ooops. Wait. I mis-spoke. Forgive my aging brain. It wasn't Amazon Chocolate. It was Chocolate Stripes. I think Jay and I talked about Amazon Chocolate (not a striped variety), which he had grown or was growing, the first year that I was growing Chocolate Stripes and I have had them confused in my mind ever since then. I got the seeds from Tomatofest, but you also might find them at Remy's (I haven't looked there) or maybe at Gleckler's.

FYI--there is a little note from Remy on her SS website that you might want to go read since you're a customer of hers. She emailed me earlier and I emailed her right back at that moment from my phone as I was driving down the highway, then sent her a longer email after I got back home and read the note on her website. If I could send her hugs via an email, I would.

I've linked the Tomatofest Chocolate Stripes page, but the tomatoes I grew didn't have the malformed shape of the big one in the photo there, which likely resulted from a megabloom. Mine had a more normal shape like the one in the photo at Tatiana's Tomato Base.

Carol, Were they black aphids? Some sort of fly? Someone on the tomato forum had a similar black bug invasion late in summer and everyone who really knows tomato pests seemed sure it was aphids, but the person said they weren't aphids. I never heard if anyone figured out anything else it could be. I had whiteflies in my southern peas late in the season but just ignored them because a freeze was imminent. I haven't seen them since it froze.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Chocolate Stripes


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Cool, and, once again, thanks! Funny thing, I just got thru scanning the sale tomato list from Tomato Fest and didn't see Amazon Chocolate. I'll revisit the site and if they have Sophie's Choice, as well as Chocolate Stripes, I'll likely order both. Everyone might want to know that the TF seed sale started today. I'll link to the first page of the sales' seeds.

I am getting anxious to start seeds.....

Carol, I found a Diagnostic Questionnaire at this site that may be helpful in identifying your pest:

http://www.organicgardening-101.com/garden-pests.html

I always forget how to hyperlink here at GW, so forgive me if you have to copy and paste into your browser.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Fest Seed Sale


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Cool, and, once again, thanks! Funny thing, I just got thru scanning the sale tomato list from Tomato Fest and didn't see Amazon Chocolate. I'll revisit the site and if they have Sophie's Choice, as well as Chocolate Stripes, I'll likely order both. Everyone might want to know that the TF seed sale started today. I'll link to the first page of the sales' seeds.

I am getting anxious to start seeds.....

Carol, I found a Diagnostic Questionnaire at this site that may be helpful in identifying your pest:

http://www.organicgardening-101.com/garden-pests.html

I always forget how to hyperlink here at GW, so forgive me if you have to copy and paste into your browser.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Fest Seed Sale


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Cool, and, once again, thanks! Funny thing, I just got thru scanning the sale tomato list from Tomato Fest and didn't see Amazon Chocolate. I'll revisit the site and if they have Sophie's Choice, as well as Chocolate Stripes, I'll likely order both. Everyone might want to know that the TF seed sale started today. I'll link to the first page of the sales' seeds.

I am getting anxious to start seeds.....

Carol, I found a Diagnostic Questionnaire at this site that may be helpful in identifying your pest:

http://www.organicgardening-101.com/garden-pests.html

I always forget how to hyperlink here at GW, so forgive me if you have to copy and paste into your browser.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Fest Seed Sale


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Cool, and, once again, thanks! Funny thing, I just got thru scanning the sale tomato list from Tomato Fest and didn't see Amazon Chocolate. I'll revisit the site and if they have Sophie's Choice, as well as Chocolate Stripes, I'll likely order both. Everyone might want to know that the TF seed sale started today. I'll link to the first page of the sales' seeds.

I am getting anxious to start seeds.....

Carol, I found a Diagnostic Questionnaire at this site that may be helpful in identifying your pest:

http://www.organicgardening-101.com/garden-pests.html

I always forget how to hyperlink here at GW, so forgive me if you have to copy and paste into your browser.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Fest Seed Sale


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

You guys, I apologize for the duplicate posts. The Garden Knomes are acting up again, and for some reason, I kept getting error messages when submitting the post, that it wasn't being posted. Well, darned if that story wasn't the BIG ONE. It posted 4 times!

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan, It is not a big surprise that your post was posting while the system was telling you it wasn't and I know it is the gnomes. They did it to me last week. It drives me up the wall when those little gnomes misbehave.

I'll link TomatoFest for you. Thanks for the info on their sale. I need to go to their website and get a couple of varieties that Brokenbar recommends for wine-marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes.

I also think that Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds now carries Chocolate Stripes, though they weren't carrying it back when I bought the seeds from Tomato Fest.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatofest Website


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Oh oh!!!! I was thinking about it, and expecting Dawn will post it soon, but it is already posted long ago. I yet to make list, this time bit conservative! regards -Chandra


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn, where do you get your San Marzano Redorta seeds? I have seen San Marzano everything-else on various seed sites, but not the SMRs.

Alao, Greek Rose.

Wouldn't it be nice to find all your seeds on one website? Ah.....just dreaming.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Chandra, I am having a lot of fun planning what else I'll grow in the area where I usually grow tomatoes since I'm only growing a few tomato plants this year.

Susan, Tomatofest usually has Greek Rose, San Marzano Redorta and Chocolate Stripes so you could kill three birds with one stone.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Yippee, I picked up all three plus Bloody Butcher, Kimberly, and Hawaiian Currant. Decided to add a currant to the list. Don't know that I'll plant BB and Kimberly, but always wanted to try BB, and Kimberly is supposed to be an early, yet heat tolerant variety that produces til fall (well, supposedly, and assuming it doesn't get tired and worn out before fall approaches). It has good reviews for being one of the better flavored earlies. Has anyone grown these tomatos?

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I haven't grown Hawaiian Currant but in general every currant type I've ever planted has produced billions of tomatoes---so many that I got tired of picking them and don't have any currants on my list this year. My favorite ones for flavor are Coyote and Tess's Land Race Currant.

Bloody Butcher is a great producer and I like it. I haven't grown it in 3 or 4 years though. (So many tomatoes, so little time.....) It produced very well in 2009 which was a tough year for me when early spring drought was followed by a one-day rainfall of 12.89" in late April and then another 6-8" of rain over the next few weeks. BB survived the perpetually wet conditions and remained relatively disease-free and produced well that summer, though slightly later than usual since the waterlogging set it back.

Kimberly was one of the most disappointing tomatoes I've ever grown. I selected it beause it was supposed to be early yet heat tolerant. It was a total joke in my garden in whatever year I grew it. I think I planted it two straight years around 2005-2006 or maybe 2006-2007. It was not early at all. It did not set well in heat. Each plant (I had one in the ground, one in a 20-gallon container) set maybe 3 or 4 fruit the entire year. That just doesn't meet my standards. They had tough skin and average flavor and I was really disappointed in them.

Your mileage may vary, of course, and I hope with regards to Kimberly that it does. I know that the years I was trying Kimberly were very tough weather years with lots of challenges, and I was away at fires a lot so didn't give them a lot of attention.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Well, it was on my "iffy to plant" list, so I may just forego that one. I appreciate your honest input, too. It makes the cost of a seed pack seem so minor when if planted I put more time and money into trying to get a plant to respond that is not going to no matter what, ya know?

I also ordered some baby bok choi and some pretzel beans from another source.

Thanks again for your advice and opinions, Dawn.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan, You're so welcome. I wish I'd kept a running tally --just numerically, not by individual names of all the varieties of all the veggies I've tried growing here--the total number likely would be horrifying. In terms of finding varieties that perform well in our difficult climate, you've got to kiss a lot of toads to find the handsome prince. However, the experimentation is worth it because once you find varieties that produce here, they can be highly productive as long as they get some water.

There are not many tomato varieties, especially heirloom ones, that I absolutely, positively would not plant again. Most of the ones I haven't liked were not truly bad in flavor, but just low in production, or had poor disease tolerance,

It could be my taste buds too since taste is subjective, but it still remains on my no-grow list.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

We were so dry last spring that my tomatoes couldn't even set fruit! We were in the single digits, down to around 3-5 % humidity when I should have been getting fruit set. The spider mites were so early last spring.
I didn't get a single, edible tomato, well, maybe a few Matt's and Sungolds but not enough to even make a salad.
My purple tomatillos finally loaded up with fruits this fall and then the blister beetles destroyed them. I got to taste about 10-20 before they were gone.
I did get eggplants and Armenian cucumbers coming out my ears. And still have a ton of basil.
Next year, I will get those tomatoes in early and spray weekly for spider mites, which I've never done before. I sure hope it's a better yearR. I may need to try some sort of misting system if the humidity continues to be low.
I planted some dwarf tomatoes in pots a few days ago on the porch and I'm starting my main list today for a Feb 1 planting out. That will be a little earlier than I've ever gotten them out before.
I'm considering adding some hybrids, which I've never tried before. Any recommendations on some heavy producers in dry conditions? I'd like something for canning and dehydrating, plus making salsa.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Tracy,

I am sorry you had such a bad tomato year. We lucked out here by warming up early in 2012. I transplanted tomatoes about 4-6 weeks earlier than usual, and it made a huge difference in the yield. In a colder year, I couldn't have done that.

Some hybrids that have produced well for me in hot years here are: Phoenix, Sioux, Homestead, Merced (seed off the market, but a local grower in Fort Worth has the plants every year so either he dehybridized them or he has a huge stash of seed in his freezer), Celebrity, Big Beef, Lemon Boy, and Carnival. When I was a kid or a teenager in Texas, we used to get really good yields from Spring Giant (it was a mid-season or late, not an early, so I never understood the name), Big Set, Bingo, Whirlaway and Jackpot but I haven't seen any of those on the market for years either as seeds or plants. Porter and Porter Improved will shut down when temps are over about 105, but do pretty well until then. Carmello and Dona (the original hybrid ones) produced great in the past, but I don't think they are available here in the US any more, except maybe through Rene's Garden Seeds, and some people say her Carmello and Dona are not the same as the ones we used to grow years ago. However, Carmello produced well for me this year, so I liked it fine. Really, anything I've bought from Renee's has done well for me. The last I heard, Carmello and Dona still were available in France from Vilmorin. I have wondered if they are any different from the ones Rene's sells.

For canning, no bybrid produces as well for me as the OP varieties. Isn't that odd? Viva Italia is a hybrid that has great flavor and production, but I tend to grow Heidi (the best producer of all the paste types in exceptionally hot weather), Speckled Roman and Schiavonne Italian Paste as well as Principe Borghese for dehydrating. Burpee's Big Mama produced really well all summer long in the first year I grew it, but not as well in the second year. However, it was a disease magnet for foliar type diseases. With your low humidity, it might perform well without all the diseases.

One tomato that is reputed to produce well in heat that I've been meaning to try is Wuhib.

Maybe Jay will have some ideas for you. He has to deal with high heat and low humidity every year.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I think we now have our finalized list of tomatoes for next year. We'll just be growing a few of each kind, I am hoping for a better year than last. I will be following Dawn's advice and starting them all off early.

We will grow:
Cherokee Purple (this one is new to us)
Black Krim
Rutgers (the bugs ate these up before they even made it in the ground last year so I guess we will see how they do)
Yellow Pear
Chocolate cherry
Tricolor garden candy (sweetgold, supersweet 100, sungold)

and we will grow tomatillos again, as those did the best by far out of our whole garden last year! We picked them a couple weeks back before the hard freeze and have made lots of enchilada sauce.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Have you grown Chocolate Cherry before, Shallot? Just wondering.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan, we did try growing it last year but moving house in the middle of the summer meant it didn't go in the ground until August so we never got any tomatoes from it. Have you grown it before? Any advice?


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Shallot, I'm not Susan, but if I were handing out advice, here's my 2 cents worth: Having grown Black Cherry, Brown Berry, Brown Cherry and Chocolate Cherry, I have found that Black Cherry is far superior to the others in flavor and from this point forward, it is the only one of the 4 we are going to grow, and we do grow Black Cherry every single year, and have ever since it hit the market.

Last summer was the first time I grew Chocolate Cherry and Black Cherry side by side in the garden, and while Chocolate Cherry may have produced a slightly heavier crop, the flavor of Black Cherry was so good that I started feeding the Chocolate Cherry ones to the chickens.

Since everyone's taste buds experience flavor differently, other people might prefer Chocolate Cherry but, of the gardeners I know who've grown both, all of them prefer Black Cherry.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi All, good ideas floating around here. Lists are being updated ...

Dawn, I was interested in your canning recommendations.

After combing this forum, the GW tomato forum, and another tomato forum, I made this list of possibilities and need to pare it down-- a lot.

* Heidi
* Heinz Classic Processor (Pinetree for $0.99)
* Mama Leone
* Opalka Paste
* Polish Linguisa (reportedly performs well in cooler weather so may not perform well in hot)
* Rutgers
* Russo Sicilian Togeta (recommended by brokenbar for sundried)
* San Marzono Redorta
* Schiavone Italian Paste

Suggestions? If I planted all these, I'd probably have a summer like you did last year and in 2006!


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Thanks for the advice Dawn, I will have to try black cherry the next year. Unfortunately we already have the seeds for chocolate cherry and OH will kill me if I buy any new seeds after we already made the garden plan!


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, I haven't used all the ones you listed, but I'll comment on the ones that I have experience with.

Heidi--hands-down, every year, in our brutally hot summers, this produces huge loads of tomatoes for me, and they rarely suffer from Blossom End Rot. I love these plants. I have to be honest and say that I finally reached a point in the summer of 2012 when I yanked out these plants and threw them on the compost pile while they were still producing because the huge loads of fruit were just killing me. The fruit are small and they take longer to process than larger tomatoes do, but I have a tomato mill that processes them so the size isn't as much of a problem for me so much as picking time is. Wonderful flavor, heavy production, and the heat cannot defeat this variety. Enough said.

Heinz Classic Processor: I haven't grown it so cannot comment on it, but I've grown several of the other Heinz varieties, generally named with the Heinz name and number like Heinz 1439 or whatever. All the Heinz varieties I've grown have been heavy producers so I suspect you cannot go wrong with it.

Mama Leone: It grew well for me in a very difficult year but did not produce very heavily so I just used it for fresh eating because I wasn't getting enough tomatoes from it at one time for a big canning batch. I planted it the next year in a better year and it didn't produce that heavily either. I like it, but it either doesn't like my soil or my weather or something and doesn't produce scads and scads of tomatoes like the other canners I grow.

Opalka was my go-to paste in the early 2000s, but it has issues in our heat. Its foliage is sort of wispy and, at times, that can cause issues with sunscald of the fruit in our endlessly hot and sunny summer days. If I ever plant it again, I'd put it at the far northwestern corner of my garden where shade from adjacent trees would give its fruit some protection from the sun. The flavor is superb though, especially for making fresh sauce to eat for dinner. As the weather tends to trend hotter year after year, some of the varieties I adored in 2000-2005 are falling from favor as the increased heat just kills their productivity. This is one that is in that category.

Polish Linquisia has superb flavor but probably produces 1/4 as many fruit per plant as Heidi, which explains why I don't grow it any more. I think our heat does impair its ability to produce as heavily because in a year like 2002 where we had a cold start to summer (we still had some nights in the 40s in May and June in 2002, which seems impossible to believe compared to recent years), it produced much better than it has in more recent hotter,drier years.

RST is one I'm trying this year for the first time because I want to use it for Brokenbar's SDT recipe.

San Marzano Redorta is a favorite of ours for flavor. Of all the San Marzano varieties out there, this is our favorite. Having said that, it is slowly dropping lower and lower on my priority list. There is nothing wrong with this tomato at all. The problem is time-related. In recent years, I have begun to move away from the smaller tomatoes (except for Principe' Borghese) to the larger ones because, with the very large tomatoes like Speckled Roman and Schiavone Italian Paste, you spend significantly less time picking tomatoes. Let's say that Speckled Roman gives me tomatoes that are 3 times the size of SMR----that makes Speckled Roman a time-saver in terms of picking, sorting, washing, running through the tomato machine, etc. SMR is becoming more of a fresh-cooking tomato when I want to make a pot of pasta sauce for dinner, than a canner. For someone who does not engage in extreme canning as I do, SMR is a great choice. If I was making one batch a day of tomato products, I'd be perfectly happy with SMR, but some days I make 3 or 4 batches a day and saving time does matter.

Schiavone Italiam Paste was new to me in 2012. All I can say is OMG! The tomatoes are large, thick, meaty with low moisture and not all that many seeds, and have very good flavor. Picking and processing these was super-quick. I could pick my whole row of Schiavone Paste (actually 2 short rows, consisting of 7 plants in each row) in the same time it took me to pick all the Principe Borghese fruit from one plant. It doesn't take long to process and cook down Schiavone Italian Paste into sauce. This is a new favorite and knocked a bunch of other varieties off my list for 2013 since I don't need to grow too many processing types in 2013. Some of those other varieties likely will return in 2014 when I need to do a lot of tomato canning, but I doubt anything will knock Schiavone Italian Paste off my list. Any tomato variety that can produce huge loads of fruit with good flavor in a hot, dry year like we had in 2012 is a real keeper. This is another variety that tired to kill me with heavy production, so once I had canned all I could handle, I yanked these out at the same time I yanked out Heidi. I seldom resort to pulling and composting plants that still are producing heavily, but dealing with all the tomatoes became more than I could bear.

Rutgers is the old standard that's been around forever and still is preferred by many simply because it never has a bad year. I like it and I grow it some years but it is not my favorite. However, if you want a canner that also is pretty good for fresh eating, Rutgers is a great dual-purpose tomato. With Rutgers, there are 8 or 9 varieties out there with Rutgers in the name, so you have to read the descriptions carefully and know which one you're getting. If flavor is the most important thing, I'd buy the Rutgers Original Strain (I get mine from SESE) but if you have so much humidity that foliar diseases can be an issue, I'd go with Rutgers Improved (also available from SESE). In terms of flavor and production, they're pretty similar although many people give the original strain a slight edge in flavor. If you want to read about the various other types of Rutgers available, you can go to Tatiana's Tomato Base, and use the alphabetical listing to find all the Rutgers strains, and click on each one for the description.

We have to stop talking about all the paste varieties I am not planting this year, because just discussing them makes me want to go back and add them to my list. Don't worry, though....when I get the urge to add another canner to my 2013 list, I go sit in my pantry and stare with wonder at the hundreds of jars of tomato products in it right now, and then I come to my senses and say "you do NOT need to add anything back to the list". : )

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn: I can't thank you enough. I have extremely long lists of tomatoes in every category but was least certain about paste tomatoes. I hadn't thought about the issue of size because I haven't grown many paste tomatoes. I see the logic so I added a new one to the master list - Speckled Roman. Final selections for paste tomatoes are ...

Heidi
Speckled Roman
Schiavone Italian Paste

And for drying are:
Russo Sicilian Togeta
Principe Borghese

Since I'm getting into this canning business, I'll need to make new raised beds this winter for these tomatoes.

Last year, I bought about a dozen Bonnie-sized tomatoes while I was waiting for my seedlings to size up. Those big tomatoes were incredibly productive. This led to wonder about the advantages of starting with larger plants that I grow.
Our last frost date is early to mid March, sometimes late Feb. I usually sow tomato and pepper seeds in March and transplant tomato seedlings in mid-April when they are fairly small. I may do things differently this year - sow earlier - maybe early February - with the goal of growing Bonnie-sized tomatoes to transplant. I'm considering but haven't committed to this plan yet. Much will depend on what else is going on in life at the time.

Last year, I put about 50 tomato seedlings on the deck for sun, went to the office for a couple of hours. When I came home, the wind had shifted and picked up to 20-25 knots - all the seedlings died. I had to start over and that put me seriously behind. That's when I bought the Bonnie plants.

I need to figure out how to grow Bonnie sized tomato plants that are as productive as those I bought at Lowe's last year. My homegrown plants didn't hold a candle to them - that may have been because they were planted out late when it was very hot. I just don't know.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn: I can't thank you enough. I have extremely long lists of tomatoes in every category but was least certain about paste tomatoes. I hadn't thought about the issue of size because I haven't grown many paste tomatoes. I see the logic so I added a new one to the master list - Speckled Roman. Final selections for paste tomatoes are ...

Heidi
Speckled Roman
Schiavone Italian Paste

And for drying are:
Russo Sicilian Togeta
Principe Borghese

Since I'm getting into this canning business, I'll need to make new raised beds this winter for these tomatoes.

Last year, I bought about a dozen Bonnie-sized tomatoes while I was waiting for my seedlings to size up. Those big tomatoes were incredibly productive. This led to wonder about the advantages of starting with larger plants that I grow.
Our last frost date is early to mid March, sometimes late Feb. I usually sow tomato and pepper seeds in March and transplant tomato seedlings in mid-April when they are fairly small. I may do things differently this year - sow earlier - maybe early February - with the goal of growing Bonnie-sized tomatoes to transplant. I'm considering but haven't committed to this plan yet. Much will depend on what else is going on in life at the time.

Last year, I put about 50 tomato seedlings on the deck for sun, went to the office for a couple of hours. When I came home, the wind had shifted and picked up to 20-25 knots - all the seedlings died. I had to start over and that put me seriously behind. That's when I bought the Bonnie plants.

I need to figure out how to grow Bonnie sized tomato plants that are as productive as those I bought at Lowe's last year. My homegrown plants didn't hold a candle to them - that may have been because they were planted out late when it was very hot. I just don't know.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn: I can't thank you enough. I have extremely long lists of tomatoes in every category but was least certain about paste tomatoes. I hadn't thought about the issue of size because I haven't grown many paste tomatoes. I see the logic so I added a new one to the master list - Speckled Roman. Final selections for paste tomatoes are ...

Heidi
Speckled Roman
Schiavone Italian Paste

And for drying are:
Russo Sicilian Togeta
Principe Borghese

Since I'm getting into this canning business, I'll need to make new raised beds this winter for these tomatoes.

Last year, I bought about a dozen Bonnie-sized tomatoes while I was waiting for my seedlings to size up. Those big tomatoes were incredibly productive. This led to wonder about the advantages of starting with larger plants that I grow.
Our last frost date is early to mid March, sometimes late Feb. I usually sow tomato and pepper seeds in March and transplant tomato seedlings in mid-April when they are fairly small. I may do things differently this year - sow earlier - maybe early February - with the goal of growing Bonnie-sized tomatoes to transplant. I'm considering but haven't committed to this plan yet. Much will depend on what else is going on in life at the time.

Last year, I put about 50 tomato seedlings on the deck for sun, went to the office for a couple of hours. When I came home, the wind had shifted and picked up to 20-25 knots - all the seedlings died. I had to start over and that put me seriously behind. That's when I bought the Bonnie plants.

I need to figure out how to grow Bonnie sized tomato plants that are as productive as those I bought at Lowe's last year. My homegrown plants didn't hold a candle to them - that may have been because they were planted out late when it was very hot. I just don't know.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Pam,

You're welcome.

I have grown seedlings every which way, and much depends on what else is going on in my life at the time. I just do the best I can to fit in the raising of seedlings around whatever else is going on.

I used to raise the seedlings inside on a light shelf which is upstairs in a spare room, and then carry them downstairs and outside to harden off. When very cold nights were expected, I'd have to carry all those flats back inside and upstairs. I suppose it was great exercise, but carrying all those flats in and out gets old fast. Now, with the hoophouse style greenhouse, I not only can leave them out in cooler weather, I also am able to give them great protection from the wind.

In a hot dry year when I think I can get away with transplanting early, like I did last year, I tend to start my seedlings in January, and the earlier the better. In a year with a cold, wet winter that likely will delay planting, I start seedlings on Super Bowl Sunday. My minimal goal is to have 8-week old plants at transplant time. I'm happier if I have healthy 12-week-old plants at transplanting time, but that's hard to achieve because my schedule (sadly) doesn't revolve around seed-starting. I wish it could, but real life takes precedence. Ironically, the same hot and dry winter weather that makes early transplanting less risky also make us have a busier winter wildfire season, which just messes up all my garden plans.

If your deck has a railing, could you temporarily attach clear 4 or 6 mm plastic sheeting to it to serve as a wind break for seedlings? Or even a sheet of plexiglass if you have some sitting around in the garage or whatever? I used to harden off plants on our wraparound porch until all the small trees and shrubs we planted grew tall enough to make the porch too shady for the hardening off process. I still sometimes harden them off on the sunporch, which began life as a screened-in porch that sort of substituted for a greenhouse for a long time.

Tomato performance is highly variable and I think it relates more, at least in my location, to the heat than to anything else, including the size of the transplants when they go into the ground. If I had to choose earlier planting versus larger transplants, I'd choose earlier planting every time. What I mean by that is that no matter what size plants I put into the ground, if I can get them into the ground 2-4 weeks before my average last frost date, I'm going to have great yields period, as long as I don't let the plants freeze. It doesn't matter if I put 18" tall plants into the ground early or 8" plants.

However, If I transplant the plants at or after my average last frost date like I am supposed to, I'd better have big, healthy plants already in bloom or right on the verge of blooming because then they are in a frantic rush to grow and set fruit before the heat shuts them down. In the old days (2005 and before), the kind of heat that shuts down production didn't arrive until July most years, or occasionally very late in June. The last few years we have hit those kinds of temperatures in May or early June. This is making it harder to get good, early fruit set, so I think having bigger transplants and getting them into the ground as early as possible is more important than ever.

I will mention that when the BP transplants arrive in stores here, it almost makes me sick to look at them. They're always bigger than my home-grown transplants, and I look at them and resolve to start my seeds in November of the next year so I'll have plants as big as BP's at planting time. It never happens though.

Last year everyone here in my county who transplanted tomatoes into the ground in March had huge yields. It was one of those years when everyone had so many excess tomatoes that it was hard to give all of them away. That hasn't happened in recent years when the weather forced us to plant in April.

For several years from about 2006-2010 we had the worst kind of spring weather--very cold nights in April and into the first week of May that made early/on-time transplanting of tomato plants very risky. Then, it was like you flipped a switch...at the same time the nights finally got warm enough that you could safely transplant, the days also got hot enough to impede fruitset. In a year like that, you can't win.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn:

Yes, I have no doubt that hauling all those flats got very old fast. Your story reminded me of my first big seed starting operation. I made a system with lights, but without the stairs.

I decided to start seedlings in a shed behind the cottage. It was a short walk to the cottage, and I had running water and a portable heater if the weather got cold. I used one of those plastic storage units with 4-5 shelves, suspended two warm and cool fluorescent lights on thin chains above each shelf so I could adjust the distance between the lights and the seedlings. Added a fan to keep air circulating.

I put this system in front of glass doors that faced south. That year, I started very early - mid to late January. The seedlings grew like crazy in that environment - cool temps, no wind. They loved additional sunlight as the sun rose higher in the sky. Those seedlings grew much faster than I expected.

Before I was ready to plant out, we had to go on the road for 10-12 days. I was frantic! I was planting out like a crazy woman - this was when I started wearing a headlamp so I could work in the dark (use the red light to keep your night vision) On the last night, I just wanted to get the last stragglers in the ground, any ground or bed would do, because they wouldn't survive a long period without water. That was the last time I started in January. ;-)

I don't have to use the deck - I have a screened porch off the kitchen. The porch has become my #1 seed starting area for most of the year. I have running water and can move flats around so they get good light. It's a little too useful - when I'm in full planting mode, I don't have much open space. I haven't used the screened porch until temps are above freezing although I can jury-rig plastic or plexiglass to protect them from wind and cold temps if needed.

You have the same reaction to Bonnie plants. When do they start those big healthy looking plants? November or December? Do they do anything special to make them grow so stout?

I'm rethinking my plan. You plant tomatoes and peppers out before your last frost date? I haven't done that on purpose. I always heard that they won't grow until the soil warms up and/or they get more hours of sunlight. Could put row cover over them to protect from freezing temps and wind.

Start a lot earlier - in January? Prepare to move them into bigger pots or grow bags if they outgrow the smaller pots. Plan to plant out in March or early April. We don't have the temperature extremes like you do - the Bay is a huge cold basin of water that moderates temps on both ends of the season.

You mentioned the benefits of early planting over large plants, especially in a hot year. I just checked the Climate site - we both need to prepare for another hot, dry growing season. I need to rethink my plan.

Hmm, lots of things to consider.

Pam

Here is a link that might be useful: Long-range forecast: Temps


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, Now, if you'd had my luck, after you got all those plants in the ground and went on the road for 10-12 days, you would have had a forecast overnight low of 50 degrees....and a "surprise" overnight low of 32 that would have frozen all your plants back to the ground. That actually happened to me, except I was home on the night we went 18 degrees lower than forecast, not that it helped any....almost all the plants froze back to the ground. One row of black tomato varieties partially survived. They were on the highest part of the garden right next to the driveway and I bet the heat from the driveway helped them survive.

I don't know how Bonnie starts their plants, and it depends on which plants we're talking about.

If we are talking about the very early ones that arrive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area around Valentine's Day in 5" or 6" round peat pots that have stems as big around as a lady's pinky finger and yet are only between about 10-18" tall, then I think it is likely those large ones are started from cuttings in November or December for shipment to stores in late January through late February.

If we're talking about the smaller plants in smaller containers that arrive in stores beginning sometime in March, I am fairly certainly they are seed-raised but in very precise almost cool temperatures and with carefully controlled light levels in order to keep them fairly compact. They probably have fans blowing to help thicken up the main stems. I doubt they use growth regulators of the types that are used on flowering bedding plants to keep them a uniform size while they are in production/sales, but if we were to learn that they did, it wouldn't surprise me too much.

When I raise seedlings indoors for too long, the warmer temperatures make them get too tall too fast for my taste, even though I shut off the heating vent in that room and don't heat the room at all. It has two big east-facing windows that get morning sun and south-facing windows that get afternoon sun, and all that sunlight, even with mini-blinds, warms up that room too much. I like to move the little tiny plants outside into cooler temperatures when they're only a couple of inches tall if the weather allows. That way they do stay a lot cooler and shorter and stockier. I also run a fan on them to help thicken the stalks, and lightly brush the tops of the plants with my finger tips because it helps make the main stems thicker as well.

If BP is starting those smaller plants with a 10-12 week lead time instead of 6-8 weeks, then maybe they are using growth regulators. If I start plants 3 months prior to their transplant date, they are huge tall monsters by planting time, not shorter and stockier like BP plants.

I did't even want to click on your link because I knew what it would say. I check those maps just about every week---kind of hoping that they'll mysteriously change suddenly and start reflecting cooler, wetter weather, although they never do.

I often do plant tomato plants into cool soil but generally don't do it with peppers. Tomato plants are forgiving. If I put them into soil temps that are staying at 55 degrees and above, they're perfectly okay with that as long as I protect them from freezing cold temperatures. Pepper plants are not. Their reaction to being grown in soil temps that are too low is often to stall in their growth and to remain stunted and non-productive for months. You have to be able to read your weather beyond soil temps. If I put tomato plants into 55 degree soil and the nighttime lows are in the upper 30s and the daytime highs are in the 50s, they won't grow much. But, if we are having a warm winter with daytime highs that fluctuate from the 50s to the 70s or even 80s and nights that might drop into the 30s through the 40s or even low 50s, the plants can grow really well. So, it has to be more than soil temps at the minimal level of 55 degrees---it also has to be good daytime and nighttime temperatures. Some years planting early pays off tremendously well, like it did last year, but other years it just doesn't. That's one reason I raise some tomato plants in containers where I can control their temperatures by moving them to a warmer area for example, or by moving them into the garage, sunporch or greenhouse if Mother Nature's hormones go haywire and she decides to send us snow in mid-April after a relatively hot February and March.

Are you familiar with Gordon Graham, the Edmond, OK, gentleman (now deceased, I believe) who holds the record for growing the world's largest tomato? He used to put his tomato plants in the ground two months before his average last frost date, using Wall-O-Waters to pre-warm the soil and to protect the young plants from freezing. When his tomato plant started to grow out of the top of the WOW, he'd stack a second WOW on top of the first, using a teepee of plant stakes to hold them in place. If you ever read Marvin Meisner's outstanding book on growing Giant Tomatoes, he reprints Gordon Graham's booklet in its entirety there. (For the record, the Giant Tomatoes book is about the best book I've ever read on growing tomatoes even if you are not trying to grow giant tomatoes to enter in giant tomato contestes. I give a slight edge to Dr. Bill Adams' tomato book because it is on growing tomatoes in general, but I love the Giant Tomatoes book too.)

I used to start tomatoes in very small peat pots and then pot them up every few weeks to progressively larger containers, but found that incredibly time-consuming. Now I start them in 3 oz. paper cups and pot them up once to lRGE plastic Solo cups. If I am holding some plants back for the OK Forum Spring Fling (plant swap), I sometimes pot them up to bigger pots to keep them growing bigger if I can. I did that last year to get some of my extra plants to bearing size as replacement plants for Paula after she had plant issues last spring. For plants going into my permanent containers or ground, I'd rather just put them in the ground earlier and protect them than to keep potting them up into progressively larger containers.

Keep in mind that early planting isn't a huge risk since I raise my own and always have plenty of backup plants in case weather disaster strikes. If I was using pricier purchased plants, it would be a huge risk to plant them too early and lose them.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I do the same thing with my tomatos and a lot of other plants. It depends on the root systems and their rate of growth. Now, we know tomato roots grow quickly and, if potting up to just the next size, can fill that next pot with roots practically overnight. Other plants, mainly perennial types, need that slow, gradual bump up to the next size, without skipping sizes so much. Annual plant roots grow very fast - they have to complete their entire life cycle in a year - so they don't experience a lot of the problems associated with slower growing perennials.

I go from the 3 oz to the 20 oz sometimes when potting up my tomatos. I don't do this with peppers, tho. But, maybe you do, Dawn?

When I do my winter sowing, I like to use pot material of a clear material, like plastic soda bottles, water bottles, etc. I like actually being able to see what the roots are doing as far as filling up the pot, how they are navigating their way thru the soil I use, their appearance (do they look healthy?), etc. Healthy plants, IME, are dependent on the how their root systems are growing. My plants are not often huge, but they have good, healthy roots, and thus, nice healthy stems and foliage, with short internodes, nice color, etc., so that when they go in their long-term containers or the ground, they are off to a good start.

I don't have the space for many back-up plants, so I have to rely on a good start for just a few. I don't take as many risks by planting early like you, Dawn, because I don't have those back-up plants like you. If I was able to grow on your scale, wow! I'd probably overwhelm myself and grow enough for the plant sale, the neighbors, and the folks across the Red River, lol!

I am getting itchy to plant something before long, and am trying so hard to keep myself in a responsible seed planting mindset.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan, I do take pepper plants from tiny paper cups to big SOLO cups in one step. There's just not enough hours in the day to pot up anything in successive rounds any more. Back when I was doing multiple rounds of potting up, we weren't having such bad wildfire winters and I had more control over my time. In more recent years, I've had to adapt so many of the things that I do to fit into a schedule where, when the pagers go off, I can drop everything right then and go. That can be very difficult sometimes when you garden and preserve food on the scale that I do. I was lucky this summer in that I never had to stop in the middle of a canning project and go to a fire, but there was one day when it was reasonably cool and I was transplanting fall plants into the garden and I didn't go to a fire. I just felt like that day I needed to get the plants into the ground and I wasn't going to stop until I finished. I rarely miss a fire and usually the garden gets the short end of the stick, but that day I put the garden first.

I like clear cups too so I can watch root development, but if I go from 3 oz. cups to clear cups, the only clear ones I find anymore vary from 7-9 oz., and then I'm going to have to repot into a 16 or 20 oz. cup in just a couple of weeks.

I am not quite as eager to start sowing seeds because once I start it seems like I don't stop for months. I need to be starting tomato seeds now for plants to go into the big containers in February but have been focusing on harvesting from the winter garden before next week's cold spell hits us with what likely will be the coldest night of the season so far. I'm going to add more mulch to anything I'm not harvesting before that real cold weather gets here, and will cover up everything with floating row covers. Most of what I'm growing will be unhappy if we drop below roughly 25 degrees, and that could happen.

With the greenhouse, I'm still learning as I go in terms of how much cold it tolerates. Last night it went down to 30 degrees outside but the greenhouse only dropped to 39 degrees. Yet, on other nights, the greenhouse has dropped just about as low as the outside air. The key has got to be how warm and sunny the day was and how early I closed the doors to let heat build up.

It is so dry here. If it was summer and our KBDI was as high as it is right now, I'd say "I have to stop watering the garden---I can keep the plants alive but can't keep them producing when it is this dry". That makes me wonder what it will be like at planting time. I start planting in the ground in January, and the odds of us getting any truly significant rainfall between now and then is about slim to none.

I can dream and make lists, start seeds, etc., but if the drought drags on without significant rainfall between now and planting time, it is going to be a tough spring. At least the amended soil in the raised beds in the garden is in good shape. The unamended clay everywhere else is as hard as concrete.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn & Susan:

I've been thinking about the best time to start tomatoes, and how Bonnie creates those short stocky plants. Then I remembered who might have answers.

Our office manager used to grow thousands of tomatoes, other vegetables, and flowers. Her family had a nursery, and a large part of their work was growing plants for wholesalers, local tomato farmers, etc.

I asked her when she started seeds, other things she did, and how did she think Bonnie gets such stocky healthy looking plants sp early. I don't think anything she told me will surprise you. Some of what she said, you have said in this thread.

When she planted depended on who was buying. Wholesalers wanted plants in late March for sale in April because in the old days, last frost was in early to mid-April. She started tomato seeds in cell packs during first two weeks of January.

Depending on who she was growing for (wholesale, retail, tomato farmer), when the plants started to grow and before they got root bound, she transplanted them into 4" pots (for tomato farmers, retail) or 6" pots (wholesalers). That's the same thing you described with peat pots and SOLO cups.

She transplanted them deep so they grew thicker stems. She had a greenhouse which allowed her to control temperature and light. She used fans to reduce disease and grow thicker stems. Using this schedule, she had large healthy plants that were ready for the market by the end of March - the process took about 10 weeks.

I checked the calendar. If seeds started around Jan 14, 10 weeks out is March 25 - I'm usually out of the woods re: freezes by then, and definitely by April 1. And this spring is forecast to be a warmer than average. I'm thinking about starting tomato and pepper seeds between Jan 15 and Jan 30. Peppers take longer so I wouldn't plant them until mid-April. Approximately.

I also asked Debra about BP. She said they have complete control over the growing conditions re: temperature, humidity, air movement, and can change conditions if they need to slow things down or speed up. Also some varieties are shorter and blockier.

I don't have a greenhouse. We live too close to the Bay for a greenhouse to be practical unless we put it several hundred feet from the house. I've grown perennials and greens in low tunnels - like winter sowing on a large scale. That worked pretty well but low tunnels can get hot very fast, so you have to keep a close eye on them. When I was growing in low tunnels a few years ago, I was also on the road with Pete doing training programs. I decided not to continue growing in low tunnels because I couldn't monitor the temps.

Our growing seasons are so different. Our first frost this year was Nov 30 (dead average). Our last frost is usually mid-March - although it's been as early as Feb 28, and as late as March 20. Thankfully, we don't have huge temperature swings like you do. In the spring, the world warms up slowly, in the fall, it cools down slowly.

You mentioned Gordon Graham and Marvin Meisner. I'm not familiar with either of them so checked Amazon - they have Marvin Meisner's book about growing "Giant Tomatoes." It has "Thirty-one chapters and an abundant appendix" and gets excellent reviews. Will order.

Amazon also has "The Texas Tomato Lover's Handbook" by William Adams. More good reviews. Looks like it may be more appropriate for growers in TX and OK

Other interesting tomato books - "The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table" by Amy Goldman (36 reviews, 5 stars) and "The Complete Guide to Growing Tomatoes" by Cherie Everhart. I'm reluctant to order books I haven't seen unless they get good reviews by a person I know and trust.

I had no idea that there are so many books about growing tomatoes!!

Gotta get back to work. We are supposed to have warmer temps this weekend. 50s and 60s. I don't know what I'm going to do with the\is massive seed list - pin it to a wall and throw a few darts.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam,

Thanks for sharing what Debra said. No real big surprises there, huh? I wish we could have total control over our growing conditions, but even in a greenhouse that is hard--costly if you are manipulating light, heat and humidity. For someone raising millions of plants a year, it is just a cost of doing business, but for a home gardener, it could get pretty pricey. I don't heat my greenhouse because it wouldn't be cost-effective to increase our electric bill a great deal just so I can keep the plants warmer for a couple of months out of the year. I always intended that it would just extend the season, which is has.

Marvin Meisner's book is outstanding. He goes into great deal about all aspects of growing tomatoes, and it is info applicable to everyone--not just to folks interested in growing giant tomatoes. That's why I like the book so much. Dr. Adams' book may be geared toward Texas and applicable to the adjacent states, but everything in it would be just as valid for you, I think, as it is for me. Maybe even more for you than for me because his weather near Houston is more like your weather than like my weather. For about 4 decades he tested and rated tomato varieties for performance in Texas, specifically in SE TX, which has a climate a lot like yours. He and the master gardeners he worked with did so much trialing to see what varieties performed well, and not just hybrids---often the focus of university extension service personnel---but heirloom OP types as well. I love his book about tomatoes, but his book about the southern kitchen garden is even more of a favorite of mine--I find it so inspirational.

Amy Goldman's book is great if you are into the history of specific heirloom varieties. I've never heard of the other book. There's likely hundreds, if not thousands, of books about growing tomatoes out there. I've read several dozen of them over the years and I've barely scratched the surface of what's available.

We have a big cold front coming Sunday, likely bringing us HIGH temperatures in the 30s (or worse) early in the week in some places.

I have a lot of winter veggies to harvest between now and then. At our house we're supposed to go down to about 22-24 degrees on at least one night next week. Since we are in a cold microclimate that often drops 4-10 degrees lower than forecast, I am expecting a very hard freeze that may wipe out a lot of what's left in my garden next week. Of course, that's a few days away and the forecast could change. In the meantime, I am headed out to the garden now to harvest more broccoli and cabbage. They're producing like crazy and I am so happy with how they've done this year. I'm really not ready for bitterly cold weather to shut down the fall garden this early, but if it happens, it happens. I'd love to be able to keep the broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts going into spring, but we usually get cold enough that such a thing isn't possible.

Our temperatures see-saw wildly from one extreme to the other in the winter months, so we can have anything from the single digits (I think 1 degree is the coldest temp recorded at our house since we moved here in 1999) to the 80s or a very rare 90-something between December and February. I never know what to expect. A couple of years ago (I think it was 2010) we stayed below freezing 24/7 for 5 straight days, and then all of a sudden, when that 5 days ended we were in the 60s or 70s within 24 hours. If a person isn't crazy when they start gardening in OK, the weather pretty quickly makes them crazy.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I did grow Speckled Roman the last two years. In 2011 I liked it, nice big fruits. This year, I had tiny fruits and every single one had BER. But, this year was a total bust for everything. Actually, the only tomatoes to even set were the pastes and cherries.
I just wish SR was a determinate and slightly earlier. I grew Marglobe in 2011 as well I got about 50-60 pounds of fruit from one plant, all at once. Good for salsa and cooking or processing, not the greatest eating plant. I just ordered Marglobe's coursing Bonnie Best from Pinetree to try.
I'm going to try Jet Set and Early Girl as well. I also like Sungold which seems like it would be really nice as dried treats.
I only have about another week to plant.
I don't necessarily need hybrids as I don't have any known diseases. My biggest pest so far has been spider mites and aphids. Aphids carry curly top virus or something that looks just like it, which can totally wipe us out in early spring without even noticing a single aphid. My mom lost every plant last year.
I'm just looking for a tomato that will give me a huge amount of production to fill the pantry up for winter. We have an even shorte grow season most springs than I had in Lawton, sometimes seein 100 degrees in mid-April, (we can have sporadic 90-100 as early as Feb-March)not going back down once it heads up.
I really hate our short springs and long summers, there is actually not a lot I like about the weather in AZ. Yes, I can grow something year round but I hate heat and even today it was hotter than I prefer.
Anyway, I guess I need a really heavy produce, smallish size,( better fruit set ive found) for cooking, canning, salsa and canning, doesn't need great fresh taste, DTm 60-70 days. Thanks!


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Tracy,

I think that there may be variations of Speckled Roman floating around because I've seen some supposed Speckled Roman fruit that had fruit which was the wrong size and wasn't very speckled and I think it may have come from purchased seed that was crossed or mislabeled. The person growing them had purchased the plants, so I'm not discounting the fact that the plants might have been mislabeled or had the labels switched at the grower or at the store.

Last year, Speckled Roman, Heidi and Schiavone Italian Paste set at higher temperatures than anything else in my garden except for Phoenix F-1 and Sungold. We were hot and miserable in 2012 but probably a little less so than in 2011.

I know that Curly Top (Beet Curly Top Virus) is mainly spread by beet leafhoppers here, and when I see beet leafhoppers in my garden it always makes me antsy. There's nothing you can do about them though. By the time you spot them, if they are going to spread disease, they likely already have done so. I assume that aphids and other insects then could vector the disease further after the beet leafhoppers bring it in initially.

Beet leafhoppers are really odd. They prefer widely-spaced plants to closely-spaced ones. I don't know why. After my plants were hit hard by beet leafhoppers and Curly Top Virus in the mid-2000s, I started spacing my indeterminate tomato plants 3' apart instead of 4' apart and haven't had Curly Top Virus since. I don't know that I can say for sure that the closer spacing made the plants less attractive to the pests, but for whatever reason, even when I see beet leafhoppers, I don't see the disease. ((Knocking on wood now because I likely just jinxed my 2013 plants by saying that.)

The bigger issue here in OK in recent years has been Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, vectored by the western flower thrips and possibly other thrips as well, but at least they can breed varieties (and have done so) with tolerance of TSWV. As far as I know, there are no varieties tolerant of Curly Top. I take a huge risk every year by not planting a single plant that is tolerant of TSWV, but I've only had it one time, and only on one plant, so at this point it doesn't feel to me like a disease I have to worry about a great deal. In some parts of OK, it is an increasingly common disease.

Viva Italia is determinate that might produce heavily for you. It produced heavily for me in Texas and the fruit were pretty good for fresh eating, but it is definitely more of a mid-season than an early-season producer. Have you ever tried Martino's Roma? It is a determinate, and when I grew it, it produced so heavily that I had to cage it because otherwise the short plants leaned over sidewise until they were resting on the ground. Martino's Roma is the only paste type I've grown that seemingly had more fruit that foliage. They were great plants and great fruits, but I prefer indeterminates because they give you more fruit per square foot since they get about twice as tall as
determinates. I think Martino's Roma also is a mid-season so might be too late for your climate.

With a season as short as yours, I'm not sure how you ever get a crop at all, much less a large enough crop for preservation. Heidi could do that for you in a good year. I think I was harvesting heavy loads of fruit from Heidi in 2012 about 10 or 11 weeks after the transplants went into the ground. Some other paste types produce early but don't give you heavy loads until a month or six weeks after the first fruit are ripe, and in your climate, that likely means the really early fruit are all you'd get and then your heat would prevent additional fruit set.

Paste types with DTMs of 60-70 days are pretty rare, if they exist at all. Most paste types have DTMS of 75-80 days, and that is just for the first round of fruit. I'll get the first fruit by the expected 75-80 days, but the heavier loads usually are at least 2 weeks, at best, after those first few early fruit. About the earliest producers I can think of that are commonly grown in the US are LaRoma III, Grandma Mary's Paste and Bellstar, and they all produce the first fruit around 70-75 days.

Your best bet (likely for 2014 because it may be too late to find seed quickly enough for 2013) for a short DTM paste type tomato might be to go to the website of Sandhill Preservation Center and see what Glenn Drowns offers that was developed for very short-season states like Montana or the Dakotas or even for Canada or Alaska....maybe something like Doucet's Plum Producer would make a crop early enough there to beat the heat. Often, I have had incredible results from tomatoes bred for very cold places (like some of the Russian varieties) merely because they set fruit early. Also, it seems like some of the genes that help them thrive in pretty cool areas might also help them tolerate extreme heat, but I'm just guessing at that. I haven't grown Doucet's but it does really well in cool areas that have a very short warm growing season, which is the same as your window of opportunity for getting tomatoes before Arizona's heat makes production grind to a halt.

If you can find tomatoes like Doucet's Plum Producer or other varieties that produce a crop of paste tomatoes in Alaska, Canada or Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and similar short-season states, maybe those varieties could produce as early for you as you need them to.

I've linked the page from Tatiana's Tomatobase where I found Doucet's Plum under its official name of Quebec 1121. On that page you'll find a list of other varieties bred by Doucet for Quebec. You might find something on that list that would produce quickly enough in your climate to beat the heat.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Doucet's Plum/Quebec 1121


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn: "If a person isn't crazy when they start gardening in OK, the weather pretty quickly makes them crazy."

When I was reading your post, I was thinking the same thing! Y'all are the cream of the gardening crop. You are determined to find ways to handle these challenges and crises.

I have one more question. I decided to resume canning in 2013. Ordered the Ball Elite water bath canner and jars. I don't know enough to know how many tomatoes to plant for a modest harvest. I'm ordering seed for paste tomatoes but also for cherries and slicers. You are planning a smaller crop this year. Roughly how many tomatoes do you plant when you want a small crop v. a medium and big crop?

Tomato books - I see your point about Dr. Adams' book and growing conditions in SE Texas being similar to here. You're right. Thanks for clarifying. I'll get both books.

We are having your weather this weekend - temps in the 60s (low 70s inland, not here), then a big drop on Tuesday.

I hope your weather isn't as bad as you expect but you have to prepare for the worst.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Tracy, I thought of a determinate, short-season tomato. It is called Milano or Milano Plum. I know that John Schleepers Kitchen Garden Seeds usually carries it, but I have not grown it myself. It has a dtm of 60-65 days.

Pam,It is hard for me to quantify how many tomato plants is a big, medium or small year, mostly 'cause I don't do small. : )

Let's talk in terms of canning tomatoes first. Several gardeners here in my county that do a whole lot of canning will plant 200-300 plants overall, and how many of those are paste tomatoes just depends on how they use them. If you like to can tomato juice, for example, you might choose nice juicy tomatoes so you could can lots of tomato juice or the homemade equivalent of V-8 juice, but if you're raising them for sauce, salsa or sun-dried tomatoes, you'd choose drier types. While 200-300 tomato plants sounds insane, there is a method in our madness. Since we are plagued with summer heat and humidity that often impedes fruit set pretty early in the summer, it is better to plant a whole lot of plants so you at least get one good early gigantic harvest for food preservation. In that way, a couple hundred plants makes sense. It is not uncommon for the folks I know here who can lots of tomatoes to be finished with their canning by late June or early to mid-July, at which time they either just abandon the vines and let them die or they call around to see if anyone they know who cans or dries tomatoes wants to come over and glean what is left on the plants. In a more normal climate where decent summer weather gives you repeated rounds of paste tomato harvests, maybe 20 or 30 paste tomatoes would be considered a big planting. So much depends on your weather and growing conditions, as well as whether you're canning for 2 people or maybe for you and your spouse, all your grown children and grandchildren (in which case, the children and grandchildren usually are helping with the harvesting and canning). Or, maybe you're like me and you know that you need at least 100 extra jars of salsa to give away at Christmas time. I'd grow a whole lot less tomatoes if I was not giving away salsa as gifts.

For me, the planting decision boils down to (a) how many tomatoes are still in storage, preserved one way or another, and how long will they last? and (b) how many more do I want to or need to can, dehydrate and freeze this year?

In a year when the stored supplies are low and I want to can, freeze and dehydrate a lot, I'll plant about 80 paste tomato plants, or maybe even 90. That gives me enough to preserve all I want and still give away lots of tomatoes too.

In a year when there is a one-year supply in the pantry and freezer at planting time, I'll plant about 40 paste tomato plants. That's really more than I need, but I am afraid to plant less for fear early heat and drought will stop fruitset almost before it starts. In a more normal climate, I'd be happy with 10-20 paste tomato plants.

In a year when there's a two-year or more supply in the pantry and freezer, I still like to plant at least 20 paste tomato plants. That way, at harvest time I can look at the freezer and pantry and decide "what do we need more of?" The answer, inevitably, is salsa. It makes such great gifts and we give away so much of it that we almost always need more salsa.

I think for a first-time canner, 10-15 paste tomato plants would be plenty.

In terms of fresh-eating and experimentation, having fresh tomatoes to share with family and friends and the standard canning, I consider 200-300 total plants a big to very big year, 100-200 a medium year, and 50 to 100 a small year. How many of those are paste tomatoes varies depending on our current supply of preserved food. This year I am planning on a really small year, and think I'll likely put about 50 plants in the ground/containers with about 15-20 of them being paste tomatoes, and that's mostly because I want to trial several new-to-me paste varieties to evaluate their performance as sun-dried tomatoes.

Looking back and trying to remember what I grew when I was a more normal person instead of a tomato-obsessed one, I remember when I thought 12 plants was a lot (6 plants were paste tomatoes, usually 4 were slicers and 2 were cherries, normally Porter, because it sets fruit all summer long) when I worked full-time and had a baby/toddler. By the time we moved here, my "baby" was 15 years old and I was a stay-at-home wife and mom, and I planted 35-50 tomato plants and that gave us more than we could eat. Then, I started preserving more and more, and starting trying more and more heirlooms, and that brought us to the present day.

My worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) year I planted 600 plants, including about 100 or more varieties that were brand new to me that year. What did I learn from that year? That you actually can plant too many tomatoes. I cannot plant that many any more because the deer found us that year and began eating the plants outside the fenced garden, so 300 is about as much as I possibly can plant in any year, and that requires a lot of containers as well as plants packed tightly into beds inside the fenced garden.

I think that eventually I'll get too old and too tired to plant 100-300 plants per year, and expect that eventually I'll settle in at around 30-50 plants per year, but not yet.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Thanks so much, Dawn! On a normal year I can get mid season tomatoes to do well. Cherokee Purples do great, if it doesn't get hot in the beginning of April!
I think I'll try Heidi and Wuhib, along with some early round tomatoes. Rounds are okay, especially for the salsa. I don't mind using them for canning, other than I have to cook them a lot longer to thicken up. Maybe something else, like Heinz, or another old commercial variety as well, a tried and true heavy producer, that sets fruit and can get them to maturity no matter what!
I had great luck with Marglobe so I ordered Bonnie Best from Pinetree, which just got here this afternoon. If I make an order from Tatiana's I will see if she has Marglobe. ( Bonnie Best was as close as I could get from Pinetree and I was making an order).
Again, thank you so much, this has been very helpful. I wish I could find Rio Grande seed. Have you grown them? They look like they would work pretty well.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Tracy, You're welcome. You know that I always am happy to help a fellow gardener feed their tomato-growing addiction.

I haven't grown Rio Grande but I've seen seed of it around at a lot of places. I even think I may have seen it on a Ferry-Morse seed rack last year. Too many tomatoes....so little time and space to try them all. I keep trying to stop experimenting with so many varieties that are new to me and to just grow the best performers for our climate, but I still trial a handful of new ones each year.

I know that Seeds From Italy, which changed hands a little over a year ago, has had Rio Grande in the past. I've grown a lot of the Franchi-Sementi varieties over the last 6-8 years that I've purchased from Seeds From Italy and the Italian varieties have performed well in our weather. I grow a lot of their tomato and bean varieties, and sometimes melon and winter squash varieties too. I've never had a problem with any of their varieties, except for the standard problem of the heat here arriving too early and shutting down production of varieties that had been performing really well.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Rio Grande at Seeds From Italy


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn:

I hope you were able to harvest what you need and protect the rest. I know you live in southern OK so I checked the weather in Ardmore. Lows in the 20s but north winds at 15-20 so the chill factor will be a bear. Looks like tomorrow night may be a little colder but if you and your plants make it to Wednesday, you'll have a break in the action.

Thank you for the great description of the decision-making process re: how many tomatoes and what varieties to plant and why. It was very helpful. As I read, I realized again how incredibly difficult it is to make decisions that you won't regret later. When you plan, you do have to assume the worst. If the worst case scenario doesn't happen, you're likely to have an overwhelming number of tomatoes that need homes (canned or given away). I remember your posts last summer, when you got so tired of canning but the tomatoes weren't tired of producing and didn't stop. I was surprised that you had such a good harvest when the summer was so hot and dry.

Although we have challenges - mainly wind, coastal flooding, and very high humidity in mid to late summer - I'm grateful that we don't have extreme temperature changes.

Although the weather was exceptionally hot and dry, the tomatoes produced much better than I expected until late July-August when temps were in high 90s - 100+ with humidity in the 90s. After Sandy rolled through I thought the garden was done. The eggplant and okra didn't recover, but the tomatoes and peppers were okay. A week or two after the storm, they were producing and continued until mid-November when they were done. Pete and I had the last fresh tomatoes tonight - December 9. It's strange to think about starting new tomatoes and peppers in a few weeks - but it's a happy thought.

I love the process from beginning to end - starting seeds, growing, harvesting, and preserving the harvest. I like to do trials, although the evidence is rarely conclusive since we need a representative sample of growing conditions before we can draw conclusions.

I'm doing trials of broccoli, kale and collards varieties this year. Sowed the seed was sown in early August, planted out in early to mid-September. After tropical storms and so many days with crazy high wind, the fall crops are seriously delayed and/or stunted. I hope to harvest a little broccoli next week. Kale and collards are much smaller than normal for this time of year. So this hasn't been a "normal" year. I'll probably do similar trials again next year.

Thanks again, Dawn. You must type at lightening speed!


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Tracy I will add my 2 cents. I tried Rio Grande at least one and maybe two years. It doesn't like my climate here. A very low producer. My conditions are very severe. So many varieties don't do well here on a regular basis. I would say it was an average canner/saucer type. The plant did well but very low production. I've been tempted to give it another try but have found some others in that class that seem to perform better in my hot/dry/windy conditions. The problem I've experience the last four years during the drought is I go from having freezing nights to upper 90's and low 100 degree days in a 7-10 day span or less. I will post my initial grow list for 2013 soon and you will see some of the varieties I grow. Jay


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, We have chaos here on the highways this morning. Snow mixed with sleet or ice pellets and 23 degrees at our house. It isn't much snow and doesn't look impressive at all, but the bridge over the Red River between Texas and OK has had multiple accidents, and there have been several others on I-35 bridges just a couple of miles from my house. Being a smart woman, I only went outside long enough to feed the deer and wild birds while Tim was feeding the chickens, and I did check the greenhouse. Unheated (but with a lot of solar water collectors in it) it went only to 32 degrees and the tomato and pepper plants in there live to see another day. Tonight they'll likely freeze. Our forecast low is 18, and early this morning our forecast low was 28 but we went to 23, so I expect we'll be colder than forecast tomorrow morning too. I guess it is winter time. I won't check the garden plants until after the temperature gets back up to 32 degrees because cold-hardy plants that are frozen often will look fine for a few hours, and then the cells begin to rupture and they blacken and droop.

You hit the nail right on the head when you said we have to assume the worst. That's exactly how I plan my tomato plantings, i.e. how many plants do I need to give me enough for canning in the first month of harvest because after that the heat may shut them down. I have the tomato planning down to an art. It is harder with corn and beans. I find it harder to predict exactly when the heat will shut them down. The last two years, it shut them down too early. I need to plant more corn and beans earlier, or use shorter DTM types or something.

I picked the last tomatoes from the greenhouse plants yesterday and brought in 70 or 80 cherry type toms, so we'll have fresh fruit to eat for another week or two.

It is wonderful that your garden recovered so well after Sandy. In fact, it is downright amazing!

I feel the same way that you do this year, that it is so odd we're planning the seeding of next year's tomatoes while still eating this year's fresh tomatoes.

Trialing is hard. We never seem to get the same weather two years in a row and I never feel like trialed plants get a fair shake because inevitably they are fighting intolerable conditions and I hate to judge them on the basis of their performance in an extreme summer. They might do better in a milder summer. Unfortunately, our milder summers are becoming increasingly rare. At my end of OK, the summer of 2010 was pretty good, and so was 2007 and 2004. Going by that, I'm due for a mild summer in 2013 but not counting on one.

Our fall crops have performed in a phenomenal manner, considering some of them were seeded outdoors (in the shade!) into paper cups when the temperatures were 108-112 and were transplanted into the ground when the high temps were still around 100 degrees. It has been a fairly warm, mild autumn with many days in the 70s-80s instead of the 50s-60s. I think that's all over now with the arrival of this cool spell.

The fall beans and purplehull peas produced heavily, making up for the summer plants that produced well only until the heat shut them down. Fall broccoli was phenomenal. We got big main heads harvested over a month ago, and I harvested the last of the side shoots on Thursday or Friday. Fall cabbage was great, and all the other fall crops of kale, collards, mustard, chard, beets, turnips, etc. produced quite heavily. I have no complaints. The brussels sprouts didn't make sprouts and they should have, and I am not sure why they didn't. They had plenty of time, but just didn't do it. Brussels sprouts are always iffy here. I have more luck with them in fall than spring, but many years they never make sprouts before it gets too hot in spring or too cold in winter. I guess you can't have everything. I'm the only one in the family who likes brussels sprouts....and I rarely get to eat them, but I keep trying to grow them.

Your comment that this was not a normal year is so true. The problem is that we aren't seeing normal years hardly at all any more, and I am trying to figure out if what we've seen here the last 3 to 5 years is the new normal or just a temporarily blip.

Jay, Since Tracy is in Arizona, I think that you there in Kansas and Leslie in SW OK have growing conditions that are much more like hers than my growing conditions are. I don't know how y'all get any tomatoes at all with your extreme heat, wind exposure and lack of moisture.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn one reason I hesitate to recommend something is I'll find a variety that does well here for several years in a row and then it seems to just quit. Can't figure it out. Goliath used to be a must grow and very reliable. Hasn't been the last few years. The two best producers for me the last 2 years have been Grandma Suzy's and Randy's Brandy both op varieties. I have had a few hybrids that have done reasonably well and fairly reliable. When I finally post my list you will notice some changes to it. I'm going to concentrate more on what I think will produce the best. I'm going to quit growing some of my favorites till this drought cycle recedes some. Of course several of the cherry types have produced well. Will be trying a couple of new to me varieties this year. I said I wouldn't grown anymore of Brad's varieties but guess I'll grow 1-2 assuming I'm still growing in my garden here. I have put my place up for sale. Jay


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I can't believe I bought Rio Grande tomato seeds at Home Depot today, plus Ace 55!
I also picked up 5 huge Celebrity tomatoes, already with quite a few large fruit set. Figured it would be nice to have some extra early tomatoes this winter/spring. I can easily protect 5-10 determinates and dwarfs from freezing every once in awhile.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Jay,

I am sorry to hear you have put your place up for sale because I know how very hard you have worked to turn that soil into wonderful garden soil. I hope that whoever buys your place appreciates all the improvements you've made. Now for my suggestion (said only partly tongue-in-cheek): move someplace that gets more rain!

Like you, I sometimes find that varieties that once produced well seem like they just stop producing after a few years. It is very frustrating. Porterhouse is an example of one that has done that here at our place, and NAR is another one. I don't understand why it happens, but I blame it on our climate.

I love Brad's varieties. They are beautiful and have decent flavor. I just wish they produced better for me in the bad years. Last year Brown and Black Boar (or maybe it is Black and Brown Boar) produced a huge yield, and Michael Pollan did too. Both of them were among the last plants to stop setting fruit in the brutal July heat, which surprised me. Normally my heat slaps them into submission pretty fast and they give up and stop producing.

Tracy, That is funny. I told you that I was pretty sure I'd seen Rio Grande on a Ferry-Morse seed rack, so I'm not surprised you found it on a seed rack at Home Depot. I am jealous you have seed racks in the stores. We won't see them popping up in stores here until early January.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Well, it finally happened. My self control has disappeared.
I went online to order 2,just 2, early tomatoes to start the seedlings to move in and out of the garge to try and get April tomatoes. (That alone sounds like I have lost my mind). I think it wasTomatoe Fest. DO NOT GO THERE, they have something that makes you order way too many tomotes!!!!!! Maybe its the pictures, the awesome descriptions, or maybe an alien application that makes u loose your mind. I don't know. I even went ot another tomaote site and ordered more. I was attacked by the "Oh, I really need to try THAT one" virus. I don't know when I will recover. I sat by the mailbox like waiting ont hose seeds like I was waiting on a secret decoder ring. And now that they are arriving, I am suddenly overwhelmed.
So here's the question, how many plants of a singe variety should you plant to discover if they truely are worthwile.
When I was a horticulture major, we would plant 50 of each variety, 100 feet from a different variety. Clearly I can't do that unless I dig up all our acreage. Hubs would be a bit miffed.
What do you guys do for toamtoe trials?

How many do uguys plant of a trial variety.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I usually don't plant more than one or two of an unproven plant, but I try to plant them for more than one year. I tend to plant lots of different varieties but my space is limited to a normal size home garden.....well normal for me. LOL

The plants that do well for me are not necessarily the same ones that do well for others in Oklahoma. I noticed that Jay said in another thread that Goliath did well for him for several years and then that changed. I have only planted it once in this garden and it was a total waste of space, however Cluster Goliath, which is a smaller tomato was a very good producer. Last year my best vine was Carbon and after several years of planting it, I find it to be very consistent here. My best cherry tomato producer is always Sungold, and the only currant I plant is Tess's Land Race. I am still searching for a paste tomato that works for me, but I would probably let them produce in Spring and early summer, then just rip them out for something else to grow in the space. I just don't have enough space to wait and see if determinates will make a second crop.

I think it is always best to have several cherry tomato plants because they keep producing even if we have a bad summer. I can't imagine having a garden without Sungold and Black Cherry, but I also like Yellow Jellybean, Ildi, and several more. Even after I have satisfied my annual craving for tomatoes and I slow down on my consumption, I still find that I snack on cherry tomatoes during every trip to the garden, and they go into every salad.

Dawn, Do you like the taste of Cherry Falls? I would love to find a small tomato that grows like that and has a good taste. Most of the small plant cherry types I have tried taste like a tomato plant smells, and not like I want a tomato to taste.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

lol lol lol

We are not very good at self-control, but we excel at helping other people lose their self-control and we definitely spread a contagious disease called "I want to grow it all".

Tomatofest is one of my favorite tomato seed companies. I find varieties there that I just don't see anywhere else. Last year's big winner from Tomatofest was Greek Rose, which produced oodles of huge fruit with great flavor in our very tough climate in one of the hottest summers we've had in recent years. It is such a happy occasion when a trial plant performs like that. I've bought seeds from Gary's company for years.

If you really want to lose your mind, go to Tatiana's Tomatobase, which is a multi-function website. She has listings, descriptions and history (if known) of thousands of tomato varieties and, if she is aware of a current source for the seed, she lists it. She also sells some of those varieties herself through her website. When someone asks about an obscure variety I've never heard of, I often go to Tatiana's website to see if it is listed there and, if so, to read what is known about that variety.

When I am trialing, I do it on a very small scale. It depends on whether it is a big tomato year where I want and need to grow a lot for canning, or a lesser tomato year (like 2013 will be) in which I don't need a whole lot for canning purposes. In a big tomato year, I'll usually plant 2 to 6 plants of each variety that is new to me. Last year, with Schiavone's Italian Paste, I planted 10, which is not a decision I regretted either. I also don't plant in isolation, but I also don't do a lot of seed-saving (partly because I don't plant in isolation). You can grow tomatoes close together and save seed and still have a relatively low chance of cross-pollination and, if you want to grow them that way and be sure that you do not have crossed seeds to save for future years, just bag the blossoms before they open.

When I am trialing a variety that is new to me, I try to plant it in a row with others of its own type. So, with the paste tomatoes, I plant a row of my usual varieties, then a row of the new trial variety, than a row of my usual varieties. In that way, when you stand outside the garden looking at the rows, if the new row has significantly more or fewer fruit than the similar varieties I already grow, it is easily apparent, or if the fruit are earlier vs.later, you can see that at a glance too. If I am trialing bite-sized varieties, I put them next to the other bite-sized varieties, etc. If I am trialing varieties solely for containers, I only put them in containers.

I've been growing tomatoes long enough that I have a pretty long list of varieties that perform well here in different circumstances: hot years, cooler years, cold wet springs, etc. When I am trialing a variety, I try to plant it in a year that matches its attibutes. For example if we are having a long, cold spring, that's a great time to be trialing the "early" varieties that have DTMs in the 50s or very low 60s. If, on the other hand, it is a hot winter, I generally am trialing varieties that I think will produce well in heat. Most years it isn't too hard to predict the weather and choose trial varieties accordingly. Because I've trialed for so long now--14 years in this location--my trialing for flavor and production are fairly complete. Now I am trialing just an occasional new-to-the-market variety or a variety chosen for a specific attribute. My last huge trial year was 2006 when I planted about 150 varieties. Nowadays I try to restrict it to just a handful a year, although last year I did trial a couple dozen of varieties---a great many of them were new to the market in the last year or two, but some were OP varieties that I'd been wanting to try for some time. One other thing I do most years is plant by color, so that all my red tomatoes are in a row together, followed by individual rows of black, pink, yellow, orange, etc. Careful labeling is required so you'll know which is which. I label each plant twice with one label stuck so far down in the ground that just the tip of it sticks up out of the ground. That way, if the permanent marking pens are not so permanent, the label with the plant name under the soil still has the name on it. I also make a map of my garden showing the location of each tomato plant and its' name so that if armadillos get in the garden (rare but it happens if I forget to close the gate very securely) and dig up all the labels, I still know which is which.

This year I haven't even chosen my trial varieties, but likely one of them will be the new AAS 2013 winner from Johnny's Selected Seeds called "Jasper", and then I'll trial 2 to 4 paste types. One paste type I trialed last year that was incredibly good was Schiavone Italian Paste, which is very rare and hard to find (partly because the meaty fruit barely produce any seeds at all). It became an instant favorite along with Greek Rose. Some years, none of the trial varieties are impressive enough to earn a permanent place in the garden. Because our weather is so difficult, I try to give each trial variety at least 2 years of trial before I write it off because of poor performance or poor flavor or poor disease resistance. I don't necessarily trial the variety 2 years in a row. If I trialed it in a hot dry year and I think the next year will be exceptionally hot and dry as well, I'll often save the seed for a cooler, more moderate year for the second trial year. This explains why I have hundreds of varieties of tomato seeds in my seed storage boxes. How much is enough? I don't have an answer to that, but from looking at my seed boxes I'd say I definitely have "enough" seeds and, in fact, have stockpiled too many. Still, I order more every year. There is no cure for tomato fever, by the way.

Hope this helps,

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I am continually updating my tomato list after reading the Oklahoma garden forum. Thanks for the information. 2012 was our first year with growing tomatos in a hoop house. The ones that did well were black Krim, Early girl, Tigerella, and Mountain Pride, Ones that did not produce well were Cherokee purple, oregon spring, We had proplems with catfacing, brown soft spots on bottom of tomato, thrips. The one tomato that continued to produce until November when a freeze shut it down was Early Girl. In the field we planted a Big Beef (produced hugh tomatoes, but had large green core, Homestead 24 did fairly well. We are located in north central Oklahoma. We are growing for the Stillwater Farmers MKT and found a resistance to tomatoes that did not look like the tipical grocery store tomato . Tomato list for this year: Bradley, Homestead 24, Mortgage Lifter, Nebraska Wedding Pruden's purple,Vintage Wine, Abe Lincoln. If you have experience and have the time to reply, much appreciation.

We are a grape grower, wine maker, and are also making jelly from orchard fruits, Breads, and other products here at the winery and at the market. I have been collecting succulents for a number of years. Now is the process of ID and photos for each one. Now over a hundred varieties. Anyone out there also growing? Can we post photos on the forum? Jeanette


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Jay, I'll have to do a bit more research before actually starting Rio Grande. I thought it sounded so good.
I bought these 6-7 plants, all large, and now we've had nights near freezing every night. I don't have large enough covers and broke one of the smaller one's main stems when it was covered last night. I'm glad it wasn't one of the huge Celebrities! Hopefully, it was Early Girl and not a determinate variety.
I need to get them in the ground, get some good cages so that I can use some blankets or sheets instead of hard covers like I'm using now.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi folks, first I'm sorry to hear about the freeze. I guess the only semi-positive part is that it didn't take you by surprise.

Jay, I am sorry to hear about your move. I hope it's your idea and that you are at peace about it.

All this talk about trials caused me to go back through my tomato seeds. I'm looking at four varieties with strange names - I received seed for them from Trudi with Wintersown.org last year. Have never grown them, seen or tasted them. I believe a couple were on one of Dawn's famous tomato lists.

What can you tell me about these?

* Flathead Monster Pink

* Black & Brown Boar

* Pink Berkeley Tie Die

* Stump of the World

Take care and stay warm!
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Carol, The OP Goliath always has done well for me, and the Totally Tomatoes' hybrid ones have been highly variable. Some of them (Cluster Goliath and Early Goliath) produced nice harvests in 2011 and 2012, but I don't really like their texture, which it too hard/firm like a grocery store tomato, and their flavor is nothing special. I always find myself either giving away the hybrid Goliath fruit or canning it in mixed batches of heirloom OPs, so why grow it?

Cherry Falls has a really great flavor in hot weather, but in the fall it drops off a lot (as does the flavor of most tomatoes). My Cherry Falls plants were the last ones I harvested fruit from earlier this week. I picked about 70 fruit off them the day before the greenhouse plants froze, and we are still eating them, although I managed to consume quite a few of them in the greenhouse before I ever made it indoors. I'd say that those Cherry Falls plants produced almost nonstop all summer, although they slowed down a little bit in August when the highs were around 110 degrees. Only SunGold kept pace with them in terms of setting fruit in heat. Principe Borghese would have, but I had stopped watering those and was yanking them out to make room for fall cole crops. My favorite cherry tomato for true tomato flavor (you know, it tastes like a big slicer, not like a sweet cherry type) is Riesentraube. It is not a small plant, but it produces well even in containers and it produces tons of fruit per plant. Its flowering is a sight to see. I've never seen as many blooms per plant as what I've had on Risentraube.

Jeanette, It always is going to be hard to get people to try non-traditional tomatoes. The first time I gave Black Krim tomatoes to some of my old farmer/old rancher neighbors here, they got offended because they thought I was trying to give them old, rotten tomatoes. : ) After they tasted them, though, they changed their tune. My old farmer friend, Fred, even started scolding me after he heard I gave some black tomatoes to another neighbor, telling me not to give anyone else my extra Black Krim's but to save all of them for him. It was a hysterically funny moment. Another said his children and grandchildren wouldn't even try the black tomatoes until he said "okay, fine, that's more for me" which made them feel like they had to try them to see why it made him so happy that they weren't eating them. The hard part is getting them to try them, and once they try them they tend to like them. I've had pretty good luck getting people to try pink varieties first, and then it gets easier for them to try the other colors. For some reason, people seem more willing to try bite-sized tomatoes in various colors rather than the large tomatoes in various colors. I'll give them zip-lock bags of mixed bite-sized fruits in red, pink, black, orange, yellow and bicolors, and they'll discover they like them all. I haven't had the same success with green-with-ripe types. Nobody wants to eat them. Bradley always has produced well for me here and has good flavor, but is really late compared to a lot of the other ones I grow. It is about as late as Mortgage Lifter and Traveler 76 and Burgundy Traveler, all of which I grow as late-season tomatoes for harvest in July and August. Nebraska Wedding has been my favorite orange tomato forever, until I started growing Orange Minsk. I think I first started growing Nebraska Wedding around 2003 or 2004. Pruden's Purple is about as close to the excellent flavor of Brandywine as you can get, and it produces many more fruit per plant in our heat. I grow it fairly regularly, although not necessarily every year. I haven't grown Vintage Wine and Abe Lincoln, but love Big Beef. It has such good flavor and produces so very well in the heat that I overlook the core issues. Other red-fruited varieties that have produced very well here include Ramapo, Jetstar, Moreton and Supersonic. All the tomatoes like them that I've grown from Harris Seeds (I got the Ramapo seeds directly from NJAES) have had great flavor and great production, but for just our family's use, we prefer OP varieties even though they produce lower numbers of fruit per plant. I've also had wonderful production from some of the old Livingston varieties carried by Victory Seeds, including Stone, Dwarf Stone and Paragon.

Homestead 24 produced very well for me for quite a few years, until suddenly it just didn't. I don't grow it any more.

As far as I know, you can post photos on the forum as long as they are not set up like advertising, if you know what I mean. You cannot cross the line between general chat and selling/advertising because GW frowns on that.

Pam, I've grown three of the four. I've never heard of Flathead Monster Pink, but pink fruited tomatoes are my favorites, along with blacks.

Black and Brown Boar was one of my best producers this year. The fruit got smaller and smaller as the summer went on, but the plants produced lots of them under incredible heat and drought. Pink Berkeley Tie Dye is a gorgeous fruit and it is very tasty. It produces well for me early in the season, but then productivity drops a great deal as it heats up. I suspect it would do well here in a milder summer, but all we've had lately are wickedly hot ones. Stump of the World is one of my most favorite tomatoes in the world. Some people compare its flavor to Brandywine. I don't. It is really good though. I just happen to think that nothing else is exactly and precisely the same as the flavor of a great Brandywine tomato, although Stump of the World, Pruden's Purple and Marianna's Peace all are reasonably close in a hot, dry year, but not in an extremely wet year. All of them produce better than Brandywine in our heat, which is why I grow them instead of Brandywine. If Brandywine would produce well here, I'd plant two dozen Brandywine plants every year, but even in a good year, I feel lucky to get only six fruit per plant. Stump of the World produces oodles of fruit per plant.

I got my seed of Stump of the World (and many of the other varieties I grow) from Gleckler's Seedmen in recent years, after feeling like the commercially-purchased seed from a couple of other companies was changing and those fruit were not the same as they used to be. Jay brought that to my attention once by mentioning that he had seed from a specific person who has long been involved in saving heirloom varieties and felt it was true to type while commercially-purchased seed wasn't. That made me start thinking about how I was seeing the same thing with certain varieties. The Gleckers' seed were the Stump of the World I remembered from a few years back, and so was the Cherokee Purple, so now I order first from them. Then, for varieties they don't have, I usually buy from Victory Seeds, Sample Seed Shop or Tomatofest. Last year, the Gleckler's seed of Dr. Wyche's Yellow produced plants with fruit more true to type than any DWY I've grown from any other seed company. I feel like Gleckler's has the most true-to-type OP/heirlooms I've ever grown. They are maintaining the varieties properly and I think that is not necessarily true with larger wholesale seed suppliers. That is why, increasingly, more and more of my business is going to Glecker's, Sample Seed Shop, Victory Seeds, etc. instead of to some of the larger commercial seed retailers. When I select a tomato variety, I want the real thing, not a reasonable facsimile thereof. I feel like some of the widely-available O-P varieties you buy from some of the big retailers are not "the real thing" any more. I think they have crossed over the years or something, and the fruit I get from some of those varieties now definitely is different from fruit from the same varieties 10 or 15 years ago. With Glecker's, the O-Ps are true to what they've always been, and I am so relieved they are back in business again.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Luvabasil-I sure know about that self control thing when it comes to seeds! I can go online to buy one or two seeds and end up with a $100 order!


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RE: -self control

Luvabasil-I sure know about that self control thing when it comes to seeds! I can go online to buy one or two seeds and end up with a $100 order!


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Thanks for the help with those varieties. I thought you grew a couple, but didn't know if they were keepers.

I was surprised - then not surprised -when I read the part of your post about changes in commercial seed. I've had a sense that some varieties are not growing like they used to. I put this down to something I was doing differently without realizing it and/or changing growing conditions. This is a big factor to consider when deciding where to place orders for seeds.

Do you think the changes affect OP varieties of other vegetables? Peppers? Beans? Everything?

Thanks for the introduction to Glecker's - I had never heard of them. I checked the site - they have a good selection. I knew a little about Remy's site from wintersowing but haven't ordered from her yet.

Before I order, I need to prune very long lists of tomatoes AND peppers. I'm afraid to start on beans ...

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Pam, I haven't noticed the changes in OPs with other veggies, and I was slow to catch on to the changes in tomatoes because it was so gradual. The big clue wasn't just that the plants weren't producing as well and the fruit didn't taste the same because both of those could be blamed on the erratic weather---it was that the shapes seemed to be getting more and more round on fruit that previously had a more oblate shape. When I grew the seeds from Gleckler's and got the correct shape of fruit I was so relieved, and then once I harvested fruit and knew they had the taste I remembered, I was so happy.

I am trying to buy all my tomato seeds from companies that either grow their own seed (increasingly rare to almost non-existent, at least with the big companies) or who use contract growers that grow on a smaller scale. Most the companies that I buy from do have at least some contract seed growers who grow some of their seed for them, but we're talking about people who are active in the heirloom vegetable world and often these are people who post here at GW and at other gardening forums. I know they take great care to make sure their seeds are true to type.

Increasingly, my heirloom seed orders are going to an-ever smaller handful of trustworthy companies, including Victory Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (their catalog always features photos/info about some of their contract seed growers), Gleckler's Seedmen, Pinetree, Bountiful Gardens, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Tomatofest, Sample Seed Shop and, sometimes, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.

With hybrids, I tend to look for the best price or the lowest shipping for fairly common hybrid seed available from multiple growers. My go-to companies for hybrid (and some OP) seeds include Renee's Garden Seeds, Territorial Seed, Willhite Seed, Nichols Garden Nursery and Harris Seeds. Less and less of my money is going to the huge retail giants, and partly that is because at least one of them is charging 5.95 and even 6.95 per pack for their newest introductions each year. I don't buy anything from that company any more unless it is an exclusive variety only available through them or through a company they own. When I do order from them, I order enough of their exclusive varieties to last several years so that I don't have to order from them annually and pay their ever-increasing shipping costs as well.

Two companies that are fairly new to me and that have a great variety of seeds are Swallowtail Garden Seeds and Summerhill Seeds. I usually buy flower seeds from them, especially for my chocolate garden, but sometimes I buy tomato seeds from them---last year I got lots of the trial tomato hybrid container type varieties from one or both of these companies.

My bean list this year is ridiculously long, and I don't care. With less space devoted to tomatoes this year, I am going to plant all the beans I want. I'll be growing a lot of corn too, because last year I only got a harvest (and not even a good one) from the early corn. The midseason and late corn didn't produce much at all because the heat impeded pollination/fertilization.

Increasingly, as we battle tougher dry and heat seemingly every year, I sure am weeding out varieties that cannot cut it in the heat and, at the same time, I am weeding out seed companies whose seeds, prices or shipping costs no longer please me.

With most vegetables, I am not an OP/heirloom-only person and will grow some OP and some F-1 types, but with tomatoes I'd much rather grow only the heirloom types, and when I do, I expect to get true-to-type OP varieties.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Hi Dawn:

Swallowtail is one of my favorite seed companies. I found them when I got into wintersowing perennials. I'm always impressed by the quality of their seeds. They have excellent deals on bulk orders of seeds too. I checked their site - they don't have as many varieties of vegetable seeds but I remember their selection was thin in early winter, they added new varieties often.

I like Harris seeds. After I ordered a couple of large packets (maybe 250 seeds) of echinacea, someone from Harris called to ask if I was growing professionally - like for a market. When I said "no", the person said to let them know if this changed. I am impressed by their customer service and attention to detail.

Everwilde is a good source, at least for wildflower seeds. I haven't ordered vegetable seeds from them yet but they have a good selection and their prices are reasonable.

I've used Hazzards for bulk orders of seeds. When you first go to their website, it's a challenge to find what you want but you figure it out in time. I searched for quinoa since Carol mentioned it and I was curious. They sell Cherry Vanilla, 500 seeds for $7.43, 1,000 seeds for $12.65. I don't think I want to grow it but it's gorgeous.
http://www.hazzardsgreenhouse.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=Hazwho&Product_Code=C3884&Category_Code=#.UNIfto4Zz6E

Anyone very interested in growing a large crop of Numex peppers? Hazzards has Big Jim, Joe E. Parker, Sandia and others - 500 seeds for 5.23.

Renee's Garden and Diane's seeds are good. I use Seed Savers Exchange a lot, also SESE.

I'm going to mosey over to the Bean forum, see if I can fine-tune my bean list. I've read some great threads there. So many cool varieties so little time.

Take care,
Pam


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

This pic taken yesterday afternoon of a Heatwave plant. Yes, I have the use of a greenhouse


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn, did you ever get your early tomato seeds started? I finally started mine and they've germinated. If I start taking them outside at the beginning of March, they'll be 9 weeks old. I was hoping to start them earlier, but that's okay.

Leslie


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Leslie, Nope. I failed at that. I almost knew I would. We have so many VFD activities (fund raisers, the chili cookoff, toy run, Christmas parade, the VFD Christmas party and all the gift bags I put together for that, etc.) in the fall that I barely get my own family's Christmas stuff done, and starting seeds for the extra-early tomato plants is always on my To Do list and I never, ever get it done. So, I guess I'll be buying my early plants again. There's no way that any I plant now would be the same size as the ones I can find in Dallas around Feb 10-14th. I should start some seeds right now so I can compare them the ones that hit the stores in mid-Feb. Those plants will have main stems as big around as my little finger, and anything I start from seed now cannot catch up with that!

I hope to start my seeds next week for my regular plants that will hopefully go into the ground in March if the weather allows. This constant procession of cold fronts from the Northwest is making me think that winter will be colder this year than last and I may not get my plants in the ground beginning the first week in March like I did last year.

Do you warm up earlier there than I do here? Or is it just that y'all heat up much more quickly once spring kicks in? My average last frost date in March 28th.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I'll definitely be looking at the plants that are in the stores to compare mine to those. I'll say now that I'm not going to buy them, but I probably will give in and buy one. Maybe just to compare the difference.

Our average last frost date is April 5, so your last frost is about a week earlier than ours. We just heat up really quickly here. I've learned that it's pretty much a waste of time to plant cool season plants in the spring. I have to plant potatoes and carrots, but I leave the rest off my list. It gets too hot for them and I need the space so I can plant the warm season stuff as early as possible.

I'd be surprised if we warm up as early as we did last year. Our last freeze was March 4 which is a whole month earlier than normal. I don't think that's going to happen this year. Of course, it could be all the snow on the ground that's making me think that. We'll see how I feel next week when it's back into the 50s every day.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Our last freeze was the same date as yours last year, and as soon as it passed, I was throwing plants into the ground. I just had that good early-spring-warm-up vibe, and had had it for weeks.

Like you, I don't think we'll be that lucky two years in a row.

It is hard to be unhappy about the snow because we need all the moisture we can get. I'd sure like to get an early warm up and good (but not so much it floods) moisture too.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I got my light garden delivered today, and will begin putting it together soon. It will probably take me a few days because I am old and decrepit......lol! At least it does take me awhile to get things done, especially when they are large and unwieldy. That's okay because I am not quite ready to start sowing seeds yet. Well, maybe a few ornamentals that will stay small and compact (flowers) until spring setting out.

I doubt we have an early spring warm up like last year's. That was an aberration really. Since Oklahoma is a state in which extremes are the norm, I wouldn't doubt if spring this year is later and marked by short bursts of freezing temps until it actually settles into consistent periods of warmth. Dawn, has anyone heard any predictions about what the spring trend may bring us?

When Dawn mentioned checking Tatiana's database regarding information on certain tomatos, I like to do this, too. They often have growers from different regions grow a particular variety and report on their growing experience. There is one grower, or more, in Texas, that I always like to see reports from, that is helpful to me because their experiences are likely similar to what mine may be.

It seems I am always in a quandary about what type of seed pot to use. Last year, I used the paper cups. I used the small ones, about 3 oz. These virtually "melted" before I could get the seedlings transplanted, so that I ended up sitting them inside a small plastic pot just to keep them from falling apart on the seed trays. This year, I am going to either use a larger size paper cup, or a different biodegradable container to grow the seedlings in. Tomatos don't actually present any transplanting issues, so I might actually just go with the plastic pots this year. I have a few things, though, that dislike transplanting enough that I will plant the seeds in a paper/biodegradable pot, so I am thinking about getting some small to larger size cups in a range of sizes to accommodate varying root system sizes.

I look at the yard and cannot help but think about how much work I have ahead of me. I don't do clean up until spring because there may be chrysalises out there that won't eclose until spring and the dead stems and branches give some added protection to borderline plants as well. There are arguments on both sides for waiting to do clean up or cleaning up early in late fall. But spring clean up has always worked the best for me and how and what I grow.

That Greek Rose tomato sounds so scrumptious, Dawn. I may have to give that a try.

Susan


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Susan,

That's terrific news about your light shelf. I was wondering if it had arrived yet. One thing we found helpful when assembling the greenhouse was to go back to the Gardener's Supply website and read the reviews of it to see if anyone who reviewed it had any tips about assembly that we'd find useful. As a matter of act, they had.

Last year's early warm-up was an aberration, but we used to routinely have that happen here in southern OK in the early 2000s. I often was able to start putting tomato plants in the ground in the first week of March, often around the 7th or 8th. Did I still have to cover them up on a few cold nights after that? Yes, but it was only a few. Last year was the first year like that since around 2006 or 2007 for me, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if we have another early spring. I'm not necessarily expecting one, but I always hope for one! Looking out at our frozen ground this morning, it is hard to think spring, but I definitely am ready to start thinking about wintersowing some seeds that need cold stratification and also am almost ready to start sowing cool-season crop season inside sometime in the next couple of weeks. Gotta get over the flu first because it just saps my energy.

Before the recent cold fronts starting arriving and hitting us one after another, the long-term forecast was trending warm and dry over the next couple of months, and the drought of 2012 is expected to continue into 2013. I expect that has not changed. Dr. Jeff Masters over at the Weather Underground website had an excellent post a couple of days ago about the continuation of the drought. I'll link it below. It takes us months to go into drought and then months to come back out of it almost always (not withstanding the rare and almost miraculous 12.89" of rain in April 2009 that ended my drought in one day), so the prospect of continuing drought is daunting to a lot of us. Of course, drought does not mean a total absence of rain and I guess about the best we can hope for is that the fronts keep bringing us moisture and keep chipping away at the drought. The good news is that eventually all droughts end.

I sometimes have trouble with paper cups starting to disintegrate too (haven't looked at it carefully enough to see if it is a specific brand that does better or if it is my watering practices or what), so for plants I know that I will have to hold inside substantially longer, I often use 7-9 oz. clear plastic cups I fine either on the paper goods row at Wal-Mart or at Sam's or CostCo in large packages. Sometimes I have used styrofoam. Of course, they aren't plantable like the paper cups are, but most of the things I transplant don't mind being transplanted. In some past years I have used peat pellets and peat pots but haven't been happy overall with their performance. The peat pellets are okay for sprouting, but then either hold too much moisture which contributes to damping off or dry out too quickly outdoors leading to wilting of the precious baby plants. Peat pots are okay, but in a very dry year they don't biodegrade very quickly in my soil and in a very wet year, if I put them in the ground they hold too much moisture around plants that are already getting too much moisture from the sky. I don't think there is a perfect answer, so I just keep using a mix of items for seed starting. I like Carol's soil blocks, but worry that with the hundreds of seedlings I start I'd have a hard time keeping everything labeled. My cats tend to sneak around and pull tags out of plants once they're outside hardening off. Usually my first clue that they are doing this is when a cat runs past me carrying a plant tag in its mouth. Occasionally they'll even do it when the plants are still indoors on the light shelf, so for me it is important to have a container I can firmly attach a label to. Usually I have the container labeled and a plant tag stuck into the soil as well. Two labels are better than one. If not for the label issue, I'd buy a soil block maker in a heartbeat and use it for everything. I think maybe the cats think the plant tags are either cat toys or little mice or something.

I did a lot of fall cleanup, but never finished it all. I cleaned out most all the summer beds that didn't have fall plants, but now I have all those fall/winter beds to clean out eventually. I think one very long day in the garden would allow me to finish it up within the fenced garden proper. Like you, I leave the ornamental beds until spring because all sorts of little wild things winter over in them and I don't want to mess things up for them. FYI--on December 23 and 24, we had butterflies and moths all over the yard. Then the cold arrived and I haven't seen any since. They'd been having a pretty good winter before that. While we had the occasional very cold night, there were plenty of warm days. About ten days ago we were in the mid-70s. I miss the mid-70s now.

I always look for Suze's reviews at Tatiana's tomato base because I feel like plants that have time to produce well as far south as she is in Texas ought to have time to produce well before the heat sets in here too. That's how I originally found JD's Special C Tex, among others.

I am so looking forward to the flavor of a fresh, sun-ripened tomato in April or early May. We had winter tomatoes as late as just a couple of weeks ago, but their flavor never matches the flavor of tomatoes that ripen in much hotter weather. While preserved tomatoes are good in their own way, nothing matches standing in the garden eating a tomato warm from the sun with its juice dribbling down your chin. That April or May day seems a hundred light-years away right now.

Dawn


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RE: The Drought Blog Post

I said I would like Dr. Masters' recent blog about the continuation of the 2012 Drought into 2013 and then forgot to do so.

It is linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drought's Continuation Into 2013


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I also think I could finish my garden clean-up with one nice day, but it needs to be a little warmer for me to tackle that. Once clean-up is completed, we need to build a raised bed in the area that was once in the shade. It is now sunny enough to garden but I still have the tree roots to deal with.

We didn't get any of the recent moisture that a lot of the State got but we were not as dry either. Rain is in our forecast for tonight and tomorrow although I don't think much is expected. My few hens have the run of the garden now and of course they dig in the soil everyday. I am always surprised at how damp the soil looks where they have dug.

My yard got rather neglected this year so there is a lot of work to do. I would like to do some wintersowing also, but not until we have a nice enough day to be outside and not freeze. LOL


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I am going to wait for a nice day to work on garden cleanup. I'm hoping for a sunny day with highs in the 60s and sunshine, with low wind. I don't know how long I'll have to wait for that day so I can do the rest of the garden clean-up in pretty weather. Of course, it is more likely we'll be wet, cold and cloudy for a while and that when the next half-warm sunny day comes and it is 45 degrees I'll be out in the garden working. Around here, we take what we can get.

We have had about a half-inch of rain since it started falling last night. Added to what had previously fallen, we'll end up with our actual December rainfall being pretty close to our average December rainfall. It is nice to end the year with some moisture. The rain that has fallen hasn't had much impact on the big drought issues like empty ponds (still empty) or big, wide cracks in the ground away from the house (those cracks are still there) but we are happy to have it nevertheless.

Our chickens have decided they don't like wet ground. Maybe it has been so long that they've forgotten what wet ground is, so they tend to stay inside their coop almost all day when it is snowing, sleeting or raining. I had been letting them free-range every day so they could dig and scratch in the soil, but last week hawks came down just a bit higher than the top of my head---so roughly five and a half feet above the ground and almost got some hens while I was standing right there. At one point I thought a hawk was going to land on my head. Then, it realized I was human, apparently, and quickly turned and flew back up higher in the sky. So, the poultry's free-ranging and digging and scratching may be over for a while. The wildlife, in terms of anything that is small enough for the hawks, is really scarce and the hawks are really hungry. They even were trying to get birds that were coming here in the snow to eat, but since I feed cracked corn to the crows, the crows were swooping in and chasing away the hawks every single time they showed up. In general, crows are not garden-friendly, but if you feed them and they become territorial about your place, they'll work relentlessly to chase away hawks, owls and even the blue herons that like to hunt for fish in the lily pond.

It isn't really raining heavily right now but the clouds are hanging very low to the ground, making it look very dark outside. After all the hot, dry, sunny days we have roasted in the sun these last two drought-plagued years, it can stay dark and gloomy-looking all it wants as long as it is raining.

The enriched soil in the raised beds is in pretty good shape, and I know it is in much better shape than the soil in general outside the garden because I watered it in fall when I had vegetables, herbs and flowers in it. When the chickens dig in it, it is beautiful soil. Otherwise, everything is far too dry still, but every bit of moisture that hits the ground helps and we sure need a lot of moisture to fall slowly and lightly and soak into the ground.


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RE: Additions to the 2013 Tomato Grow List

Since this is a year in which I'm growing fewer tomatoes, I'm adding the following paste-type tomatoes for trial purposes:

Carol Chyko Big Paste
Carol Chyko Big Paste Black
Jersey Giant
Russo Sicilian Toggeta

I might trial 4 more paste types in the fall.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn last year you said you were tempted to plant Estler's Mortgage Lifter. A woman on another forum said she couldn't find it. Where did you find yours and do you prefer it to Radiator Charlie's M L which is very easy to find. I see you like Stump of the World. What do you like about it. Forgive me if I could have found this by doing a search. There is so much useful information on this forum; it beats a gardening book.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Helen, I bought my Estler's Mortgage Lifter seed from Chuck Wyatt's old website, which his friend, Donna, has kept in operation since his death in 2002. I bought the seed around 2008 and I looked through my seed box for it this past fall so I could put it on my 2013 Grow List, but apparently I no longer have the seed. Donna no longer has it, so I think it will be impossible to find it commercially in this country.

I do prefer Estler's to Radiator Charlie's because for me it produces ripe fruit earlier, produces more fruit per plant and the fruit in general are larger than Radiator Charlie's, has fewer disease issues and the fruit are tastier. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, RCML caught on with the seed companies and Estler's did not. It is unfortunate because Estler's is a great tomato. This is not meant as disrespect of RCML either because it is another great tomato. It is just that I liked Estler's more.

Stump of the World, known at our house as Stumpy for short, is one of the best-flavored tomatoes I've ever grown. It is almost in a class of its own. For me, Stump of the World produces much earlier than you'd expect from the estimated DTMs. It produces medium-large fruit in an odd shape--not really oblate but not entirely globe-shaped either. They are pink with a very small core, smallish seed locules and lots of meaty flesh. The flavor is superb---about as close to the flavor of Brandywine as you can get, though definitely not exactly the same as Brandywine. I consider the flavor of Brandywine to be the ultimate tomato flavor, so if I rate Brandywine a 10, I'd rate Stump of the World a 9.5 or maybe a 9. Estler's ML would be about an 8.5 and RCML an 8. That is if I grew them all in the same year and could compare them to one another when grown under identical conditions, which I haven't done for some time now.

I suspect seed of Estler's still might be available from someone who is a listed member of SESE and who offers it there, but a person has to be a member of SESE to obtain seed that way. I was a member of SESE in the past, but dropped my membership a few years back so I don't have access to the yearbook data to see if any listed members are offering it this year. It also is available from at least one Canadian company but that company no longer ships to the USA.

One year I went on a pink tomato binge and grew 22 pink tomato plants in one big raised bed together. I doubt I can remember now every plant that I grew, but I remember for sure that I grew Estler's Mortgage Lifter, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter, Stump of the World, Brandywine Sudduth's, Tennessee Heirloom, Tennessee Britches, Valena Pink and Marianna's Peace. All of them performed great except for Sudduth's which never produces many fruit per plant in our climate, although the fruit it produces have very fine flavor. Maybe the other pink varieties that I do not remember did not perform well and that's why I don't remember them. That must have been a non-drought year. Our kitchen was overflowing with big pink luscious tomatoes. Of that bunch, I liked Stump of the World the best, and have grown it at least every other year since then. Estler's was also very good and I like it. It just sort of fell by the wayside as I continued trying more pinks, purples and blacks. Dana's Dusky Rose is another really good one that produces well here. It sets large fruit really early. I remember that I tried it and JD's Special C Tex both for the first time in the same year, and I loved them both so much. I was in tomato hog heaven.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I should try Stump of the World instead. The person who was looking for the Estler's ML was a member of that family. It reminded me to keep a supply of the tomatoes I like - Pale Perfect Purple is one I like that is not found everywhere. I have saved seeds but I usually plant seeds that I have purchased because I have lots of little bees or wasps and flies around. Also I always plant too close and in summer the whole mess grows together. I am sure there may be some cross pollination happening.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

What a shame that a member of the Estler family cannot find seeds of Estler's M/L. It is a reminder that we should maintain our own seed supply of varieties we like.. I'm not good about that either. My garden is too big and I can and preserve too much which keeps me in the kitchen up to 18 hours a day, often for days on end, during the heavy harvest period in summer and I never get around to doing much seed saving. I did save a few seeds last year, but not of tomatoes. I am going to try to do a better job of that this year. I'm only going to save seed from bagged blossoms. I grow all my tomatoes together in a huge jungle and I worry about insect-induced cross pollination. I need to save seed of Schiavone Italian Paste tomato this year whether I bag all those blossoms or not. This tomato produces barely any seed at all so it is hard to get. When I process them this year, I need to keep them separate from the other pastes, and save every tomato seed that comes through the tomato press.

In past years when the garden was smaller, I pretty much saved seeds of everything I grew, especially the flowers, and then as the garden grew, something had to go....and in most cases it was the seed-saving that fell by the wayside. It wasn't a deliberate choice, but rather that as I got busier and busier, I only had time to do what absolutely, positively had to be done that day...and seed saving slipped further and further down the list.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Someone on that forum promised to seed her seeds so I think she is OK. I did plant some seeds I saved last year and they turned out to be very small tomatoes. They were supposed to be Eva Purple Ball. It could have been the hot weather and not enough water but they looked more like big cherries. I wouldn't mind crossing Cherokee Purple with Pale Perfect Purple or something like that but I don't need nondescript big cherry tomatoes.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 9:29

Hey Dawn

I was doing some searching for info on Bushsteak and noticed it was on your 2012 list but not this years. I have been wanting to try a bush type in our greenhouse and was wondering what you think of this one. I found some seeds at Homedepot and started some last night.

Mike


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Mike,

I will preface this by saying that given the choice between hybrids and open-pollinated heirloom tomatoes, I always will go with the open-pollinated heirlooms for flavor every time. In a good year when we have oodles of tomatoes, we eat the heirlooms fresh and either give away or can the hybrids so you know that I have an inherent preference for the heirlooms because of their superior texture and flavor.

I do grow Bushsteak once every few years so I'll have red tomatoes on a compact plant that grows well in containers, produces relatively early and is a heavy producer. It is fine for a hybrid, and I have no complaints about it. It just has the typical flavor and texture of a red hybrid tomato and I think it will do well for you. It did really well for me last year. It does produce larger fruit than some of the other red determinate hybrids.

I have grown some red determinates that produced larger fruit than what you'll get from Bushsteak, but they were varieties developed for commercial growers, so their fruit was hard as a rock even when ripe and we didn't care much for their texture, though their flavor was good. I think Bushsteak overall was better quality than those varieties that produced larger fruit.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 10:50

Thanks Dawn

Ill let you know how they work out for us. I prefer heirlooms as well. My luck with them hasnt been to great though.

Mike


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Currently, it looks as:

Amos Coli (From Brad Gates)
Ashleigh
Berkshire Polish Beefsteak
Big Ben
Big Cheef F6
Black and Brown Boar
Black Bear
Black Cherry
Blue Beauty (From Brad Gates)
Box Car Willie
Brad's Black Heart
Captain Lucky (From Millard Murdock)
Charles Herring's Porter
Cherokee Green
Cherokee Purple
County Agent
Earl of Edgecombe
Eckert Polish
Giant Red Pear - Gransasso (From Remy)
Great Divide
Hazelfield Farm
Indigo Apple (From Brad)
Jaune Flamme
Lemon Boy
Livingston's Paragon
Maiden's Gold (From Ted)
Malakhitovaya Shkatulka
Manalucie
Muddy Waters (From Mark Tutt)
Mule Team
Noir de Crimee
Orange Minsk
Sungold Hybrid
Super Sioux
White Tomesol
Zagadka Prirody

I am planting Super Bowl Sunday so I'm sure it will change by then.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Reed, That's a lot of tomato varieties. How many plants do you grow? Carol


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Dawn,

I will only have one of each of these but hey, I've got seeds on over 1000 varieties and only space for around 40 plants at home right now so I've got to maximize the varieties grown at the cost of number of plants.

Next year I'll be planting in-ground so I'll probably have around 100 plants.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I am still deciding what to grow and this list was too far down. Mulberry Knob has been a bad influence because she is already planting tomatoes and she lives fairly close to me I think. I do not however have a greenhouse which might justify her starting this early. I am thinking of planting these first:

Fruhe Liebe which means early love
Siberian
Moskovich

Would it be better to start early tomatoes first or get a head start on mid-seasons? I will put a few out early under walls of water but it is way too early here for anything outside.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Helen,

The answer to your question hinges on what you want. If you want the earliest possible tomatoes, I'd start the Early ones first. If you start your mid-season tomatoes early, they'll likely begin producing about the same time as your earlies, which would be okay too.

I kind of do it backwards. When I am choosing tomato plants at the store for containers, like I did yesterday, I get mid-season or late ones. Those are the types that need an early start here to beat the heat. The only way I ever get good harvests from Brandywine, for example, is if I find it early in a store in February, buy it and bring it home and immediately plant it into movable pots that can go inside on cold nights.

I generally get good harvests from early and mid-season types no matter when I plant them as long as I have them in the ground before late April, but with late-season types, the earlier I plant them the better the harvest. It may not be an early harvest compared to actual early or midseason varieties, but it will be an early harvest for those late-season types.

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

That makes sense. The small tomatoes kept producing in the heat last year. Siberian is not my favorite tomato but I had them all summer. The big hearts did not do well at all. Did you get tired of Nebraska Wedding? I see you have replaced it with another yellow- Dr. Wyche's Yellow.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I still love Nebraska Wedding and have alternated planting it and Dr. Wyche's Yellow since the early 2000s. I just have found that NW has not produced as well the last couple of years, so took a break from it. I'm sure it will be back at some point, but I love Orange Minsk so much that NW might not be back for a while.

I like to grow Dr. Wyche's Yellow partly because it is an Oklahoma heirloom. He grew it just a couple of counties east of me.

The best year ever with Dr. Wyche's Yellow and Nebraska Wedding was in 2004 when we had a lot of rain and perfect summer weather. I suppose it is not fair to compare subsequent production to that perfect year since we seldom have such ideal weather here. I also used to grow Dixie Golden Giant a lot and haven't in recent years. I need to bring it back next year.


 o
RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

i have a question are my tomato plants late ones because they grow very well tall and fat stems no cracks or anything they make beefsteak tomato's and a few will turn red but after i pick those the others take a very long time to turn red by the time the green ones are red its fall time and beginning to get cold out,
so i've stopped growing tomato's and they just pop up every year and they do the same thing as last year take long to turn red till its cold outside they get planted in the ground i use horse poop on my tomato's.

all my other stuff grows fine if the deer doesn't eat it or the snails like the cantaloups cucumbers squash peanuts and watermelons and the loose leaf lettuce and corn grows good.

so i guess im just wondering am i not doing something right with the tomato plants that come up every year or ? are they not getting the right kind of food or something i was thinking maybe if topped one of the tomato plants then the tomato's would have time to turn red.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

You would probably do better with a cherry or a small tomato if you live where the summers get hot. Large tomatoes don't normally set fruit when the temp is high, so if they reach maturity in heat, they may not set fruit until Fall. I would try to find large transplants of small tomatoes and set them out after you last frost date.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Mike, Most beefsteak types are late to set fruit and to mature fruit. Since yours are from volunteer seedlings, you have no idea what is normal for them if you don't remember what variety they are, but it sounds like they are setting fruit late and, thus, it ripens late.

Too much horse poop also could mean they are getting too much nitrogen which makes the plants stay vegetative for a long time before they flower and set fruit.

If you want fruit earlier, your best bet is to start out with purchased transplants and to choose varieties that mature more quickly than the average beefsteak type.

You could plant Early Girl, Bush Early Girl or Better Bush and get fairly early fruit...a couple of months after you put 6-8 week old transplants into the ground. Jetsetter or JetStar would give you fruit a couple of weeks later than those, and most standard hybrids that produce red, roundish tomatoes would give you tomatoes 75-80 days after the transplants are put into the ground. Many beefsteak types, although they produce big, luscious tomatoes, do not produce fruit well in heat and they have DTMs of 80-90 days or more so they always are going to be fairly late.

It may just be that in your climate, you still won't get many ripe fruit until fall. It depends on how early you can transplant tomato plants into the ground there. When's your average last freeze date?

One problem is that tomato plants mostly stop setting fruit once daytime highs are above 92 and nighttime lows are in the 70s. You have to get your plants into the ground early enough that they set fruit before that happens. They won't start setting many fruit again until the temperatures cool down. That is an issue we face a lot here in OK.

Cherry tomatoes or the varieties that produce smallish slicer or salad types like Jaune Flammee' or Fourth of July will set fruit more or less all summer, except in the hottest weather, so they might be a good variety for you. I like Early Girl because not only does she set fruit early, but unlike many other early types that shut down after producing early, Early Girl will go right on setting fruit almost all summer long. Some years it still is setting fruit for me in August when it is ridiculously hot here.

Hope this helps,

Dawn


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

My tomatoes for 2013 consists of the following

Purple Cherokee, yellow brandywine, Japanese purple trifle, Dutchman, bread & salt, purple Russian, orange & green stripe Tom, Creme brulee��"�
Cassidy's folly, black early, Isis candy.
Check out Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

being in the garden is wonderful love every minute of it

Enjoys ours


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

All- I see many brandywine varieties around. Is there one you all like better. This is my first year trying heirlooms and second year with garden here in OKC.
Thanks,
Denweave


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

I like Brandywine Sudduth the best. If it produced well in our hot climate, I'd grow 10-20 BW-Sudduth plants every year. However, Brandywine doesn't like our hot weather, and often the heat shuts down production of fruit almost before it even begins. Around here, in all but the coolest and wettest springs and summers, I am happy if I get a total of 6-8 BW-Sudduth fruit per plant, and they tend to be from plants that went into the ground ridiculously early and, therefore, had a chance to set a few fruit before the heat arrives.

So, for a tomato with Brandywine-like flavor but significantly higher production, I like Gary 'O Sena, which is a Keith Mueller cross from Brandywine x Cherokee Purple. Gary 'O Sena produces in about 65-70 days in my garden, whereas the first Sudduth fruit takes about 85-90 days to ripen.

Brandy Boy, from Burpee Seed, also has flavor that is somewhat similar to Brandywine but with higher productivity and better disease tolerance.

If your space is limited, Brandywine might not be the best choice of a tomato variety for you since its production is so highly variable and weather-dependent. I have a very large garden and lots of space, so even if I plant 6 or 8 Brandywine plants and they don't produce a single thing, I'll still have plenty of tomatoes. If my garden space was limited and I needed heavy production from every tomato plant I planted, I wouldn't plant Brandywine at all.

I also like the yellow Brandywine variety called 'Platfoot', though I haven't grown it in a while.

This year I am growing TexWine and DixieWine, both of which are new to me this year, and hoping maybe they'll produce better in our hot climate than the older Brandywine varieties do.


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RE: 2013 Tomato Grow List

Thank you okiedawn! I have 18x30 garden and will probably plant about 12-15 tomatoes this year. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks for being so open and helpful.


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