Thursday, August 19, 2021

Tomato Varieties 2021

The taste of the tomatoes in my garden this year is absolutely OUTSTANDING.  I really feel as though I've grown all new taste buds.  It has been pretty good growing conditions for tomatoes this year.  The weather has been warm.  We did have those two weeks of steady rain in July, but now the rain is more normal and the tomato flavors are not being washed away.  My plants are looking great with very little disease.  At this point in the year I am pruning off any new growth and removing some fruit.  If any fruit begins to color up when it is smaller than sandwich size, those come off too.

This year I planted five slicers in containers.  That is the smallest number of plants I've ever planted!  I actually stuck to my plan and did not plant any spares, although I did keep them around until I was really sure all of my chosen plants were well established.  Two of the slicer varieties are what I would call "old friends" and three were new to me.  I also grew two new cherry/patio varieties.

Pike County Yellow (stock photo)

PIKE COUNTY YELLOW:  An heirloom from Pike County, Kentucky. Introduced commercially in 2009 by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed. Indeterminate, regular leaf plant produces loads of pretty 12-16 oz., orange fruit with delicious mildly sweet flavors. A good producer over a long season. A good choice for sliced into salads and sandwiches or even a wonderful sauce.

Pike County

I grew Pike County back in 2016 when I did all Kentucky heirlooms.  The seeds are hard to find so I will need to save some for myself.  This tomato has been the tastiest variety so far.  All of my tomatoes have been fruity and tangy but this one is super acidic almost to the point of being sour but not. I certainly wouldn't describe it as mildly sweet. It is intensely tart. Absolutely full of flavor!  It appears to be a heavy producer, but it has been slow to ripen.  My second favorite this year.

Barlow Jap

BARLOW JAP: Then there is PaPaw's tomato.  I am growing what I consider to be a red variant this year.  No green shoulders like the older photo above.  It is less "pink" and more richly colored red and very fruity flavored.  I am keeping these variant seeds marked separately.  Maybe I'll  grow some older seeds next year and maybe one of each.  But tomato space is sort of at a premium.  Not growing space - tummy space!  But I really like the direction this variant has taken.  I guess I've put my own spin on PaPaw's tomato and I like that.  I've made it my own.

Barlow Jap

Sparks Yellow

SPARKS:  Craig LeHoullier got these seeds as "Yellow" from tomato collector Don Sparks of Kentucky and named it Spark's Yellow in his honor. Indeterminate, potato leaf plant produces good yield of 3-inch, gorgeous, yellow-orange, juicy, round beefsteak tomatoes with delicious taste.


Sparks is one I've been wanting to try.  I think I tried to grow this once before and didn't get a single seedling so I threw out the seed packet.  This year I bought new seeds but only got one seedling which means the seeds have a low germination rate.  I'll save my own seeds and see if I can improve on that.  The tomato is worth the wait.  It is a sweet yellow reminiscent of Kellogg's Breakfast but not quite as orangey sweet which I don't care for anyway.  I like my tomatoes acidic..  Also not quite as giant.  I actually got second place in a Largest Tomato contest one year with my Kellogg's Breakfast.  It is a lot of fruit for one person, so the Sparks is a more single serving version.  And it is very meaty.  I had a hard time finding any seeds in this tomato!  Its good and I will probably grow it again, just not right away.

Pink Berkeley Tie Dye

PINK BERKELEY TIE DYE:  Developed from unknown cross that arose in the fields of Bradley Gates of Wild Boar Farms, Napa Valley, California. Compact indeterminate, regular leaf plants produce beautiful 8-12 oz., port wine colored beefsteaks with metallic green stripes and dark brownish-green shoulders. An heirloom-style, luscious tomato with deep, sweet, earthy, well-balanced flavors. Early to mid-early, about 65-75 days to maturity.

Pink Berkeley Tie Dye

This plant suffered most from Blossom End Rot so it took awhile to get a good example.  I would classify this tomato more as a black than a bi-color.  Certainly its biggest draw is the unique color.  It is fun to watch them ripen, but when you cut it open it is less dramatic than a yellow bicolor, and looks most similar to your typical black tomato.  I didn't get any really nice tomatoes and then yesterday I scrapped the whole plant because of blight.  This tomato is not for me.  There are so many others that perform better for me.

Pink Berkeley Tie Dye


CARBON:  Winner of the 2005 “Heirloom Garden Show” best-tasting tomato award. These have won taste awards coast to coast in the last few years. The fruit is smooth, large, and beautiful, being one of the darkest and prettiest of the purple types. They seem to have an extra dose of the complex flavor that makes dark tomatoes famous.
Carbon Plant this week

Now THIS tomato IS for me!  This was the first one to bloom for me this year.  I like black tomatoes because of their complex taste.  In the past I've tried Cherokee Purple, Black Krim and Paul Robeson.  The Paul Robeson did the best for me.  This Carbon plant is quite compact (short) for an indeterminate which is always a good thing.  We use a lot of the standard adjectives to describe a tomato's taste: Sweet, Tangy, Smokey, Fruity.  Carbon tastes "Tomato-y".  Whatever it is that tomato tastes like - this variety has it.  It keeps putting out big beautiful fruit and they ripen quickly.  I always thought that the yellow bi-color category was my favorite but I just fall in love with every black tomato I try.


Patio Choice Red

Patio Choice Red is a compact, disease resistant tomato developed specifically for small spaces and container gardens. Consider using these beautiful tomatoes either fresh, in the oven or sun dried for a delightfully sweet treat.  Red produces over 100 of 1/2-ounce bright red cherry tomatoes on short vines that grow only 18 inches tall and 18 to 20 inches wide.

These seedlings were the most robust plants and I gave some away.  The one plant I saved for my own started to bloom 06/18  The fruit took longer to turn than the yellow version next to it that bloomed after.  But once it started it didn't stop.  Not a super sweet cherry, but a nice mini-tomato.  There is a bit of a core in them that almost makes you want to spit out the shoulders.  That is fine for a slicer, but tricky in a little cherry.  Still a super producer and great for your early tomato salad fix.  I kept this plant on the corner of the patio next to the garden walkway and popped them into my mouth every time I walked by.  This one will have space in my garden again because it fills that unique patio need.

Winner of the All-America Selections for its high yields, super-compact size, and unbeatable disease resistance, Patio Choice Yellow is ready in no time, setting its crop all at once to make harvesting even easier. This is a plant that looks as good as it tastes—the 1-inch-diameter cherries weigh in at just half an ounce either, but explode with a rich, juicy, mild bite. And with yields like this, you can eat some of the crop right off the plant and still have plenty for canning, saucing, drying, or freezing.  Patio Choice Yellow stands up to heat, humidity, and rain beautifully, and demonstrates great resistance to three common tomato diseases: tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), verticillium wilt, and Fusarium wilt

My overall opinion of this one is pretty low.  I planted three batches of three seeds and only got one seed to germinate.  Because if this the plant was a couple of weeks behind the other plants. The fruit is a little large for a cherry tomato and the yield is not as great as the Patio Choice Red.  It is more in the salad tomato category instead of cherry, good for slicing into salads but a little too big to comfortably pop into your mouth,  I probably won't grow it again.
And that is my tomato synopsis for 2021.  I eat one large tomato just about every day.  I've scaled down from tomato sandwiches to simply tomato on toast.  I prefer the ratio of one slice of bread to one slice of tomato.  But that toast still has mayo on it 😋 It doesn't look like I'll have to can any this year, but then... the year ain't over yet.