I’ve worked all spring to get you a list of the tomatoes I’m trying this summer. You would think that for the queens of the vegetable garden I would make extensive lists and such, but, although I did in years past, I no longer do.
In 2019, whimsy apparently rules the day at Little Cedar Garden.
I may regret my impulsiveness this year, but I always try to tell the truth on this blog, and that’s the truth. I’m feeling very whimsical about tomato growing, and so, unusual varieties reign.
Many of the varieties are indeterminate, and I usually stick to more determinate varieties. Indeterminate tomatoes grow and produce fruit throughout the season. Determinate tomatoes produce all of their fruit at one time over a three to six-week period. They also tend to grow shorter and need less staking or caging.
I really don’t know what has gotten into me.
Determinate equals easier in my book. Also, I usually look for a lot of disease resistance. Oklahoma can be hard on tomatoes.
I cage all of my tomatoes because I am lazy. Once again, it’s the truth. Most people stake indeterminate tomatoes. I buy very large cages like these Gardener’s Supply Company Lifetime Tomato Cages, Heavy Gauge, Set of 4 and use them. I like the red ones. If the tomatoes become too heavy for the cages, I then push a piece of rebar inside the cage to give them more support.
See, I told you I’m lazy.
As I wrote in my April garden chores post, my friend, Della, and I went to visit the Tomato Man’s daughter in Tulsa for tomatoes this year. Lisa Merrell has varieties you can’t find anywhere else. Here is her 2019 list. I also bought a few grafted plants, two of which came in late April, the other three in mid-May. All but one of the grafted tomatoes look terrible, but I’m hopeful they will pull out of it. I am again testing grafted tomatoes versus those that are not. Grafted tomatoes are heirloom varieties grafted onto very prolific tomato rootstock. Because they are grafted, they are more expensive. I’m okay with that to get a tomato from a variety I want.
I usually have great luck with grafted tomatoes for those varieties I normally can’t grow. Because I only have so many places to plant I also have a problem with root-knot nematodes. You can’t tell if root-knot nematodes are your problem until you pull up the plant and see the popcorn-like nodules on the roots. Usually, your plant will lack vigor throughout the growing season.
Then, I also got several new tomato varieties to test both in plant and seed form. I did start a few tomato seeds, but nothing like last year’s tomato seed starting mania. I wasn’t in the mood to drag plants in and out of the basement where I have a seed-starting station complete with lights. Instead, I just started a few seeds in the greenhouse.
It’s a very lazy year.
Carol Michel and I are also talking about tomatoes on the Gardenangelists podcast this week along with peonies and all the best dirt. Please give us a listen as you walk on the treadmill or garden. If you like the podcast, would you give us a 5-star rating on Apple podcasts too? It’s a little confusing so if you need help reviewing our podcast, just let me know below. I’ll be glad to help.
Without further ado, here are the tomatoes I’m trying this summer. I’ll let you know if it’s indeterminate or determinate. For more information on growing indeterminate tomatoes versus determinate ones, see my book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff. I have lots of good information on growing tomatoes in it which I wrote specially for you.
- Momotaro. Indeterminate. Named after a hero in Japanese folklore. Intricate and harmonious combination of sweet and tangy. Dark pink slicing tomato.
- Cosmonaut Volkanov. Determinate. “Rich, deep, balanced, sweet and tangy flavor.” From Territorial Seed Company. Slicing tomato.
- Legend. Determinate. Has some late blight resistance. Early-maturing, slicing tomatoes.
- Mortgage Lifter. Indeterminate. “As the story goes, a tomato farmer facing bankruptcy selected a tomato that produced so well, he was able to sell one crop of fruit and pay off the mortgage. We’re not sure that would be the case today, but Mortgage Lifter certainly produces an abundance of 1-2 pound fruit. Not the prettiest in the world, but meaty and full of heirloom flavor.” From Territorial Seed Company. I’ve always wanted to taste this one, but I’ve never had success with it in the past. So, this year, I’m trying a grafted plant.
- Amish Paste. Indeterminate, “Dates back to the turn of the century, and is the best for sauces and canning. Its deep red fruits are large for canning types (about 8 oz.), with “real tomato” flavor. Not overly acidic.” From Totally Tomatoes website.
- ‘Shimmer‘ hybrid. Indeterminate. A super-producing cherry tomato described as “a plum, cocktail-type.” I’ve grown this one before. It was delicious and grew into a huge plant. I’m only growing one.
- Cherokee Sunset. (I have three of these labeled as this, but I cannot find the seeds on any website. I know I started them from seed myself because of the tags. They are a mystery. Maybe they are Cherokee Purple. That wouldn’t upset me one bit. One of my favorite tomatoes.
- Fire Fly F1 . Indeterminate. An AAS winner, pale yellow tomato in between a currant and a cherry tomato.
- Creole. Unknown. “Slightly acidic flavor and very juicy; produces 8-12 oz. round red tomatoes. Developed by Louisiana State University for warm humid climates. Good production and resistant to fusarium wilt and blossom end rot.” from Tomato Man’s Daughter website. With all this rain, we’ll be testing its resistance to blossom end rot this year. The Louisiana Ag Center said they didn’t keep any of their seed. Lisa Merrell wrote that they save their own seed every year. This is a hard tomato to find.
- Yellow 1884 Pinkheart. Indeterminate. Developed by The Tomato Man, Darrell Merrell, himself. It has almost no acid. I’m growing it because it’s unique. On their top-ten list.
- Red Zebra. Indeterminate. “Fruits are dark red inside, and brighter fire-engine-red outside, with skins streaked by dramatic, golden stripes.” From Totally Tomatoes. I was intrigued by a red version of the classic Green Zebra. Salad size.
- Proven Harvest Goodhearted. Semi-determinate. Sent for trial from Proven Winners, it was developed for containers. According to their website, it does not need a cage or staking. Cherry type.
- Pink Berkley Tie Dye. Compact indeterminate according to Wild Boar Farms. “Port wine colored beefsteak with metallic green stripes. Excellent sweet, rich dark tomato flavor. Fabulous.” From their website. Beefsteak slicer.
- Rutgers. Determinate. Great heirloom slicer. Nice acidity. A favorite of mine. My plant doesn’t look good though. I may need to replace it. We had a lot of cool weather, and it’s been hit by flea beetles too.
- Break O’ Day. Indeterminate. “4-6 oz. juicy, rich and tangy tomatoes that are very versatile. The skin even sparkles. Introduced in 1931.” From the Tomato Man’s Daughter website. Red slicer.
- Vintage Wine. Indeterminate. Pale pink fruits set off by golden stripes. If I’d realized it was a potato-leafed variety, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I have trouble with those. We shall see. Beefsteak slicer.
- Brad’s Atomic Grape. Indeterminate I think. I love this little oblong cherry tomato. I grew it from seed last year, and I thought it was one of the prettiest tomatoes I’d ever seen. Very prolific.
- Thorburn’s Terra Cotta. An heirloom from 1893. “Honey-brown skin, orange-pink flesh, and green seed mass, this is an eye-catching slicer with an out-of-this-world flavor,” from Baker Creek Seeds description.
- Kosovo Oxheart. Introduced in 2005 by Victory Seed Company, this is an indeterminate, with pink-fleshy oxheart-shaped fruits.
- Red Torch F1, an AAS Winner. I received both a plant and seeds from the National Garden Bureau. “Striped oblong tomato with 1.5” long fruits that weigh about 1.5 ounces,” from the AAS website.
I’m also growing tomatillos. We like them in sauces and salsa, which is kind of the same thing. They are such wild plants they also make me laugh.
It’s not too late to plant tomatoes although if it stops raining in Oklahoma, you need to have your drip irrigation set up. You can plant tomatoes at least into the middle of June. However, I try to get mine in as early as possible after May 12 and sometimes before. This spring was very cold so the tomatoes have had a rough start. I looked at them today though, and they are starting to take off.
When I plant, I put a little organic fertilizer in the hole–whichever brand you like that doesn’t have too much nitrogen. I dig each hole very deep unless it is a grafted plant. With a grafted plant, you want to plant it below the graft. With regular tomatoes, I try to plant them deep enough that only their top four leaves show. Really! They produce roots all along their stems. Then, I make sure they have a soaker hose or other watering system. I water them in, and I place mulch all around the plant to the dripline. This is to help prevent leaf diseases.
When they produce their first flowers, I then give them a little more fertilizer around the drip line. I usually dig little holes and put the fertilizer in there. I have a hound dog so I try to choose a fertilizer that isn’t appealing to his very sensitive nose. He’s been known to dig up my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.