The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

New tomato varieties for 2012

Amish Paste tomato

This year, I decided to try out two tomato varieties I'd never grown before.  To my surprise, I ended up with four new kinds of tomatoes in my garden, three of which were duds.

  • Gold Rush Currant --- For the past few years, Blondkopfchen has been our favorite tommy-toe.  The variety is prolific and tasty, but tends to succumb to fungal diseases before anyone else, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to try out a different type of cherry tomato.  Unfortunately, Gold Rush Currant succumbed even faster and didn't taste good --- we won't be growing it again.
  • Blighted tomatoAmish Paste --- Most of our tomatoes are romas, which we turn into soups, sauces, or dry.  I'm actually very happy with Martino's Roma, but so many people were glowing about Amish Paste that I had to give it a shot.  Amish Paste turns out to be very similar to the Russian Romas we tried in our early years on the farm --- huge, juicier than most roma tomatoes, but extremely blight-prone.  I don't mind spending a bit more time processing my romas if they don't keel over in our damp climate, so I ripped out the Amish Paste tomatoes this week before they could spread their fungi to the rest of the planting.
  • Japanese Black Trifele --- Usually, we just eat Stupice as an early and prolific slicing tomato.  But during our early years, we grew a variety that was supposedly Cherokee, and it was the tastiest tomato imaginable (although blight-prone).  Since I was given the variety by a friend, I wasn't terribly surprised when images on the internet didn't match the tomato I was growing, and extensive searching showed that my tasty tomato was probably Japanese Black Trifele instead.  I bought some seeds of this new/old variety, and the fruits do indeed look like the tomatoes I grew in 2007.  However, they taste watery and lack the flavor burst of whatever we grew then, so Japanese Black Trifele will join the other duds on this year's tomato trial list.  (Unlike the previous two varieties, though, I'll keep this one in the 2012 garden and will just cook with the so-so fruits.)
  • Small red indeterminate romaUnknown small, indeterminate roma --- My final new variety for this year is who-knows-what!  Since volunteer tomatoes come up all over my garden from compost (some of which is our ex-neighbors'), I can't be sure that this seedling wasn't from a storebought tomato our friends ate last year.  However, the sport came up in the row with the Martino's Romas, which makes me think that it might be either a seed of another variety accidentally slipped into the packet, or a rare instance of a naturally produced hybrid tomato.  No matter where it came from, I like the unidentified variety so far.  It fruits just as prolifically as Martino's Roma (although with smaller tomatoes), and is indeterminate, which means it might end up giving us more tomatoes in the long run.  The little red roma does seem to be a bit more blight-prone (as you can tell by how high up I've cut leaves on the stem), but once the rains slacked off, the plant began to hold its own, unlike the first two varieties profiled in this post.  I'm saving seeds and will try this variety out in more numbers next year.

In case you're curious what that leaves us with, our regular tomato varieties are Martino's Roma, Yellow Roma, Stupice, and some tommy-toe --- maybe we'll go back to Blondkopfchen for next year?  It's fun to try out new varieties, but I'm glad I put most of my eggs in the old-standby basket.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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