What homegrown tomatoes are in store for me in 2020? As I mentioned in my previous post of my new location, I’ve got a whole different growing style to get used to.
Instead of two short growing seasons, I have one longer one. If I am lucky, I’ll be able to do a little succession planting. The humidity up here isn’t nearly as bad as S Florida, even though I still will get days in the 90s come August. My season starts in early April, so I’m lining up all my supplies now.
All that being said, what tomato varieties do I have planned for the 2020 gardening season? Here’s what I want to grow.
Tomato Varieties Planned for 2020
I’m going with all new (to me) varieties, with one exception. All are either heirloom or open-pollinated, so I can save seeds if I like. And for a change, I am planting some dwarf tomatoes! Here is the lineup:
- Dwarf Arctic Rose: Determinate, pink, early-season. Regular rugose leaves. Fruits average 2 to 5 ounces.
- BrandyFred: Indeterminate (dwarf), purple, mid-season. Potato rugose leaves. Fruits average around 10 ounces.
- Dwarf Pink Passion: Indeterminate, pink, mid-season. Regular rugose leaves. Fruits average 8 ounces.
- Dwarf Bendigo Blush: Indeterminate, pink, mid-season. Potato rugose leaves. Fruits average 1 to 2 ounces.
- Red Robin: Determinate, red, early-season. Regular rugose leaves. Fruits average 1 ounce. Not a dwarf so much as a tiny micro-determinate — tiny as in maybe 10 inches tall. This is the one variety I have grown in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows up here.
- Tennessee Yellow Cherry: Indeterminate, yellow, early-season. Regular leaves. Fruits average 1 ounce per tomato – supposed to be very prolific. And since I now live in Tennessee, it seemed appropriate. 😉
- Vorlon: Indeterminate, purple, mid-season. Potato leaves. Fruits average 6 to 8 ounces. I get a kick out of the show “Babylon 5”, and this was supposedly named after a character on the show. I just couldn’t resist, and purple tomatoes are generally pretty flavorful.
Three unusual varieties I’ll be growing are:
- Blue Beauty: Indeterminate, blue, early- to mid-season. Regular leaves. Unknown average size. I’ve not grown a blue tomato as yet, so this will be my first. The “blue” is due to anthocyanin, which is more of an indigo-purple color.
- Alice’s Dream: Indeterminate, blue/striped, mid-season. Regular leaves. Unknown average size. I have to admit, this one intrigues me. More anthocyanin, so it’s a “blue” tomato, but ripens to what looks like a striped tomato. It’s supposed to be beautiful and tasty!
- Girl Girl’s Weird Thing: Indeterminate, striped red/green, mid- to late-season. Regular leaves. Unknown average size, but appear to be medium. The name drew me in, and the striped red and green was fascinating. Supposed to be very tasty.
Although Blue Beauty, Alice’s Dream and Girl Girl’s Weird Thing have unknown average sizes, from the photos I’ve seen I guess that between 6 and 10 ounces seems reasonable. I know that “tasty” can vary from person to person, so when I eventually review these varieties, I’ll have to compare them against some well-known varieties for comparison.
I’m really excited to be growing in this new location, and with these new-to-me tomato seeds. I look forward to sharing my progress and photos of the garden and tomatoes.
The Black Prince tomato variety is a bit on the unusual side. First, it’s a very different shade — neither red nor black.
Next, it’s more of an oval shape, instead of round or beefsteak or even the standard “paste tomato” shape.
The picture you see here is one Black Prince tomato that’s pretty well ripe; you can see that it’s more of a mahogany color, rather than red or black.
The shape isn’t showing really well in this photo; it kind of looks like an oxheart shape, and it’s not.
The Black Prince variety is an heirloom tomato and comes to us from Russia, so it’s a fairly early tomato. In my Fall garden, it was the first to ripen fruits.
The plant itself is a little on the wimpy side, without a lot of leaves or stems. However, I have been impressed with the yield, which has been very nice indeed
How about a photo of one that’s still on the vine (albeit not quite ripe yet)?
This is in the sunshine, so the color is lighter, and once again, it’s not ripe. You might notice that it has “green shoulders” at the moment — the green mostly disappears as it gets fully ripe, but a greenish cast does remain.
Black Prince — Tomato Eating Time!
Here’s the big question…how does Black Prince taste?
I’m happy to say that the taste is very good. While some people say black tomatoes taste “smokey”, I didn’t find that to be true. Instead, it was a rich tomato taste – yum!
The flesh is a little soft, as with most varieties of black tomatoes, but reasonably firm nonetheless. There is a good mix of juice and flesh — not a dry tomato at all!
I’m glad that I grew Black Prince seeds in my Fall garden, and I look forward to a continued harvest, until frost (probably January for me).
The heirlooms in the garden are growing strong! With 2 days of gentle rain, the plants are rocketing skyward. Who said hybrids were the only ones to grow fast?
I mentioned in my post for the last heirloom tomato report that I’d post some photos. I just walked out to the garden, camera in hand, so here they are!
How Fast Have They Grown?
On this past Sunday (March 15th), I decided that I’d go around with my Sharpie permanent marker and mark how high the plants were. That way, by Sunday the 22nd, I could tell how fast they had grown.
I decided to wander out with my camera today and Brandywine has declared its intentions to make a run to the top of the 6-foor pole. See the red arrow? That’s pointing to where I marked its height on Sunday. And blossoms? The photo doesn’t show it, but there are lots and lots on the plant.
But Kellogg’s Breakfast isn’t far behind! Nor are my Pinapple tomatoes, for The Great Tomato Experiment.
Truth be told, every tomato plant is showing marked growth since Sunday. The plants that have gained the least height are my Loxahatchee plants. On the other hand, they have apparently decided that large, dark green leaves and flower buds are more important, and they are truly lovely plants.
Here’s a photo showing Loxahatchee (foreground) and Kellogg’s Breakfast (background). And speaking of Kellogg’s Breakfast, it’s also gotten a lot wider, as well as a fair amount taller.
(By the way, you can click on the photos to see a larger image.)
Black Sea Man and Druzba have grown, but not quite as spectacularly. Then again, they are both much younger plants, being in the main garden for not even 2 weeks yet. Actually, I kind of take that back — Black Sea Man has grown some huge, long leaves, and gotten quite wide. It’s just only grown an inch taller in height (which isn’t as exciting as Brandywine growing 5 inches).
The others are also doing well; White Bush is blossoming, and I can’t wait to see the ripe tomatoes on it (getting ahead of myself, though). Eva Purple Ball and Pruden’s Purple are about a week away from being transplanted into their final spots.
Oh, you may be wondering who won the blossom contest (i.e. which heirloom had the first open blossoms). The winner was…Pineapple, closely followed by White Bush. Brandywine followed and all the older plants (those that have been in the ground for at least 3 weeks) all have buds.
So that’s it for today. And if you’re womdering if I grow any hybrids, the answer is yes…and those photos are reports are coming up shortly!
I thought I’d update you with an heirloom tomato report, on how these wonderful plants are growing in the garden. I’ve had extremely unsettled weather from January through the beginning of March and the tomatoes have taken it with differing results. Here’s a homegrown heirloom tomato report!
Heirloom Tomatoes in the Garden
First, in case you aren’t aware, I am in South Florida. Although my winters have been pretty mild in the recent past, it was a cold one this year, with several freezes. Last week’s temperature dip into the 30’s didn’t help matters. But it’s warming up now, and the plants look happier.
Here’s a list of the heirloom tomatoes currently in the garden:
- Black Sea Man: Determinate, black fruit
- Brandywine: Indeterminate, pink fruit
- Druzba: Indeterminate, red fruit
- Eva Purple Ball: Indeterminate, dark pink fruit
- Kelloggs Breakfast: Indeterminate, orange fruit
- Loxahatchee: Semi-determinate, red fruit
- Mr. Stripey: Indeterminate, bicolor yellow/red fruit
- Pineapple: Indeterminate, bicolor yellow/red fruit
- Pruden’s Purple: Indeterminate, dark pink fruit
- White Bush: Determinate, white fruit
And here are the heirloom plants that (sadly) succumbed to one of the freezes:
- Big Rainbow: Indeterminate, bicolor yellow/red fruit
- Green Zebra: Indeterminate, green striped fruit
- Yellow Cherry: Indeterminate, yellow fruit
That’s not too bad, though — just three that are more temperature-sensitive.
Last Week’s Cold Snap
Almost all the plants got nipped by the dip into the 30’s last week. Green Zebra was the only casualty, but all the other plants except two showed signs of stress and/or what I call “freezer burn” on some leaves.
The two heirloom tomato varieties that came through totally unscathed were Loxahatchee and White Bush. Both acted as if the cold snap never happened. Unfortunately, White Bush doesn’t seem to be in circulation anymore (couldn’t find any seeds for sale) and Loxahatchee is from my own heirloom breeding program, and I don’t have enough seeds to offer for sale at the moment.
Heirloom Tomatoes — Who’s Blooming?
Mr. Stripey is the only one with tomatoes and blossoms, but that’s the one variety I bought as a plant; all the rest I have grown from seed.
None if the seed-grown plants are actually in full blossom at the moment, but about half have small (and in Brandywine’s case, not so small) blossom buds. So far, I expect Brandywine to have the first open blossoms, probably by Saturday.
The heirloom tomato plants that aren’t showing blossom buds, like Druzba and Pruden’s Purple, are just too young yet (I just put them in the garden a few days ago). I plant my tomatoes is waves, hoping to extend the season. While it doesn’t always work (sometimes they all stubbornly decide to ripen at the same time no matter what I do), sometimes I get lucky.
I’ll be taking some photos this weekend of the various heirloom tomato plants. I’ll also be updating The Great Tomato Experiment report. Meanwhile, you can take a look at other posts I’ve written on heirloom tomatoes.
Here are some tomato plant updates for the week (as well as tomato seed updates). Sorry I haven’t been around much this week — I’ve been busy with my tomatoes (not to mention with my other veggies).
I mentioned in my first tomato update post that I had three SuperSweet 100 plants, and I was going to run an experiment with them. One I kept inside in a south-facing window. Another I took outside to a protected area with strong indirect sunlight (as well as a couple hours of direct sun). The third I went and planted in its final container outside. Three weeks later, how did they fare?
It’s been rather cool here lately, so the plant I kept inside in a south-facing window is by far the tallest and has the most leaves. However, it’s verging on leggy. I’m keeping it inside for the time being, seeing as the forecast is for temps in the upper 30’s next week — if I sent it outside now, I’m afraid it would have a severe setback.
The one I planted in its final container in the garden is the next most developed; it has medium-sized new growth — not as much as the one I left inside, but it’s stockier — not leggy at all. It has a nice, dark green color.
The third that I left outside in a protected location is the smallest. I decided to go ahead and plant it in its final container out in the garden area, so it could get some more growth. Dark green leaves, though, so that’s good.
All my started to grow quite well by about the 10th, when I potted them up twice since then. I was thinking I had the red version of Brandywine, but they all ended up potato leaf style, so I either have red Brandywine with potato leaves or pink Brandywine. Hmmm. I’ll have to wait and see the color of the fruit.
These are for the Great Tomato Experiment, and they are doing very nicely. I transferred them to the next size container, and am keeping them inside for now, given that lower temperatures are forecast during the week. All my Pineapple seeds germinated nicely, so I have four plants to choose from — the three strongest will take part in the experiment.
I originally said that one of my White Bush seedlings had been going for the sky. Well, it had, then a short while later it looked like it was going to keel over. So I brought it inside and hoped for the best. It hasn’t been until the last few days that it’s started looking healthy — now it’s growing fine again.
The Rest of the Tomato Plants
I have Juliet, Tomatoberry, Big Rainbow, Kellogg’s Breakfastall repotted up. I brought one Kellogg’s Breakfast inside, and everything else I left outside. Yellow Cherry is also outside, but I’m not sure how it will fare. I probably should bring it inside.
New Tomato Seeds Germinated
I tried for some of my legacy seeds, and so far, Green Grape and Loxahatchee are the only two up. I had also planted newer seeds for Tumbling Tom, and they both came up. For the legacy seeds, still waiting on Black Krim.
Loxahatchee is a strain I am developing. I originally saved the seed from an unknown globe-shaped tomato that tasted wonderful, and hoped that the resulting plant would also have great-tasting tomatoes. I didn’t know if the tomato was hybrid or open pollinated, so I wasn’t sure what I’d get. At any rate, I’ve selected plants for three generations whose tomatoes tasted the best.
Whoops! For some reason I was down to just 6 seeds — not sure where the rest ran off to. So I carefully planted 3 of the seeds. Two have germinated so far, and hopefully the third as well.
For these, I want to do two things. First is still select the largest of the great-tasting red globes — that will be two of the plants. The third plant I want to use as the female cross with another tomato variety. Not sure which I want to use for the male parent of the cross. I’m debating using Pineapple, Kellogg’s Breakfast or maybe Druzba. I’ll have to see how this generation fares, first.
Finally, I planted two new varieties yesterday — the heirloom tomato and the hybrid Fabulous. (If you plan on planting seeds and need some guidance, check out the germinating tomato seeds post.)
With Tomatoes and Flowers
Almost forgot, I have tomatoes on Patio, Celebrity and Husky Red (a cherry-type). I have more blossoms on all these, plus also with Mr. Stripey (Tigerella) and Park’s Whopper. It’s been a cooler winter than normal, so everything is growing slower than usual; I should have already had at least some almost-ripe tomatoes by now. I’ve still got a ways to wait, though.