Every year, around this time of the season, I start getting this longing feeling. The feeling that garden fresh tomatoes are not that far away. We primarily grow salad greens but we do grow a few select varieties of flavorful, unique and nutritious tomatoes. We choose varieties based on ripening time, fruit size and most importantly…flavor. This year we have the following tomatoes:
- Atomic Grape – Elongated, large cherries in clusters. The color (and flavor!) is a full-blown assault on the senses—lavender and purple stripes, turning to technicolor olive-green, red, and brown/blue stripes when fully ripe. Really wild! Fruits hold well on the vine or off, making this amazing variety a good candidate for market growers. Olive green interior is blushed with red when dead-ripe. Crack-resistant fruits are extraordinarily sweet! This release from Wild Boar Farms won best in show at the 2017 National Heirloom Expo!
- Black Beauty – a dark, meaty, very rich-fleshed tomato with extreme anthocyanin expression (same antioxidant in blueberries and blackberries). So dark that some tomatoes turn solid blue-black on the skin. Deep red flesh is among the best tasting of all tomatoes. Rich, smooth and savory with earthy tones. World’s darkest tomato!
- Blue Beauty – a cross between ‘Beauty King’ and a blue tomato. Fruits are modest beefsteak-type slicers, weighing up to 8 ounces, and the flavor is as good as their outstanding antioxidant content! Gorgeous, deep blue-black shoulders make this unique among slicing types.
- Black Pineapple – the multi-colored, smooth fruit (green, yellow and purple mix) weigh about 1½ lbs. The flesh is bright green with deep red streaks. Superb flavor that is outstanding, being both sweet and smoky with a hint of citrus.
- Solar Flare – this 6-10 ounce beefsteak is red with gold stripes and has very meaty flesh with luscious sweet red tomato flavor.
To trellis or not to trellis, that is the eternal farming question. We trellis some, others we let sprawl…I guess it really comes down to how much room you have and how much time do you have. I find that with trellising tomatoes I am able to grow more in a closer area and utilize the vertical space. During harvest this means less work picking tomatoes as well and there is something satisfying in trellising a plant. As to which is more efficient you’ll have to figure that out on your own.
Our tomatoes are started from seed in late January inside the house and the heat from the wood stove helps with germination. Around late February to March the seedlings are potted up after having spent some time under lights to help them from getting leggy. I move them outside to the greenhouse and they’ll stay there until they get hardened off and transplanted the first week of April.