Monday, May 18, 2009

Central Coast Tomato Trials - part 1

First fruit set on May 18! The variety is Camp Joy.

If you live in an area with cool or short summers, you know the pain of not being able to grow most tomatoes. Here on the central coast of California, we've got some "issues", to say the least. I tried to grow some tasty varieties last year like Green Zebra and Cherokee Purple, but they just wouldn't set many fruit and the few that set were tiny. Enter the "Central Coast Tomato Trials". I am determined to grow some nice tomatoes here. After a lot of research, these are the 11 tomato varieties that I am trialing:

Camp Joy*
Early Girl
Lahman Pink*
Paul Robeson*
San Francisco Fog
San Marzano

Also 2 tomatillos:
Green Toma Verde
Purple Heirloom

These candidates have been described as "short season" or "cool summer" varieties. Some were suggested by friends, the others were discovered in seed catalogs. The starred* varieties were purchased as seeds from Gary Isben's TomatoFest. Gary puts on TomatoFest each summer in Carmel, CA with hundreds of heirloom varieties available for tasting. That way you "know before you buy" (and grow).

All of the plants were started from seeds at the end of January. Except, for a couple of duplicates that I started in late Feb. Plants were set out in the ground around the first week of April. I wish I had enough space for several plants of each variety, but that is simply not the case. So, I'm only able to fit in 2 plants of Camp Joy, Early Girl, Glacier, Paul Robeson, Stupice, and Sungold. The other varieties only have 1 plant. I know this is very unscientific, but it's the best I can do at this point. My primary goals are taste, reliable fruit set and good production of normal- or close to normal-sized fruit for the variety. Secondary goals are taste, total production, and disease resistance. I'll keep you updated through the summer and fall on our progress.


Bangchik and Kakdah said...

I love the way you treat tomato growing with the details, varieties, potentials and problems around it. I wish you good luck...

My recent experience with tomato growing is interesting... They grew to a height of 6 feet thereabout, and the stakes not high enough to handle the growth.. Now the bed is empty, waiting for the next planting, but I am still thinking what to grow, with seedlings ready in little pots; pak choy, spinach and roselle.

~ bangchik

Michelle said...

Your tomatoes are sooo far ahead of mine! I just started planting them out yesterday. That plant looks so healthy and happy. It's going to be very interesting to see the results of your trial. I get warmer days out here in the valley, but the nighttime temps are cooler and I don't get much fruit set until midsummer. But last year I was picking good tomatoes until well into November. Paul Robeson has done very well for me and is one of my all time favorite tomatoes for taste as well.

Tatyana said...

Good for you, Jackie! Will wait the results! We have short and not hot summers here. From the varieties that you listed I tried and liked Sun Gold, Early Girl was so-so. Good luck!

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

We have a short season too. I'm trying Early Girl as well. I'll be looking forward to seeing how things progress for you. Good Luck! I hope you are enjoying fresh tomatoes soon! -Jackie (Ellie Mae's Cottage)

Stacy said...

Great selection! I'm also growing San Marzano and Sungold. Both of those are way ahead of all my other tomatoes, even the so called early varieties. Mine just started getting big enough for me to let them have buds though, so you are way ahead of where I'm at. : )

Daphne said...

From the tomato varieties you picked, you must live in a climate similar to ours, which means a cool summer. Though I'm sure you have a much longer season since you live in California. I'll be watching to see how all those tomatoes do (especially the short season ones). Besides my Sungold experiment, I'm trialing three black cherry tomatoes (Black Cherry, Black Moor, Chocolate Cherry). I want to see which one tastes best. Black Cherry has always been my second favorite cherry tomato after Sungold, but no one around here grows the other ones, so I need to try them out for myself.

Jackie said...

Thanks for all your input and interest! Since this post I've had fruit set on Stupice and Early Girl (F2 saved seed, regular leaved). I look forward to providing more results...especially for the taste test!