We bought a home last summer that came with 2 nice raised veggie beds.
Previous owner had kindly planted one of the beds in tomatoes - Early
Girl and a beefsteak & when escrow closed we enjoyed some of the best
tomatoes I've had in years.
Rotated beds this year and planted those varieties as well as a
Brandywine, Legend, Caspian Pink, and Sungold. Soil in the beds was
identical - good soil with some organic amendments. Planted good
healthy starts 5/15 and happily watched them overgrow their cages and
load up with tomatoes.
First to ripen have been the Legend and Early Girl which are perfectly
plump and nicely red, but almost tasteless. Both are missing that
extraordinary deep, sweet "gardeny taste" that only a fresh, homegrown,
vine-ripened tomato achieves. They aren't bad, but they're sure a
disappointment when your mouth is ready for the real deal...Only the
Sungold have any flavor(they're a big hit), but way too little to make
the BLT of my dreams.
They get plenty of sun - weather's been nice and hot for a good month
80-100 degrees every day and they get watered at the roots regularly.
Anybody have any ideas why the flavor just isn't developing?
I have whined here before that we've had a monsoon season rather than
a summer, and I can attest to the fact that the excess watering has
made a lot of the larger tomatoes tasteless. That could be in part
because I'm bringing them inside and letting them finish ripening on
the counter, but too many of them split if I don't. The smaller
tomatoes split less and have better taste. Right now I have a Mortgage
Lifter,a Box Car Willie, some volunteer yellow current tomatoes, and a
Peron Sprayless still producing tomatoes, and one Druzba that is
growing, but not producing well in the heat. The yellow current
tomatoes and the smaller Peron Sprayless have the most flavor right
Although, I did bring in a *huge* Mortgage Lifter for lunch today, and
I'm hoping it has good flavor. We had almost 6 days with no rain, so I
was able to leave it on the vine.
One thing about Early Girls in particular (not sure about Legend).
They will *look* red ripe but need an extra day or so on the plant
to be 'properly' ripe.
An occasional foliar-feed with liquified kelp (or the use of a fertilizer
which contains kelp meal) is good insurance against slight deficiencies
in trace minerals.
And I agree with FDR, flavor usually improves through the season, and
too much water 'dilutes' the flavor.
My best-tasting 'sandwich size' tomatoes (this year) have been 'Anna Russian'
and 'Stump of the World.'
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
I had a similar thing happen some years back. After a few decades of having
moved off the farm, I got tired of the tasteless tomatoes I got at the
store, and thought I'd dazzle myself and the grandkids with some real,
down-home, field grown tomatoes and the flavor I so keenly recollect.
So we went to the nursery and got 6 little plants, prepared a place for
them and lovingly tended them until we finally got our prizes indoors and
could eat them. Guess what? They tasted EXACTLY like the ones I buy! I
found out the reason later, the tomatoes you buy, have been specially bred
and hybridized in order to permit shipping and handling. In order to get
them from the field to your table, they've been bred to be more robust and
firmer, and to ripen without sun in transit if necessary. Notice that I
didn't mention anything about flavor and taste. And this section of
California is a huge tomato growing area. So the seedlings that show up in
the nursery are the same ones they use to grow those "red-things" that look
like tomatoes that we eat. Fortunately, the cherry tomatoes were just fine.
Since then we send for seeds of what's known as heirloom tomatoes. There
are a number of places on the web from which they can be obtained. We do
that during the winter, and then setup trays to grow seedlings in the
spring, timed for planting as soon as the soil and climate allows. Now we
enjoy GREAT tasting tomatoes... Obviously, markets being what they are, and
as diverse as those can be...YMMV.
Kudos to you Dusty for showing your grandkids what a real tomato tastes
like. So sad that we're raising generations that think those miserable
hockey pucks from the supermarket are actually tomatoes. Boy are they
Appreciate everyone's input - we'll try lightening up on the watering
for a bit and leaving the tomatoes on the vine for an extra day or two.
We bought our starts from a marvelous small nursery just down the road
that grows its tomatoes from seed, focusing heavily on heirlooms. It's
the same place last year's great tomato plants came from, so I'm
guessing the problem is with me and not the plants. At least I've
escaped "wilt," which has been a problem in the Eugene area this season
- my guys are healthy as horses - and those little bitty Sungolds sure
On 8/17/05 10:25 PM, in article
I am growing tomatoes this year entirely by hydroponics. I find that I have
a range of tomatoes that range from OK to superb that are as sweet and
tasty, although different, as any fine stone fruit. Often, there is a
distinct dependence upon the individual plant.
Most cheap fertilizers to not supply micronutrients including copper, zinc,
molybdenum, and boron. They may also be low on calcium, magnesium, and
soluble iron required in medium quantity. General Hydroponics supplies trace
minerals at a hefty price. Miracle Gro supplies fertilizers specifically for
tomatoes at a reasonable price although they may somewhat disproportionate
to actual requirement.
I personally have not liked Early Girl. Beefsteak varieties can be variable.
My personal preference is for Better Boy and Celebrity.
Could you embellish a bit on your comments of growing via hydroponics? I'm
designing in a greenhouse/solarium into our the next house. Since we had
originally intended to land somewhere relatively warm and with lots of
sunshine, I had thought to use that shelter with the help of some additional
lighting to grow fresh things all year long. However, events unfolding now
seem to indicate that we don't want to place our future abode that far
south, that means that we're probably going to be in a colder, darker, less
To that end, your post tripped my attention meter as I'd just started to
think about how the GH/solarium might be redesigned to take advantage of a
cooler and shorter growing season. Your mention of hydroponics is making me
take a look in that direction. While I've done it in the past,
experimentally, on small things, I've never done something as large as a
facility big enough to feed us in an on-going basis. Any tips, suggestions,
cautions, or other advice would be most appreciated from the point of view
of one with actual, hands-on experience...
San Jose, Ca.
On 8/18/05 3:43 PM, in article email@example.com, "Dusty
I probably am not the one to be used as an exemplar for hydroponic growing.
There ought to be a number of vendors in the San Jose and maybe a few
growers as well. Visit them. Although I plan to, I have not yet used
artificial light to to grow plants.
After trying a few methods, I am settling for General Hydroponics' Water
Farm kit. For about $300 you can have a complete setup ready to go with 8
containers, each good for a tomato plant. All you need to do is supply seed,
water, and electricity. A cycle timer would help. From then on consumables
are going to be less costly. Considering the prices charged at some of these
stores, I would not be surprised if they cater to the pot trade.
You certainly can substitute your own labor to save money using 5 gal
buckets and various tubing that you can find at irrigation suppliers. The
same is true for nutrient solution. Again, you can avoid boutique prices by
mixing your own.
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