After a sunny, mostly warm (for Pacific NW) summer, we did a taste test
on our tomatoes this weekend. We were particularly interested in the
Early Cascade [EC] and Champion-II [C2] tomatoes. The ECs availability
disappeared suddenly a few years ago, but though a hybrid some have tried
to continue the line. Champion disappeared this year, seemingly replaced
The verdict is not a happy one. The ECs, once our favorite early season
variety (sure, it had a thick skin and was on the small side) took
forever to start producing. And after a few weeks of the first ripening,
the taste is - mediocre.
Champions once were on the cusp of whether they'd ripen in our coastal
climate before cold set in. The C2s are earlier to ripen, but like the
new ECs have barely any flavor at all.
These used to our favorites :(
We had one very pleasant surprise. A new variety for us "Kimberly" was
both early and tasty (if a bit on the sweet rather than tangy side).
Smaller than we'd like it, nearly a cherry, but still very productive.
"Fireworks" had amazing sprays of flowers, and a tolerable flavor, but
wasn't that productive, and the plants weakened from a probable fungal
disorder that seems prevalent in this area.
I'd be delighted if others would share what they've learned - we're
definitely going to be trying new varieties next year! We're especially
interested in early to mid season as we don't get enough heat here to
ripen most varieties.
We went all-cherry some years back, after comparing the total output of
"regular" and "cherry" tomato plants - it simplifies a lot of things,
and when one cracks (if it's got infested beyond just eating) it's not a
big loss. On the whole they seem less prone to cracking and many fungal
diseases, though this year has been bad for the latter and they all
succumbed eventually. Frankly, I also never found (for instance)
Brandywine to live up to the catalog hype about its supposedly superior
flavor; but it sure was a pain to grow, comparatively, with a good deal
A "plum" size we haven't grown for a few years, Principe Borghese
(supposedly an Italian sun-drying variety) was a good meaty little
tomato. For our sunless drying, a bit big (prefer just cutting cherries
in half), so we downsized out of it, but not a bad one on the whole.
Jelly Bean has ben a good red cherry for us, and Sungold/Sun Sugar for
orange, though you might find the latter (or all three) a bit over the
top if you are objecting to sweetness. Despite being hybrids, the
volunteers (if not weeded out) often seem to come fairly true-to-type.
Tried "Tumbling Tom Yellow" this year, would not recommend it. Watery
and tasteless and more than average foliage disease issues.
"Yellow Pear" (open pollinated heirloom) has been productive, but I
don't care for it much. Didn't grow any this year, not watery as far as
I recall, just not the preferred taste here, rather acid. May suit your
taste better, assuming you can even bring yourself to try cherries (it
really is pear shaped, but is similar in size to cherries.)
"Green Zebra" is an oddity that I have not grown (bigger than my cutoff
since I swore to just stick to cherries), but have had from further
north than here so it would probably grow for you (I'm zone 4, New
England, not great but usually not terrible tomato country, terrible
pepper & eggplant country most years.) Starting any tomato indoors is
assumed here - the volunteers in the garden only get a few weeks before
This year was pretty whacky weather-wise and nothing really got going
early, after a roller-coaster spring (80+ for weeks in March, hard
freezing again in late April...) and then all the tomatoes got some sort
of fungus that took out the foliage at the end of the year. Ordinarily
I'd be running the dehydrator full-out right now as the frost is coming,
but the vines all died out weeks ago.
If you have the space for them, I'd also suggest trying a Pineapple
Tomatillo (open pollinated, not a tomato, a tomatillo, or "husk
cherry.") They make much smaller tomatillos than the usual ones you find
in stores, and you can either harvest them green and tangier (as the
ones in the stores generally are) or let them go ripe, sweet and yellow
where they do have a slight reminiscence of pineapple to the flavor. The
plants get big (3x3 feet) and they really need an indoor start to get
going well for harvest in summer here - but they do volunteer - since
none of last year's old seed came up, we've made do with the ones that
volunteered, but we'll lose them all soon, (even more tender than basil)
so we didn't get many ripe ones this year - but the plants are covered
with fruit right now. We've saved some new seed from those for next
spring. They have had very little pest and no disease problems for us.
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by
Please don't feed the trolls. Killfile and ignore them so they will go away.
One year I grew several cherry tomatoes.
Yellow Jelly Bean
Dr. Carolyn (white)
Juliet (a slightly larger red cherry or very small Italian. Very
Window Box Roma is also a good one for the deck.
I thought there were more but these are the only ones that show up
I am narrowing the varieties each year and also the number of plants.
I do like to try something different each year to see if there is
something really good to replace an old standby. I am thinking about
dropping "Early Girl" since it is not all that much earlier than
"Better Boy" which is a favorite here. Unless we eat lots of canned
tomatoes this coming year I will plant about half as many "Viva
Italia" which is our favorite for canning and sauces. Room to try a
few old ones and see how they do this time. Maybe more cherries. I
do have an outlet for the glut if it happens.
On Mon, 08 Oct 2012 16:59:02 -0400, Ecnerwal wrote:
We usually have at least one cherry variety. Mostly they are flavorful
and productive until they split and get moldy. For me they seem more
prone to this than the larger tomatoes. Mainly we don't grow more
because one or two gives us all the cherry toms we want; and they are
take so much more time to process if canning.
I haven't found a plum variety yet that will grow in our cool environment
and have much flavor.
[snip cherry info]
New England, while having a shorter season, is considerably warmer at its
peak. Its challenges are different, and highly variable with exact
location. It seems that the lack of high temperatures (which we really
like for us) is a problem for many garden plants.
My condolences! We had one season where almost all of our tomatoes got
late blight, going from huge luscious plants to grey dying hulks in a
couple days - and the picked, rescued fruit got moldy and nasty in a week.
It was awful. I hope you got something out of your crop.
We've grown tomatillos- They do fairly well here, and tend to reseed
themselves pretty effectively. We just aren't that crazy about their
taste as tomatoes.
we are located in mid-michigan.
we grow beefsteak for canning/juice and sweet 100s
for cherry tomatoes.
this year we added roma tomatoes and tried the
ball beefsteak tomatoes that were supposed to be
resistant to diseases.
we were coming along well until a flash flood
knocked everything back for a few days and then
fungal attack took out the beefsteak and roma
leaves. both types had a large crop on them even
in spite of the heat and drought we'd been
experiencing. without the leaves the plants took
forever to ripen anything and most of what we
picked was orange. which we made into salsa.
the taste was still ok.
as for splitting, no tomato plant resists splitting
if the rain hasn't been coming and then there is a
storm. the cherry tomatoes will split and we pick
them and eat or put them in with the juicing or
chunk tomatoes when we put them up.
our previous six years of tomatoes all did get
ripe and we've always been happy, so this year was
not a normal year, but we'll go back to the regular
beefsteaks next season and hope that the weather
isn't quite as difficult. i'm not sure we'll try
romas again, but for salsa it was nice to have a
firmer tomato. i never did get to make sauce as
nothing was ripe enough for the color/flavor.
i think it was only the last few weeks that we
had more leaves growing and few enough fruits to
get red tomatoes. we have one more to eat up and
then that's it. frosts/cool weather shut down
the tomato plants a few weeks ago.
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