I've decided to use the south facing side of the house to grow
tomatoes this year. There are no trees giving shade, so it gets full
sunlight all day long. In the spring and fall there is a small amount
of "heat island" effect due to the angle of the sun. There are also two
downspouts, and I'm sure I can figure out a way to capture water from
those in some manner, so that I can water them without having to use
The area is roughly 25 feet long, and I can install a lattice or
fence of some kind to support climbing plants.
My main focus is something prolific, with a second desire for disease
I would also like to have some low acid plants, some large
sandwich/beefsteak types, and then something smaller for the kids to
snack on. (like the moby grape my sister grew last year) I might also
be up for a plant or two that is an unusual color or heirloom variety.
I bought loads of "tomato soil" on closeout last fall at Lowe's, and
I'm ready to start working up the soil. I just need to make up my mind
on varieties, order them, and then get the plants started on a
windowsill so that I can get them planted in a couple of months.
One question that I have is this: how close to the foundation/wall
should I place the tomato plants? If I place it within 2' of the wall,
I could potentially plant another entire row of lower growing plants
over by the property line. However, I'm not sure if this would be too
Anyway, I'm open to suggestions on varieties this year. I should
probably order within the next 5 days or so.
The best grape size tomato I have had is called Sugary. I got seeds at
Tomato Growers Supply Company
I only had to buy them once about 3 years ago and have used seeds
from the tomatoes since then. The plants are pretty hardy to cold, I
have had them through out the winter in a barely heated greenhouse
here in North Carolina.
Two feet from wall should be fine as long as all plants get lots of sun.
A plum tomato like Roma's come in at once, good for sauces and salads.
An early tomato like Early Girls's, a slicing tomato that comes through out
A globe tomato like Bonnie Best, a medium size all purpose slicing tomato.
A cherry tomato like Cherry 100's, great for salads comes in throughout
A beef steak a large globe tomato that comes in at once, great taste and
Cherry and Early Girls are bush tomatoes and those circular tomato
supports works best for them. The other tomatoes listed are Determinate and
have a main stalk, heavy ladder supports are better for them.
These tomatoes are the most popular. There are many varieties of tomatoes
grown for color, shape and perhaps taste. The larger the tomato the longer
the growing time it needs. For my area the beef steaks sometimes come in
sometimes an early frost gets to them first.
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)
This year I have a brand new spot for my tomatoes so that I can get
enough areas to do a 3 or 4 year rotation. I have cut my planting
too. This year I am planting:
Viva Italian Hybrid--It is a nice sized Roma and pretty prolific when
the nasties don't get them. I always plant more of these since they
are so good for sauces.
Better Boy Hybrid--My husband's favorite slicing tomato.
Brandy Boy Hybrid--a hybrid of the popular Open Pollinated Brandywine
Carmello--Another good slicer. Was originally hybrid, but has been
transformed into an OP.
Early Girl--As the name suggests it is a slightly smaller tomato that
produces somewhat earlier that most of other tomatoes.
These 5 are my plant every year. I have been tracking the output of
my tomatoes for several years. These are always the top producers.
This year I am adding:
Julia Child-- A yellow tomato.
These are all Open Pollinated.
When I am looking for tomatoes and peppers the first places I look is
Tomato Growers Supply or Totally Tomatoes. I have had good luck with
both of them in terms of getting what I ordered and having better than
When I get ready to start ordering I first look through several of the
web sites to see what looks interesting and who has what. I will make
a list at each site of what I would like to have. Then I go through
and figure out which place has more of the ones I want. I try to keep
my shipping costs down.
You may be able to get a good variety of tomatoes at your local
hardware, farm supply, nursery, Lowe's or Home Depot. My Lowe's
carries Burpee and Ferry-Morse seeds. I don't think I have every had
a problem with either of them. Shipping costs will eat up your seed
budget faster than the seeds do.
Stay away from the Big Box stores, they destroyed the entire New England
tomato crop two years ago by sell late blight infected plants.
Last year I planted from seed and also from several local nurseries, I had
a fantastic crop. A couple of the larger nurseries had a large selection
of unusual varieties which is what I'm looking for. The smaller garden
centers generally don't have a lot of interesting plants, mostly the
modern hybrids like Big Boy, Early Girl and Romas, but if I find an
heirloom there I'll buy it just to spread the wealth around.
Were people buying seeds or plants? I rarely buy plants. Sometimes
DH will buy one, to get a jump on the season he says. Last year he
bought a fair sized Better Boy. My late starting BBs fruited about
the same time. Right now my tomato seedlings are just starting to
get their second leaves. They will probably go in the ground mid to
late April depending on the weather. Right now our ground is so wet I
think I would mire in up to my ankles. About 3 inches Saturday and
Sunday and more predicted for tomorrow. I probably should start
hardening off some of the onions and cole crops.
Around here it is almost impossible to fine unusual varieties so I buy
seeds. They do not even have the seeds for many of the ones I want.
Of the seeds I started this year I could probably find Better Boy,
Early Girl, and maybe the Brandy Boy. The others are not available
around here even as seeds. I figure the odds are better by starting
my own seeds than buying plants. There is one nursery up the road a
bit that I might buy a tomato plant from if they had something really
interesting. One of the vendors at the farmers market sometimes has
some plants but not usually a variety I want.
On Tue, 08 Mar 2011 12:17:08 -0500, The Cook wrote:
The problem was caused by plants, seeds from big box stores are safe but
I've just ordered some seeds from Amazon,
The Sun Golds that I grew last year were fantastic in all respects. They
are the sweetest tomato that I've ever eaten and the production was
prodigious, the plants started yielding in early Aug and continued for a
couple of months. I had thousands of Sun Golds. I ate them off of the vine
every day but most of them ended up in sauce (I make a years supply every
fall). People don't usually use cherry tomatoes for sauce but it really
works, it's fantastic sauce.
The other two that I've just ordered are experiments, the reviews were
good so I'm hoping for the best.
In the "Vegetable Gardener' Bible" by Edward C. Smith.
<(Amazon.com product link shortened) />/
(yada, yada, yada)
it is advised to have a soil temp. of 80F for germination, and at least
70F for growing. WIll you have soil temp. of 70F in mid to late April?
I sometimes plant when the soil is cooler, but then the tomatoes just
sit there until the ground warms up enough to get them growing.
Last year I covered the tomato beds with clear plastic, and that warmed
the soil by an additional 5 - 6 degrees Fahrenheit. I had drip
irrigation under the plastic.
Dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes are popular in farmers markets in the San
Francisco Bay Area. The variety is also popular with home gardeners in
that region, where it thrives despite the area's cool and often overcast
Foodies regularly debate the merits of dry-farmed Early Girl tomato
farms, such as Ella Bella and Dirty Girl
Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters is a fan of the Early Girl tomato,
telling an interviewer "[O]ne of the best tomatoes I've ever had was an
Early Girl that was dry-farmed up in Napa at a friend's house." 
On Mon, 07 Mar 2011 10:56:52 -0500, Ohioguy wrote:
I posted this list last fall, here it is again
1) Sun Gold Cherry
Hands down the best tomato I've ever tasted, it's practically candy. I
took a selection of my small tomatoes to a BBQ today, this was everyone's
favorite. Each plant is producing hundreds of tomatoes. The
Sun Golds are orange in color. I'll definitely plant these again.
2) Sugar Snack Cherry
A very tasty tomato but not as good as the Sun Golds. These are even
earlier, started producing at the end of July, and the volume of tomatoes
is even greater than the Sun Golds. The sugar snacks are red, slightly
bigger than the Sun Golds. I will plant them again.
3) Yellow Pear
These look much better than they taste. These really look like very small
bright yellow pears. The taste is bland, and the production is much less
than the Sun Golds or Sugar Snacks, however they are in a different
location so it might just be that they are getting less light. I'm
undecided about doing these again.
4) Cherokee Purples
A large tomato. They are just starting to ripen now so it's a race with
the weather. If we have a couple more weeks before it gets to cold I
should have a lot of them. The plants are heavy with tomatoes but they
are mostly still green. The taste is decent, not exceptional.
5) Cosmonaut Volkovs
I grew these from seeds. It's the same story as the Cherokee Purples, the
plants are loaded with green tomatoes. It's a very pretty looking tomato,
medium sized an more pink then red. The taste is decent, I think they
will make excellent sauce. I'll probably do these again.
6) Black Prince
Also grown from seed. These really are red and black which is a little
disturbing because the blackish parts look like they are rotten, but it's
just the way the tomato is. Mostly still green like my other large
tomatoes. I don't think I'll do these next year.
I'll only add to the suggestions that you've gotten so far-- be sure
to plant variety. I rarely get tomatoes that follow the time,
size, or taste that the seed catalogs say they will.
Sometimes I'll get Early Girls ripening up after my mid-season ones
[and it seems like they are much sweeter when they do] -- small
beefsteaks, freakishly huge paste tomatoes, Sweet 100s that aren't so
sweet. [that happened 2 cold, wet years in a row & made me begin to
wonder if they had changed the variety]
IMO, weather plays a bigger part in a tomato's development than we can
keep track of. hot, cold, wet, dry, and all the variations on a
given day of the plant and fruit's development.
Especially if you're planting seed- no reason not to have 6-8
varieties. [and 20-30 would not make you a weirdo on some of the
tomato growing forums.]
I'm going with an assortment of colored cherry tomatoes this year--
and a few early, big, and paste varieties.
"Better Boy" for slicing and all-purpose tomatoes. "Principe
Borghese" for plum tomatoes and for drying. I've planted lots of
other varieties, but I keep coming back to those two because they
taste good and they work.
Give 'em lots of nitrogen fertilizer early in the season to get a lot
of healthy greenery. (don't keep feeding it nitrogen or all you'll
get is greens <g>) That seems to help prevent late-season diseases
better than anything else I've tried. Blight resistant varieties like
"Legend" are a joke; YMMV.
* * *
Better Boy is a hybrid, but I saved the seeds their seeds last year
and that's all the toms I'm going to plant this year (even tho' I have
leftover BB seeds in the packet.) I want to see what my own
open-pollinated strain of BB turns out like.
The 900 lb. gorilla in the room that no one has mentioned is, of course,
the Brandywine tomato which has a cult following, which is well deserved
in my opinion. It doesn't produce a lot of tomatoes, but the ones that
they do produce are magnificent.
For a yellow cherry tomato, you might try Blondkopfchen, which last year
(a cold year here), in my garden was a huge producer, and held up well
when the rains began.
That, indeed, is the downside to growing them. Even doing everything
right in a northern clime may not be enough, if Ma Nature decides to
throw you a cool summer. But when they do produce, they are wonderful.
Try starting indoors, planting through clear plastic to warm the soil
and accelerate ripening, and if you have plenty of sun, put them in a
On the other hand Big Beef tomatoes only ripen 2 weeks earlier than
Branywines. For early ripening, I plant with Stupice (55 days).
Check out www.vesey.com from York, Prince Edward Island, CA, for early
ripening varieties of everything.
I'm trying their "Quickie Corn" (58 days), as I've had very poor luck
with Golden Bantam.
Corn does grow well in Michigan. Can be started early, corn seems to
tolerate a cooler night time temp than tomatoes. In Michigan there is about
90 days from frost to frost. That is plenty of time for corn. Many smaller
tomatoes varieties grow within 120 days so an early start indoors are not
to much of a problem.
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)
Have grown in the past and have now started Brandy Boy Hybrid for this
year. They seem to mature about the same time as my other slicers and
have the Brandywine flavor. The few years I grew them they produced
very well. I think I stopped growing them when I got a bunch of new
varieties and didn't have room. Will let you know what they do this
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