MB: This is the time of year when everyone’s daydreaming about their vegetable gardens and the star of the dream is usually the tomato. Everybody has their favorite tomato — or ten. The reasons for these preferences are as numerous as the varieties of this delectable vegetable. (And don’t start with the “Is it a fruit or a vegetable?” please!). Some people favor a tomato because it ripens early, or because the flavor’s sweet, or salty, or tangy, or meaty. The list goes on and on.
The other thing that goes on and on is the debate about the “best” tomato. Passions run very high on this topic. Even so, at the risk of being the target of some overripe globes, I’ll forge ahead and add my two cents.
Every year I spend a lot of time pouring over seed catalogs to select the tomatoes that will grace my garden beds. This year’s list consists of my all-time favorites and a few new varieties that I’ve wanted to try. I’ve also included a list of the disappointments from last year.
The 2009 VIP List (or should I say VIT — Very Important Tomatoes?)
Black Krim — a large slicing tomato
Brandywine — a slicing tomato and my Mom’s favorite
Dr. Wyche’s Yellow — a large, beautiful golden slicing tomato
Persimmon Orange — because it’s a pretty golden-orange, big, meaty and tangy
Sun Sugar — a yellow cherry tomato
Sun Gold — a sweet orange cherry tomato
Super Sweet 100 — a red cherry tomato
Sweet Gold — a yellow cherry tomato
I grew Black Krim for the first time last year and it was amazing! I’d never had a “black” tomato before and will never again be without one in my garden. I also highly recommend at least a couple of varieties of cherry tomatoes. They are vigorous plants, easy to grow and super sweet. Cherry tomatoes are like peanut M&M’s; once you start you can’t stop popping them in your mouth. Even my dogs love them and wait for me to toss them a few. Everything stops when I start eating those suckers!
The 2009 Newbies
Big Beef — a beefsteak tomato
Cherokee Purple — a slicing tomato
Chocolate Cherry — a cherry tomato
Pompeii — an Italian plum tomato Principe Borghese — a small Italian sauce tomato
Stupice — an ultra-early tomato, because I don’t want to wait a minute longer than necessary
Super Marzano — a roma-type sauce tomato
Now here’s where I may really get into trouble. Apologies if I offend anybody, but these guys really disappointed me last year so I ruthlessly crossed them off the list:
Costoluto — suffered from blossom end rot and tasted like dirt
Green Zebra — bland, blah
Marvel Stripe — didn’t impress
Red and Yellow Pear tomatoes — great taste, but suffered from too many diseases
Before I plant my tomatoes I amend the soil with lots of compost, seaweed (a benefit of living on an island), manure, and some wood ash from the wood stove. When it’s time to plant the seedlings, I bury the tomatoes deep leaving only about 3 inches of stem above ground. Then I water with a mixture of fish emulsion and a product called Stress X (a water soluble seaweed extract powder). Ever since I’ve been using fish emulsion and Stress X on my tomatoes (and everything else) they do incredibly well. Plants love the stuff!
Mmm! All this talk of tomatoes has my mouth watering. I’m daydreaming of kicking back in the sun, having a drink, snacking on some Caprese Salad, and gazing out onto my beautiful gardens bursting with life. Sigh!