Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Tomato Overview

2011 was not the year of the tomato here in Eastern Pennsylvania. I'm not going to complain too much since we did manage to get enough tomato products put up for the year. With the exception of tomato catsup, none was made.

The total weighed tomato harvest was 316.8 lbs from 42 plants. This is considerably less then I expected since we harvested 221.2 lbs from 19 plants in 2010 and only 16 were really productive (due to a very late planting of 3 of the plants).

The first ripe tomatoes were the Matt's Wild Cherry. 2 little cuties were harvested on June 16th. The first big tomato was a Cherokee Purple, seed from Daphne, weighing 4 oz. on July 1st.

The largest tomato this year was a Pineapple, seed from Diana, weighing in at 2 lbs. 9.5 oz. It was the largest tomato I have ever grown....and tasty too!

I also did a Cherokee Purple experiment with 4 plants from 4 different seed sources. Due to the weather conditions this year, I am going to do the experiment again next year. I will post the results from this year in a separate post.

Red Varieties:

Amish Paste - Indeterminate - Seed from Thomas - This was the first year that I planted this variety. It is a nice meaty and somewhat oval shaped tomato. The fruits weigh about 5-9 ounces. It is a great tomato for cooking, canning & slicing. This variety did fairly well with the horrible weather conditions this year. It's a definite for next year.

Belgian Beauty - Indeterminate - Seed from Landis Valley - This was the first year that I planted this variety. The fruits are round, meaty and low acid. The first few were a good size around 1 lb. This plant did not do the best this year due to the weather conditions. I am going to plant it again next year.

Matt's Wild Cherry - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds -  As always, this variety did great. It's a non-stop producing plant that fares well in any conditions.

Howard's German Red - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is one of our favorite overall tomatoes. It normally has large long pointed very meaty fruit. Although you would think that this is a tomato for cooking and canning, it is a wonderful tasting tomato for slicing. This variety did not do well with the weather this year. I will be planting it again since it is a great tomato and has always done well in the past.

Paulina - Indeterminate - This tomato is from seed that I saved a couple of years ago. The original tomato was purchased from an Organic Amish Heirloom Tomato Farm nearby. This variety is very similar to the Amish Paste tomato and the results were about the same. This tomato will be planted again next year.

San Marzano - Semi-determinant -  Seed from In-laws trips to Italy - My in-laws have brought me this variety of seed on two separate trips to Italy. I have to say that I have not be happy with the results. Every year, I say that I will give it one more try. The fruits are very small, take forever to ripen, production is low and is always the first to disease. I don't think I will be planting this one again. I am going to try another source for this tomato next year though.

Reigart Plum - Indeterminate - Seed from Landis Valley - This was my first year planting this variety. It is a small oval tomato that is a about twice the size of a grape tomato. Although it is not that big, I really liked this tomato. It did very well this year in spite of the horrible conditions. It is a meaty tomato and is great for cooking, canning and salads. It's on the list for next year.

Pink/Purple Varieties:

Glick's Brandywine - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is a great tasting slicing tomato. Last year this variety produced the largest fruit. Things were a bit different this year due to the weather. It had the same problem that I had with many of the other varieties. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. Seed Origin; The history is that the seed came via Glen Brendle, whose family obtained it from Isaac N. Glick, an early seedsman from Lancaster, PA, who distributed seed for Johnson and Stokes Seeds of Philadelphia. Brandywine Tomato was first introduced by them in 1889. This is supposed to be the most original of the many Brandywine strains. It is on the list for next year.

Tiffens Mennonite - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is a Mennonite Heirloom potato leaf variety very similar to a Brandywine. The fruits have a wonderful flavor and are great for slicing. This variety is usually a good producer with large fruits. Due to the weather, I had the same problem with this variety this year that I had with many of the other varieties. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. It is on the list for next year.

Purple Varieties:

Cherokee Purple - Indeterminate - Seeds from Daphne, Diana, EG & Thomas - What can I's a CP! We just love this tomato and we were very pleased with all 4 seed sources! This variety did have a difficult time with our horrible weather conditions though. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. Of course all four are on the list for next year!

Eva's Purple Ball - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds  -  It's a smaller very round fruit ranging on the average 5-8 oz. each, just the right size for lunch. This is a wonderful tasting tomato, extremely prolific, disease tolerant and also good for cooking and canning. This has got to be the most dependable variety that I have ever planted! No matter what the conditions, the fruits are the same size and the plant keeps producing. Seed origin; This is a late 1800's heirloom tomato from The Black Forest Region in Germany via Joe Bratka's grandfather who kept this wonderful heirloom tomato from dying out. Joe donated seed to a seed saving organization in 1992. We are planting a lot of this variety next year!

Purple Calabash - Indeterminate - Seed from Emily - This is a beautiful purple tomato with a lot of ridges and a wonderful flavor! The fruits are of a a medium size. It was very prolific and did fairly well with the weather conditions. This variety will also be planted next year.

Other Colors:

Pineapple - Indeterminate - Seed from Diana - This is a great tasting and absolutely beautiful tomato! The fruits are yellow and red and extremely large. This plant produced the largest tomato this year. There wasn't a fruit that was under 1 1/2 lbs! The fruit does ripen a bit later then most tomatoes...but, it is a must for anyone who loves tomatoes. The plant got very large and did better then most in spite of our weather this year. Of course we are planting this one next year.

White Tomesol - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - We really like this tomato. It's a very pretty white variety that has a very nice flavor. The taste is light, not acidy at all, not too sweet or rich, just light. It is normally a pretty good producer with medium to large fruits. This year the fruits were much smaller then in the past. The plant did OK with the weather conditions. It's on the list for next year.

Black Cherry - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a great tasting tomato! The fruits are usually about 1 oz each....very big for a cherry variety. The plant was very large, produced a tremendous amount of fruit, disease resistant and did exceptionally well with the weather conditions. It's a go for next year!

Paul Robeson - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a large black tomato. Although CP's have always been our favorite eating tomato, I think that I can say this variety is as good! The first few fruits were very large and absolutely wonderful! As the weather deteriorated, I had the same problem with this one as I had with the CP's, Brandywine and many other varieties. It became unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. It's on the list for next year.

Kellogg's Breakfast - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a wonderful orange colored tomato with very large fruit! They are very meaty and about the same size as the Pineapple tomatoes. Most of the fruits were at least 1 1/2 lbs. It is a low acid fruit and was also the favorite eating tomato of many who tasted it about here. It ripened a little later then many of the other varieties. It did fairly well with the weather this year. It is also a go for next year.

Due to the weather, this was a very difficult year to get a good review of the tomatoes. I hope that you all enjoyed the review and don't hesitate to ask a question. Hopefully next year, I will be a bit more organized and take pictures of each and every variety to add to my review.


  1. Wow!! That a pretty detailed list. I've tried growing tomatoes here and there's a trick to it, but don't ask me what it is....I'm going to attempt tomatoes in the spring. For Tucson, that's when we're supposed to put them in, but if we screw it tomatoes! This will be my 3rd attempt:) I hope next year is a better year for you.

  2. Thanks Chris, Tomatoes are a good start to growing some of your own food. There's tricks to growing just about everything....and then you have to deal with Mother Nature!! She can be difficult!

  3. Nice list. We stuck with red tomatoes only this year. (So many tomatoes so little time.) I've noted that CP is a big favorite in the blogging world. Will put that on my list for sure.

    Baker Creek German Red Strawberry and Brandywines were our winners this year.

    I also learned tricks like freezing the tomatoes whole until you have enough to can. Can't wait till next year!

  4. Robin, it is befuddling: Cherokee Purple this year outperformed everything here; had it not been for that tomato and the Stupice,not sure what we would have done. I barely got any Pineapple to speak of compared to last years bounty; San Marzanos did not do as well as last year. In fact, I would venture to say that our total harvest this year is less than last, but have yet to tally it all up.

    As soon as the Cucurbita 'Marina di Chioggia' seeds are thoroughly dry, I'll put them in the mail.

  5. Enjoyed your comments on the different tomatoes. I do not have any luck with Amish Paste but do like Jersey Giants. I discovered Delicious by accident a freeze up in the greenhouse and had to buy some seed in a hurry locally to have enough plants for those that I supply. They preformed the best despite the weather. Also have a no name seed that came originally from Italy that was given to me by a friend that has very large thick meaty flesh that I liked. Due to the freeze up everything was late and mother nature didn't help at all.

  6. Thanks Tami, It's so much fun to try different varieties. I tried 7 new varieties this year. I do believe that all of them would have done well if we had normal weather. Hopefully next year will be better.

    Diana, It was a tough gardening year for everyone. I hope that this is not the new normal! Thanks in advance for the seeds!

  7. Wilderness, It was a tough year for all! I have never heard of Delicious before, and the no name seed from Italy sounds great! It's trial and error to find the best for your region and needs.

  8. We grew Amish Paste last year and liked it but couldn't get the seeds this year,

  9. I looked up Delicious on the Internet and it is advertised as an heirloom which originated from Burpee. I did save the seed and hope what I read is correct. It is a rather large tomato with good solid meat. It is considered a slicer.

  10. Oh, that's a pretty impressive list of tomatoes that you grew this year! Great to have that sort of info for some of us who haven't been growing heirloom varieties for very long. Thanks for going to all the work of keeping track and writing it all down for the rest of us!

  11. What great timing on this review-I'm making out my list of what to grow next year and I was stalled on the tomatoes. I like to try one new-to-me variety a year...and this has an impressive variety and good notes. Sorry about the weather you had-hoping next year is better!

  12. Lori, I'm not as organized as I should be. I did this post mostly from memory. It's really good for me to do and hopefully helpful to some of my fellow gardeners out there.

    Thanks Sue, I hope that it was helpful for you in your quest for a new tomato!

  13. What a wonderful list of tomatoes, isn't diversity in the tomato patch fun.:) We grew San Marzono for the last time this year, it is just not very productive for us and we have grown it for three years now. Amish Paste on the other hand has always done well for us. It was interesting to hear your thoughts on these two varieties.

  14. I enjoyed reading through your review. Sadly many of the varieties that do well for your region are challenged to grow well in our region. If we want any reasonable chance of getting ripe tomatoes we have to go with short season / parthenocarpic varieties - preferably with resistance to late blight and other fungal problems due to our cool and often damp summers. Last year was abnormally cool and was more than normally challenging. I still maanged to get about 35 lbs from about 6 plants (had 18 planted but all of the market miracles (six of them) did not produce and and six other varieties produced very little. The winners for us in this worst of all summers was Sungold, Legend, and Defiant. Siletz produced some but not up to it's usual level.

  15. WOW you sure planted a lot of tomato plants this year! Love the review. I am going to have to try a few of them next year

  16. Thanks Mr.H! I'm with you on the San Marzano tomatoes. I have grown them for I think 4 years in a row and they are not worth the space they take up. Maybe there is a better variety out there.

    Laura, Gardening is all about trial and error to find what grows best in your region. I would be in trouble if we lived in your region. "The Italian" could not live on 35 lbs of tomatoes! I'm going to plant one Sungold next year.

    Mrs.P, Being married to "The Italian" one must plant many tomato plants!! I glad that you enjoyed my review and hopefully it was helpful.

  17. I just love it when people take the time to do these posts, I have bookmarked it so I can return when those seed catalogs start coming in! Great summary, thanks!

  18. Erin, I'm glad that you find this post helpful. It's really helpful for me too. I seem to remember everything from the year while writing and then it's documented. I have been working on the garden overview....and boy it's a lot!

  19. That's an impressive list, didn't know you grew that many varieties.
    I'm giving up on Cherokee Purple, 2 years in a row and seeds from 2 difference sources, I got less than 10 maters, it didn't like our hot dry summer weather.

  20. Mac, I was having a hard time with the CP's for a couple of years. I think that I finally got some great seeds. I got seeds from 4 different bloggers last winter and they all produced good considering the weather.

  21. Wow 42 plants. That is a lot of tomatoes. I only grew half that and thought it a lot.

  22. Daphne, I really expected to harvest twice the amount. That would have been enough for us and my in-laws. These Italians use a lot of tomatoes!!

  23. That is a fabulous round up - I wish I had the room to grow so many varieties. Its interesting that of the ones you list I think only about 3 are familiar to me. I don't think many of them are available in Oz. Of the 3 that are available only one my family has ever tried growing is the San Marzano and dad didn't have particularly good results with it either. I'm growing Black Cherry this year and my dad is growing Amish Paste so I was pleased with your good reviews of these.

  24. Robin - I just accidently submitted my comment as anonymous - sorry about that.

  25. Hey Liz, I'm sure that you will be pleased with the Black Cherry and the Amish Paste.

  26. hey i'm late for the party! but thanks for the wrap up- i'm really intrigued by the pineapple variety. i'd never have picked it up. but now i will

    great work on the community garden project - but oh geez.. the thought of starting over...

  27. OFG, The pineapple is a great tomato. This seed I received from a fellow garden blogger and it is the best one I have ever grown!

    The garden move is going to be awful for sure!


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