This year was very unusual for the tomatoes. The plants were some of the strongest and stockiest plants that I have ever grown. They set fruit and were loaded with tomatoes early in the season. Then we had many heat waves/droughts which seemed to stop the plants from growing, setting more fruit and the existing fruit did not ripen. The weather also caused a lot of Blossom End Rot (BER) early in the season. I tossed hundreds of tomatoes with BER. The varieties that seemed most affected were the Roma types. The strange weather also caused the tomatoes to be very late. My largest tomato harvest this year was the week of August 27-September 2. This is about 4-5 weeks later then usual.
I planted a total of 45 plants, consisting of 20 varieties. There were 41 plants at the plots and 4 in the home garden. I tried several new varieties this year in my on-going quest for the perfect tomato. I was very pleased with most of the new varieties.
- Amish Paste - Indeterminate 81 day Late-Season Heirloom - I really love this tomato. It is a nice meaty, oval/oxheart shaped tomato. The fruits weigh 5-9 oz. and are very prolific. They have a good flavor and are great from canning, sauces and salsa. This variety also tends to fair well against disease.Seed Sources; Thomas & Wintersown - I didn't find any difference between the two seed sources.
- Bellestar - Determinate 65 day Early-Season Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato and I really love it. The fruits are a beautiful deep red, very few seeds and meaty. They are on the small size about 3-4 oz. each. They have a good flavor and are perfect for canning and sauce. Seed Source: Wintersown
- Howard German Red - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Seson Pennsylvania Heirloom - I've been growing this tomato for several years now and we just love it! The locals in Pennsylvania call it a pepper tomato since it is shaped like a long pointed pepper. This tomato is very meaty and has the most wonderful flavor. It's also good for canning and sauces. The fruits usually weigh 5-8 oz. The one plant I had this year didn't do as well as usual due to the weather. But, we will be planting it again! Original Seed Source: Amishland Seeds
- Italian Market Wonder - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. It is a round red tomato with a lot of seeds. It is supposed to be a great & dependable tomato. Truthfully, I didn't find anything great about it at all. I really don't think I'll be planting it again. Seed Source: Wintersown
- Lancaster County Italian Paste - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - I have been growing this tomato for many years and used to use it for making salsa. The plant is small but not a determinate variety. The fruits are a small, oddly ruffled roma looking and are somewhat hollow inside. They are extremely prolific and stand up well to disease. Due to their size and the fact that I have found other varieties that I like better, I may not plant this variety next year. Original Seed Source: Amishland Seeds.
- Paulina - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Heirloom - I saved this seed from tomatoes that we purchased a few years ago when the Late-Blight was every where and we had very few tomatoes for canning. It is very very similar to the Amish Paste tomato and came from an Heirloom Tomato Farm nearby. The fruit is oval/oxheart shaped, very meaty and a great all around tomato. It also fairs well against disease.
- Pera d'Abruzzo - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. The fruits are giant and pear shaped. They are so big that you only need about 1 1/2 tomatoes for a pint jar! We used them for canning and sauce. They are a definite for next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
- Reigart Plum - Indeterminate 78 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This is my second year growing this tomato. The fruits are small & oval. They are about twice the size of a grape tomato. This tomato is very prolific, great tasting and disease resistant. We love it in salads and sliced on pizza. Last year I also canned it since it was the only tomato that kept on going even after disease hit the plots. Original Seed Source: Landis Valley Museum
- Rio Fuego - Determinate 75 day Mid-Season Italian Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato and we really like it. It is blocky shaped, medium sized paste tomato. It's also high in sugar content and did very well. It's another one I will be planting next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
- Roma VFN - Indeterminate 75 day Mid-Season Heirloom - This was my first year growing this tomato. It is a classic small roma type tomato with disease resistant V, F, N. It was very prolific and much meatier then the LC Paste. It did have a lot of fruit that got BER early on and then did very well. I will most likely plant it again next year. Seed Source: Wintersown
- Rutgers - Determinate (supposedly) 73 day Mid-Season - The following is the description of the tomato: Historic tomato breed at New Jersey's famous Rutgers University in 1934. It was developed for growers at the peak of New Jersey's canning industry. Big users were Heinz and Cambell's Soup. So you know this tomato grows fast and the taste is always excellent. Well, let me say that this is the worst tomato that I have ever grown!!! It is has more seeds then you can imagine. It has no flavor and just kept on producing. I stopped picking the fruits early on and pulled the plants. Needless to say, I will never grow this tomato again! Seed Source: Mike the Gardener
That's it for Tomato Review Part 1 - Red Varieties. I will post Part 2 - Other Colors, sometime this week.