Tomato Season Report 2018

Sad to say that many of my heirloom tomatoes have pathetic yields, two to three fruits per plant the entire season. They had been blooming all throughout but not much fruit sets due to the many days over 90F the entire summer and many of those days were over 100F. Here are the tomatoes that I won’t be growing again in our garden:

Robeson, Purple Cherokee, Brandywine, Green Cherokee, Mother Russia, Tazmanian Chocolate…

These ones have excellent yield: California Heat Wave, Early Girl, Better Boy, Indigo Rose, Ace, Roma…

Free Roma tomatoes for the office!


Today’s picking - Big Beef and 4th of July. These are my standards and the only two varieties I grew this year.

Getting some losses to either/or/and The Varmint [maybe groundhog], hornworm, BMSBs, but more than plenty left


I only grow Reif’s red heart. This year the yield on my plants was way less than normal. I heard the same thing from neighbors who planted hybrids they
bought from local greenhouse/garden centers. Some tell me they had a tough time getting enough tomatoes to even can up a batch of salsa.

Strange year for tomatoes for me. Those I got tasted fine just mighty low yield this year.

I had some bad luck this year. Season started out great. I had six heirloom plants in a 20’ row. I staked welded wire fencing to steel t-posts and trained the tomatoes to the fence. By early August I had a 20’ long, 6’ high wall of beautiful thriving tomato plants with hundreds of tomatoes. Well, in mid August we had a week of severe thunderstorms with 30 mph winds that snapped the plastic zip ties connecting the fence to the posts and blew the whole wall down. The mess was on the ground for a few weeks before I could get it back up - it must’ve weighed a thousand pounds. After pruning about 60% of the vines back, I was able with the help of my 25 yo nephew to get the fence back upright. The plants recovered somewhat, and I’m still getting some tomatoes every week, but I lost the vast majority of my crop to rot and blight. Really heartbreaking…

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My tomato season was really bad and all my fault! I planted way too late. Am just get Brandywine now. The precocious cherry tomatoes pulled through with Sungold featuring its really sweet tomatoes, the small yellow pear and red 1 thousand were as bland as can be but pretty on a plate. To the uninitiated they were divine!

I had a lot of disease, but I managed it, and had a decent year. Plants are still producing well.
I like to make sauce, but don’t like small roma types. You need to produce so many. So I found this Romeo paste that produces, then produces more, and then some more. And the fruit is huge. I will see how the sauce is this year with Cow’s Tit, and Romeo only paste tomatoes. If it’s decent I found the pastes that work here in MI. I have 4 now, and so I’m good. But final decision will be made for these two once sauce is made. I can’t produce enough at one time so have to freeze when I make sauce.

Here’s what’s on the counter now.

Here are a couple of Romeo’s. The one on the left is a fusion of two ovaries, seems to produce a few of these every year.

I’m leaving for 4 days so picked some early to bring with me, and process when ripe. I’m going to my cottage, so no big deal to bring with me. Romeo is a typical paste, hardly any seed or gel, all meat.

Those are all Romeo on the left. the plant produced about 30 of these babies this year
It still has about 8 more on the plant. The plant was in ground. In the future I will grow 3 or more of these plants for sauce and I can probably process fresh at times with this kind of yield. In the bowl at the top is some Cow’s Tit. Not that big, but the plant produces like Romeo, very impressive yield. A keeper for me.


I did a “staycation” this year at my house for the last two weeks in August and had been hoping to harvest a bunch to do a lot of canning, but the blowdown messed up that schedule.

So I am experimenting - picking any tomatoes on the weekend that have turned, ripening inside, and freezing whole. Will can sauce from thawed tomatoes once the season is over and I have some spare time.

I very much liked Black Krim and Prudens Purple for fresh eating. Krim had superior flavor but it’s temperamental you have to get it off the vine just at the right point of ripeness; and you loose the top 25% because it doesnt ripen uniformly.

For processing I preferred Speckled Roman to Amish paste. Beautiful skin, nice texture and better fresh eating taste. Amish paste seemed to be several weeks behind as well.

I do this too, although I made one batch as my freezer is filled with berries, peaches, cherries, currants, and gooseberries. I ran out of room filled every inch! So had to process what I had.
It nice being frozen as skin comes off when thawed, and you can drain some liquid, so less clogging in the food mill. I remove seeds and skin when i make sauce, I prefer it like that.

The Amish paste I tried, seem more like a regular tomato that a paste, lots of pulp and seeds. I liked Speckled Roman, but it didn’t produce enough for me.
So the 4 I probably will stick with are Romeo, Cow’s Tit, Opalka, and Polish Linguisa. The latter has excellent flavor in sauce. How sauce should taste. The latter two are Polish cultivars, I may be biased having some Pol in me. Some report BER with Opalka, for me one or two had it, but most were fine, so the few times I have grown it, it has been fine.

I haven’t grown paste tomatoes for several years, but when Big Beef overproduces I puree it and sometimes cook it down to make sauce. Takes a lot of cooking down but I get enough for a batch of pasta