The year is mostly over, although I have a few more tomatoes that are left to come in. This was my first time trying some grafted tomatoes and I’ll definitely be doing it again.
It is a little hard to evaluate the tomatoes this year for a couple of reasons. The first is that we’ve had so much more rain than usual, so that has probably watered down the taste a bit and has also lead to a lot more cracking and I think lower fruit set as well. The second is most of my tomatoes are in a community garden and I’ve had an outrageous amount of theft this year. Someone has basically come through and picked anything starting to show the slightest color at least 4 times this year, resulting in me only getting a few fruit to sample from some of my plants. It is one thing if someone needs them for their family and steals one or 2, but they were literally taking 10-20 pounds of tomatoes each time. It is clearly someone who knows gardening and tomatoes since they take my heirlooms but leave the neighboring hybrids and Roma tomatoes alone.
I grow all my tomatoes as a single stem (Sometimes allowing an additional branch at around 6 feet), which also makes them more visible to people passing by. Growing this way means more plants so a better chance of some surviving in bad blight/fungus years, especially with the better airflow, but I may have to reconsider this if it means the tomatoes are too visible for people to leave alone.
Sungold (own root): Reliable and delicious little gems. The only hybrid I’m growing and I expect it will always make the grow list. Will grow in 2019.
Black Cherry (own root): The other cherry that I’ll probably always grow. A great counterpoint in size/color/taste to Sungold and for a heirloom it does pretty well against disease. Will grow in 2019.
Lucky Tiger (own root): This is a fun little tomato with occasionally delicious taste. They were better last year with less rain, plus it is sometimes hard to gauge ripeness since they are primarily a green striped tomato. They’re long, like a pointy little plum tomato, and a bit too big to be a cherry (they are 2 biters, at least to me). While I enjoy them and have kept some seed, I probably will use the space for something else and just grow the Sungold and Black Cherry for small tomatoes.
Chadwick Cherry (own root): A largish red cherry, that is full flavored and less sweet than most reds. I enjoyed these a lot last year, but this year the rain has left them a lot less flavorful and for some reason has really effected their productivity. They just didn’t set as much fruit as I’d expect a cherry to and these had in previous years. I don’t like the super sweet reds and this had been a nice compromise to still give me another color to with the yellow and black, but I think I’ll skip these for at least a year.
Black from Tula (own root, on maxifort and on RST-04-106-T): A great tomato, although my largest was about the size of a good Druzba and I had been expecting closer to beefsteak size. These were very productive and produced about the same regardless of the root type, although the one on its own roots seemed more effected by disease. I had a lot of cracking, but we’ve had crazy amounts of rain and most everything cracked at least a little. I’ll grow these again, but am open to suggestions for a good black tomato that would be larger in size but similarly hearty in our hot humid area (just outside DC) and productive. Will grow in 2019, probably on maxifort.
Green Cherokee (own root, on maxifort and on RST-04-106-T): I received these as a bonus from Tomato Growers when I ordered my 106 rootstock from them so I decided to give them a try. Another great tomato that is very pretty when sliced with a golden yellow skin on the outside and dark jade green inside. Very tasty and a nice variation to the flavor profiles of the others I’m growing - full flavored, sweet, but fairly low acid. It seemed to produce the best on 106 and while all 3 plants are still alive, the one on its own root is ailing. Will grow in 2019, probably on 106.
Druzba (own root only): I enjoy these quite a lot, but unfortunately it died from some type of disease fairly early in the season. With all the theft I only got one tomato from this plant. Won’t grow next year.
Fish Lake Oxheart (own root only): Having read several people claiming these were the best red/pink oxhearts I started growing these several years back and think they are great, although I never did a big comparison with others of this type. In taste, it is more like my Opalka plants than a beefsteak. Really meaty, with not much gel/seeds, but not dry like some pastes. They tend to be the first large tomato to ripen for me and go until fall. LIke all of my tomatoes this was hit hard with theft, but the earliness and ripending seemed to make it a top target and out of the 20 or so tomatoes it set, which is pretty good for a single stem plant, I’ve only gotten 2 to eat so far. I’m hoping I get the 3 remaining. Will grow in 2019, probably trying it on maxifort and 106 instead of its own root. Here’s one:
Opalka (own root, on maxifort and on RST-04-106-T): Always delicious in paste sort of way (like a great tomato sauce my daughter says) and sometimes growing to really huge size for a paste. I hoped growing these on different rootstocks might reduce the BER issues I’ve had with this variety, but I still get a fairly high percentage that are effected. I complain about it every year and then really enjoy the flavor and grow them again anyway. I’ll probably grow it in 2019 on maxifort, which was the most productive although it makes Opalka a pretty vigorous beast of a plant.
Stump of the World (own root and RST-04-106-T): Like all of my tomatoes, these went in the ground later than usual and my graft to maxifort failed, which is too bad since all of my Stump plants were on the lower end of vigor. All my larger ones were stolen, but the few I tasted are as good and rich as they have been in past years. Many say this is their favorite for taste and I agree, although it is in a tie with the Striped Mystery Beast (see below). Will grow in 2019, trying it on both maxifort and 106.
Striped Mystery Beast (own root, on maxifort and on RST-04-106-T): This looks a lot like Solar Flare, but is actually a chance seedling from Prudens Purple. It also turns more red with less pronounced striping when really ripe and it continues to be about 75% regular leaf and 25% potato leaf among the seedlings every year, even though I’ve been selecting regular leaf for the seed saving. I should try saving seed from a potato leaf type to see what happens. Either way, fruit appears totally stable, looking and tasting the same every year. It is tied for best flavor with Stump, but is very different. Where Stump is amazingly rich, closer to sweet, this one has a great rich flavor much more acid zing. In fact, slices of this, Stump and Green Cherokee on a plate with some basil and olive oil is pure tomato heaven as you go from one bite to the next tasting the variety of great flavors. Very vigorous and was actually too vigorous on maxifort where it quickly became the biggest plant in the plot, but didn’t set much fruit for its size. Will grow in 2019, probably on 106. Here’s an average sized one:
And here are a couple more I picked to ripen on the counter before they could be stolen: