Oh…. what to plant this year? I need to decide ASAP because I need to order seeds from Tomato Growers Supply if I decide on a somewhat unusual variety.
Ok, here are the top 20 tomato varieties for Sacramento in 2005 according to a survey of experts by Sacramento Bee Garden Writer, Dan Vierria:
Pink Ping Pong
SUPER SWEET 100
SNOW WHITE CHERRY
DIXIE GOLDEN GIANT
Ace: “Dependable, sets in a wide range of temperatures. Heavy on tomato flavor. Beautiful fruit, great salad variety, but tough skin. Nice compact plant.” Great for small spaces.
Better Boy: “Similar to Early Girl, but hasn’t got the depth of flavor. Very productive.” Very heavy fruit set on large vines makes it a great one for sauce production.
Celebrity: “Very reliable producer. Excellent for slicing. Moderate size plants. FAVORITE TOMATO #2!”
Champion: Very good flavor, large vine, large fruit, very productive. The largest-fruited type that produces reliably here.
Early Girl: “FAVORITE TOMATO #1!” This one routinely wins taste tests in California, and produces reliably from early summer into the winter.
Roma: “Real workhorse of a tomato. Very productive on compact plants which don’t need staking. Great flavor, even used fresh. Very reliable. FAVORITE #3!” The best for sauce.
Cherry, yellow, and other varieties:
Green Zebra: “Delicious, sprightly. Unusually good flavor for a yellow tomato. Pretty.” Bizarre looking fruit.
Husky Gold: “My favorite yellow tomato!”
Husky Red: “Good flavor. Beautiful little plant. Great for small spaces or containers.”
Lemon Boy: “Early results impressive. Better texture than Golden Jubilee.”
Patio: “Cute little plant. The best for smaller pots. Sweet, firm fruit.” Surprisingly productive for an 18″ plant.
SunGold: “YUMMM! My favorite cherry tomato. Dries into candy. Everyone should grow it!” One of the best tomatoes ever.
Sweet 100: “Unbelievably productive. A very good cherry tomato. Kids really love them. Great for salads (and slingshots!)–small enough to eat in one bite (unlike most cherry tomatoes).”
Heirloom and gourmet varieties–
we continue to try the many varieties available. This is by no means a definitive listing!
Brandywine: “Very popular, mild flavor. Mealy texture.”
Carmello: “Thin skinned, mealy. More flavorful than Beefsteak types, with better acid/sugar balance.”
Costoluto Genovese: “Impressive; similar to Marmande. Productive.”
Marmande: “Very fruity; acid/sugar balance is great.”
Marval Striped, and Old German (very similar varieties): “Mild, thin-skinned, mealy. Slicing tomato. Sweet.”
Principe Borghese: “I love it! Wildly productive. Excellent depth of flavor. Makes great sauce, though with lots of seeds and skin (strain the sauce).”
My list, so far:
Black (heirloom, indeterminate, late season at 80-85 days)
Early Girl (early season, 52 days, indeterminate)
SunGold or SunSugar (both indeterminate, early season at 57 days & 62 days)
Celebrity (Yes, I was somewhat swayed by Don Shor’s comment)(determinate, midseason, 70 days)
I think another heirloom would be fun to finish off with. I really don’t have room for more plants if I want to grow any peppers or melons or squash this year.
In the past, I’ve gotten consistently tasty results from:
Interesting to note that SunGold and Lemon Boy were the only varieties showing up on all three lists! If you like ’em sweet and dependable, you need to surrender your heart to SunGold. I’ll admit to lusting in my heart for SunSugar, but I’ll always be true to SunGold…
UPDATE (3:38pm, Sat., Feb 25)– I started some seeds of ‘Black’ in the greenhouse today using last year’s seeds. Also came across some ‘Celebrity’ seeds from last year and started a six-pack of them because a) I had the seeds and b) Don Shor spoke glowingly of ‘Celebrity’.
UPDATE (7:51am, Tuesday, Feb 28)– I am ordering seeds of ‘Black from Tula’ (Thanks, Amy!), ‘Lemon Boy’ and ‘Costoluto Genovese’ (Thanks, Don!). I’m starting to worry about where I’m going to plant this many tomatoes, but where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Right? Do I feel like I’m done choosing? No. I lack a really cool bicolor tomato. I grew ‘Speckled Roman’ a couple years ago and it was gorgeous! Tomato Growers Supply doesn’t sell seed for ‘Speckled Roman’ so I took that as a sign to try something else. Perhaps I should start some of last year’s ‘Copia’ seeds so I can give it another try. I didn’t get great results from it last year, but as we all know, this year could be very different, depending on the weather. Yeah, that’s it… I’ll blame the weather.
March 13 edit: Want to know which varieties Sunset deemed best in the West in 2001?
‘Earl of Edgecombe’
‘Principe Borghese’ (favored for drying)
Ok, here’s my final (ha ha) list:
Black (aka Black Prince)
Black from Tula
Copia or some other yellow/orange/red bicolor
Impulse Purchase (available later in the season at various nurseries around town)
Oops, my finger slipped on the keyboard when I was ordering from T.G.S. and I accidentally added ‘SunSugar’ as well as the above. Keyboards can be slippery.