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Tomato review: Part I

By Penny Stine

I started eight different types of tomatoes from seed, and at least one plant of every kind actually survived into adulthood. This has been a late year for my tomatoes, and so far, I’ve only been able to sample tomatoes from the Sungold Hybrid, Sioux, Jetsetter and the Viva Italia varieties.

I’ve picked a couple Kellogg Breakfast and Aunt Ginny’s Purple tomatoes, but the first few suffered badly from the dreaded blossom end rot, so I couldn’t put them to the taste test. I just picked my first Aunt Ginny’s that was free of BER. I hope to eat it in a couple of days after it ripens a few more days on the kitchen counter. The flavor is supposed to be comparable to a Brandywine, (which are truly exquisite tomatoes) but they're supposed to be a little earlier and more productive, which is why I tried them. They do have a purplish cast to them, with none of the tomato orange hues, which is also like the Brandywine. Most of the green tomatoes on the plant seem as big or bigger than the one in the pic, so that's another good trait. 



My sungold hybrids were all in pots, and they produced pretty well until I compared them to those produced by my gardening buddy, Jan of the awesome garden. Each of my plants produced a few dozen fabulous tiny tomatoes. Each of her plants, which weren’t in pots but just left to sprawl somewhere in her garden, produced hundreds of sweet, juicy tomatoes.
Mine slowed down their production a few weeks ago, but seem to be picking up steam again. They’re going to be a repeat for next year – their taste is outta' this world. I may put a few in pots, but I’m definitely sticking at least one plant in the ground.




I thought I had a fail proof system for identifying the tomato plants in the garden – I tied different colored yarn to each cage to identify the varieties. That was a great idea, except I wasn’t consistent about where I tied the yarn and as the plants grew, I couldn’t find the yarn. I think this plant is either a Jetsetter or a Sioux tomato, both of which were fairly early and produced nice-sized tomatoes.

In a taste test, my husband and I agreed that the Jetsetter were sweeter, but the Sioux had that tangy tomato taste that makes such good sauce. The Jetsetter were extremely prolific and I didn’t lose a single one to blossom end rot, which always seems to plague my tomatoes. For that reason alone, I think I’ll go with Jetsetter again next year.






I tried to train the Viva Italias to climb up the trellis my husband built for me. As July turned to August, I found it harder and harder to nip side branches off the main tomato vine. The result is that these tomatoes aren't climbing as high on the trellis as they could. They do seem to be producing a fair amount. I lost the first few to blossom end rot, but the later ones don't appear to suffer from it - which is fairly typical of the disease. They're quite tasty, too, so I'm fairly certain I'll order the seeds again. 

None of the Royal Hillbilly or the Virginia Sweet varieties are ripe yet, but the first Virginia Sweet is starting to turn. It's a bi-color tomato, so I'm not sure how to tell when it's ready to pick. The tomatoes are all enormous. 

Once I've tasted the Aunt Ginny's Purple, Kellogg Breakfast, Royal Hillbilly and Virginia Sweet, I'll share a review of those.

Yay for our long growing season, which is going to give many of our green tomatoes time to ripen.  My brother in Wyoming is expecting a frost any day now. It's good to be in the Grand Valley!


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