Giant Tomato Seeds Planted

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2012 Big Zac tomato-this one weighed 2lbs 12.4 ounces and was 19″ in circumference!

Yesterday I planted 6 giant tomato seeds as well. The seeds came from tomato plants that produced anywhere from 5.5 lbs-7 lb tomatoes! Hope I get some BIG ones! I’m trying to break 3 lbs this year! Nothing better than a BLT where the juice from one of these tomatoes runs down your chin! One slice of tomato covers the whole slice of bread.

2012 Tomatoes Reviewed

Costuluto Genevese tomato

Costuluto Genevese tomatoes

So now that I have the rest of the vegetables reviewed, I want to review my most favorite vegetable in 2012-TOMATOES!! There were many I would keep BUT also a LOT I would dump!

ALL-STAR TOMATO LIST!


RED

-Pantano Romanesco-good producer-medium size, excellent old-fashioned flavor

-Costoluto Genovese-good producer-smaller but such a beautiful tomato and excellent old-fashioned flavor

-Goldsman Italian American-big pear shape-my all time favorite for sauce-takes all season to ripen though
 but worth it

-Fireworks-good early producer-smaller is better for some people and great taste-old fashion flavor

-Beefy Boy-good producer, medium size-good taste

-Matina– smaller earlier tomato-good flavor

-Original Goliath-medium size, few cracks-good taste

-Big Zacs-huge tomato-huge taste! A favorite!

BI-COLOR

-Striped German-supersweet med to large tomato

-Ananas Noir-wonderful complex sweet flavor-green with a blush-need to plant more

-Virginia Sweet-super super sweet-the sweetest of all tomatoes I grow! One of my favorites!

BLACK OR PURPLE

-Paul Robeson-sweet, complex flavor
-Cherokee Purple-sweet, complex flavor

-Cherokee Purple-great sweet complex flavor

-Black Pear-sweet, complex flavor

-Southern Nights-sweet, complex flavor

-Brown Sugar-sweet, complex flavor

ORANGE/YELLOW

-Jaune Flamme-smaller tomato, few cracks-a favorite at the Farmers market

-Lemon Boy-supersweet medium tomato

CHERRY TOMATOES

-Black Cherry-excellent complex flavor-one of my favorites

-Green Grape-sweet fruity flavor

-Sun Sugar-the sweetest flavor of these cherry tomatoes

-Golden Pearl-sweet flavor-very prolific

TOMATO DUMP LIST!

-Beauty Queen-looks great but very bland taste-takes all season to mature

-Gold Medal-looks great but very bland taste, takes all season to mature

-Woodle Orange-not a great producer took all season for a few and taste bland

-Aunt Gertie’s Gold-disappointing flavor

-Honey hybrid-not a great producer-flavor just ok

-Juliet-cherry tomato-some people love it but for me it tasted like grocery store tomatoes

My favorite sauce tomato to grow-Goldman’s Italian American tomato

Goldmans Italian American tomato

Psst, I’ve got to let you in on a big secret of mine-Goldman’s Italian American Tomato. I think it’s the best heirloom tomato to grow for sauce bar none. It’s a big, meaty, ribbed, pear-shaped red tomato with exceptional flavor. Not too acidic, not too sweet.

Every year I grow a couple of plants of this tomato but never sell it at the Santa Fe Farmers Market as ‘The Tomato Lady’ because I’m too selfish! I want all of them for making the various pasta sauces I make. I sell all my other varieties of tomatoes, but not this one. A friend of mine said, ‘Well why don’t you grow more to sell?” A novel idea I should consider! It’s only downside is it does take 80 days to mature so you’ll get some of them sun-ripened and have to bring the rest in before it freezes. No matter-they ripen in the house just as well as outside. The plant gets big about 6-7 foot tall so you’ll need some space but it will be well worth it.

The Heirloom Tomato book

Amy Goldman found it at a roadside stand in Italy, and named it after her father’s grocery store in Brooklyn. Amy Goldman wrote the book, “The Heirloom Tomato” and I use it as the gospel for helping me pick my tomatoes to grow each year.

I start the seeds inside sometime around the beginning of April each year under lights and on a heating mat. You’ll have to get the seeds online as no one sells either the seeds or the starts around here. I get my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds here.

‘The Tomato Lady’-sold out

Today was a good day! First day back as The Tomato Lady’ at the Santa Fe Farmers market sold out. A great big thank you to all my patrons who waited for my tomatoes to ripen!  Many thanks! Only a handful of tomatoes and 1 zucchini left. Behind my table are some other vendors at their tables. See you next week!

First Caprese salad!!

Here is the first caprese salad of 2012! Fantastic! Yellow, orange and black tomatoes with mozzarella, basil and olives drizzled with an 18 yr old balsamic vinaigrette! Been waiting for this since last November! Need I say more?

Early Blight fungal disease control on tomatoes

Now that it seems the monsoons are here, we need to protect our tomato plants from fungal diseases. Here in the southwest we don’t get the dreaded Late Blight that the Northeast has experienced (not yet at least) because we are drier than most parts of the US. We don’t seem to get as many fungal diseases but we do get some.

The one I see the most in everyone’s garden is Early Blight on tomatoes. It starts anytime but especially under these conditions: when you water your tomatoes from the top, the humidity is higher, and the rain comes.

Early Blight lives in the soil and is transmitted by water splashing soil up on the lower leaves. It starts on the lower branches and leaves where they start to turn blotchy yellow and start dying from the bottom up and will continue up your plant and eventually kill it.

To help prevent and control this disease, I do these things:

1. I water with a drip system, thereby keeping the soil from splashing up on the lower leaves.

2. I put straw all around the bottom of the plant to help keep the soil splashing up on the plant when it rains.

3. I trim any branch throughout the season that is going to touch the ground. In fact, I trim all the way up to the first flower or fruit set.

4. I trim ANY branch that shows signs of Early Blight no matter how high it is on the plant.

5. I dip my scissors or shears in rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution between trimming plants to avoid spreading diseases. Bleach breaks down quickly (in a day or two), so don’t reuse it-make a new batch.

4. I spray ‘Serenade’, an organic fungicide which provides protection from a broad spectrum of common fungal and bacterial diseases. Early blight is one of the diseases it can control. Spray it on when the leaves are dry. It is rainproof and is non-toxic for bees and other beneficial insects. Respray every 7 days. Spray all parts of the plant-both on top and underneath.

Serenade is also good to spray on other vegetables. Spray for powdery mildew on squash, cucumbers and melons and leaf rust on beans. I use it for all my vegetables. Now that the rainy season is here, don’t wait till you get the disease—it works best as a preventative.

You can get Serenade from Agua Fria Nursery (call for availability) here in Santa Fe or at Amazon.com. I buy the concentrate, not the little bottle of pre-made spray—lasts a lot longer.

Here is a pdf of some of the common diseases and organic controls for tomatoes growing in the Southwest:   TOMATO DISEASES

Santa Fe Farmers Market/The Tomato Lady

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Saturday went well for my first time at the Santa Fe Farmers Market for this year. It is actually my third year returning as The Tomato Lady. I had many varieties of tomatoes, much more than I anticipated and sold most of them. I had a few left over which I made into tomato sauce and tomato tapenade today.

Tomato plants getting BIG

The tomato plants are now getting BIG. I’ve gotten a few ripe tomatoes-fighting off the birds for them! Most are starting to really produce green tomatoes now. I hope to get to the SF FARMERS MARKET by MID-AUGUST or sooner, tomatoes willing..

Here are my earliest tomatoes on the right that may allow me to go to the market sooner than later. On the left is my strawberry patch.

I have a variety of black tomatoes coming on-Paul Robeson, Giant Black Pear shaped tomatoes, Cherokee Chocolate, Black Krim and Black Cherry. None of which are shown yet.

I should have a plethora of cherry tomatoes this year-Sungold, Black Cherry and Green Grape and a mystery red that was suppose to be a San Marzano! Here is a closeup of  Sungold. Hope the birds don’t get it! All the cherry tomatoes should start producing soon!

I also love the bi-color tomatoes-my favorites. I’m growing Gold Medal and Striped Germans shown above. Both varieties can get between 1-2 lbs and are SWEET, SWEET, SWEET. They only have flowers right now.

My Big Zacs take longest to ripen 90+ days so you won’t be seeing these until late in the season but what a treat.1-2 lb giants with that old fashion tomato flavor perfect for a BLT..

Here is a brandywine. Notice the potato leaves. I haven’t had good luck in NM with Brandywine  tomatoes due to the disease factor but these are looking good so far, I have red, pink and yellow brandywines going.

Tomatoes and Mozzarella-Caprese salad-yum!

Caprese salad-Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil

It’s starting! I’ve been getting a few ripe tomatoes every couple of days and  have and been enjoying them. Here is a picture of  a Caprese salad I made last night with tomatoes out of the garden with Mozzarella cheese I made and basil I grew, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. I got into learning how to make some cheeses mainly to go with my tomatoes. I haven’t got it down as good as I’d like but the mozzarella was still good.

Tomato care in June

The Wall of Waters are all off the tomatoes now. I used Companion fungicide as a drench. They got a little wet in the Wall of Waters and I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t come down with early blight while gone on my trip. I also sprayed on the foliage Serenade, which is a foliar fungicide. So one end gets the drench and the other end gets the foliar spray. I figure if you zap them both ways, I should have better protection. When I came back,  all looked good except one which was diseased so I tossed it in the garbage, not the compost. Don’t leave diseased plants in the ground to possibly pass on diseases to healthy plants. Then I staked them all up with bamboo stakes and tied up the branches. I cut off any branches that touched the ground so as to not spread any soilborne diseases. Next I had to redefine my wells and put straw over the well to conserve water, help with evaporation and keep soilbourne diseases from splashing up on the tomato plants. Afterward I decided to sterilize my tomato cages since I had some loss due to diseases last year. Might be overkill but I want to be cautious this year before I put them over this year’s tomatoes-don’t want to spread any diseases. I used a 10% solution in a gallon of water (that’s about 1 .75 cup bleach to one gallon water) and sprayed my cages with a hand sprayer. Now I need to put the cages over the tomato plants and start picking off suckers that are showing up. Arrgh, a gardener’s work is never done…

All this work for this..

Virginia Sweet Tomato

Tomatoes are doing excellent in Wall of Waters

tomatoes coming out of wall of waters

All of my tomatoes that are in Wall of Waters are kicking ass right now, many of them outgrowing the Wall of Waters  (WOW) and needing me to take the WOW off. The 2 tomatoes that didn’t have Wall of Waters (I ran out) are struggling, even under row cover for protection. It is amazing to me how good the tomatoes do inside those wall of waters and how poorly they do without them. The Wall of Waters act like little greenhouses and are worth every dollar they cost. As a result almost all of my tomatoes have a great head start on the season. I know I’ve talked about them before, but they are worth a mention again. If you want to be really successful with tomatoes, I think you must get these and use them when you first transplant.

Pictures of Planting Tomatoes Outside

Well it’s time to plant tomatoes! Finally! This cold and windy weather is going to take us almost up to the average first frost free date and the tomatoes inside are chomping to get out in the world! I will still use ‘Wall of Waters’ on all of the tomatoes that are not too tall as the nights are still very cool for a tomato. Here are some pictures of how I  transplant tomato plants outside.

First I harden them off outside for about 4 days or longer if I can wait that long! I put them outside for an hour or two each day and increase their outside time each day. Start getting them use to our harsh conditions they will have to endure.

Next after I dig the hole, I add some yum-yum mix (a handful), a tablespoon of powder milk, a tablespoon of epsom salts, a shovelful or two of aged compost (or bagged compost) and a small handful of mushroom compost (not too much-its high in salts). Then I mix it up with some of the soil I dug out.

In addition, new for this year, I am adding a small handful of humate and a tablespoon of bone meal (for lots of flowers) and some worm castings. I will mix this in with the above amendments.

Next I take off any lower leaves, especially if the plant has become leggy and place it deep in the hole with the amendments and backfill with the  amended dirt. If it is really tall, plant it on it’s side. It will develop roots on the stem either way.

Notice how deep it was planted. Here I make a ‘well’ around each plant and place my drip line tightly around the new plant (not shown).

Fill the well several times–one time with Seaweed and ‘Thrive’ in a bucket. DO NOT use a regular fertilizer like Fish Emulsion at this time. Wait till the plant acclimates. Later as the plant grows, after I remove the wall of waters (when the tomato plant peeks out over the top of them), I will loosen the drip line inside the well to water more of the root zone as the plant grows.

To put my wall of water on the plant, I place a 5 gallon bucket inverted over the plant. Then put the wall of waters over it-do this part in the morning so the water has time to heat up the cells that will give off the heat at night back to the tomato. Fill up the ‘cells’ with water and remove the bucket. Be sure to pull the handle up on the bucket when you first put the wall of waters over it or you’ll have a hell of a time removing the bucket.

I place a few bamboo sticks inside to hold it up should a big gust of wind come up. I also tie another bamboo stick next to the tomato plant and loosely tie up the plant with a twistie tie so it doesn’t fall down. Remove the wall of waters when the plant outgrows it. Here is how the plant looks in the wall of waters. Ok now I get to multiply this times 64 plants…

Related post: Secrets to planting tomatoes

SECRETS TO PLANTING TOMATOES

Tomatoes in wall of waters that are ready to take off-2010

Hopefully we can plant tomatoes in the garden in the month of May. The last average frost date is May 15th.  I like to try to get them in early every spring if possible. I don’t think it will happen this year with these cold late spring nights. Here are some of my secrets to growing great tomatoes.

-If growing from seedlings or nursery starts, harden plants off for a couple of days before transplanting them outside in the ground so they don’t go into shock.

-Before planting, amend the soil in each hole before planting. Add lots of compost, yum-yum mix, a small handful of mushroom compost, 1 tablespoon Epsom salt-the bath type (adds magnesium) and 1 tablespoon dry milk (adds calcium and wards off some fungal diseases). Mix up with soil in bottom of hole.

Pinch off lower leaves on the tomatoes and plant tomatoes as deep as possible. Don’t worry about if it leggy, it will grow roots along buried stem and become stronger.

-Don’t rush to plant if still cold at night outside. Tomatoes don’t like to be cold. If you do plant early, put a ‘wall of water’ around the plant IN THE MORNING so it has time to heat up the water and tomatoes by evening. Wall of waters protect down to 28°F. Place a 5-gallon bucket upside down over top of tomato plant and put the wall of water over the bucket. That way is can hold up the wall of waters while you fill each cell with water. Then take off bucket and the wall of water will hold itself up. I use bamboo stakes inside the edge of the wall of water so the walls lean on them to help keep them open as they can blow over when winds are high.

-If leaves turn purple underneath, it means the ground is too cold and the plant can’t take up the available phosphorus in the soil. Sprinkle rock phosphate around base of plant and water in to help them turn green again.

-Make a large well around each tomato so water stays close to root zone. If you have a drip line, put it in well now around base of plant.

-Add water and THRIVE AND SEAWEED FERTILIZER in a bucket and water well when you FIRST plant outside but NOT fertilizer.

Tomato in cage, branches trimmed off the ground, in concrete reinforcement cage with straw in well and supported by green ‘t-post’ that cage is tied up to

-In June AFTER THE SOIL HAS WARMED, add straw around well to keep moisture level even. This will help keep the water from evaporating and will keep the water from splashing soil on them. Splashing soil on tomatoes can allow soil borne viruses to get into plant.

-Use bamboo stakes and tie up plant. Change out to bigger stakes as plants grow. Cage plants as they grow or tie to tall stake. I use 5’ green t-posts for stakes or make cages out of concrete reinforcement wire.

-After plants have been transplanted for about 2 weeks, FERTILIZE with FISH EMULSION and SEAWEED. This should be in early June. Fertilize again in July (2-3 times during the season). Too much fertilizer makes lots of leaves but will not produce as many tomatoes.

-Train tomato plant to one or two stems. Allowing multiple stems promotes more green growth but takes away from fruit production.

-Pinch off suckers. They grow between the main vine and side branches. They take energy away from the fruit. Do not pinch off blossoms.

-Cut off or tie up any branches that touch ground. Tomatoes can get soil borne diseases from touching ground.

-If using one of my wire cages, I use a small 3’ t-post to tie my cage up to it, as plant gets bigger. This really helps to prevent the plants from blowing over when they get top heavy.

-Water consistently throughout season. The main reason tomatoes get cracks is uneven watering. The most efficient method of watering is by a drip system.

-Use ‘Serenade’ as a foliar spray for some soil borne diseases like Early Blight. It is best used as a preventative. Spray every two weeks or at first sign of disease. It is a made from a soil microbe and is organic. Aqua Fria Nursery carries it.

-Use ‘Companion’ as a drench around base of plant to help keep fungal diseases away. It is made from another soil microbe and is organic. You can Google it, as you must buy it online.

-If you do get some diseased branches, cut off branches with clean scissors. Disinfect scissors between plants with alcohol or a 10 % bleach solution. Take out severely diseased plants and throw in trash, not compost pile.

Note: If you are a smoker, wash hands before handling tomatoes-you can pass a virus called tobacco mosaic.

My Favorite Tomatoes to Grow

Talking about Virginia Sweet tomatoes made me think of some of the best tomatoes I’ve grown for flavor. So I thought I’d compile a list of them for you to consider growing sometime. These are not in any particular order as each one is unique and wonderful in it’s own way and not all are heirlooms.

striped german 75 day

Striped German-heirloom-beautiful bi-color- red and yellow large beefsteak up to 2 lbs. Luscious sweet-non acidic flavor. Super sweet beefstake. The marbled interior looks beautiful sliced. Complex, fruity flavor and smooth texture. 75 days to harvest.

costuluto genevese 78 day

Costuluto Genevese-heirloom-Italian heirloom tomato that has been enjoyed for many generations along the Mediterranean. Large, deep-red fruits have a singularly fluted profile, are deeply ridged, and heavily lobed. Meaty, full-flavored and delicious. Because of its scalloped edges, perfect for use in an arrangement of different colored sliced tomatoes. 78 days to harvest.

black cherry tomatoes 65 days

Black Cherry-heirloom-Beautiful large black cherry that is dusky purple brown in color. They have that rich flavor that makes black tomatoes unique. Sweet cherry tomato.

paul robeson 75 days

Paul Robeson-heirloom-This famous tomato has almost a cult following among tomato Connoisseurs throughout the world with its earthy, sweet and smoky flavor. Named in honor of the famous black opera singer, star of King Solomon’s Mine,1937. This Russian variety is aBrown/black tomato with green shoulders. Hard to find.

cherokee purple/80 days

Cherokee Purple-heirloom-Old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre 1890 variety. Unique dusty purple -pink  color. Flavor rivals Brandywine. Real old time tomato flavor-suberbly sweet. Large fruits average 12 oz.

green grape/60 days”

Green Grape-heirloom- bright yellow green cherry tomatoes that are wonderfully fruity sweet and has become one of my favorites.

Virginia sweet/85 days

Virginia Sweet-heirloom- Another one one of the best tasting, bi-colors, gold-red tomatoes I’ve eaten.  The tomatoes are beautiful and large beefsteak, weighing at least 1 pound each. Flavor is sweet and rich.

pantano romanesco/70 days

8. Pantano Romanesco-heirloom-A Roman heirloom. The fruit are large and are deep red, with almost a purple tint. The flesh is very rich, flavorful & juicy. An excellent tomato for home and market gardeners, very rare and delicious.

lemon boy/72 days

9. Lemon Boy-hybrid-The first lemon color hybrid tomato to be developed. They have outstanding sweetness with no acidity.

sungold/57 days

10. Sun Gold Select II-heirloom-Very flavorful and juicy orange-yellow cherry tomatoes.  Excellent in salads or eaten alone as a treat. Very prolific. 57 days to harvest.

San Marzano/78 day

San Marzano-heirloom-Come from a small town in Italy and were first grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Compared to the Roma tomatoes, Marzano tomatoes have thicker flesh with fewer seeds. Flavor is more sweet and less acidic. 78 days to harvest.

gold medal/75 days

Gold Medal-heirloom-large beefstake is bi-color of yellow with a blush of red inside. Very little acid. One of the sweetest tomato you’ll ever taste…..a gourmet’s joy when sliced.

Goldmans Italian American/80-100 days

Goldman’s Italian American-heirloom-Discovered by a Amy Goldman in a roadside stand in Italy, this large bright red pear tomato has old fashioned, classic flavor that made the best tasting tomato sauce I’ve ever made. Beats San Marzano in flavor but drawback is it takes 80-100 days to harvest and I had to bring it inside to finish ripening. Still…

brandywine red/80 day

Brandywine-heirloom-It is an old Amish heirloom, dating back to 1885 and named after Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania. One of the best tasting tomatoes ever with a great mix of sweet and acid to make a full flavor tomato.14. Big Zac-hybrid-Humungous red beefstake with old fashioned tomato flavor. Great for sandwiches and salads.
My biggest has been 2 lbs, 11 oz.