Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden Journal 2010 {Tomatoes}

THE high value crop of the backyard garden, bursting with red, juicy flavor. High value, not only because of yield, but because the quality is undeniably over the top compared to store bought specimens. Tomatoes rarely go on sale either, which also adds to their value in the garden.

This is my first year of enjoying mostly success. The past has been full of disease, low yields, broken vines and sour fruit. I have learned a ton about pruning, vertical growing, aphids and watering. This year I stuck to just a few of the basics; cherry (sweet 100’s), grape, beefsteak and roma’s.

My cherry and grape tomatoes have taken off, reaching 10 feet high and still growing. Though the bottom foliage is browning badly, the tops are healthy and the production is abundant. The grapes are large, looking more like baby romas. The cherries are not my favorite in flavor, probably will not grow them next year. Plenty for snacking, roasting for pastas and giving away. I am going to try this recipe soon too, looks like a good one to freeze and have on hand for easy meals.

Beefsteaks were not as successful. I only averaged 4 per plant and not looking too promising for a future crop. I am sure the aphids hurt things, as well a watering issue I had earlier in the season that lead to the tops cracking on every single beefsteak. Beefsteaks do not grow as fast as the cherries and grapes, so they are suffering from lack of sun. Next year I will plant them in front of my cucumbers and melons so that they get more sun mid season. The flavor is great from what I have, but they go bad fast because of the cracking. I hate putting tomatoes in the fridge, ruin’s their flavor, so we have to eat these fast. I made this curry twice last week, oh, it was good!

I have high hopes in canning my roma’s as well as making salsa (with fresh tomatoes) and marinara. The birds are playing in them and they kept falling over for a while until I got them properly staked. There seems to be a good amount of green fruit on the 6 plants I got going, I just started getting red ones. Next year I am going to get more of these handy dandy Ultomato cages to keep them better under control and make more isle space so that I am not constantly stepping on them.


  1. I never grow beefsteak tomatoes because they do grow slow and crack here in AZ sun. I stick to the smaller varieties. I love early girls and roma's. I always have great success with them. The longer the tomato takes to grow, the tougher the skin will be if it is a warmer climate. I learned from a few years of tomato experience. I am loving tomato season! I can't get enough.

  2. I am so sad to hear that:( Beefsteaks are my favorite!

  3. A great flavorful tomato with a short growing season (good for AZ) is Stupice. I found some at Berridges Nursery at Camelback and about 44th Street this year. They have potato vine like leaves and a very high yield. Tomatoes are 2-3 inches diameter.

    I love the tomato ladders found at Gardener's Supply Company (they will send catalog if you go online.) They are very sturdy! They also come with extensions if your tomatoes grow up and up.

  4. I will look that variety up, thanks. It sounds like they are a determinate plant, like romas. Those tomato ladders look a lot like the ultomato cages, very cool.

  5. You might try Patio Tomatoes. They are a bush not a vining tomato. They are a little smaller but usually they are loaded with tomatoes.
    Beefsteaks don't do well here because of the heat.

  6. i read tomatoes have a big concentration of water so it`s better for us to eat fresh tomatoes instead of other vegetables


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