Saturday, June 4, 2011

Our 2011 Tomato Garden

It may be June, but the abnormally cool, wet weather lately here in Northern California has slowed down growth in the summer vegetable garden. That may be a blessing for garden procrastinators. Because of the prolonged March-like weather, it's not too late to plant tomatoes! And if you don't mind a delayed harvest, you could put in tomato plants throughout this month.

The choice of tomatoes is yours; here is what has worked for us in the past, and what we are trying this year in our garden in Sacramento County.

First, the 2010 Tomato Report Card...


Lemon Boy A  excellent. long production cycle, good flavor



Dr. Wyche A  Best heirloom of 2010

First Prize B+ Good producer early on

Sweet Gold B+ - Dependable yellow cherry tomato 

Early Wonder B  Did better than Early Girl


Beefmaster B-  erratic production but good size

 Big Beef  B- Dependable slicer.

Poti Cuote Bue-1  C+  produced early, nothing to write home about.

Pomodoro Canestrino  C+ Juicy but went bad quick

Poti Cuote Bue-2 C  less productive than 1   
Viva Italia C  Sunburn, produced late.

Djena Lee’s Golden Girl  C disappointed with little production

Pomodoro Canestrino Red Pear ‘Claudia’
C  firmer, pretty good

Bloody Butcher C-  not as productive as 2009

Early Girl C- didn't produce until August

Marianna’s Peace
D Little production but tasty. Went bad quick.


Celebrity? I think not.
Celebrity F - I swear, it was NOT a Celebrity. Ping Pong Ball size. 
Gangly vine, little production

And now, our 2011 tomato garden!
Information about these varieties (in quotes) come from many sources, including: Totally Tomatoes, Tomato Growers Supply Company, TomatoFest, Reimer Seeds, Burpee Seeds, Harris Seeds.

Listed in alphabetical order, here is what we have in the ground now, including 15 varieties we have never tried before. Past report cards (pre-2010) of the varieties we have grown before are included here.

Heirloom -  "6 to 10 ounce round red tomatoes. Indeterminate. 77 days." New for us.

Big Beef
"Big Beef is generally ready for harvest 80 to 85 days after sowing. Vigorous, indeterminate plants produce 4 to 6 inch tomatoes which are crack resistant. Sweet, slightly acidic flavor. An All-America Selections Award Winner. Resistant to V, F1, F2, N, TMV, and ASC (Alternaria Stem Canker)."

Sept. 2008 report card: Needed tomato plants in a hurry in early March, for a TV shoot. Grabbed a six pack of these from a big box store, a store that has no qualms about selling tomato plants in late winter to overanxious gardeners. TV shot canceled. Might as well plant them and see! Result: Probably the best overall tomato in our garden in 2008. Big Beef was excellent either sliced or for canning. Easy to peel for canning. Productive early and often! A

: Produced all season. Not that "big",though. Medium sized. Cracking, some blossom end rot. B+ 

Blue Fruit  - Heirloom.
New for us.

Burbank  - Heirloom.
New for us.

Chianti Rose  - Heirloom.
New for us.

Cream Sausage  - Heirloom.
New for us.

Dr. Wyche's Yellow  - Heirloom

"This is undoubtedly one of the best tasting yellow tomatoes to be found, combining luscious sweetness with plenty of tangy tomato flavor. Golden-yellow fruit is beautiful, unblemished and smooth, and varies from 10 ozs. to 1 lb. The shape is that of a typical beefsteak with very meaty interiors. Huge, vigorous plants produce well, but it is the rich, excellent flavor and large fruit size that really set this one apart. Indeterminate. 80 days."

  SEPTEMBER 2009 REPORT CARD: Very prolific for a large yellow tomato! Big and juicy, with a great, sweet flavor. Some blossom end rot, but tolerable.

Green Zebra
  "A unique and delicious salad tomato, three ounce green fruits ripen to amber-green with darker green stripes. The light green flesh is very flavorful, sweet yet zingy. Indeterminate. 75 days." A freebie from the California State Garden Show. We've only grown it once before, in 2002. Unmemorable then.
New for us.
Lemon Boy

Lemon Boy VFN Hybrid. "The first lemon yellow, not golden, tomato variety, and still one of the best. Extremely vigorous plants produce large harvests of attractive fruit that weighs 8 ozs. or more. Flavor is outstanding, mild and sweet yet tangy and definitely not bland. This one is easy to grow and understandably one of our most popular yellow tomatoes. Indeterminate. 72 days."

2008 Report Card: Lemon Boy was very prolific, tasty and disease free in 2008, so it gets planted again! A

2009 REPORT CARD: Very productive. Extremely flavorful. Great in salads. Started harvesting in late May! Some cracking, but tolerable.  


  New for us.

Old German  - Heirloom.
New for us.

Oregon Spring

Snow White
New for us.

Solid Gold  
New for us.

Indeterminate, 57 days. "Very sweet, bright orange cherry tomatoes taste not just sugary but also fruity and delicious. Vigorous growers, these tall plants bear long clusters of fruit." 

2007 Report Card: A taste test winner at Rose Loveall's Morningsun Herb Farm. Tried it in 2003...and it turned out to be a winner in the August trials here! Outclassed in 2007 by Sweet Gold, but still a good cherry tomato. B+

Sept 2008 report card: pretty good production and taste, a runner-up to Sweet Gold. B

Super Bush New for us.

Sweet Million

Early maturing hybrid cherry type tomato. Clusters of tiny fruit are well rounded, deep red in color with a delicious sweet flavor. Tolerance to cracking and good holding qualities. Tall Indeterminate plants grow tall and require support. Maturity is 60 days from transplanting. 
2001 Report Card: This is a productive cherry tomato, with tons of fruit on an indeterminate vine that tops out at six feet tall. And sweet! The small (one inch) fruit are great for snacking, straight from the vine. I added this variety to my chili instead of sugar. If I was forced to only grow one tomato plant, this would be it.  A

2002 Report Card:  I grow this variety each year for a number of reasons; not the least of which: my dentist requests a plant for himself each spring. I trade him for toothpaste and floss. A

2003 Report Card: And the camera crews from HGTV love it, too! A

2008 Report Card: Sweet Million was gangly this year. Although tasty, it was outperformed by the Sweet Gold. B-

Sweet Seedless
New for us.
New for us.

Transparent  New for us. Trade Winds Fruit Store description: "An intensely juicy and sweet tomato bearing golf-ball sized fruits with a muted yellow-white color. Flesh is white, with lots of juice and a very good quality sweet flavor. Fruits are born in small clusters and plants are high yielders. Indeterminate. 70-75 days."


  1. WOW. Celebrity was always my "go to" variety.

  2. Transparent sounds very interesting. You have some great varieties, can't wait to read how you rate them. Maybe we will have some fruit by September if the weather ever changes.

  3. I forgot to mention that I've grown Oregon Spring a winter tomato in the greenhouse. I am betting that it will be bigger and taste better when grown outdoors. Even in this cool, wet weather. But that's why they call it "Oregon Spring", right?

  4. Thanks for sharing this list. I love that it include past year's report cards. Here's a list of the tomato varieties we're trying this year 100 miles south of you:

  5. Interesting list! I'm looking forward to hearing how they all do in our climate. That's super valuable information for planning future gardens. My own list is here Errr.. that WAS my list before I added Green Zebra, Kellogg's Breakfast and Orange Russian 117.