[tomato] Intro

Sat, 12 Apr 1997 12:20:16 -0400 (EDT)

I saw the first post to this list since I joined, so I know its alive! I
am a hydroponics hobbyist and have been experimenting for almost 20 years. I
started with hydroponics because of space limitations and was attracted to
the other potential advantages along the way. As a kid in suburban NY, we
used to grow a few plants and go to a farm and pick our own tomatoes (my
father had made friends with a farmer). I can still taste them! After
sampling supermarket tomatoes and moving to CA and finding an even greater
variety of things that looked like tomatoes but weren't even the right color,
I had a great desire to grow my own. I live and have lived in the hills of
Northern CA and the beach. In the hills, I have usually had a limited amount
of sun (blockage from trees) and relatively cool night temperatures. It is
warmer at night at the beach, but there is some fog and wind problems. I
shouldn't complain about the temperatures though, at the beach one year I
placed 7 week old seedlings out in the middle of March and had my first ripe
tomato by April 23! (stupice). In the hills (about 1000 feet elevation) the
night temperatures can drop to the high forties up to the beginning of June,
but it is generally safe to put tomatoes out by the beginning of April (I
start my seedlings the first to fourth week of January). I use wall of
waters, row covers (sometimes) and have covered my garden with 4 mil plastic
this season.
I have different requirements for my tomatoes. Cherries for salads, low
gelatin level for drying, large slicers for bagels and medium size for high
yield and everyday use. I grow about 25 species a year, weeding some out and
trying 6-10 new ones each year, almost always indeterminate and mostly open
pollenated. My early tomatoes have been Kotlas and Stupice for years now.
They appear to be almost identical, have decent taste and beat out all
others for early growth and yield. They do have poor leaf cover for later in
the year, but I space them closely and don't prune them much. They will last
to November if cared for .I have gone through a bunch of cooking tomatoes
and have almost given up on all except Amish Paste. This has been very
reliable for me for the five seasons or so I have grown it. It is low
gelatin, but has an excellent taste and decent yield. The first season I
grew it I thought something was wrong, it has droopy foliage and I kept
thinking it needed more water or had some problem. I tried some saladette
types and found the few I tried fairly bland. Cherry tomatoes have been
limited to sweet 100 type (I don't find much difference in the the variation
of this species), sungold (a great tasting orange hybrid), the tart and
somewhat tough skinned red and yellow currants (another species), snow white
(a large yellow-white cherry with slightly less sweetness than most
cherries), green grape (a green, excellent tasting large cherry, it may even
be determinate) and new this year, galina (yellow from siberia). I like to
have color variety in our salads. Medium size tomatoes must show some
difference from early girl to become a standard for me. I am trying first
lady this year, it has been rumored to be earlier than early girl. Green
zebra has great taste and stripes and sasha's altai is new for me this year
from siberia. My larger tomatoes are limited by the 5 hours of sun a day and
slightly cool night temperatures. Costaluto genovese is a great slicer with
slightly less gelatin than most beefsteak types, it can almost be considered
a cooking/slicer, a very good bagel tomato if you are trying to keep your
chin clean. Brandywine is also a great taster, with variable size and
average to low yield. I am going to limit each set to 4 tomatoes to see if
this improves the size distribution and overall yield. Yellow brandywine is
not as good tasting (I like the acidic strong taste of red and pink
tomatoes), but one of the better yellows. Evergreen is a beefsteak type that
is green, but has taste to rival brandywine, it is one of our favorites and
also a good bagel or hamburger tomato. Big beef is a bigger size hybrid that
produces very well for me, better than the "better xxx" types for me. I have
tried a bunch of the yellows with red at the bottom with marbling inside.
Most are yellow-bland, but look great and are fun to give away. I throw in
one tomatillo for salsa, this year a purple version.
Anyway that is enough for now and hope to learn alot on this list about
types, diseases, hints and other tomato related stuff.
Jaime (in the Santa Cruz Mountains)