Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomato surprise

Seed packets from
 This is a season of experimenting for NYC Gardener. Every year for the past six seasons, we've planted Brandywine and Cherokee Purple tomatoes along with several other varieties like Aunt Ruby's German Green and Chocolate Stripes. Last year, we didn't even buy new seeds, opting to repeat 2010's choices. This year we're going rogue. We have skipped our standard bearers all together to try out six new varieties. We went to our favorite heirloom seed site TomatoFest and looked through dozens of descriptions for tomatoes that might be just as delicious but easier to grow. I do love the Brandywine and Cherokee beefsteaks, but they take a long time to mature, so the plants are not as productive as they could be. The fruit gets so heavy on the vines that they're at risk to the windy conditions we get on our terrace. Heavy rain often causes cracking. So, this year, we decided  to go for varieties that mature a bit earlier and grow a bit smaller. We love green heirlooms, so we chose Green Zebra, a tomato served at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse. We wanted a Roma tomato to make great sauces and the Pantano Romanesco sounded like a hearty and flavorful option. We also picked one of Tomato Fest's top 10 for 2012, the Black from Tula, a Russian import with a smokey flavor. We didn't entirely turn our backs on the beefsteak. We're trying out Neves Azorean Red, "the ultimate sandwich tomato," advertised as tasty, disease resistant and productive until a frost. The only repeat is the Angora Super Sweet cherry, which we planted a few seasons ago and very much enjoyed. Last on our list is Kellogg's Breakfast, an orange beefsteak that came as a bonus from Tomato Fest. It's said to be sweet, tangy and nearly seedless. If all goes well, we should have a bang up crop. Even more amazing, all our plants are out in their pots and basking in the fresh air, more than a week ahead of our usual schedule. So, here's to a season of change!
Tomato in the pot

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