Although we ate some fresh garden tomatoes, and canned 11+ quarts of tomato sauce, 2007 was not a great year for tomatoes in our garden. We had a cool wet spring, and a cool (delightful, really, in human comfort terms) summer, and our tomatoes didn't really take off until August, with production peaking in September, just in time for back to campus and the craziness that brings.
Of course, part of the reason for the low productivity is our decision to go away on vacation, and while gone, neglect our pruning and staking duties, which resulted in a giant green jungle. Hoping to increase our tomato yield through a little healthy competition, Dan and I have agreed to a tomato-growing contest this summer (his idea, I might add). While we still have to work out all the details, we've decided we'll grow the same varieties, starting the seeds together, etc., but once we determine a planting date, it is every woman for herself. I'm now immersed in perusing the 'net and my stash of gardening catalogs, trying to come up with the list of varieties we'll grow.
Sungold cherries (these babies are a definite)
The tomatoes marked with an asterisk* I grew last year, and in general was very happy with; but notice the plus mark+ beside Debarao and Milano? These are 2 new paste varieties I'm considering, because they are much earlier than the Amish Pastes or Orange Bananas. I saw the Milano Plum in the John Scheepers Kitchen Gardeners catalog, $2.95 for 50 seeds. Milanos are hybrid determinate types, ready in an astonishing 60-65 days.
The Debrarao were recommended by my friend Holly's go to organic gardening source, Dan Pratt of Astarte Farm in Hadley, MA and are ready in 72 days. Seeds are available from Johnny's $2.95 for 40 seeds.
Another gardening crony recommended Opalka (82 days) tomatoes from Pine Tree Garden Seeds, saying they beat the Amish Pastes by a country mile for taste, few seeds, and thin, tender skin. Of course, they are not early. And then there are Grandma Mary's Paste (68 days), but there is no mention of flavor in the notoriously wordy Fedco catalog, hmmm. As I said, I was happy with the Amish Paste (85 days) and the Orange Bananas (85 days), but now I'm dithering and these are only the paste varieties! What is a gardener to do? Suggestions are welcome.