Sunday, August 02, 2009

My new favorite tomato...for now

I have a new favorite tomato...well, at least for the next four weeks. It's a Czech variety called Stupice. It's a salad tomato, so it's not large; about twice the size of a cherry tomato. The flavor is fantastic and the best part is that it is an early-yield tomato...so these are our first of the season. And let me tell you, based on this season, the third coldest July on record, one of the coolest springs overall on record, it has not been a good year for tomatoes in New York. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten to enjoy many of these little jewels...only about 4 have ripened thus far.


Stupice tomato. (Not my photo - I borrowed it from the Net.)

Fortunately for me, most of my tomatoes are growing in EarthBoxes, which are bottom-watering, self-feeding containers. The reason that the EarthBoxes are doing better is that what little heat there has been has managed to heat the soil in the containers to some degree. The tomatoes in the ground haven't done that well because the ground is still pretty cold...it isn't just the part of the plant that's above the ground that matters to tomatoes and tomatillos.

Why do I say it's my favorite "for at least the next four weeks"? That's when I expect the rest of my plants to finally give me some tomatoes, if the heat stays up.

I am growing 14 different plants this year, each a different variety. Three are varieties I have grown before: Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and Big Beef. The Cherokee Purples were about my favorite last year, but because of the way I treated the soil before planting, they weren't as acidic as I'd have liked. So I did things a little differently this year and I hope they are better. They produced moderately, but were late, so I didn't get as many of them as I'd have liked.

The Brandywines don't produce much fruit, it's a hallmark of the plant, but the fruit tastes very good. Most gardeners would tell you it's their favorite for eating, but I mark it way down for production. At least here in the northeast, they don't produce much. Still, because of the flavor, I grew them again this year.

The Big Beefs had a pretty good harvest last year, but the flavor wasn't acidic enough; again, I suspect because of the way I treated the soil before planting last year they weren't as good as they should have been. I have greater hopes for them this year.

But onto this year's new ones that I can't wait for. The person who turned me on to the Stupice variety also highly recommended some others: Paul Robeson, her all-time favorite; Goose Creek, her second-favorite; Striped German, Cindy's West Virginia, Berkeley Tie Dye, Purple Haze (purple cherry tomato; can't wait to try it!), Earl's Faux, Cuostralee and Amazon Chocolate. I also have a Sweet 100 cherry tomato in there somewhere that came up as a volunteer from last year.

This year was supposed to be lots of tomatoes so that I could make lots of salsa. But since the harvest is already about a month behind because of the weather, I am thinking that there won't be any more salsa this year than last, when I only had eight plants...and my peach tree...well, I don't even want to talk about my peach tree, which hasn't had enough heat to grow the peaches this year. They have been the same size for about two-and-a-half months, and some are starting to rot on the tree.

So, for the next four weeks, I am proclaiming Stupice as my favorite tomato. We'll see if anything happens with the others in the next month to prove me wrong.

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