Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tomatoes Aplenty

This summer has been extraordinarily busy. With multiple trips, camps, the beginning of my wife’s career and beginning the process of moving to a new home, our family has hardly had time to stop. As a result, I have not been able to update as much as I would like.

Tomato Plants in Late April

Tomato Plants in Late May

Tomato Plants in Late June

Tomato Plants in Late July

So, the Celebrity tomatoes that I was used to in Tucson did very well initially. They produced plenty of large sandwich-sized tomatoes that were fairly tasty. Meanwhile, the San Marzano plant produced plenty of tomatoes too, howbeit not as tasty unless they were cooked. Something about cooking really brings out the flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes. All the while, my third tomato variety, the Rutgers was growing and growing.

Early fruiting in June - Celebrity

Celebrity fruiting in later June

Celebrities Fruiting in July

A rambling Celebrity tomato Plant

Over the course of the summer, between the three, I would definitely say that the Rutgers won on several levels. First: disease resistance. Whatever occurred to the soil before I amended it and planted tomato plants definitely made them susceptible to disease. The Rutgers plant succumbed only minimally, while the Celebrity and the San Marzano slowly became more and more affected by the bacteria.

San Marzano Tomatoes in May

San Marzano Tomatoes in June

First San Marzano Tomatoes to ripen

San Marzano tomatoes in July

The next way in which the Rutgers won was by production. Though the Celebrity tomato plant produced plenty of tomatoes earlier on, production waned dramatically – a characteristic of determinate tomatoes. This is the reason why they do so well down in the Southwest, but is not necessarily advantageous where the climate is favorable to growing tomatoes. The San Marzano produces a moderate number of tomatoes over time, but if you prefer salads and sandwiches over sauces and salsas, then San Marzano is probably not for you.

Rutgers Tomatoes in June

Rutgers Tomatoes in July

Rutgers Tomatoes in August

The final way in which the Rutgers tomato won was by taste. Though the Celebrity tomato hits it right in the robust salty flavor, it does lack quite a bit of complexity. The Rutgers does possess some of that complexity and a hint of umami, a characteristic that Celebrities only acquire in climates with extreme heat. I have yet to find a tomato that I have completely fallen in love with, though some heirlooms that I have tasted have come close!

A smaller weekly harvest (June)

So, there is a little bit of the experience I have had with these tomatoes. Though I have not been able to take pictures of a tenth of my tomato production (about 10 per week for the last six weeks), I hope this information helps. For those of you who could practically live off tomato sandwiches (something my wife keeps reminding me that she cannot do) I wish you a delicious harvest!