Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Best Heirloom Tomatoes 2014 - 2015 part 1

This year I grew a few different types of heirloom tomato, I figured I would write a comparison between how they went in my garden.  There are a few that are not listed here as I kind of want to keep them under my hat for now, or they are not yet stable so their details are not going to be relevant just yet.  Most varieties listed are regular leaf and indeterminate, if anything was potato leaf or determinate I have written it in italics.  If any variety is what I consider to be a dwarf variety I have also included that in italics.
Heirloom tomatoes
Many seed sellers tell you the days to maturity, unfortunately what they mean is days from when the seedling is 30cm tall and transplanted into the ground to maturity.  They never tell you how long from sowing the seed until the first fruit.  I know of one variety that is often stated as 55 days to maturity from transplant but 120 days from seed.  Obviously a host of variables can change the days to maturity, but I would find it more useful to tell me from seed to the first ripe fruit which is why I have used those dates here.

Quite often seed catalogues write glowing reviews even for substandard tomatoes with poor taste and low yields, I have tried not to do that and if I don't like it or found something that could be better I have said so.  Some I wont save seeds from or grow again, others have merit so will get another chance or be used as breeding material to develop something better.
Tomato flowers from a productive variety

All seeds were sown the same day on 9 August 2014 without heat, all seedlings were transplanted into the vegetable garden about 7 weeks later when the majority were 15 to 20 cm tall (they were all planted out on the same day, some were larger than others).  I have included the date the first fruit ripened after the variety name.  They are listed in order that their first fruit ripened, sometimes there was a large delay from first fruit to any subsequent fruit, this has been noted.


Reisetomate tomatoes
Reisetomate (25/12/2014) was overwintered and was the first tomato to ripen any fruit, this is not characteristic of the variety as the seed grown plant took about 2 months longer.  This was the only tomato I overwintered this year.  The deep red fruit are odd lobed shapes that can be pulled apart like the segments of an orange.  The taste is sour and intense and the tomatoes look interesting.  This plant produces a large yield, it has regular leaf and is semi determinate, it is my favourite red tomato.

Snow White tomatoes - usually more pale than the picture
Snow White (07/01/2015) was the first of the seedling plants to grow ripe fruit in my garden, it took about 5 months from sowing the seed to harvesting the first fruit.  Perhaps I will overwinter this and see how early I can get tomatoes next Summer.  The fruit is round and white if it does not get sun and slightly yellow if the sun hits the fruit.  The flesh tastes very sweet and fruity, the seeds/gel taste a little sour which compliments the sweet nicely, a real winner.  This is a great cherry tomato which was loved by everyone who tasted it.  This plant produces a very large yield over a long season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Juane Flamee, some small
Juane Flamee, some large
Juane Flamee (spelled various ways) (12/01/2015) was the second seed grown plant to produce ripe fruit.  It is said to be one of the best tasting tomatoes, I think it is certainly very good but not overly great, I think people love it because of the high yields it gives.  The fruit is round and orange, as can be seen by the pictures above the fruit size is rather inconsistent.  This plant produces a very large yield over a long season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Yellow pear, mostly brighter yellow than the picture
Yellow Pear (12/01/2015)  is a variety that I have been keeping for years, it grows nice looking yellow pear shaped tomatoes.  The plant grows huge and is a real survivor that has proven itself over many years of harsh conditions.  The sweet tomatoes are great for eating fresh or in salads and look beautiful.  This plant produces a massive yield (both in terms of number of tomatoes as well as overall weight of tomatoes) over a very long season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Black Russian, often cracks like this
Black Russian (29/01/2015) is one of the most over rated heirloom tomatoes ever grown, certainly not the best tasting black tomatoes I have ever eaten.  It still tastes much better than anything from a shop.  The fruit is prone to splitting and cracking but that does not matter much.  The plant produced a lot of flowers that simply aborted and produced no fruit even in good conditions with masses of pollinators.  It is said to be an early variety but took about 3 weeks longer than Snow White, Juane Flammee and Yellow Pear.  January 29 was the date of the first ripe tomato, it did not give a second tomato until 14 February which puts it behind Speckled Roman!  The colour of the fruit is amazing and they are a good size, unfortunately the taste, yield and time it takes to mature let it down.  This plant produced a small yield over a short and broken season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Tigrella, the colours are far more vivid than the picture
Tigrella (04/02/2015) is a great little tomato, it looked beautiful and tastes great.  The round stripey fruit had a dark seed cavity and were pretty consistent in size, most were a little larger than the picture.  The taste was a little stronger and more sour than Juane Flamee and it produced less tomatoes too.  The plant produced a reasonably large yield over a long season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Roprecco Paste, most were a bit larger than this
Roprecco Paste, a good tomato
Ropreco Paste (06/02/2015) is a good tomato, it looks much like a Roma tomato and tastes like a great Roma tomato.  The tomatoes are a good size and nice shape, most were slightly larger than pictured.  I liked to eat these fresh or in sandwiches, they can make a decent sauce, soup or paste due to their rich tomato taste.  This plant produced a reasonable yield over a short season, it has regular leaf and is determinate.

Malakhitovaya Shkatulka, delicious!
 Malakhitovaya Shkatulka (06/02/2015) is a great tomato which I can't believe is not grown more commonly in Australia.  The size and shape of the fruit lend it to slicing for sandwiches etc, the taste is absolutely amazing, probably the best tasting tomato ever grown.  Everyone who tasted this loved it.  It is difficult to tell when they are ripe from a distance, but simple enough when you are close enough to touch them.  I wish that it was higher yielding as they taste so great.  Birds leave the ripe fruit alone as it is green.  The name of this variety is kind of fun to say but difficult to spell.  This plant produced a medium to low yield over a long season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Julia Child, large pink soft fruit
Julia Child (08/02/2015) grows the softest tomatoes I have ever seen, the flesh is like soft butter.  It has very few seeds and a nice taste.  The pinky red round tomatoes are large and rather pretty.  They are perhaps too large as they hang on the plant for a long time ripening and may be attacked by insect pests etc during that time.  The plants itself looked lush and ornamental, it could grow by the front door and would not look out of place.  This plant produced a high yield over a long season, it has potato leaf and is indeterminate.

Unnamed red cherry
Unnamed cherry tomato (08/02/2015), these were given to me at a fete, I didn't want to grow an unknown variety but accepted them as I did not want to be rude.  I disliked them last year but figured I give them another go this year as a comparison.  The plant looks nice as do the trusses of 6 small perfect round red cherry tomatoes.  This plant is why I try to never grow unknown varieties of tomato unless they are someone's family heirloom or something that someone has assured me is worth growing.  They tasted terrible (comparatively) and are low yielding.  I will not save seed from this horrible plant and will not grow them again.

Hillbilly - very glossy
Hillbilly (12/02/2014) has firm flesh that is reasonably dry and smells great.  Tastes similar to a store bought tomato but much better, it smells fruity somehow.  The fruit is uniform in size and shape, good size for slicing onto a piece of bread.  The orange/yellow glossy fruit is interesting to look at but may cause people to turn up their nose as it is not red.  Probably not my favourite tomato this year but still pretty good, far better than most people have ever tasted.  This plant produced a medium yield over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Giant Siberian Pink
Giant Siberian Pink
Giant Siberian Pink (12/02/2014) these grew some large tomatoes!  Wow, look at those things.  They were pretty uniform in large size and most were very round.  I am not overly fond of large tomatoes as they hang on the plant so long to ripen and a lot can go wrong during that time.  They look suspiciously like Julia Child, I could not tell them apart by sight, but the texture could not be more different.  Firm flesh, it has a lot more seeds than Julia Child.  This plant produced a medium to large yield (medium number of fruit, super large size) over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Unnamed Red Stuffer
Unnamed Red Stuffer
Unnamed Red Stuffer (12/02/2014) red round medium sized fruit that is hollow.  The seeds stick together in a tight clump in the middle and are simple to remove making this a good stuffing tomato.  They tasted much like a store bought tomato before they were completely ripe, their taste intensified a lot after they ripened properly.  Even though this is a stuffing tomato it still went well on a sandwich.  I don't think this variety is stable yet.  This plant produced a medium yield over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Yellow (12/02/2014) beautiful medium to large yellow fruit sometimes with green shoulders.  The plant was one of the first to flower but the fruit took a long time to ripen which is a negative as the fruit hangs so long.  The flesh was soft and moist, they taste pretty amazing and are low acid.  This is one of the most useful and best tasting tomatoes that I grew this year.  I think this variety is stable now.  I really like this variety for a number of reasons.  The fruit splits a little but that doesn't seem to affect the storage time.  This plant produced a medium to large yield over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Speckled Roman, more beautiful in real life
Speckled Roman
Speckled Roman (13/02/2015) stunningly beautiful looking red roma style tomatoes with yellow/orange stripes.  Each tomato has unique swirls, stripes and patterns inside the fruit with very few seeds.  It has a deep rich tomato taste, it is meant to make a great paste or sauce and I love it on a sandwich, much like a great tasting roma tomato that looks amazing.  I prefer this to Roprecco Paste as it tastes better, looks better, has larger fruit, and is indeterminate.  Roprecco paste seems to have a higher yield than this one but this provides fruit over a longer season instead of all at once so ther is a trade off to be made.  This plant produced a decent yield over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Pineapple some had much more red
Pineapple tomato
Pineapple (17/02/2015) not quite round, yellow orange (to red) bicolour that looked nice.  Some fruit were as large as the Giant Siberian Pink, others much smaller.  The inside of the fruit was also pretty with swirls of colour through the yellow.  Some tomatoes had a thick core that had to be removed before eating, others from the same plant did not.  Flesh was very firm, dry and contained few seeds.  This plant produced a good yield over the season, it has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Reisetomate - not quite ripe
Reisetomate fruit
Reisetomate, every fruit is unique and beautiful
Reisetomate (19/02/2015) first fruit from seed grown plants ripened about 2 months after the overwintered plant.  Fruit ranges in size/shape/number of lobes quite a bit.  I love this tomato, it tastes so intense, even a little on a sandwich with a more bland tomato livens things up a lot.  The deep red fruit has odd lobed shapes that can be pulled apart like the segments of an orange, the flowers and fruit look very unique and interesting.  This plant produces a large yield, it has regular leaf and is semi determinate.

This post is getting a bit long, I have been writing it since December though.  I will end here and continue this post in Best Heirloom Tomatoes 2014-2015 part 2

I may sell some of these seeds, if you are interested please look on my For Sale page.

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