Last year was a great tomato growing year and a chance to find some new favourite varieties.
Of course my favourite tomato varieties number in the hundreds now, but every year there are some that tend to really shine that perhaps I haven't noticed too much in the years before.
And every year I'm bring "new" heirlooms into the fold to test out.
So it might be worth mentioning some of these varieties. Maybe some you have tried..maybe some you've never heard of.
Some tomatoes I know I am very vocal in suggesting to others. When people ask me what tomato I wouldn't be without...well Stupice (stoo-peach-ka) is the first I'll mention. Small, great flavoured and extra super early it is a reliable performer for the long haul.
I know that people consider roma tomatoes THE tomatoes for canning and paste. But is it because they haven't tried some others, that might be just a little better- in my humble opinion? Federle for me is that tomato- a long, sausage-type paste, with rich flavoured flesh, meaty and a small seed cavity.This is such a good tomato and there are others very similar-Opalka, Jersey Devil and Howard German. These tomatoes give you much more bang for your buck than romas, starting with flavour.
Reisentraube is my most popular and best selling cherry tomato, hands down. It is a prolific producer of sweet little reds, with a pointed end, and the tomatoes in bunches like grapes.
I do like it, as I also like the popular pears, yellow and red, with ivory and brown (Cafe Bule) being my favourites. But for small cherry types, Dr Carolyn's and Snow White are super sweet and delicious, and Green Doctors is also highly addictive. If your are stuck on red tomatoes, maybe 2011 is the time to give green, white and brown cherries a try. You won't be disappointed.
I also am partial to green tomatoes. The big green beefsteak type, Aunt Ruby's German Green and Cherokee Green in particular are refreshing and distinctive. I find people are a little unsure about trying the green tomatoes, the exception being Tom Wagner's magnificent Green Zebra, which everyone wants! (Don't forget that again this year all the money from Green Zebra seeds and plants I sell actually will go to Tom as it did last year.)
But they are truly worthwhile and really- it is easy, easy to tell they're ripe. They don't look like unripe tomatoes, and they are a bit soft to touch. Voila! A ripe green tomato and a delectable treat.
Last year two of the super standouts were Maylor Roth's Orange Brandywine, an absolutely luscious, sweet and dense non-potato leaf orange and Tuxhorn a massive rippled bicolour, which was so sweet and fruity. Both varieties were great producers and are really worth a spot in your garden.
And, I'll talk about lots more of my favourites too, which will all be here for sale in the spring, healthy and ready for your garden.
And maybe, just maybe, your garden needs to be bigger!