When people come to my "Tomato Days" sale in May, they may not know precisely what variety of tomato they want, but they have in mind some important qualities.
"A good big slicer that can cover a piece of bread", "the best cherry", "a good canner and paste type" and inevitably "the earliest one you have."
And who doesn't want a good early tomato. I don't buy tomatoes in the winter, really just not worth it. So a hit of summer in the form of an early tomato in late June, early July is marvellous.
If you have the ability to get them out even earlier in a hoop house or greenhouse all the better. I put my first Stupice tomatoes in the ground in my hoop house mid-April... that's next week! They still need additional protection from the cold , so I cover them with agricultural fabric at night when the temperatures dip. Yes, June tomatoes here we come.
When talking about an early tomato, in my mind I always have "quite early". In the range of 50-60 days from transplant fits the bill quite nicely.
Well I have certainly written enough about Stupice on this blog. Just one darn good and early tomato. But I actually do have quite a few other ones, that will be represented here on May 21, 22.
One of the earliest tomatoes, and one of the few that is not red, is Ida Gold.
This lovely sweet little tomato, weighing about 2 ounces is found on a relatively small plant. In my garden here in Southern Ontario it is usually around 55-60 days to maturity, nearly on par with Stupice.
My list of super earlies also includes:
(Indeterminate means plants continue to grow and produce fruit all season. Plants can be large. Determinate plants are smaller as they do stop growing, produce fruit all at once generally)
Alpine- 60 days, indeterminate vines. 3 oz fruit with a pleasing tart flavour.
Break O' Day (60-70 days)-Medium sized fruit, with a nice acidy flavour, juicy. Plant is medium sized and foliage is weepy. Good production.
Early Wonder-It is. 60 days. Small to medium size fruit and a nice deep red colour. Good flavour.
Glacier-Sometimes the name says it all. 55 days. Compact plant producing 2 oz fruit, very nice flavour, reliable. Potato leaf.
Latah-A lot of people swear by Latah. Early, 50 days, 2 oz very nice sweet fruit. Plant is not huge.
Kootenai-45-55 days from transplant-compact determinate plant with rugose foliage. Excellent sweet 2-3 oz fruit. Good for pots. (Rugose foliage means the plant has a thick central stem, dark green crinkly leaves. These plants are compact)
Kimberly-small plant, 3', large yield of small, (but not cherry) tomatoes. Sweet. Good production till frost. Good in pots. Potato leaf.
Polar Beauty- 60 days, small compact plant with 2 oz deep red very tasty tomatoes. Developed in alaska to withstand the chill.
Siberian- 60 days, indeterminate plant. Large, uniform pink-red fruit, up to 9 oz or more. Very nice, sweet flavour.
Sophie's Choice- 70 days. Perhaps you will wait a bit longer for this one, but it is worthwhile. Indeterminate plant, 3-10 oz juicy acidic flavour. Does better in damp conditions. An heirloom from Edmonton.
Sub Arctic Plenty-50 days. Small compact plant is good for containers. Small fruit,can take cooler spring conditions. Prolific producer, 2 harvest per summer. Taste is "zingy".
|Potato leaf tomato plant|
These tomatoes are all essentially red, save for the Ida Gold of course.
It is important to take note which varieties are "potato leaf" types if you are planning on saving seed. According to the brilliant Suzanne Ashworth and her seed saving manual, "Seed to Seed", it is generally safe to plant one potato leaf in with regular leaf tomatoes for seed saving purposes, because of the retracted style of stigma of the majority of tomato varieties. If you are growing more than one potato leaf variety however should be separated out, or caged to ensure seed purity. Some people advocate getting all potato leaf varieties out of the patch, but I go with Suzanne's advice.
And just another little tip. To get more fruit, remember to give your blossoms a little shake. This increases fruit set by increasing the amount of pollen that travels down the anther tube. I have a friend who goes out to her tomato patch with an electric toothbrush every day, and gives her tomato blossoms a good agitation. She does have great tomatoes.
Early fruit, more fruit. What's not to like?