Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tomato of the week-T5

I'm not really efficient at keeping up with this"Tomato of the Week" thing I can admit.

Weeks have passed.  Without rain, I might add, until last night when the heavens finally opened.

Last week it was that I spied it..a ripe T5.  So of course that's the tomato I'll need to discuss now in my (is it monthly?) "Tomato of the Week."

Happy days on Heritage Farm, Decorah, Iowa
T5 is a tomato created by tomato/potato genius Tom Wagner.  Tom is perhaps best known for breeding the well known and loved 'Green Zebra" tomato which he first introduced to the world in 1983 via his Tater Mater seed catalog. 

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him at the Seed Savers Exchange Annual Convention several years back when he was a featured speaker and also led a workshop on tomato and potato breeding techniques.

The seed for T5 originally came to me via Bill Minkey of Wisconsin.  Bill has a huge collection of seed which he shares through the Seed Saver Exchange Yearbook, and every year I find myself requesting 30 or 40 new "must try" heirloom tomato varieties from Bill.  Of course the yearbook is not a seed catalogue.  

It is a starting point.  Once the seed is requested, the recipient should be growing out the seed with the intent of saving the seed, and possibly even re-offering it in the next years' yearbook.

And that has been the fun part.  Treasures received and saved.

When I requested T5, I also requested T2 and T4 at the same time.  Of course all three are Tom's tomatoes.  Tom..if you are out there.  Is there a T3?  And does the T stand for Tom?  Just wondering.

T5 surprised me with it's earliness this year.  Wow.  This is under 60 days from transplant, whereas it has generally been more around 80 days.  I'll be saving the seed from the first ripe fruits to see if this earliness can be passed on in future years.

T5  is red, with gold stripes.  

T5 is about 3" in diameter, with some ribbing as you can see from the picture. It is a gorgeous fruit, on a pretty rugosa leaved plant which is reasonably compact, or determinate. Taste?  Yum-very good.

T2 and T4 are worth mentions here as well. T2 is just a gorgeous tomato, red with very distinct gold stripes.  Perfect globe shape, big production and high yields on a regular leaf, indeterminate plant.

Last year it was just tremendous..this year, can't wait.

And T4?  Well, good, but weird.  It is truly unlike any other tomato I have grown here. And why?

An unripe T4

It has a very odd waxy, even rubbery skin. When you touch it, it feels perhaps a bit rotten... lots of give. It is a pinkish tomato with pale green striping, crinkled rugosa type leaves and yes. 

The most important feature - it tastes good, surprisingly. Just move beyond the skin and expand your tomato experience by trying it.

I consider these three "T's" treasures.  Gifts I will save year after year.

Thanks, Tom.  (Bill too.)

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