We are right on the cusp...tomatoes are coloring up on several of the dwarf varieties and even a few of the indeterminates. Thus far, we've sampled Mexico Midget (winner again at 37 days from transplant), Sun Gold, Coyote, Tiger Tom, Lemon Drop, and Tiny Tim Yellow among the cherry tomatoes planted (we would have tried Egg Yolk, but Buddy is pretty fast sniffing out ripe tomatoes on our deck - he is also responsible for the disappearance of the first Arkansas Traveler!). We've picked the following dwarfs: Sleeping Lady, Iditarod Red, Dwarf Arctic Rose, Big Green Dwarf, Dwarf Kelly Green, Perth Pride, Sweet Scarlet Dwarf, Dwarf Mint Streaks and Saucy Mary. I picked underripe, but coloring, Polish, Favorite and Magnus, among indeterminate larger fruited types, to send to Storey for book photography. Ruby Gold and Cherokee Chocolate look to be next.
As always, there are a few disappointments, though less this year at this time than most previous years..more on that below when I talk about the season, and my approach, in general. Blossom end rot is showing up on a few varieties, but isn't at all rampant. Cherokee Green....just isn't. I was unlucky to grow a seedling that is a cross - one prematurely ripening tomato with blossom end rot is showing that my tomatoes will be red. Looking at the location of the plant that the seed came from, one guess would be Cherokee Green X Polish - this would give good sized fruit with yellow skin and red flesh - a red tomato. I will get the answer next year if I grow out saved seed. Giant Syrian has had a rough go of it, yet still lives, with a few good looking fruit - but it is my most unhappy living indeterminate. Magnus is my single near-disaster, as it contacted Fusarium Wilt - I will probably pull it soon. Yellow White is a curiosity - the fruit on the plant are turning grey prior to ripening, and I've had to remove and toss several. Tiger Tom is hanging in there, though a few leaders look to be Fusarium-afflicted - for the most part, it lives on.
As far as Dwarfs, there are only a few sad stories - Sweet Adelaide had the worst start, then caught on, but is failing to thrive and may need to be removed. Chocolate Champion looks awful - rampant Early Blight perhaps (hoping not Late Blight), but it is a goner. Big Green Dwarf is having its struggles, and Sweet Scarlet Dwarf is battling Septoria. Dwarf Peppermint Stripes died pretty quickly and was removed, as was a second Dwarf Black Angus in the rear of the main garden. Dwarf Mint Streaks - not a dwarf, but came out indeterminate - is not long for this world...and Dwarf Beauty King in a bale has been battling wilt from the start, yet somehow lives on - same with Kangaroo Paw Yellow, which has little lower foliage remaining - I may get a few fruit then will toss it.
Yet - out of over 100 tomatoes, to have 4 struggling indeterminates and 9 struggling dwarfs - around 10% - I'll take that any season. As usual, the sweet and hot peppers and eggplant are really shining in their containers - the yields are going to be stunning. One other news item - I've made a few hybrids....and may be looking for people to help if they wish to play around next season - among them are two crosses with Sun Gold - with Mortgage Lifter (to see if I can get the Sun Gold flavor into a large fruited tomato), and with Sleeping Lady (ditto with a dwarf type).
I made some significant changes this year that seem to be helping plant health and fruit set and yield - though it is only speculation, since each season is so different...it just could be that the weather this year is simply far superior to conditions the last few years. Leaving more space between rows, more space between plants, pruning indeterminates to two main stems, growing dwarfs only where they can be securely staked (none in the center of the driveway this year), more frequent watering, and more frequent feeding - that's pretty much the laundry list of modifications for this season.
And...finally. The photographers will be around on July 21 for a few days to do some retroactive tomato photography for those varieties that we didn't quite capture well last year. It isn't the only opportunity, though - I just sent Storey some tomatoes just today (to arrive Monday) for that purpose - some early ripeners, just in case - and I will have a few weeks after July 21 to send any stragglers to them as well.
My tomato SOS list is shorter this year than last year - but may grow, depending upon how things develop (as I saw with Cherokee Green, I won't know until things ripen if I have what I hope for). However - if anyone is growing the following varieties, and you have a spare fruit or two, we can work something out so I can have it for photography - drop me an email and let me know and we can discuss, if you are willing.
Highest priority list - these are the ones most at risk: Cherokee Green (because mine is crossed), Giant Syrian (my friend Nancy and I are in discussion about this one - she has some nice ones coming along), Magnus, Yellow White, Tiger Tom
The following are in pretty good shape, so lower SOS level, but just in case: Little Lucky, Anna Russian, Livingston's Favorite, Livingston's Golden Queen, Green Giant, Abraham Lincoln (from my seedlings - it is from the USDA and most like the catalog descriptions from 1923), Lillian's Yellow Heirloom. In all of these cases, my plants look good and there is good fruit set - but they proved the most difficult last year so I am just hedging my bets and lining up any possible back ups.
Thanks, all - and remember, if you want to stop by and peruse my garden, schedule a time - the upcoming week is pretty open, but the following week not.
And as always, some pictures - these are tomatoes to come from a run through the garden with my camera today.