Here it is, the first part of August. Most of the tomato vines are bearing heavily now. Seems like a good time to discuss some of my favorite varieties - ones that I can count on for flavor and production here in my Maritime Pacific Northwest garden.
Sun Gold (cherry)
If I could only grow one variety it'd be Sun Gold. It's only good for one thing - fresh eating from the garden. But wow! Is it ever tasty! Sun Gold's tangerine-colored fruit are very sweet. For this reason some tomato purists don't like it; but I think the fruit have enough flavor and tang to balance out the sweetness.
Stupice is an extra early tomato - and it's the only one I've found that I grow year after year. Stupice produces a lot of tasty, firm, smallish tomatoes early in the season. Since it's an indeterminate the vine keeps producing all summer until frost kills the plant.
I've tried several of the other popular early varieties, such as the OSU introductions (Oregon Spring, Siletz, etc.). While their fruit can be much larger than Stupice's, the flavor tends to be rather bland. Also, I've found them to be prone to cracking during wet Spring weather.
The Maritime Northwest is not a great tomato-growing region, and this becomes even more apparent when you try growing some of the heirlooms that get rave reviews elsewhere in the country. One of the few I've found to be dependable in my garden is Persimmon. This variety produces large globe-shaped slicing tomatoes that mature to a golden yellow. What I really like, though, is the taste! While not high-yielding, Persimmon provides a fair number of rich-tasting tomatoes for sandwiches or salad use.
Oroma (Roma-style paste tomato)
There are quite a few productive sauce tomatoes that will do well in the Maritime garden - Bellstar, Saucey, and Sheriff for example. I like to grow them all. But while the others rotate through from season to season, Oroma is a fixture. This tomato has all the virtues you want for processing - the flavor is good; the fruit is meaty and thick-walled; and it peels better than any other tomato I've grown. This last bit may seem trivial, but when you're canning large numbers of tomatoes it's a great trait!
Early Cascade - This tomato is very reliable, versatile, and dependable. But I just can't get too excited about it since the flavor is only so-so. Every year I tell myself "maybe I won't grow Early Cascade this time", but it always ends up in my garden because I know I can count on it.
Red Cherry - Big rangy plants like this one have fallen out of favor with gardeners. It's old-time tomato flavor also goes against the current trend favoring sweet-as-candy cherry tomatoes. But if you can find Red Cherry, you should consider growing it. One plant will give you high yields of tasty fruit for salads or eating out of hand.
All contents © Travis Saling
This page was last updated November 18, 2013