Posts Tagged ‘Carolyn Male’


When I offered a slice of a yellow tomato to my 84-year-old aunt, she lifted it suspiciously to her mouth and gingerly took a little nibble. Her eyes flew open in surprise and she exclaimed “It tastes like a tomato!”

Well, yes. Even a rainbow of tomatoes still taste like tomatoes, though some are more tart, others sweeter, some are juicy and some are more pulpy. Which tastes best is strictly a matter of personal preference. I’m not really sure why I get a kick out of growing a variety of heirloom varieties, except that it is fun to collect them all together for a colourful plate of tomato-y goodness at the end of each summer. Don’t they look great?

Sub Arctic Plenty

This year, I would have to give the award for Pick of the Crop to Sub-Arctic Plenty. My two plants produced dozens of attractive, small-to-medium sized, brilliant red tomatoes. The fruits were juicy and tasty and the first tomatoes were ready to pick several weeks earlier than other varieties.


Here are the plants at the end of the season, still loaded with fruit. Legend has it that Sub-Arctic Plenty was developed by the U.S. Military for use by troops stationed in Greenland! Hmmm. I don’t know where that tale got started, but a more likely version is that Sub-Arctic Plenty was developed at the Canadian Agriculture Research Station in Beaverlodge, Alberta. Sub-Arctic Plenty was selected from the backcross (Fireball x BEF 56-7) x Fireball, and was tested at 30 locations across Canada before being introduced to Canadian gardeners through Dominion Seed House in Georgetown, Ontario, and Lowden’s Plants and Seeds in Ancaster in 1972. (R.E.Harris, Can. J. Plant Sci. 52: 119-120 (Jan. 1972))

White Queen

Another prolific producer was White Queen. You can see the plant behind Sub-Arctic Plenty. White Queen produced many large, beefsteak-type tomatoes of good quality. In 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden, Carolyn J. Male writes that White Queen has an absolutely outstanding yield, and my experience confirmed that. She further observes that White Queen is fruity and sweet, and not bland like other white tomatoes. Here, I would have to disagree. They may be better tasting than other whites, but compared to other tomatoes in the garden, I did find them bland. Still, my two plants produced a bountiful crop that were great for soups and pasta dishes.

Chocolate Stripe

Chocolate Stripe produced quite a good crop in spite of a rather unfavorable location in the garden. The medium-sized fruits varied in colour and were pleasant if not outstanding in flavour. Chocolate Stripe might be worth trying again in a better location.

Emerald Evergreen

Emerald Evergreen produced a dismal crop of just a half-dozen tomatoes. I’m not sure why they didn’t do better, but again, it might have been a poor location. I would like to try this one again because the tomatoes that were produced were great. They have a very nice appearance on the plate and were the sweetest tomatoes in the garden this year, very pleasing.

Black Pineapple

Black Pineapple, above, and Black Krim, below, both produced modest crops of pleasant but not outstanding tomatoes. So that’s it for the tomatoes of 2012. Can’t wait to try again next year!

Black Krim

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Unless you are planning on making ketchup, or canning a year’s supply of tomatoes, one pack of seedlings purchased in the spring is likely to provide you with all the tomatoes you want come fall. However, in order to enjoy a variety of tomatoes, I purchased four different kinds and three of the four our now ripening. The last, Brandywine, requires a longer season, and no fruit is yet ripe.


The remaining three varieties all have names that include “sweet”. Pictured above are Sweet Million, a popular cherry tomato. The plants are well-loaded with fruit and the little tomatoes are firm. They work well in salads, or as a snack.


These are Sweet Gold. One review I came across notes: “These tomatoes are naturally sweeter than red cherry varieties with a fruitier taste. Once you taste them, you’ll be spoiled forever.” Now that I have tasted them, I have to agree. The Sweet Golds are noticeably sweeter than the Sweet Million tomatoes, and juicier. Perhaps because of this last feature, they are also more prone to splitting that the Sweet Millions, making them a bit less attractive. Their orangey-gold colour makes them a nice accent to add to a plate of sliced red tomatoes.


Ultrasweet produces nice, medium-sized fruit. The tomatoes have a very nice, sweet flavour and good texture and I prefer them to locally-grown tomatoes I purchased at the market. The tomatoes do seem prone to developing concentric cracking around the stem end. According to Carolyn Male, concentric cracking is a genetic characteristic and can’t be prevented.


A few tomatoes have also had longitudinal cracking. Ms. Male notes that when ripe tomatoes split from top to bottom it usually indicates heavy rains or overwatering. The skin of the mature tomato can’t expand any more in response to the absorption of water, so the skin splits open. We certainly have not lacked for rain this summer.

If you start your own seeds in the spring, the sky is the limit when it comes to tomato varieties. Greta’s Organic Gardens, in the Ottawa area, offers some 200 varieties of tomato seeds! I’ve never done much seed-starting myself, but in the dark days of winter, it is lovely to browse through the pages of seed catalogues and garden books. A very enjoyable book for browsing on tomatoes is Carolyn Male’s 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden.

Tomato book

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