Posts Tagged ‘Sub-Arctic Plenty’


Here it is! The first tomato to make it from seed to dinner plate this year is Silvery Fir Tree, a variety that Fiddlegirl shared with me. This was a surprise winner. I was expecting Sub-Arctic Plenty to win handily, but its tomatoes are still quite green. We had 3 of the Silvery Fir Tree fruits with supper last night. The tomatoes are on the small side of medium, a nice bright red, and a pleasant, juicy mild flavor. I like something a bit more tart, myself, but these were quite fine. Ah, nothing like those first tomatoes straight from the garden!

Here are the Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes on the plant.


I started my tomato seeds on March 19th and wrote about them in a post titled Tomato Season Begins, linked here. I had 7 varieties of tomatoes neatly labelled, but due to an unfortunate cat-astrophe, the seedlings ended up in a jumbled pile on the floor one day. They all survived, but lost their labels. As the plants mature, I can make a good guess at which plants are which. These are surely Indigo Rose. Cool, no? They’ve been that deep rich colour for a while now, but are still hard to the touch. I’m looking forward to tasting them.


I’m pretty sure these are Sub Arctic Plenty, which is a good producer.


And these look to be Michael Pollan. I couldn’t resist adding the namesake of this great writer to my garden. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend The Botany of Desire. I’m looking forward to reading his latest book, Cooked, which is in my big stack of ‘waiting to be read’s.


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This morning, when I awoke, a robin was sitting on the branches of the tree outside the window. He seemed to be imploring me to do something about the weather. A snow storm moved in during the night, and big fat flakes were still coming down. Unfortunately, there was nothing more I could do than assure him Spring really is on its way.

Today, I finally got my tomatoes started. Planting tomato seeds during a snow storm seems like an act of faith and hope. Such tiny seeds! It never fails to amaze me that in just a few short months, these little sparks of life will be bringing forth fruit.

This year, I am starting 7 varieties. I was very pleased with Sub Arctic Plenty last year (reviewed here) and will grow them again this season. I picked up a fresh pack of McKenzie seeds at my local Canadian Tire store.

One of the new varieties I’m trying is Indigo Rose. This is a new tomato that was developed at Oregon State University. The fruits are said to be a dark plum purple-black. I got the seeds by mail order from tradewindsfruitstore.com, in California.

For an orange tomato, I chose Indian Moon. The fruit are described as ripening from green through yellow to bright orange, into sweet, meaty, 5 to 7 oz globes. My seeds came from saltspringseeds.com, on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Fiddlegirl added them to her order for me, along with Michael Pollan.

Michael Pollan! Ha! Who wouldn’t want Michael Pollan in their garden? As soon as I saw the listing, I knew I had to try these. A novelty tomato, the fruits are described as striking green and yellow-gold 3 inch pear-shaped tomatoes.

Fiddlegirl also shared with me some seeds for Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes, which she got from wildsomegardens.ca in Warsaw, Ontario. These plants are noted for their unusual, decorative leaves. The tomatoes are an early, bright red variety.

Rounding out my planting for this year are two varieties that I tried last year and felt deserved a second chance (see the review, linked above). I picked up my Black Pineapple seeds from Greta’s Organic Gardens (www.seeds-organic.com) in Ottawa last year. My Emerald Evergreen seeds are from Terra Edibles (www.terraedibles.ca) in Foxboro, Ontario.

Can’t wait for those beautiful, fresh tomatoes! I’ve taken the first step.

PS: I don’t know the origin of my funny intro photo. It just showed up on my Facebook feed, source unknown.


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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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