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Most of the tomatoes are ripening now, which is a good thing because the temperature dropped to 4 C last night. Frosty nights are drawing near. It wasn’t a great year for tomatoes here. I think this was due to the rainy summer we experienced, with a paucity of the hot, sunny days I associate with tomato season. Still, we have enough to enjoy for a few weeks.

The dark tomatoes are Indigo Rose. They were on the small side, but perhaps in better weather they might have been bigger. This new variety was bred at Oregon State University for the antioxidant potential of the purple anthocyanins in the fruit. It is very plum-like, both on the outside and when sliced, with an orangy interior. It is open-pollinated, meaning you can save the seeds for next year.

The orange tomato is Indian Moon. This variety produced attractive, blemish-free fruit, but I only got a small number of tomatoes from my plants. For an orange tomato, I preferred Persimmon, which I grew a couple of years ago and reported on here.

The red tomatoes are Sub-Arctic Plenty. I grew them last year too. I had a better crop last summer, but the plants still did pretty well this year. I wrote about Sub-Arctic Plenty here.

The green tomato is Michael Pollan. It’s an indeterminate developed from Green Zebra. For a novelty tomato, I thought it did pretty well. It can be hard to tell when green tomatoes are ready to pick. These got a bit of an orange glow when they were ripe. It adds a nice shot of colour when sliced with other varieties on a plate.

Proving that taste is a personal thing, I liked the Michael Pollans the best, and thought the Indian Moons were a bit bland. RailGuy, on the other hand, liked the Indian Moons best and thought the Michael Pollans were bland. Go figure. You’ll have to grow them yourself and decide what you think. All together, they did make a very pretty, colourful platter.

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tomatoes2

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.

tomatoes1

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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