I continue to be amused but somewhat aggravated by the tomato descriptions in catalogs and on seed packets. For example, Royesta, a European hybrid that is described as having “wonderful flavor” was my hope this year for a tomato to replace Dona and Carmello. It is a strong, productive plant but the tomatoes aren’t worth eating. “Flavor Challenged” would have been a better description. The tomatoes are big, and tempting, but they’re compost fodder in my opinion. Now I realize that rain or overwatering could have diluted the flavor, but I’ve been eating them all season and they have been consistently lousy. Perhaps the long summer days and milder nights in Europe improve the flavor, but I doubt it.
Mountain Magic, a North Carolina variety sounded promising. It is described as having “wonderful flavor”. The plant is a healthy monster, with lots of Campari-size (golf ball) tomatoes that are sort of edible but a little too acid and lacking the complex tomato sweetness that makes for a good tomato. In short they are not worth picking in this busy season. Also tried a Campari seedling—a little better but not worth the effort.
Gregori’s Altai was my big effort this year. I ordered the seed twice before it was shipped and I planted two plants on their own roots plus two grafted on Emperador rootstock from Johnny’s Seeds. It is supposed to be a pink beefsteak but mine are shaped more like an Oxheart. The flavor and texture are good and I’ve harvested quite a few but I’m suspicious of the seed. Heirlooms can be rather variable so the seed may be a mix-up. May have to try another seed source as a couple at one of my Arbor Gate lectures really raved about it.
Kosovo is very similar and also good—maybe I mixed up the seed—not likely, I’m a professional, though I do enjoy an occasional brew. It did produce one of the most erotic tomatoes I’ve ever seen—in fact I’m blushing now. Think of it as something Georgia O’Keefe might have painted when she was feeling really naughty. My wife says I can’t show anyone the pix and I’ve already consumed the fruit—slowly and sensually.
Amsterdam is a new hybrid, small plum tomato from Seminis. It’s touted for high Brix levels (sugar indicator) but it is also rather acid, almost sour and that seems to mask most of the sweetness in my taste tests. Amsterdam is very pretty but not sure I would plant it again. Also have Yaqui, a flavor challenged saladette type, Caramba an Italian, green-shoulder type (haven’t tried it yet) and Poseidon 43, a pink tomato (also waiting for the taste test).
Nyagous-a black, plum-shaped tomato-suffered from a lot of fruit rot this season. It has been a complex sweet favorite in the past but not quite as good this year. This may just be a different seed source of a variety that isn’t very genetically uniform.
Super Boy was a disappointing addition to the “Boy” series. Apparently it is “boy” in size—a little larger than a golf ball, angular, fairly tasty (the stinkbugs love it) and hard. Hard like almost crunchy. Apples I like crunchy, tomatoes I like at least medium-soft, never grainy, preferably with a melting flesh.
Sun Pride was a nice, determinate-sized plant with a few medium-size tomatoes that weren’t very tasty.
My next blog entry will be more uplifting with raves for the good varieties this year. In the meantime if you’re contemplating a fall tomato crop you should have good luck with Juliet, a small, saladette-type tomato or Burpee’s Fourth of July, a campari type with great flavor and production. If you just have to try a slicer in your fall garden, go for the early varieties like Early Girl, Black Krim or Moskvich.