I am truly blessed to be able to call many of the top horticulturists in the country friend. My work at A&M has exposed me to so many people that are truly experts in their fields of study. I call these people “Masters of Horticulture”. I started this blog because I was so inspired by these experts and all they were teaching me that I wanted to be able to document it and share it with others.
Today’s guest author, William (Bill) D. Adams, is one of these Masters of Horticulture. He and I became aquainted through a theater group we both support. Soon after we met, Bill read a little article that I had written for Hort Update. He encouraged me to write more and even acted as my sponsor for the Garden Writer’s Association. The rest as they say is history.
Bill spent 31 years honing his craft as an extension specialist in Harris County. Upon retirement he set out to learn everything there was to know about the tomato. His efforts have resulted in the publication of the “Texas Tomato Lover’s Handbook“. This best selling, comprehensive work tells you everything you need to know so you can grow the best tomatoes possible in the difficult and unpredictable Texas climate. As you will see when you read his book, Bill’s extensive research (which means growing EVERY tomato he mentions) has made him the UNDISPUTED tomato king of Texas. Because of this, I am thrilled to share this article about the best tomatoes for your Texas garden from the King himself. Enjoy!
Five Must Grow Tomatoes by William D. Adams
Tomato varieties come and go but the ones with great flavor, a juicy, melting flesh and healthy, easy-to-grow vines are the ones we treasure. Narrowing the list to five is almost impossible for a true tomato lover so forgive me if I throw in a few alternates.
Medium to medium-large slicer—a tomato that will make you burger zing, your BLT complete and your neighbors envious. Champion Hybrid is still at the top in this category but you could make do with Celebrity, Talladega or Tycoon. Any of these tomato varieties makes the grade when it comes to nice acidity (though not just sour), complex sweet tomato flavors and a melting to firm flesh (no grainy or brick hard tomatoes in this bunch).
Medium size and so scrumptious you will lick the juice from the plate. Momotaro, a Japanese pink tomato was the hit of the tomato patch in 2010 (one of eighty nine varieties in the authors test garden-only tried about 50 varieties in 2011). This tomato had acidity, sweet tomato flavor and a wonderful melting texture. It’s as good as any heirloom with less cracking and more production.
Persimmon is an heirloom that my wife Debbi insists I grow every year. It is a big, orangery-red, persimmon colored tomato that will lap over a burger. Total yield isn’t that great but we don’t care. This year we are growing it grafted on hybrid rootstock to see if we can produce more of these delicious beauties.
Plant one of the Black tomatoes or a yellow, green or white one just to be different. The black tomatoes—often referred to Black Russian tomatoes are very tasty—they are often described as “having Smokey undertones”. They also have some acid zip and a depth of flavor that the most accomplished wine connoisseur will be challenged to describe. Recent favorites include Cherokee Purple, Black from Tula and Black Sea Man. The plum-shaped Nyagous has been a hit in previous years. Green Zebra is refreshing, Flamme is an orange “golf ball” with lip smacking flavor and Snow White cherry is sweet and mild (best when pale yellow).
Cherry tomatoes are typically delicious but one of the best is Sweet Chelsea. Sweet 100, Sweet Million, Rite Bite, BHN 624, Sun Cherry and Sungold will also wake up your taste buds. Don’t set out too many cherries or you’ll be picking fruit every night until dark.