The Tomato Chronicles

After weeks of skipping out on any sort of food related post I was in the garden today and thought I'd update people on the science of tomatoes. That's a fancy way of describing me avoiding work and staring at plants.

Since I'm trying to learn about Tomatoes I ask everyone what they grow. I'm finding out that people know as much about what they grow as what they drink (referencing wine drinkers that think red and white are varieties) which doesn't help me learn. So here's the current results of my tomato growing experiments. Keep in mind that we're talking about Seattle climate and if you live somewhere else all bets are off.

I grew two indeterminate hybrid varieties (Bettery Boy and Champion) and one indeterminate heirloom (Brandywine). Indeterminate just means that they'll vine forever and keep producing fruit throughout the growing season instead of one batch like a determinate tomato plant. The Hybrids have been bred with certain traits. The Better Boy is a VFN and the Champion a VFNT. This means they're resistan to certain diseases. The key is as follows.

 

V - Verticillium Wilt

F - Fusarium Wilt

FF - Fusarium, Races 1 & 2

N - Nematodes

T - Tobacco Mosaic Virus

A - Alternaria Stem Canker

St - Stemphylium Gray Leaf Spot

 

Going into this I had two tomatoes in mind - Brandywine and Black Russians. I chose them of course based on flavor, not practicallity. I gave up on finding the latter and picked up 4 Brandywine plants in eastern Washington. They were a little shocked and surprised at the change in weather and did nothing for about a month. The Better Boy was chosen because it's suposed to fruit quickly and I wanted *something for my effort if the others failed. The Champion was a good compromise and is resistant to quite a lot (VFNT).

 

I was told that indeterminate tomatoes like being pruned and I have to agree. Pruning is everything. They respond to pruning as well as my grapes do. Early on I thought my Better Boy was going to be the only plant with fruit on it and even now it's the only one with red fruit. However, it seems to be very sensitive to water on it's leaves (rain) and has been fighting off a cold. The Champion however, did nothing but make leaves forever and then one day it exploded. The Brandywine thinks it has all year to make fruit although it has at least started if very late.

Here is the results so far:

 

  • Bettery Boy: 13 tomatoes
  • Champion VFNT: 26 tomatoes
  • Brandywine: 2 tomatoes
My one Champion is producing more fruit than my 4 Brandywines and one Better Boy combined. To be fair though when I planted the Brandywines my grapes were asleep. Now they've consumed half the house and are shading two of the plants for most of the day. The third Brandywine is being shaded by the Champion and the fourth is the one with the fruit on it.
 
The yield so far from the Champion is great. The jury is still out on flavor. They may all taste like cardboard once they're ripe, we'll see.