Thursday, August 25, 2011

Waiting for the Heirloom Maters

I've been anxiously waiting for the heirloom tomatoes to turn color so that I can taste these beauties. My plan this year was to grow as many varieties that I could so that I could zone in on the varieties that I thought tasted the best and therefore would make a return appearance in the garden.  I plan to save the seeds for the heirloom varieties that I think are the tastiest.  Here is Chocolate Cherry, they are turning into a cool brown color.  They should be ripe soon, and I can't wait to try these.  I originally received these seeds from Wintersown.org.  It's a great place to get tomato seeds.
This is a Persimmon Tomato, seeds given to me by Snarky Vegan.  This plant actually got a disease so this is the only tomato on the plant.  That makes me super sad.  I planted a few Persimmon tomato plants, it's now a waiting game to see if the other plants get diseased.  I hope not.  This tomato is finally showing a blush of color.  It sure is a pretty brilliant orange color and really does look like a Persimmon.  I see now how it got the name.  I put bird netting around all of my tomato plants because last year we were plagued by squirrels stealing the tomatoes before we got a chance to eat them. This year I proactively tried to prevent the squirrels from taking the maters, even though they stole my peaches and grapes.
This plant has Pink Brandywine.  I got seeds from Our Engineered Garden. I am amazed by how large these tomatoes are.  They will easily be 1 pounders.  I can't wait until the tomatoes turn pink.  They will be delicious I'm sure.
I plan to save seeds and start a seed bank so that I can share with fellow gardeners.  It was fun to grow so many varieties of tomatoes this year, it was so exciting to see how large each tomato got and what color they would turn.  I've never grown any of these varieties before so it was all new to me.  But I must say, it was also a lot of work.  We ended up having 75 tomato plants, much of which I didn't even sow, many were volunteer tomato plants.  Here is one of the raised beds with the tomato plants.  I packed 15 plants in here and it's a total tomato mess!  I definitely need to do a better staking system because the plants were drooping all over the place.  I put tomato cages around some of the larger plants and then tied the other plants to the cages.  Even though we had a whopping 75 tomato plants, a few died from disease, some were destroyed by storms, and others just never produced a lot of tomatoes.  Next year, I definitely want to limit the number of varieties that I will grow, because I was definitely overzealous this season with the planning.  Initially my plan was to grow as many different varieties to see what tasted good and continue to grow the ones I liked in the future.  However,  when it came down to organizing all the plants and seedlings, and isolating the blooms, for each plant it became completely overwhelming.  There are some plants in which I never ended up isolating the blooms, so I hope the seeds saved will be really true to parent.  With so many tomato plants, I actually didn't have time to devote to my other vegetable plants.  For example, I didn't grow enough Pepper, Eggplant, or Squash Plants.  And plants I didn't get a chance to sow properly were my herb plants, Chamomile, Sage, Cilantro and the some vegetables that I never ended up sowing at all were Parsnips and Kale. I wanted to try those this year, but the tomato frenzy took over my life.  Definitely next year, I will create an herb garden, and definitely less tomato plants.... I hope!
Update: Hurricane Irene is heading straight for the East Coast and everyone is preparing for the rough stormy weather.  I am beside myself with worry about my tomato plants, some are so tall and I don't know if they will survive the winds.  Hardly any of the tomatoes are turning color yet.  Ugh.  I'm hoping for the best.  I hope everyone who is in the path of the storm stay safe and sound.  And their gardens too. 

7 comments:

  1. I am jealous - my 'maters didn't do well at all this year :( Put I know what you mean about too many because we did that the year prior.

    A seed bank is a great idea. I have never understood, for a backyard gardener, why we need 100+ seeds in some of the seed packets we order. Or even 25 for that matter!

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  2. Seed Bank is a nice idea! The seed packets that I buy usually lasts me a couple years!! They do sprout in the subsequent years, but since I'm not sure, I tend to seed more and end up with more plants than needed. I have about 20 plants of diff varieties. My tomato plants have grown so huge, they're all atleast 6'. I can't imagine having to deal with 75!!

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  3. Thanks for the hurricane reminder! I live in Brooklyn and just realized a couple of my Greenwich heirloom tomatoes are about to be harvested in about a week and would hate to lose the rest.

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  4. Tomato Frenzy--perfect description. You'll love those chocolate cherries. Last year, I just threw bunches of them in little freezer bags and would add them to recipes. Yum.
    I hope you and your garden survives Irene.

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  5. I haven't been visiting many blogs for the last few weeks. I am going to try this evening. I came here first to see if you said anything about Irene. You and those in Irene's path are in my prayers.

    We don't travel much at all, but did go to the Outer Banks and Morehead City June of 2007. It's a beautiful place. I imagine your area is, too.

    I have trouble keeping tomatoes caged up. I need to do a better job getting Larry to put stakes in the cages to keep them up. Sadly, I didn't plant any peppers at home, and very few tomatoes. I planted lots of them in my garden across the street, but there is not enough light, and they are pretty leggy. I have gotten some tomatoes, but no peppers, except for a couple hot ones.

    Maybe you will end up with your own heirloom "mix" tomato seeds.

    Well, take care, and keep us updated as to how you and your garden are doing when you can.

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  6. Every year you learn a little bit more about gardening. The successes and the failures--it's all part of the learning process. Stay safe with this impending monster. Prayers.

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