Tomatoes – Part 2 (2017)

I feel like I am sooooooo late in getting my next round of Tomatoes sown… But realistically, I’m well within the 6 week starting period… And if we have a cold spring, I’m well within the 8-10 weeks before the last frost… Its just with the beautiful Spring weather we have been having the last week or so, I feel behind. I feel like the grass should be mowed (its not even growing or green or even de-dog-pooped yet). It feels like real Spring, but realistically, this is Alberta, and we could still get snow anytime in the the next two months.

But before I go on and on and on about my weird feelings about Spring sowing… Let me tell you about the next round of Tomatoes…

So Today (April 4), I’m sowing (in peat pellets, as per usual):

  • Sub-Arctic Plenty
    • Sowed: 4 peat pellets
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz.) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2016)
  • Tiny Tim
    • Sowed: 3 peat pellets
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Tumbler F1
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet (because I only had 3 seeds left… better stock up for next year)
    • “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet, 2.5cm (1″) cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can product up to 2kg (4.4lbs) of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Black Russian
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • These seeds were from a trade, so I don’t have a seed packet to quote here for this one.
  • Principe Borghese
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • “This Italian variety is the traditional variety used for sun dried tomatoes. Plants stand up to high heat and produce plenty of tomatoes for drying, fresh eating and sauce making. Determinate – no staking required” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Manitoba
    • Sowed: 2 peat pellets
    • “Very Dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2014)

Okay, so I really wanted to sow more of the Tumbler, but I’ll make up for it next year. They always produce a crazy amount of cherry tomatoes, throughout the entire summer. They are also usually the very first to set fruit and ripen, and sometimes the very last to give up to frost.

The Sub Arctic Plenty produced fantastic last year, so I sowed 4 of them again. Since it was developed here, that is probably why it grows well. If you also live in Alberta, or another cold area… Or want some tomatoes earlier than you would otherwise, give this one a try.

Tiny Tim’s are just awesome. Grow them. Trust me. They are so cute and also delicious. Since they are tiny little plants, you can keep them in some smaller containers. So if you only have a tiny area to grow things in (like a sunny front stoop, or a balcony), they are a great choice.

I threw the Principe Borghese into the mix. Hopefully I can keep the squirrel’s greedy little paws of them this year. I really want to try and make my own sun dried tomatoes… and by sun dried, I mean dehydrator-dried.

And, I threw the Manitoba in just because.

I was also keeping an eye out for “Green Envy” which was a Hybrid I found a few years ago by Burpee. They were so sweet and delicious and some of the best cherry tomatoes I have ever had. They were a little hard to tell when exactly they were ripe, since they are green. If I see them again, I will pick up a pack for next year.

I think this will be it for the tomatoes this year… unless I have a sad tale of germination to tell you. As it is, this is more than enough tomatoes… But I do hope to be able to make (and can) some fresh Bruchetta from my own tomatoes.

Do you have any tomatoes I should try? Want to make a seed trade? Add a message in the comments with any tips, tricks or encouragement.

(Just a note, the featured photo is from 2014 I think. I had an amazing tomato crop that year, because I had an amazing greenhouse to grow in… Too bad it was owned by legitimate crazy people)

Advertisements

Tomatoes- Part 1 (2017)

I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm any longer, and started some Tomatoes. There will be more started a little later, which is why this post is labelled Part 1.

As usual, I started these in peat pellets. To add a little more info into this first post, I’ll add in the description of the seed packets here as well. All the seeds in this post are from McKenzie Seeds. I have also included the year I purchased the packs as a note to the germination rate, particularly the older packages. They should all germinate fine, but if they don’t, I would like the notes of which ones did not work out well.

  • Jubilee
    • “These glowing, golden-orange, mild flavoured fruits have been prized by gardeners for years. Plants produce bountiful harvests of 223g (8oz) fruits throughout the season. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Black Cherry
    • “Early Russian variety. Tall 60cm (2′) plants, with oval/round shaped 2.5cm (1″) fruit. Deep mahogany to brown color. Black color develops best when hot and sunny. Indeterminate. Requires staking.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Cherokee Purple
    • “Russian tomato names for the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. Slightly flattened 8-10com (3/4″) globes with dark greenish black shoulder have excellent full flavor. Indeterminate. Requires staking. Heirloom.”
    • NOTE- Pretty sure someone at the seed company messed up… Because that sounds like the description for the Black Krim tomato not Cherokee Purple… Also 8-10cm is not three quarters of an inch…
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2015
  • San Marzano
    • “Italian tomato perfection! 10-12 ounce plus tomatoes grow on large and vigorous plants. Has excellent tomato flavor and is great to eat fresh, make sauces or for canning and drying. Indeterminate – staking required”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 76 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Beefsteak
    • Large, meaty, solid fruit. slightly flattened and globe-shaped. Deep, well-drained, moisture retaining soil is best. Mild and flavorful for salads and table use. Keep tomatoes away from all members of the Brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower, etc. No staking required. Determinate. Heirloom.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Rainbow Blend
    • “A sensational blend of assorted Heirloom tomatoes. Varieties such as Black, Pink, Red and Yellow Brandywine tomatoes. Well known for its size and rich sweet flavor. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 70-75 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2014

 

So I took a gamble with the Rainbow Blend. I’ve avoided planting it the last few years, for the specific reason of I like to know what varieties I am growing. I also know that there are more than just Brandywine varieties in that pack despite what the package says. When I grew it in 2014, We had a green variety, and a few other not potato-leaf types. But I figured it was a good year to experiment a little.

The goal is to keep any squirrels and possibly birds away so I can actually enjoy my own tomatoes this year. I will also for-sure be sowing Sub Arctic Plenty and Tiny Tim… and more 😉

 

A Note if anyone from McKenzie seeds is reading this… It would be a nice addition in the information on all the tomato/pepper seed packets, if they said that the variety was distinctly Heirloom/Open Pollinated, or Hybrid.

Tomatoes 2016 – Part 3

I feel behind on my tomato seedlings this year. I think the combination of having started later (to try and prevent my usual tomato forest) and the ridiculously nice Spring we have been having so far is what is making me feel this way. Either way, Everything will get going pretty quick, so I shouldn’t be too worried.

Either way here we are. Third round of tomatoes are being sown today. Round 1 has their first true leaves, and Round 2 is starting to put on theirs. So in a couple weeks I should have an update on all the tomatoes together.

Today (April 3) I am sowing:

  • Sub Arctic Plenty (New for me this year)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Developed in Alberta for prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 2-2.5 oz tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • Days to Maturity: 40-59
  • Tumbler F1 Hybrid (Trailing)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet 1″ cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can produce up to 4.4 lbs of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.”
    • Days to Maturity: 55
  • Tiny Tim
    • McKenzie Seed: “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 45-55
  • Manitoba
    • McKenzie Seed: “Very dependable early varity, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 55-60
  • Green Envy
    • Burpee Seed: “Meaty & Tangy Fruits. Green when ripe, these sweet 1″ long cherries fruit in abundance. Indeterminate.”
    • Days to Maturity: 60

I have grown all of these last year, apart from the ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’. Last year, I’m sure my ‘Tumbler’ tomato in the hanging basket produced way more than 4.4lbs of delicious cherry tomatoes. It was also the first to fruit – I had tomatoes in June!

‘Tiny Tim’ was a sure favourite. It is a miniature tomato plant. And it was COVERED in tomatoes.

I was going to skip growing the ‘Green Envy’ this year, but they were some of the sweetest little cherry tomatoes I have ever had. When I thought about not having them this summer, I was a little sad, so I figured I could fit them in somewhere. I also only had 3 seeds left, so why keep them around. I’ll have to search for more seed, because I won’t be able to save them, as they are a hybrid.

‘Manitoba’ was great. I didn’t get a ton of fruit from it, but the pot it was in got blown over once or twice, and it mangled the poor plant a bit. The fruit I did get was delicious. We mostly ate them fresh from the vine along with fresh lettuce on burgers, and it was great.

Just for reference later in the season, I sowed these in peat pellets (as I always do):

  • 1x Green Envy
  • 2x Manitoba
  • 3x Tumbler
  • 3x Sub Arctic Plenty
  • 3x Tiny Tim

 

IMG_2619
‘Tumbler’ was the first tomato I harvested in 2015… in late June. As you can see they are a larger cherry type.

The first ‘Manitoba’ of 2015

‘Green Envy’ (2015)

‘Tiny Tim’ (2015)

First ‘Tiny Tim’ of 2015 (and my Index finger showing how tiny they are)

 

Just a quick note about determinate tomatoes. While they don’t need staking for crazy growth like indeterminate varieties, they usually do still need some support, especially once they have set fruit. It is best to stake them when you are first putting them outside because you won’t damage any roots. Then the support is already there when you need it later in the season to help support a full truss of tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes are a little easier to manage then their indeterminate friends. You don’t need to prune them to try and control their growth. Generally, they grow to a certain height, set all their fruit, and then die back (or the frost gets them first around here). So as long as you are taking care to keep them evenly watered and provide them with the other things they need to live (like adequate sunshine), you will get a harvest with hardly any work. (And while you can leave indeterminates un-pruned, it is beneficial to your final harvest in a shorter growing season to try and get the plant to use its energy on fruiting rather than on green growth)

 

Tomatoes 2016 – Part 2


I was unsupervised again and I may have picked up a new kind of tomato seed. But only one… (so far). I also think that it is important to note (possibly to make myself feel better) that some of these seedlings will end up in my friend’s gardens.

On March 23, I sowed (in peat pellets):

  • 2x Yellow Pear
  • 1x Box Car Willie
  • 1x Golden Cherry
  • 1x Chadwick’s Cherries
  • 1x Principe Borghese
img_2859
Yellow Pear (2015)

Yellow Pear is a bit of a mild tasting tomato. But they are one of my favourites. They look very cute and mix up a plate of tomatoes. Box Car Willie and Golden Cherry are both from the seed trade I made a few years ago, that I mentioned in Part 1 of this years tomatoes. They both produced well the year I grew them, and I really want to re-stock my seed of them. Chadwick’s Cherries were new to me last year and they were delicious. They had really full trusses of sweet, bright-red cherry tomatoes. Principe Borghese is an Italian variety that is traditionally used for sun dried tomatoes. I didn’t have the dehydrator last year, so I never tried to dry them, but they were delicious fresh. There wasn’t a ton of seeds in them… almost paste-tomato like.

On March 24, I was unsupervised around the seed rack, and I picked up a bunch of flower seeds (including some sunflowers for this year), a new kind of heirloom pea, some watermelon, and Red Pear Tomatoes. They should be a cute match with the Yellow Pear. I sowed 2 peat pellets of them as soon as I got home from shopping.

Chadwick’s Cherry Truss (2015)

I’m going to hold off sowing the last batch of tomato seeds until April 1… Unless I find some new interesting seeds while unsupervised again. I have Sub-Arctic Plenty, Tiny Tim, Tumbler F1, and Manitoba picked out to sow for sure. They all have a smaller “Days to Maturity” number, which is why I am waiting a little. I may also add in ‘Green Envy’ after I take into account how much room I have. Last year, I jumped the gun a little too much and everything got a bit leggy. I’m hoping that our spring continues to be incredibly nice and I can get the tomatoes out sooner, but we’ll see how it goes. You can never assume anything weather-wise in Alberta.

Part 3 will be around in Early April, so keep an eye out for that.

Golden Cherry (2014)

 

Tomatoes 2016-Part 1

20140327-203822.jpg
Some of the very first tomatoes I grew in our yard here. 2011 or 2012

Part 1 of the Tomato Saga began on March 15. It took a lot of willpower to make it to this point. And I only let myself sow the longer season tomatoes.

I started by making 3 piles of my tomato seeds. Pile one was “Yes! Growing For-Sure!” Pile 2 was “Maybe/Replenish seed if space allows” and Pile 3 was “Not this year”

I would share what varieties ended up in each pile, but it is honestly a never ending battle to not grow EVERY kind. So I’ll just keep you up to date on which varieties I have started AND how their germination is (because some of the seeds are getting older).

2 years ago, I found an ad on Kijiji that was selling (or trading) heirloom seeds, and so I asked if he would be interested in trading. I had lots of Red and Pink Brandywine seeds, and a few other heirloom varieties, to trade with. In return, I received: Black Russian, Orange Wellington, Boxcar Willie and Golden Cherry. He also threw in a surprise of Purple Nodding Onion. This year, I am going to try and grow them again, so I can keep up my seed stash. Hopefully the germination on them is still good so I can replenish them.

So, on March 15, I started (in peat pellets):

  • 1x Orange Wellington
  • 1x Black Russian
  • 2x Black Cherry
  • 2x Beefsteak
  • 2x Pink Brandywine
  • 2x Rutgers
  • 2x Cherokee Purple

Here they are starting to sprout – March 20 (5 days)


The Black Cherry, Beefsteak and Rutgers are all new-to me varieties. I’m really excited to test them out. Cherokee Purple is one of my very favourites, so of course I have to grow it again.Orange Wellington, Black Russian and Pink Brandywine are all around for replenishment… and because they were delicious.

Next up will be the slightly shorter season tomatoes. Stay tuned.

Some of the heirloom tomatoes I grew in 2014.  I wish I had saved seed of the Yellow one in the photo, it was delicious, and it came from a mixed pack of seeds.