The end of last season was especially hectic (when you're a church musician, things really crank up around All Saints Day!), so I'm just now getting around to my annual variety reviews. I tried an excessive number of varieties last year with mixed results. I grew a number of varieties, but also sold the plants at a farmer's market.
|Two of the three varieties will repeat this year!|
A note about farmer's markets: location matters! Whereas my city customers were very interested in purchasing organic, non-gmo garden plants, the customers in a small-town in an agricultural area walked right past my organic plants to purchase packs of Early Girls, and Better Boys. Rather than be offended, I got to know the nurseryman who was quite generous with his knowledge and very friendly. The hard lesson was: organic, non-gmo is not a premium product at all markets. Still, I made wonderful contacts and was able to educate a lot of folks about the value of some of the "old" varieties.
After a year of research, I'm concentrating my efforts on fewer varieties which sold well at the market. Here are the seedmen's descriptions, followed by my findings with the varieties I'm repeating in '15 marked with an asterisk (*):
I like a mild, sweet tomato with a smoky flavor, and look forward to the first tomato sandwich of the summer. For variety, though, I grew a number of other varieties last year.
Bradley: "a wilt-resistant pink-red developed at the University of Arkansas"
- okay producer, flavor unremarkable.
- survived the great tomato hornworm invasion, produced throughout the season; good flavor
|Suckers helped in recovery from hornworm damage!|
- also survived the hornworm onslaught, produced late into the season, good flavor
- plants sell well because of the Arkansas name connection
- pretty but tiny with unremarkable flavor
- plants sold to experienced growers and gardeners looking for a novelty
- survived the hornworm invasion, good producer, excellent flavor
- plants sold out at market; name recognition helps
- flavor-wise, probably my favorite because of its mild and smoky flavor; much smaller than a pear for me, with a few cracks. Not a prolific producer, but worth the trouble.
- plants sold well at market, expecially because of "smoky" flavor
- Name recognition makes this a good market-seller for plants
- Good flavor
While taste is important, essential criteria are a high meat/juice ratio, low seed count, and productivity. I think for 2015, I'll put up salsa and spaghetti sauce for maximum convenience.
- excellent producer, but unremarkable flavor, would grow as a specialty tomato: its ruffled slices look very pretty on sandwiches presented open-faced.
- Plants were not a great market seller without a picture
- unremarkable flavor
- Plants were not a good market seller
- good flavor, actually produced all season for me.
- Plants sold well at market because, I suspect, people may have confused them with the "Early Girl" varieties
- good flavor, but not a great producer.
- Plants were a decent market seller because of the Tennessee name connection
- did not produce well for me for the second year
- Plants did not sell well at market
- good flavor, and excellent producer: prolific nearly until frost
- Plants sold well at market; many recognized the name
- I'm actually planting San Marzano Redorta this year, but looking forward to a good harvest
The flavor of these single-bite beauties just explodes on the palate! They are more bushes than vines and enjoy cages. Be sure to space them so that you can pick from all angles. I gave a farmer friend several of these plants back in the spring. Later in the summer, he told me that his father--a farmer, too--picked the bush clean every time he came over! Great for beginners!
- always a good choice, unusual color
- smaller than you think, but tasty!
- Good market seller
White Currant: heavy clusters, very sweet:
- did not plant
- great taste, great snacking tomato
|Goal for 2015: Even more tomatoes!|
- Heavy producer, great flavor
- Good market seller
New for '15
Arkansas Marvel: "4-inch, 1 lb., meaty, yellow-orange beefsteak tomatoes with red marbling with a gush of wonderful sweet, well-balanced tomato flavors that hold a distinct hint of mild, peach flavors"
Homestead 24: " smooth, red, round 8 oz. fruits with exceptionally good taste"
As my gardening skills improve, I have to become even more diligent about watching the "bottom line" and increasing margins. After all, I hope not only to feed my family, but to make the farm self-supporting. That will require planning; it's not too early to start!
What's growing in your Savory garden?