I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to forego some of my morning rituals to make time to reap the bounty from my garden these last couple of weeks. I fully expected the temperatures in the 90s and occasional triple digits to stall the production of my tomatoes, but somehow the blossom-drop and lack of fruit-set experienced in previous very hot summers never materialized, and now I’m bringing in armloads every few days! And how about them eggplants! Swiss Chard, Collards and Kale abound, and my Tromboncino climbing Zucchini is feeding the neighborhood.
I have two new tomato varieties to add to my list of top favorites: Tidy Treats and Tasmanian Chocolate (I’m a sucker for anything with chocolate in the name or ingredients list).
Tidy Treats is a hybrid snacking tomato bred for growing in a container. It was my earliest-ripening tomato (56 days from transplant), and produces a continuous bounty of half-inch, round, red fruits with delicious, rich and sweet flavor on a neat, very dwarf indeterminate plant to about 30″ high . Johnny’s Selected Seeds notes that it is only recommended for container growing. Mine is growing very happily in an odd-sized black nursery pot 11” diameter and 9” tall, filled with Ocean Forest potting soil and amended with a hand-full of worm castings and Harlequin’s Fertility Mix. When the plant began flowering, I side-dressed with Age Old ‘Bloom’, and later with Age Old Fruit Finish.
Tasmanian Chocolate is one of the selections bred by the Dwarf Tomato Project https://www.dwarftomatoproject.net/ . I’m growing it in a decorative pot 13” diam. and 14” tall, and the plant is currently 44” tall. The flattened, slightly pleated fruits have grown both in clusters and singly, usually close to the main stem, with a few fruits reaching 2.5” across. They take awhile to ripen fully, but they are worth the wait. The unusual deep burnt-orange skin reminds me of Thorburn’s Terracotta, and the well-balanced, sweet flavor is worthy of its parents, New Big Dwarf and Paul Robeson.
It’s fun to have two more varieties to add to my list of favorites, which is topped by “Anasazi” and Black from Tula, and also includes, in alphabetical order:
Aunt Ruby’s German Green
Brad’s Atomic Grape
Green Doctors Frosted
Matt’s Wild Cherry
Rose de Berne
Over the years I’ve seen a couple of of my old favorites disappear from commerce – Moonstone Blanco and Aurora indeterminate, and I’m really sorry to have lost them. Let this be a caution to you: when you find an open-pollinated (not a hybrid) tomato variety you love, SAVE THE SEEDS! EVERY YEAR! Tomato seeds are easy to ferment and save. If you don’t already know how, we still have copies of Bill McDorman’s Seed Saving handbook, an excellent, inexpensive guide that focuses primarily on the vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers that are easiest for the home-gardener to successfully save.
Let us know!
If you’re not interested in growing your own vegetable starts from seed but want to ensure that you’ll be able to purchase starts of your favorites from Harlequin’s Gardens every year, PLEASE LET US KNOW WHICH ONES YOU LOVE! Whether it’s a variety of Tomato, Pepper, Kale, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, etc., if we hear from you that you love it, we will grow it again next season for you! How to let us know? We are installing a SUGGESTION BOX on our front counter near the register. Don’t be shy! We will definitely be taking your feedback, positive or constructively critical, to heart.