Tomato Report

I’m definitely a flower person first when it comes to gardening. Edibles come a distant second with me. However, Judy feels that a home is not a home without some kind of vegetable garden, so I try to oblige.

Since the backyard is just too shady, I tucked a little vegetable garden into the front yard, obscured from the street by our crabapple tree. It’s roughly the shape of a long oval cut in half, about 10′ long and 5′ at its widest point.

The tomatoes have gotten off to a roaring start this summer. They love the heat, of course, and I’ve been dutiful with watering. We have four plants, each of a different heirloom variety: ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Black Prince’, ‘Black Krim’, and ‘Green Zebra’. I’m tying all of them to a six-foot wooden trellis, but all four plants are gone well past six feet. The trellises have not toppled over yet, but one is starting to get that Leaning Tower of Pisa look.

‘Black Cherry’ on the vine.

I started picking ‘Black Cherries’ about the fourth of July, the ‘Black Prince’ and ‘Black Krim’ have been producing modest numbers of ripe fruit since the middle of this month. This is about four weeks earlier than normal.

I am so happy I tried ‘Black Cherry’  – they are without doubt the most delicious cherry tomatoes I have ever eaten. Very sweet and juicy, with a nice snap when you bite into them. The ‘Black Prince’ and ‘Black Krim’ have been good, but not outstanding.

Ripe ‘Black Cherry’ tomatoes with green.

The cherry tomatoes I just eat as a snack or in a salad. The larger tomatoes I use to make toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches: just put tomato slices on bread, top with shredded cheese and some dried oregano, then cook in the toaster oven. I have been known to eat these for three meals a day. Plus snacks. (It’s odd, but for some reason dried oregano works much better than fresh.)

3 ‘Black Prince’ left, 2 ‘Black Krim’ right. Though they may not look it, they are fully ripe.

While this is shaping up to be a good tomato year, it hasn’t been perfect. Some of the ripe tomatoes have had growth cracks after the return of heavy rains following a long drought. And ‘Black Prince’ has leaf curl, though I’m not sure if it’s the virus – the plant seems vigorous enough otherwise.

I’ll do another post on the rest of my edibles soon.

13 Comments on “Tomato Report

  1. The leaf curl may simply be a physiological response to drought – tomatoes will curl their leaves up to reduce the surface available for transpiration when it gets hot and dry. (Why do I know this? Because it’s been so hot and dry here that ALL the tomatoes are doing this, everywhere around here, no matter how much you water them.) It’s not a problem and will reverse itself when the weather moderates.

    I’ve never tried Black Cherry tomatoes before – I’ll have to look for them next year. I like Green Zebra a lot, but they aren’t the hardiest or fastest producers. They sure make a nice addition to a mix of tomatoes, visually, and mine were very tasty.

  2. I’m sure when you get those ripe tomatoes fresh from the vine, you are glad that Judy insists on some veggies in the garden. Your tall tomato plants reminded me of the year my father’s tomatoes topped 7′ and he had to use a step ladder to pick tomatoes. 🙂

    • It’s true, Judy was right about the tomatoes. I was planning to cut the lead stem of the tomato vines once they got much over six feet, but for some reason I haven’t gotten around to it. I guess I can just let them trail over and grow back down to the ground!

  3. I love chocolate cherry, too, and I’m actually a big fan of the look and flavor of green zebra. Haven’t had much luck with black Krim in the past. Am trying black from Tula and Black Prince this season. Oh! and Julia Child. Here, on the front range of the CO rockies, it seems a number of people, myself included, are having a hard time with blossom drop because of the heat. The plants look great, though not yet topping 4′, probably because they were radically nailed by hail on June 6.

    • I guess the heat hasn’t been bad enough for blossom drop here. The tomato plants are pretty happy. Just picked my first Green Zebras today.

  4. I have a similar lack of direct sun, and a similarly small veggie garden. My tomatoes have not done well this year, and I’m thinking it’s because of the heavy Honey Locust leaf mulch I put on the garden last fall. Must be the wrong nutrients for them. Congrats on you harvest–the Tomatoes sure look yummy!

    • That’s interesting, I never heard that honey locust leaves – could it be allelopathic like black walnut?

      • I believe that honey locust is allelopathic. We have some evergreen trees that are growing underneath some honey locust trees, and they are not doing well. I’ve been searching on the internet for confirmation that the honey locust are allelopathic. Most sites say no, but several say that black walnut is toxic (virtually all parts of the plant). According to a Virginia Tech forestry newsletter, honey locust, black locust, and American sycamore produce juglens, the allelopath associated with black walnut, but in weaker concentrations than black walnut. I think you should remove the honey locust mulch if you can!

  5. For the first time ever in the garden I’m also growing tomatoes – they were given to me and had to be graciously accepted. They’re in a grow-bag and although there is fruit and it is swelling, it might be well into late Autumn before I’ll be able to pick any to eat. Ornamentals are much easier to get right and I fret over them far less. Yours look much juicier and tastier, I’m going to have to wait a fair bit longer to try mine.

    • Normally, we have to wait well into August to get tomatoes. The upside of a really hot summer is more and earlier tomatoes. If given the choice, I might actually go for a milder summer.

  6. Hi Jason, I’ve never seen black tomatoes before, they look rather odd to eat, don’t they? I think my red cherry tomatoes are too bitter this year, I only like pachino and the bigger ones in salads. My plants have curled leaves too, it’s because of the heat, as Gaia gardener wrote. You should water less your plants by the way they grew so tall you are going to need a pergola before the end of summer!!! 🙂

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