I know you were all waiting with breath of bait for this my review of the tomato plants I selected and how each one performed!!! Yes you were! Yes you were.
indeterminate, saladette "Oregon Spring"
I've grown this one before and it does not disappoint. It hunches down and endures chilly soil and crappy spring weather, all the while pooting out blossoms like a happy bunny. Once it gets a week of sunshine on it's leaves watch out; the thing takes off. WHAMMO it's covered in fruit.
You don't get much of a plant and it tends to get pretty ratty looking as the season progresses, but then who grows tomatoes to admire the foliage? NOBODY THAT'S WHO.
The tomato you end up with is about 4' wide and squatty rather than globular. Inside you get a rather higher percentage of seed chambers than you get in most saladettes; it's more like a beefsteak in that regard. It is delicious and sweet, though, really tomatoey, and the flesh is the most amazing pigeon blood shade of red!
Oregon Springs' drawback is that you don't get much yield compared to other varieties. Make up for that by planting two.
indeterminate, roma type "Roma Golden Wave"
This variety is crazy vigorous and and the fruit production is huge! It just does not quit. Rather than pouting and curling when it gets chilly it just slows down. You get a full day of sun and it instantly celebrates by putting on a daily 3 to seven inches of growth, which is a party in anyones' book.
Let's say you decided to grow a tomato plant just to admire the foliage. THIS would be the one you'd grow. It's a very pretty potato-leaved variety with straight limbs. The new growth is a gorgeous glowing viridian while the older is pure emerald green, and the habit is kind of Arthur Rackham-esque, if you feel me.
We've had cold, crappy weather for the past month, and so today was the day that everyone had to go to the guillotine. This plant was still putting on new growth and blossoms and setting fruit!
This is the one I'd choose to run longwise on a wire or a fence...I had branches on the thing 7 ft. long before I stopped them.
The fruit grows in pretty trusses like a cherry tomato. It is pure chromium yellow, and very sweet. It doesn't have much standout character flavor-wise...it's just a tomato. But that's not a bad thing!
Weird note: of all the tomato plants I had this year, this one was always and by far covered in pollinating insects, with more waiting stacked three deep like a busy airport. Bees of every variety, wasps, flies, hornets, even moths in the evening!
Crap that's big
indeterminate, beefsteak "Early Beefsteak"
Plan ahead and use a heavy wire cage for this plant because you'll need it. Get the twine ready too. The branches head straight out from the crown anywhichway and get thick and knobby and woody like apple tree branches, only without the rest of the apple tree to support them; so they tend to split. Untrained branches will meet an obstacle and just force growth against it until they turn into a weird arthritic green knot. You have to help it, like a fat dog that can't climb up onto the sofa.
Once it begins to swell fruit it holds nothing back. The weight of the fruit combined with the weight of the branches and the general cluelessness of the plant organism itself means that it will cheerfully grow itself to death; just twist itself apart and die without a care in the world. Once it begins to swell fruit, then, make with the twine and stakes.
The fruit is truly fucking HUGE. Most of it is softball sized and perfectly round, although it will also give you the stereotypical ribby, squatty tomato of old seed catalogue illustrations. It has a pretty equal meat to seed ratio, and the color is a rather alarming blood crimson.
This is a tomato that you want to pick just as it colors off to a true tomato red, and not a moment later as it gets mushy and watery real quick. One slice will cover a hamburger bun. It has a great vegetable- tasting tomato flavor...not too sugary, not too acid, just strong tomato flavor. Really nice. And really huge.
THIS YEARS' LOSER:
saladette "Bush Early Girl"
Lousy plant that generally does not want to live where you've planted it. It wants to live over theeeeeere. Why can't it live over theeeeeere. It's too hot here. It's too windy. There's no air circulaaaaation. The view suuuucks. It's too wet. It's too dryyyyyy. Why can't it watch Nightmare on Elm Street. All the other tomatoes get to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. It is the only tomato it knows that hasn't seen Nightmare on Elm Street. It's not faaaaaaaaaaaaair.
The fruit, what there is of it, sets... and that's it. It sets, then it sulks for weeks, green and hard. Then it grudgingly turns red, maybe, on one side, if it feels like it, and even if it does feel like it, what you end up with has a hide like a rhinoceros and is woody and corky and generally a waste of plant tissue. Mostly it just cranks out leaves and turns itself into a tight little wad of unhappy greenery covered in hard green tumors. Never again.
This years' volunteers were:
1. The same mutt saladette I always get
It's a nice tomato, very firm flesh, just a good serviceable saladette that holds up under slicing and chopping and can be fried by the slice without losing structural integrity. The plant is absolutely average in every respect but very hardy. Think of this tomato as having a UPC code instead of a variety name.
2. determinate roma type "San Marzano"
Last fall I bought a slew of these, sauced them and threw the seeds in the kitchen compost barrel outside, where they alternately festered in rot and froze solid all winter long. Early this April I dug a hole in my newest raised bed, emptied the now- horrifying compost into it, covered it with an old tin washtub and forgot about it, until the San Marzano plants lifted the tub off the hole and crawled out from underneath like C'thulhu emerging from seaweed-garlanded R'lyeh, only loaded with delicious fruit instead of evil. Unfortunately, this variety is very, very late, so I only got a few before the weather turned shitty. But oh, what a few they were!
Now then: would anyone like some tomato seeds? Because hell YES I save them. You know where the comments lounge is. Comment in the comment lounge. Say 'yes oh yes I would dearly love some authentic Rancho FirstNations tomato seeds saved on authentic Kirkland Brand two-ply unscented white toilet paper!' And then we'll do the thing where you give me your email address in code so the Nigerian scam 'bots don't figure it out and then we'll email and I'll get your address and then soon if I remember lovely tomato seeds will be winging their way to your locale and you'll plant them and find out they're an invasive species in your part of the world and cause a huge environmental disaster and everyone will have to live in damp malfunctioning habitat enclosures on the ocean floor because the land was taken over by tomatoes and they figured out how to operate our technology and became sentient and started playing the banjo.