Monday, August 15, 2011

Good tomato harvest year

Having been delinquent once again about keeping up my blog, with such feeble excuses I won't even name them, I want to finally post a report on this year's very pleasing tomato harvest.

As I reported in a previous post, I have several varieties of family heirloom tomatoes from which I derive my own seeds each year. This year, in addition to these home-propagated beef, peach, and roma tomatoes, whose correct names are lost in history, I also purchased supposedly disease-resistant seeds from a commercial seed company (Sperli's Delizia F1 hybrid), and some bush tomato seeds from an organic seed cooperative ("Balcony Star").

I've been having a good harvest from all 5 varieties, but it has to be said that my self-propagated tomatoes simply taste better - remarkably so. The bush tomatoes have been producing a large number of smallish round salad tomatoes for weeks, pleasant-tasting but bland. The hybrid tomatoes are healthy and meaty, but also not really better-tasting than local tomatoes purchased in season from the green grocer.

None of my tomatoes have been affected badly so far this year by blight, with the exception of the bush tomatoes. This hasn't, however, daunted them in producing prodigious amounts of fruit. Here one of the bush tomatoes, on our fifth floor patio, i.e. without contact to other blight-carrying plants (you would think):

The yellow "peach" heritage tomatoes win hands down as the family's favorite tomato. I am worrying a little, though, that they might be losing their specific characteristics through cross-pollination, and will be doing some research on preventing that for the future. Last year, my peach tomatoes were much "yellower" than they are this year.

Last year's peach tomatoes:

Peach tomatoes from this year's harvest (the bottom two rows in the dish), with more red in them:

Still, they taste fabulous. Runner-up for favorite tomatoes are the roma-style heirloom tomatoes we call "paprika" tomatoes. They cut like butter and are mild with firmer flesh and little juice.

In the photo below from left to right: peach heirloom tomato, paprika heirloom tomato, Delizia F1 hybrid, Balcony Star bush tomato. My heirloom beef tomato has pretty much finished producing fruit this year, and we've eaten them all, sorry.

One new problem has presented itself this year. For the first time, we have a deer(s) in the garden! This is terrible! I've seen them twice when I've gone to the garden early in the morning, and see their tracks and droppings around the things they like to eat most: roses, lettuce, and tomatoes. In fact, they've pretty much ruined some of my roses by constantly biting off the buds and tender leaves and shoots. We've conferred with our neighbors in the allotment colony about this and reported it to the administration. The outer periphery of the allotments is protected by a deer-proof fence, but the gates are open during the day and the garden colony is large enough that once in, they can easily hide during the day.

So we tried various things such as hanging streamers of red and white cordoning at strategic places, etc., to no avail. Finally I resorted to wrapping or covering all the tomato plants in garden fleece, i.e. "bagging" them. This has been very effective, but doesn't look too great. It was fairly easy to do since all my tomatoes are in pots under the eaves to help prevent blight.

It could be that bagging the plants has reduced the harvest somewhat, but it's hard to tell.

Thanks for all your comments on my last posts and happy harvesting to all of you fellow vegetable gardeners.