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.


  1. Nice to see that you too are getting lots of tomatoes. So many here in the states have had high heat that they have lost a lot of their crops. I was one of the lucky ones as California has had cooler temperatures. Not always a good thing for tomatoes but mine have done very well this year.
    I will have to try some of those that you have listed next year in my garden.
    Happy Harvesting!

  2. Liebe Barbara! Deine Tomaten sehen ja super aus, ich warte noch auf meine Flaschentomaten - einige habe ich schon entdeckt, aber sie sind noch nicht reif.

    lg kathrin

  3. Oh no, not deer! You have my sympathies, we've battled many a herd here. I love to see them, but they're unstoppable eating machines! I've very envious of your tomatoes though. This is proving to be the worst tomato season in recent memory here, due to consistent summer temps below normal. I'm hoping the end of summer will let our tomatoes catch up, we've only harvested one variety this season, and it wasn't very good.

  4. Our tomatoes aren't at the stage where they are ripening prolifically yet and the small cherry varieties are slow to set fruit. We can only hope that despite being late the harvest will eventually materialise.

  5. Dear Barbara, Now I have tomato envy! Mine are so green - not ripening. I am not hopeful, as the weather has turned cooler and very wet. Yours look wonderful. Sorry about the deer. I use a deterrent spray to discourage them here. P. x

  6. I have to watch out for deer here, too. I mix up hot pepper spray and soak the plants. I saved all my sunflowers from the herd last year - and my bean plants. I grow several 'lemon drop/hot lemon' pepper plants every year just for this purpose. Doesn't seem to hurt the plants, either, although I usually have to re-apply after rains. Hope you don't have to keep your veg plants under wraps very long. Lovely tomato harvest! :-D

  7. Pretty tomato crop! My father use to use ivory soap cut up and placed in a netting tied to a small pole near the tomato plants/flowers. The don't like the smell of the ivory soap. You shave it off and place it all around on a pole( small garden post about a foot tall. It has helped people. I don' t have a deer problem in the back yard since it is fenced. But our front yard and my neighbors that don't fence have problems. They jump the fences. The man across the street used coyote urine/something like that and he said it helped....:-) Robbie

  8. I hope this Christmas brings with
    it the promise of peace,
    goodness and happiness.
    Happy holidays!
    - Cheers from Canada,

  9. last summer was a bad tomato year over here, i don't have (spare room for) a greenhouse and the summer was extremely rainy and not very warm.
    Its the risk i take when growing my own veggies the way you actually shouldnt (= tomatoes outdoor in holland):)

    Lets hope we all have a very good season in 2011 with lots of sun, enough rain and a lot of enjoyable moments in the garden :)

  10. Thanks for the post mate you have written it very well.

  11. Hi Barbara, I'm going to be moving near Mannheim at the end of November. Are there any books on gardening in Germany that you would recommend? Have you had any luck growing berries?

  12. what wunderbar tomatoes.....I just discovered you and Mannheim caught my eye...My ancestors were from Homburg and my grandparents and father lived in Nuestadt AD Wienstrasse. I was just there in May..they have sold the house many years ago 30....but i visited the terraces where they still grow plums and currents!....I became in love with gardening then I think as they had vines in the valley too..I will make your blog a favorite~

  13. Hi Barb! I couldn't find your email address, so I thought I'd post you a note here and hope that blogger will notify you by email. I wanted to tell you I am going to be in Ireland in August, completing a home exchange. I will have a free house in Galway. Wondered if you would like to come visit. Love, Barb

  14. I must appreciate the way you have expressed your feelings through your blog!
    PPC Expert

  15. Don't know if this comment went through, so posting again, forgive me if this is a repeat for you: I need your advice/guidance please. I too am American and was in Mannheim Germany last week. Gorgeous countryside, my first time. I met with a client who is a gardening enthusiast, specifically trees. I want to buy him a Ginkgo tree for Christmas and thought it would be easier to buy from a nursery in Germany and have it delivered vs. trying to ship from the states. Do you have any suggestions for a nursery? Thank you in advance, john