Saturday, September 4, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

DSC_2088_5057The variety that wins the growth (height) contest in Maybelline’s Garden this year is Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa.  The wooden supports are about 6’ tall.  Old Henderson overshot that by some distance.

DSC_2089_5058 There’s still a bunch of tomatoes remaining.  One of the DBE gals came to harvest with her husband.  I really appreciated that someone came to pick and enjoy the tomatoes.  Things are slowing down a bit though.  There are still blooms on all the varieties.

DSC_2087_5056 I can’t decide whether to say good bye to the tomatoes and pull them out so I can prepare for the fall or continue to harvest tomatoes. 

In 2010, I had 72 tomato seedlings with 37 staying in the garden.  All the others were given away for other gardeners to enjoy.

Notes for 2011: 

  • Try to settle on one variety with a focus on seed collecting.  I learned that I planted different varieties too close to each other producing seeds that may give me an unusual variety.  I may save the seeds regardless to see what happens.
  • Don’t thin the vines.  That seemed to be unnecessary work.
  • Consider varieties that will grow within the limits of the supports.  This support system is great and is much easier on my busted back.  I would love to try draping thin cloth (cheese cloth?) over the tomatoes ala the Godfather.
  • Plant only three rows per bed to allow movement between rows for the gardener.  It got pretty cramped.
  • Don’t plant as many tomato plants.  How much salsa can be eaten in a few months anyway?!  This will be a difficult suggestion to follow.  Perhaps this should be altered to “Give more seedlings away.”
  • Plant companion crops like basil, carrots, onions, and chives to benefit the tomatoes.  Start the seeds in the beds allowing germination before transplanting the tomatoes.  Don’t expect fabulous production from the companions.  There will be something to harvest.  Just bare in mind these are being planted as beneficials.

Here’s my rating for the varieties grown this year:

  1. If I decide upon a sturdy, red, medium – large sized tomato it would have to be Arkansas Traveler.  The fruit is a nice round shape.  There was only rare occurrences of blossom end rot.
  2. Al Kuffa was my favorite plant with its sturdy, bushy plant growth.  There was an over abundance of fruit but they were pretty small.
  3. Mule Team was similar to Arkansas Traveler but there were problems with hornworms loving this variety the most and sunburned fruit.  This variety probably ties with Al Kuffa.
  4. Henderson’s Ponderosa Pink was a large vine with large fruit.  The tomatoes were odd shaped with blossom end rot being a problem.  The bottoms formed with lots of scars and bumps so peeling is a bit difficult.
  5. Carbon just didn’t do well in the heat that Bakersfield, California is famous for.  Most of the fruit cracked and had to be used for slicing or fresh salsa.  The tomato is a beautiful deep, dark purplish red and is rich in flavor and color.  However, because I would like to be able to preserve my tomato crop I do not believe I will grow this variety again.

If you would like to know more about these varieties, there is a list of labels on the right side of your screen. Scroll down and click on whatever you like.

I’m in search of recommendations of heirloom tomatoes grown in zone 9 (Bakersfield, California in particular).  If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comments section.

Thanks -

Please enjoy this fun 3 minutes:


Anonymous said...


m w l said...

I enjoyed the 3 minutes better than going to the picture house

Char's Gardening said...

Thanks for the laugh, enjoyed your post!

Catharine Howard's Garden Blog said...

Dear Maybelline just love the title.

Amy said...

Enjoyed the laugh. That was a good one! Also, that is one LaRgE tomato plant. I have learned a lot from growing them for the first time. Mine were so close together, I couldn't even find them to pick. Nice post!

Bill Bird said...

New take on an old joke. Very well done. My ratings will be out a month later. We were behind you in Nor Cal. Our prime production is now just getting underway.