First Sighting of Tomato Land

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First P. Borghese Tomatoes

Principe Borghese Does It Again

We have tasted the first tomatoes of the season. Briefly, because they were small, but enough to whet our appetites for more. The first tomatoes ripe were Principe Borghese tomatoes again this year. From a plant who has been none too happy about the wet, cold spring and honestly doesn’t look very good. There are five P. Borghese plants in the garden right now and only one of them looks as robust as the ones we grew last year. I also have six more of them started in pots because last year I was wishing I had done a second planting of these guys. They are packaged as determinant plants, but some of them produced a second crop of tomatoes after we had picked the first batch. I’ll have to look up how a semi-determinant plant behaves. Maybe that’s what they really are. I grow them to make sun-dried tomatoes with them but they are delicious in salads or marinated with mozzarella and basil.

Grandma Jill's Ugly Tomato plants

Ugly? Maybe. Delicious? Absolutely!

I was sure this year’s first tomato was going to be a Grandma Jill’s Ugly. And it would have been, but the top contender was rat-napped. It was beautiful, with deep creases like many of the varieties we are trialling this year. It was almost ready, it was blushing beautifully. It needed just one more day on the vine. But the next morning all I found was a small sliver of tomato skin in the mulch beneath the plant! I was heart-broken, as you can imagine, but it looks like the plant is happy enough to try to make up for it in volume. These plants look very close to the Costoluto Genovese variety that won our fresh eating taste tests last year. The Grandma Jill’s Ugly are certainly earlier, and the plant looks sturdier, but I hope the taste will be close to what we get with the Costoluto.

Blondkopfchen Tomato Flowers

Sucker for Blondes

I’m also looking forward to trying a new (for us) yellow cherry tomato called Blonkopfchen. There are three or four of these plants in the garden, well-spaced and not, and they are easy to find because they are making multiple wide sprays of flowers as they set fruit. I’m concerned that some of the fruiting branches may break off if every bud on those sprays produces a tomato, even a small one.

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Not Purple Yet

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes are also doing well this year. There are only two plants in our test and they are in similar conditions except one of the plants is crowded (it’s in the Square-Foot bed) and the other has lots of space. We are also hoping to enjoy Speckled Romans and Big Rainbow Striped tomatoes. And my mother-in-law just sent over a Green Zebra which I have read wonderful things about. I’m not sure I quite understand a tomato that is still green when it’s ripe. How will I know when to pick it?  Today I’ll give it a choice spot in one of the raised beds where I can keep an eye on it. If a rat starts nibbling them, I’ll know they are ready for eating!

Square Foot Bed with Tomatoes, Peppers, Celery, Basil and Nasturtiums

"And the little one said, 'Roll over!'"

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