by Sam Maupin, Port Orchard, Wash, May 2014
The Brothers Greenhouses is hosting another trial of tomato varieties for the 2014 growing season. Last year’s trials were a great success, thanks to a good growing season and public participation in evaluating the varieties. We hope to build on this success with this year’s selection of varieties.
We anticipate growing and reviewing one plant each of about 50 different tomato varieties. The purpose is to examine various aspects of performance of the plants during the local growing season. Each plant’s productivity is measured by counting and weighing the fruits. The flavor quality of each variety is evaluated during an open tasting event in September. The tomatoes are grown outdoors in full exposure using methods that can be easily applied by average gardeners. We invite the public to view the trial in progress and help us evaluate the results.
Last year, a few varieties stood out that had the best flavor, harvest weight, harvest quantity, largest fruits, and economic value. The tomato rated as having the best overall flavor was Sun Sugar. The most productive tomato by weight was unfortunately nameless because it was a grafted variety that was different from its label. We called this plant “Grafted ?”, and the plant produced 25.7 pounds of fruit. (Our grafted tomato supplier suggested that the mixed-up plant may have been a variety called Carmello.) Red Grape produced 904 fruits, which was more than any other. Beefmaster produced the biggest fruits with an average size of 9.4 ounces. Nearly all of the varieties easily produced enough fruit to pay for themselves as transplants. The only variety that did not produce enough to justify its retail cost as a transplant was Grafted Mortgage Lifter.
We encourage everyone to participate in growing food locally. The collective efforts of home growers adds up to significant food production and contributes to the sustainability of the community. We hope this information helps guide local gardeners to become as successful as possible.