Quick End Of Season Round Up

It’s high time I posted an update, but I don’t have everything ready for a big round up yet, so this is pretty short and sweet.

I’m feverishly saving seeds at the moment, and almost everything has been saved. Another week or so and everything that was grown in my beds will be catalogued.

My illustrious volunteer growers are also starting to send their varieties in as well, and when their seasons round up all the final tallies will be in, and then the process begins all over again.

It’s been a season with a few ups and downs, so while this year wasn’t as fruitful (so to speak) as last year, I still managed to pull in a haul of about 160lbs of tomatoes, which isn’t too shabby.

I also received an interesting assortment of seeds from Plant Gene Resources Canada that I’ll be excited to trial in the gardens over the next 1-3 years, and I’ll be posting an update about those in the near future.

Stay tuned for a more thorough update coming soon!

Tomato Tasting: Perestroika

Tomato 'Perestroika'

This is another variety I happened upon a Seedy Saturday in Nelson, BC – but I never had an opportunity to grow it until over four years later. What I have discovered is that this particular variety I grow isn’t like the ‘Perestroika’ detailed by so many others – about the only thing in common it shares is the name. While if you do a search of ‘Perestroika’ online you’ll find images of smooth, round fruit, the one I have (pictured above) is markedly different.

This is another one of those times when I wish I had kept the name of the lady who I got these seeds from. The name implies it was a natural cross that occurred but kept the same name, but that’s simply a guess on my part. I may add ‘Plum’ to the name in order to differentiate in the future.

Perestroika - On The VineGrowth Notes

This plant has a very distinct weeping growth pattern, with slightly elongated leaves. The leaves don’t provide much cover – the coverage is fair at best, but the plant doesn’t seem to need the coverage to protect the fruit. Even with hot temperatures, both plant and fruits did well with minimal protection, and with irregular watering.

Another later variety for a shorter season, coming in at about 80-85 days, it still is very reliable with production, giving me on average, 8lbs per plant.

This is another heavily sprawling plant, so it needs a lot of room to move around. I grew it up a spiral metal stake, and the plant did quite well in climbing up and supporting itself, but the offshoot stems required some pretty heavy tying up.

The Look

This one is pretty impressive to look at – a large, plum-type fruit, about 4.5″ – 5″ long, and about 3″ wide. The fruit averages about 7 oz (200 gr) each, and is nice and firm. The fruit is relatively uniform with just a bit of variance, and showed no green shouldering at all. The fruit also did very well against irregular watering and dry conditions, not having any catfacing or splitting under those conditions.

Perestroika Ripening On The VineThe Taste

Very nice, smooth texture and flavour. While the tomato can be used for sauces, and I think could even be used for paste, it has enough juice in it not to be overly dry, which gives it a good all-purpose use for the garden.

The Verdict

This is a great all purpose tomato for the garden. It wouldn’t produce much in a very short season, but works well in my climate as a later-season variety for preservation, and would work well in a longer, dryer climate for longer-season production.

Unfortunately I can’t attest to its growth in a wetter climate, as I never had the chance to grow this one on the coast, but I’d be very interested to hear from anybody who’s received the seed from me on a wet coast if they have any experience.

Detailed growth notes in the wiki can be found here

There are still seeds for these currently available for distribution! If you’d like to request some, visit this page.

Tomato Tasting: Pink Zebra

No, those colours aren’t processed to make them look more vibrant – if anything, the photo doesn’t quite do it justice. This is another variety I picked up on a whim, not knowing anything about it. I acquired these seeds originally in 2009 from a home gardener in Nelson, BC at the annual Seedy Saturday. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t think to probe further about where she had gotten the seed, or indeed, any contact information so I could go back and speak with her later, so the origins of this tomato are a bit of a mystery. Six years later, and I still haven’t been able to find more information, and despite reaching out to some other tomato growers with encyclopedic knowledge of varieties, not one person has been able to attribute this variety to another name. I’m assuming at this point it was a variety the grower I received the seeds from crossed in her own garden and isn’t widely available outside of the Kootenays, so I’m glad now I grabbed them up when I did.

Growth Notes

Pink Zebra - Green On The VineThis one is a large plant, but grows relatively erect, making staking a good option for the garden. It easily grew over 5 feet in my garden, and with a slightly longer season I can see it growing up to 6 without much effort.

This variety has heavy leaf coverage, and without the benefit of those hot pink stripes, picking the green fruit would be a game of hide-and-seek. Fortunately that leaf coverage also protects the fruit, so even in hot, hot weather this variety really takes off, and in fact, seems to grow better the hotter it gets. Here on the prairies this is coming up on a later season variety, but much like ‘Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi’, in a longer season this one will give imaginably a large harvest to the grower. Even in my shorter climate, I harvested about 12lbs per plant, with the fruit averaging about 10oz (290gr) each.

I did grow this variety one year on the coast, and the production definitely wasn’t as good, making this one a better grower if you’re in a dryer, hotter climate.

The Look

The colours on this variety are amazing – that hot pink, offset by the deep forest green is quite something to see on the vine. This variety has a definite wow factor in the garden, eliciting quite a few “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” when visitors came by. Unlike other green-when-ripe tomatoes, this one doesn’t ripen to a chartreuse/greenish-yellow, it stays deep green.

The Taste

The colours on this variety give the grower a hint of what it’ll taste like. Like pink-fruited varieties, this one has a bit of sweetness, but like green fruited varieties it’s definitely got a kick of acidity. It’s delicious eaten fresh, and when stewed down and frozen keeps quite well. This one also ripens quite well off the vine, and keeps the flavour when picked green and ripened in doors.

The Verdict

Pink Zebra - Cut in Half While I wish I could make this one ripen a little bit faster, making it really optimal for a season longer than our ones in Central Alberta, it’s still a winner to grow here due to it’s easy ripening-off-the-vine and love of hot summers. If you live in a wet climate, I fear this one isn’t for you, because it does suffer quite a bit when too wet.

It’s plain to see why this one is so well adapted for the Kootenays, and it’s excellent flavour, and jewel-toned skin, it’s a stunning tomato to present on the table for guests.

You can see the detailed wiki entry for this variety here.

There are still seeds for these currently available for distribution! If you’d like to request some, visit this page.

Tomato Tasting: Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi

Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi

This was the big stand-out winner for my garden in 2014, and a new absolute favourite for me. I was lucky enough to happen upon some seeds that Tatiana (of Tatiana’s TomatoBASE) was selling, and bought them more or less on a whim. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a impromptu tomato purchase ever be so fortuitous.

Growth Notes

30-sibirskiy1-smThis variety is a heavy, heavy sprawler. I grows all over the place, and trying to keep it reigned in with staking only was almost impossible. I’m not generally a pruner, but this one I resorted to snipping off a few extra stems just to keep it from overtaking all the other tomatoes in the vicinity. Give this one room, and grow with a cage or Florida weave if possible, because it goes everywhere, and is absolutely unrelenting about it.

Another reason to make sure you keep this tomato secure – the fruit are massive. This variety is hands down the earliest monster variety I’ve ever grown. Coming in at 80-85 days, it’s a good monster variety for those with shorter seasons, and for those in longer-season climates, a great variety that keeps producing until cold finally kills it off.

The average fruit weight for me was about 21oz (587gr) each. The smallest fruit I picked was 16 oz (454gr), and the largest was 28oz (802gr).

The Look

30-sibirskiy2-smI like irregular shaped fruits. A lot. Heavily pleated, weirdly bumpy, whatever, I’m down with it. This one definitely falls in the “irregular” camp, with no two fruit looking the same. Out of all fruit picked, I had two that were relatively smooth (one of which can be seen at the top of this post). The rest were all manner of shape.

The fruit itself is oblate with pink skin and flesh, and a nice smooth, buttery texture. I even had one fruit that had grew a hole through the middle! In all the varieties I’ve grown, I’d never had that before. After chatting with Tatiana, she let me know that this variety does indeed produce one or two of these a season as a general rule. I keep the thing around for days, showing it to people who happened by my home.

The Taste

Most monster varieties, especially early ones, have flavour that leaves much to the imagination. Quite often you have to choose – are you going to go with quantity or quality? This variety, I was extremely pleased to find, is both. A lovely, smooth buttery texture and nice meaty fruit – without being dry. Sweet, but with a nice complex flavour to go along with it. This one is best for fresh eating, great for sandwiches and burgers (one slice will cover a whole piece of bread or a bun easily).

I also roasted a bunch of these down just plain in the oven and ate them as is as a side dish, and they were absolutely delicious that way.

The Verdict

If my gushing hasn’t made it obvious thus far, this one is a clear winner. The beating, direct sun of my garden didn’t produce any sun scald, I didn’t see evidence of any catfacing or splitting in our dry conditions, and I didn’t see any other evidence of disease. On average, I got about 14lbs out of this plant, and while it’s creeping up to an end of season variety here on the short-season prairies, it would be great for longer seasons as well where a gardener could easily harvest even more than that.

This is one of those varieties that I will be singing the praises of until the end of my days. This is definitely a variety that deserves to be more widely grown and recognized for its great qualities.

Detailed growth notes in the wiki can be found here

There are still seeds for these currently available for distribution! If you’d like to request some, visit this page.

New Site Is Live

Thanks everybody for being patient – I know the new website took a bit longer than expected to get up and going! I wanted it to look familiar but updated, and I think I did all right (I’m pretty pleased with it anyway). All links should be good, but you may notice some old images that aren’t showing up on some of the older blog posts. Unfortunately, they’ll probably have to stay that way, but all the photos for the separate articles are up and operational.

Once the actual change over was done, I figured there was some outdated text that needed re-hauling, which is really what ended up taking the extra time.

Also: now the website doesn’t look awful on your phone!

Stay tuned for some more garden updates soon, everything is growing like crazy with the heat, but in the meantime, don’t forget, you can request seeds from last year! A few varieties I’m now out of, but there are still lots of really neat varieties. You can see that list here.

Not sure what to pick from that list? I’d be happy to help! Feel free to leave a comment on this post with your growing conditions, and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.