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Old October 1, 2017   #1
Solanum315
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Default French Tomatoes

So I was recently in Paris and noticed that these two varieties seem to be in a lot of grocery stores and farmer's markets. They are blemish free and appear to be mass produced. Other than guess from appearances, does anyone know what these might be? No labels, no stickers. They were not quite as flavorful as say, a Calf Heart or Black from Tula grown in my back yard but not sure if this is because they were perhaps grown hydroponically or they are some sort of commercial hybrid meant to look like an heirloom.


The last pic is from the garden site of Marie Antoinette in Versailles. I was sorely tempted to jump the fence and dig out a seed or two. Fortunately, my frontal lobe prevailed. The pic really doesn't do it justice. There is some marked orange striping and the fruits are huge.
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Old October 2, 2017   #2
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Originally Posted by Solanum315 View Post
I was recently in Paris and noticed that these two varieties seem to be in a lot of grocery stores and farmer's markets. They are blemish free and appear to be mass produced.
From your description I’m pretty sure the tomatoes you saw are what Ventmarin, a French tomato site, calls counterfeits. Since more and more customers are fed up with tasteless tomatoes and want to get back to traditional varieties an infamous seed industry appeared recently in Brittany, creating new F1 varieties shamelessly called noire de Crimée, oxheart -coeur de boeuf, ananas, green zebra etc. Production has increased four or five fold, but they are absolutely tasteless.
How to spot them : if they are exactly alike on the stall they are fakes.
Sellers have found a way around the problem : they mix different looking tomatoes on the stall to break uniformity and they label them as traditional tomatoes.
Don’t waste your time trying to find their names. Some time ago a TVillian lady tried to trace a “beautiful” tomato in Brittany but the growers never took the trouble to answer her questions.

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The last pic is from the garden site of Marie Antoinette in Versailles.
Your discovery of the plant in Versailles is different. Its origin may be traced if one can get in touch with the chief gardener. I will think about doing some research but I can’t promise I will succeed !
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Old October 2, 2017   #3
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I wish I could erase my blunder with my keyboard...
See next post.

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Old October 2, 2017   #4
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Coming again

A few more details :
An exerpt from an interview of Mr Baraton, gardener in chief of Versailles gardens :
http://frenchquartermag.com/intervie...umerous-books/


Q. : Is the king’s garden still active? And what are its functions today?
A.B.: There are two gardens. There is the king’s garden that is independent of Versailles, which is an independent entity under the Ministry of Agriculture. The land belongs to Versailles, but the teams on site do not depend on the park. But three years ago now we created a vegetable garden, the Garden of the Queen which is near the Petit Trianon, and its main function is to produce healthy vegetables, quality vegetables. We also have (I was going to say a client, even if the term is not very appropriate) a partner called Alain Ducasse. I am very happy that today, in the hamlet of the queen, the vegetable garden that provides vegetables may have allowed Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée to get his third (Michelin) star. Our vegetable garden has also just been accepted into the culinary college of France. I am relatively pleased with this appointment. So there are two gardens, one that works and provides a three-star restaurant, and the king’s garden that is independent of the park of Versailles.

I'm trying to get in touch with him.
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Old October 2, 2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solanum315 View Post
So I was recently in Paris and noticed that these two varieties seem to be in a lot of grocery stores and farmer's markets. They are blemish free and appear to be mass produced. Other than guess from appearances, does anyone know what these might be? No labels, no stickers. They were not quite as flavorful as say, a Calf Heart or Black from Tula grown in my back yard but not sure if this is because they were perhaps grown hydroponically or they are some sort of commercial hybrid meant to look like an heirloom.


The last pic is from the garden site of Marie Antoinette in Versailles. I was sorely tempted to jump the fence and dig out a seed or two. Fortunately, my frontal lobe prevailed. The pic really doesn't do it justice. There is some marked orange striping and the fruits are huge.
There is no way I would even attempt to ID any varieties found in public places in Paris, and that includes Versailles, just north of Paris,I've been to V and the gardens there are spectacular.

According
to some o f our French and Spanish Tville members,tomatoes in particular are sent to Paris and elsewhere in France from primarily Spain usually non hybrids.

So how can one know what the heck they are since they don't have labels on them or any other way of IDing them.

How I wish I could find the thread here at Tville that explains all of this, but I wouldn't even know which words to enter for that search since it was so long ago.

What's so called pretty/unique sells well ,and they don't care what they taste like.

Carolyn
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Old October 3, 2017   #6
Solanum315
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loulac View Post
Coming again

A few more details :
An exerpt from an interview of Mr Baraton, gardener in chief of Versailles gardens :
http://frenchquartermag.com/intervie...umerous-books/


Q. : Is the king’s garden still active? And what are its functions today?
A.B.: There are two gardens. There is the king’s garden that is independent of Versailles, which is an independent entity under the Ministry of Agriculture. The land belongs to Versailles, but the teams on site do not depend on the park. But three years ago now we created a vegetable garden, the Garden of the Queen which is near the Petit Trianon, and its main function is to produce healthy vegetables, quality vegetables. We also have (I was going to say a client, even if the term is not very appropriate) a partner called Alain Ducasse. I am very happy that today, in the hamlet of the queen, the vegetable garden that provides vegetables may have allowed Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée to get his third (Michelin) star. Our vegetable garden has also just been accepted into the culinary college of France. I am relatively pleased with this appointment. So there are two gardens, one that works and provides a three-star restaurant, and the king’s garden that is independent of the park of Versailles.

I'm trying to get in touch with him.
Wow, so apparently, all I had to do to get a few seeds was go to Plaza Athénée and order a salad? Wish I knew that at the time. Would have been a very cool addition to my seed bank...Please let me know if you find something out.

As far as the fake heirlooms, they were not as good as the real thing but they were certainly better than the baseballs they sell in American grocery stores. They could be a good breeding partner for a less productive but tastier heirloom. Thanks for the insight.
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Old October 4, 2017   #7
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Saveol has the whole range of colours (they are a big grower in France but they export in all of Europe). From the shapes and colours, they seem to use the novelty tomatoes from Gautier Semences, also in France, there aren't many F1s that could fit the description. You can look on their site for names (the heart is probably Cauralina F1 and the black Marnera F1 for example).
As for taste and production, it depends, I had once a mix pack from Saveol, with yellow, black, green zebra, and a red cocktail. The black was tasteless indeed, and rather crunchy, but the rest were absolutely smashing, and I would challenge anyone to do better with any heirlooms, it's just the usual disdain for hybrids. They're just like what Fred Hempel is doing, except in F1 form (if they even are F1, growing some F2 I get pretty much the same thing). 'Novelty' shape and colours with better shelf life and a bit better production, for the specialty market. Like with all tomatoes, the end result will be more dependent on how they're grown than with the variety.
Maybe next year or the next I'll share seeds for the zebra if it proves stable, it is possibly the best tomato I have ever tried, and it keeps the taste in all conditions (planted this year also in a friend's garden, where it was insanely wet, and they finally died of late blight a week ago but taste was strong throughout).
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Old October 4, 2017   #8
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Thanks, zipcode! I found this link to their catalog. I had no idea that tomatoes like this existed. Look like heirlooms but are F1 with all sorts of resistances. I'm liking it and I tend to agree that there is a degree of confirmation bias when it comes to the flavor of hybrids vs. OP varieties. Will definitely look forward to growing some out and seeing the variations possible.

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/bd650...130c52fa59.pdf
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Old October 4, 2017   #9
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Interesting catalog! I was happy to see that they seem to be working seriously on flavor according to their charting of flavor profiles. Now if only we could get better flavor from mass hybrid growers here for winter consumption.
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Old October 4, 2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solanum315 View Post
Thanks, zipcode! I found this link to their catalog. I had no idea that tomatoes like this existed. Look like heirlooms but are F1 with all sorts of resistances. I'm liking it and I tend to agree that there is a degree of confirmation bias when it comes to the flavor of hybrids vs. OP varieties. Will definitely look forward to growing some out and seeing the variations possible.

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/bd650...130c52fa59.pdf
Whoa, I think, I'm actually pretty sure that the link is the place I was looking for in France.

If you read the link you'll see that they do not breed tomatoes. They get the seeds from many other places, they have 43 trial sites, can supply judges for flavor and then train those judges how to taste the tomatoes.

Say what? One can be trained how to judge about about tomato taste?.

The outline of the site is different from what I remembered so many years ago, but the mission was the same as in referring to varieties as F1 hybrids when they weren't..

I didn't recheck but I don't think they sell seeds at all, just fruits in various places in Europe and also in the US,There was a reference to the person in charge of US sales.

On a brighter note,thank heavens, Rob brought too many seedlings to me this year so I had to find forever homes for them, and glad I did since I got nada from my plants this summer/fall, Freda just didn't take care of them as I asked her to do and they died of foliage diseases..

Today my USPS person delivered the mail and David had a bag with him, he was one of my forever home folks as he was last year.He pulled one out that was a huge pink heart with antho shoulders,yes,that was Sgt Pepper,then he pulled out 4 more and said he remembered what that plant was, they were,yes,Omar's Lebanese Hearts.

And when he left he said there will be more, I was so happy to hear that since many in my area got frosted out pretty bad and lost all of their tomato plants.

Carolyn
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Old October 4, 2017   #11
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Whoa, I think, I'm actually pretty sure that the link is the place I was looking for in France.

If you read the link you'll see that they do not breed tomatoes. They get the seeds from many other places, they have 43 trial sites, can supply judges for flavor and then train those judges how to taste the tomatoes.

Say what? One can be trained how to judge about about tomato taste?.

The outline of the site is different from what I remembered so many years ago, but the mission was the same as in referring to varieties as F1 hybrids when they weren't..

I didn't recheck but I don't think they sell seeds at all, just fruits in various places in Europe and also in the US,There was a reference to the person in charge of US sales.



Carolyn
Why do you say that they are not F1? I'm also pretty sure that is a seed catalog that I linked. Looks like they do commercial sales. Passing off heirlooms as F1 with all those resistance traits would be dangerously close to fraud.
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Old October 5, 2017   #12
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Certainly not heirlooms. Also those varieties are bred by them. Carolyn must be confusing it with something.
But a lot of F1s on the market, especially the cheaper ones, have very close offsprings. Like Big Beef for example. Maybe they just have very close parents, for bigger tomatoes you need both parents to be big. It's hard to say if it's a real F1 or not, without growing a good amount of plants and be able to find small differences.
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Old October 5, 2017   #13
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Why do you say that they are not F1? I'm also pretty sure that is a seed catalog that I linked. Looks like they do commercial sales. Passing off heirlooms as F1 with all those resistance traits would be dangerously close to fraud.
I went back and checked again,and seeds are available for purchase only for those varieties that have green label under the variety.

Of all that they showed, I could only find 5 that had that organic green label.

Please feel free to check that out yourself. And count them, since it may have only been 4,not five, bad memory here.

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Old October 12, 2017   #14
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Saveol has the whole range of colours (they are a big grower in France but they export in all of Europe…
We can’t put all French tomato creators in the same bag. Tomates Gautier is a reputable 60 year old firm only working with professional gardeners. They reside near the Mediterranean sea, not the Atlantic ocean in Brittany.


General information about the 60 year old family firm and their 13 test centers in Europe and Morocco can be found with the link given by Solanum 315 :
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/bd650...130c52fa59.pdf

More details can be found there, French only but nice pictures :
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/bd650...e788939f6a.pdf 37 varieties of tomatoes

as well as http://www.gautiersemencesbio.com/ph...=1506947933309 22organic varieties of organic tomatoes

Read in their general sales conditions :
They only sell to professional growers who are not allowed to keep seeds from the tomatoes they have bought. A warning is given : Each customer should check if the variety is adapted to their land and climate before buying.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Solanum315 View Post
Wow, so apparently, all I had to do to get a few seeds was go to Plaza Athénée and order a salad? Wish I knew that at the time. Would have been a very cool addition to my seed bank...Please let me know if you find something out.
As the gardener in chief is a very busy man talking on the radio and writing books I knocked at different doors but my attempts to contact him have failed up to now. I’m not giving up. My latest mails were sent to the château de Versailles asking them to forward my mail. I had no answer but they acknowledge receipt of my question, so I’m going to send them a follow-up mail.
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Old November 3, 2017   #15
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At long last I managed to get Versailles chief gardener's personal mail address, I wrote your request and 10 minutes later I had the answer : Orange queen, origin USA !
I explored a few US sellers and Tatiana but could find none keeping that variety. If you are no more lucky than me I'll send you some seeds from France, don't hesitate to ask !

Last edited by loulac; November 3, 2017 at 11:07 AM. Reason: shaky grammar
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