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Old August 5, 2019   #1
GoDawgs
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Default A Tomato Growing Decision

Having been bitten by the tomato experimentation bug here, I grew 15 varieties this year, one plant of each where we usually grow 7 or 8 plants. On the plus side we found a new paste tomato we like (Rio Grande), confirmed that Homestead (last year was the first time) does well for canning, Red Siberian is good for an early taste and SOTW gets a second look-see. Early Girl has been kickin' butt and Bella Rosa has been a tasty slicer.

On the down side, all these tomatoes come off at different times, making canning hard to do. It's been so frustrating. Tomatoes have been pecked to death or squirrel eaten (like half the tomato) if left to ripen on the vine. If brought into the house for protection when half ripe, they start going bad quickly before they're ripe enough to be canned even those that showed no spots or anything when first picked. A ton of tomatoes have been wasted this year, something I've not had a problem with before.

Next year will be different. We will cut the number of varieties and up the number of plants per variety that survives the cut. I'm sure there will be one new tomato to try because I just can't help myself! There are sooooo many varieties out there that I'll just have to die (hopefully a long time down the road!) having not tried most of them.
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Old August 5, 2019   #2
brownrexx
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I grow three plants of Big Beef to be sure that I have plenty of tomatoes all at the same time for my sauces and for freezing chopped tomatoes. The rest of my tomatoes are one of these and one of those, some hybrid and some heirloom just to try different varieties.
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Old August 13, 2019   #3
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I had the bug and ran into a similar problem a few years back with florida weaving various tomatoes. The weave height was always different between them, so it was always more struggle than it should have been. I wouldn't say that they ripened that far apart, though, not here. Still, I have taken to growing a group of big beefs for sauce/canning. An hour ago I picked them for the second time this season. The plants look rough though, it has been so dry and hot the last month and don't know how much more I'll get out of them. Everybody thinks they look great but I'm looking at them thinking, yeah, great now, but won't be much left in two weeks. I also use a little red one that's real thick walled and stays red for a long time on the vine without falling off. Excess heirlooms will get canned but mostly we eat them in sandwiches.

I have had very little waste, due to the dryness, but I think the overall yield was low. So many failed flowers after the third trusses. I grew cuostralee for the first time in a while and they are really nice. The one going to the chopping block is over 2 lb and there have been a bunch of them off at that size or bigger. This is the first I've weighed.
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Old August 13, 2019   #4
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One of the YouTubers suggested they freeze their tomatoes while until they have enough to cook a big batch of sauce. If you can yours whole that might affect the texture though.
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Old August 14, 2019   #5
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Grow determinate tomatoes.
There are plenty of good ones to choose from.
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Old August 14, 2019   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Grow determinate tomatoes.
There are plenty of good ones to choose from.
What do you recommend? This past season, I've grown Mountain Magic Plus, Heatmaster, and bought another one Johnny's but haven't grown it yet.
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Old August 14, 2019   #7
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If you want "single source" for canning (all of one variety), then multiple plants of each are your best option. I grow several different pastes and throw them all in the pot together for canned purée.

Freezing will break them down into mush, which is no problem for purée as long as you let them thaw and drain out all the water. Will not work for canning whole tomatoes.

Rio Grande is a great paste. Others that grow similar to it are Heidi and Oroma. Also, San Marzano Nano will produce a huge amount of smaller San Marzano per plant if you want something dryer.
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Old August 14, 2019   #8
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Odd, I always have the problem that no matter what I do, they all seem to ripen at the same time (like the bulk), and I have each plant from a different variety. It can be good in a way, for canning, but I want them more spaced out for fresh eating (I only have a few plants).
I find shelf life is very proportional to how unblemished they are. No cracking means a solid 3 weeks at least on my shelf in the summer. But growing without some sort of rain protection, blemish free is pretty much a dream (I am partly protected).
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Old August 14, 2019   #9
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I appreciate all the input! Right now the plan (and we all know how subject to change they are) is to pump up the number of Rio Grandes for canning and I just might give a Big Beef a try.

The Bella Rosa has made some very nice slicers two years in a row now and Juliet will probably get dumped in favor of a different cherry. The flavor profile of Juliet is rather flat.

And there's plenty of time to go through "favorite tomatoes" posts here to keep me busy during the winter.
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Old August 14, 2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barb_FL View Post
What do you recommend? This past season, I've grown Mountain Magic Plus, Heatmaster, and bought another one Johnny's but haven't grown it yet.
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Old August 14, 2019   #11
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What are Rio Grande like? I have grown Roma, San Marzano, some other paste types for sauce but the taste was not worth a second season.

I use Big Beef for the reliable output and good flavor, but they are a wettish tomato for sauce compared to pastes. Next year I'm thinking about more of the little ones I grow...they taste good too and put out a thicker sauce than Big Beef, but I'm really not certain on the overall production per plant as yet.

For sauce I do one first run through the victorio(cold press, spots removed, quartered if necessary) then at the end run the mash through my Champion Juicer one time. That gets pretty much all of it. But it is an all day affair cooking down, adding everything else, and canning at pizza sauce consistency. The first pick of big beef (6-1/2 10x20 trays) + another tray of heirlooms yielded 14 qts of finished sauce. Today's 5 trays looks like it will be 8-9 qts. That should be plenty, then on to soup which I haven't canned for a couple years, and I want to do some roasted sauce too. Last year I did chili sauce and salsa so I'm good there for another year I think.
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Old August 15, 2019   #12
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I prefer paste varieties as they require less cook-down time and therefore retain more fresh/sweet tomato flavor. I can the plain purée then I have a base to create whatever type of sauce I want. For pizza I just lightly salt it and spread it on the dough with no additional cooking as the extra moisture will evaporate in the 550F oven leaving behind a sweet, dry, sauce layer.

Rio Grande and Heidi are both small, yet dense and dry tomatoes. Like other traditional pastes, they aren't very good for fresh eating as they need at least some cooking to really bring out their rich flavor.

Oroma is a touch juicier (closer to Opalka in density and juice level), but grows on a shorter plant in clusters of six or more, is much earlier than many other pastes, and keeps on producing all season.

All three will hold for quite a while after ripening so there's no rush to can them as there is with juicier pastes and slicers. That is a key benefit to these types of varieties -- they will sit and patiently wait until you have enough tomatoes that it's worth breaking out the canning equipment.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
JRinPA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Father'sDaughter View Post


Rio Grande and Heidi are both small, yet dense and dry tomatoes. Like other traditional pastes, they aren't very good for fresh eating as they need at least some cooking to really bring out their rich flavor.

Hey there FD. Maybe I'll try Rio Grande, though it doesn't sound like it would want to grow up here anymore than a Brandywine would want to grow down in Texas. I've read that before about the cooking of pastes and it sounds good...it just doesn't seem to "pan out" that way for me. I have yet to find a paste tomato that makes as good a sauce as slicers. The patient part, I agree with; the paste types seem to hold themselves together a good long time.

The yield last night was 8 qt so one quart got bagged in 3-10oz ziplocks. Let's see, 22 quarts total x3 batches per quart x 2 pizzas per batch...equals 132 pizzas just waiting to be made and devoured. I can't even describe how great that sauce tastes. Just thinking about it is making me want to go dunk some bread in it for breakfast. Luckily we froze those bags to prevent just such an act, because there are too many fresh vegetables to eat. Pizza must wait a bit. Yes it must. Ahem. Too hot to run the oven...yessiree it surely is...


EDIT from window to gage it looks like we got about 3/4"-7/8" of rain last evening. Normally I would not want that much with red tomatoes on, but it has been so dry I can only think it will help the plants much more than it will hurt bursting a few. That is one thing I never noted about paste types - their reaction to lots of water. Many slicers will split concentrically. I remember the San Marzanos had lots of BER, but don't recall their reaction to water.

Last edited by JRinPA; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:45 AM.
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