Tomato Terms: What Does It Mean When I Say…Early, Main and Late Season?

ImageSiberia This might be the earliest tomato ever – only 7 weeks from transplanting to table. Capable of setting fruits at 38 F on sturdy dark green plants. The fruits are bright red, 3 to 5 oz. and bunch in clusters. Also good for a patio. Determinate, 48 days

Along with these words usually comes a range of days in which you can expect to start eating tomatoes. (The days are from transplanting not sowing the seed).

Where I live, it can be colder in some areas than others. For instance, Deer Park, is about 10-15 miles north from Spokane. It has predictably colder weather and earlier frosts than we do. Their growing season is a lot shorter than ours and we aren’t geographically that far away. Cheney is colder plus they always have a lot of wind. Different growing conditions is a small area.

After reading my descriptions (www.thetomatolady.com) on my tomatoes or peppers, one of the things my customers ask is if it really will be ripe in 45 days or 60 days. I have to be honest with them and say I can’t give a definitive answer. There are so many variables involved in growing a garden. Weather, soil temps, amount of watering and fertilizing, where did they site the plant and variety.

The biggest one is  the weather, which we have no control over. Last June, it seemed like it rained avery day and was cold. That will keep plants sitting there, in the ground,  just waiting. (The only good thing about that is the plant is working on root development so that when it gets warm they have a good foundation to shoot up). I think I remember having a light frost in early June.

I would like to change my descriptions to early, mid, late and really late. It’s true that a Siberia or a Fourth of July will produce fruit before a late season variety such as Orange Russian or a Gold Medal.

Image

Gold Medal These are fabulous, reminiscent of Big Rainbow. A Ben Quisenberry tomato. Wonderful, 1-1/2 lb., yellow and red bi-color beefsteak tomato with pink marbeling in blossom end, thin skin and luscious sweet, well-balanced flavors. Indeterminate, 85 days

That being said, I have seen some early varieties (48-60 day) that are only about 2 weeks earlier than a 70-75 day tomato. There again it depends on a lot of variables.

It must be nice in the South where have you a longer growing season, if you have to wait longer to get them into the ground it’s ok because you won’t get a frost until November.

There are many ways you can extend your season. Some years  if you wait until all signs of frost are gone you won’t have any tomatoes. At some point you have to get them into the ground. Especially if you live in an area the gets an early fall frost.

I will discuss some ways in later posts

Advertisements

First Seeds of the Year

Aside

I planted Candy onions in plug trays and Walla Walla Sweets in a broadcast method, the way I have always done them. We will see which does better when it comes to transplanting.

I also seeded some Lisanthus, Lobelia, Crytal Palace and Blue Wings,  pink Brugmansia, snapdragons and several varieties of Impatiens, including the uber expensive rosebud type.

Interesting Trivia About Tomatoes: Fruit or Vegetable?

Image

Is it a fruit or vegetable?

In 1887, the US Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were vegetables even though they are specialized reproductive structures that contain seeds. They said:

“Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common knowledge of the people…all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and…are usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats…and not like fruits generally as dessert.”

Some Interesting Trivia About Tomatoes: First Part

black-prince

Black Prince

They were once called a love apple and were thought to be poisonous

Tomatoes are native to the coastal highlands of western South America. The early American colonists brought them to America but most people still viewed them with suspicion. Thomas Jefferson mentions planting them in 1809 but they weren’t widely cultivated until after 1830 when tomatoes started popping up in American cookbooks and gardening manuals. America has had a love affair with tomatoes ever since.

Flea Beetles are on the loose in the Inland Northwest

Flea Beetles, A common problem this time of year. It has come to my attention that they are afoot. If your leaves have what looks like little shot holes you might/probably have flea beetles. They seem to attack the lower leaves first. Here is a link ot a site that gives you good information as to what they looks like, how they overwinter and what to do about it.

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05592.html

Imageflea beetle damage

 

“Early” Season Tomatoes

In our neck of the woods (Inland Northwest – Spokane and surrounding areas) summer seems to come later and later. Lately, June seems to be more rainy than usual. Last year, I started telling everyone that tomatoes were a fall crop!

I entered several in the fair and by the time it rolled around in the beginning of September, I still didn’t have any large tomatoes to share. I had plenty of cherry tomatoes and some smaller varieties but no prize winners… until two weeks after the fair. Sigh. After that, I had billions of tomatoes to eat and share and can (I put up 75 quarts).

One of the ways we cope with our shorter climate (and I have absolute sympathy for Deer Park gardeners) is to plant “early” tomatoes. One thing I have found is that they aren’t substantially earlier than mid-season tomatoes. As for late season, I always get beautiful crops of those also, probably due to our actual frost date being sometime in later October. Here is some info on early tomatoes.

Early season tomatoes ripen fruit in 55 to 70 days after being transplanted to the garden as 6-8 week old plants.

Because great tomato flavor comes with just the right combination of sugars and acids that are the product of sunlight and photosynthesis, early season tomatoes are often dismissed as less tasty than mid- and late-season tomatoes (which require 80 to more than 100 days to ripen) because they spend fewer days in the sun.

Many “early” tomatoes—which are often smaller and less leafy than later season tomatoes–can flower and set fruit in cool, early-season conditions. Given optimal conditions, early-season tomatoes can produce fruit equally flavorful to the best late-season varieties. I like the pink “Early Wonder”, “Stupice”, “Anna Russian”, and “Subarctic Plenty”. Those are very tasty.

Cherry tomatoes are also earlier than the larger varieties but that is another post.

Anna Russian (open-pollinated). Slicing tomato. Pink-red, heart-shaped, 10 oz. fruits; juicy, excellent sweet flavor. 70 days. Indeterminate.

Early Wonder (open-pollinated). Slicing tomato. Dark-pink skinned to 6 oz.; full flavored. 55 days. Determinate.

Stupice (open-pollinated). Slicing tomato. Red-skinned, small to medium-sized to 4 oz.; sweet, juicy. 50 days. Dwarf determinate, compact. For short-season regions. From Czechoslovakia.

Sub Arctic Plenty (open-pollinated). Slicing tomato. Small, round to 2 oz.; good flavor. 50 days. Determinate. Compact. Sets fruit in cold weather. Those were the last to succumb to the weather and I loved the taste.

In order: Anna Russian, Early Wonder, Subarctic, and Stupice.

ImageImageImageStupice

Gardening Will Always Be Important To Me

When I was a kid, I don’t remember a special affinity for gardening. All I remember was weeding and more weeding. My mom says that I remember incorrectly and that I did have an interest. Fascinating what we remember and what we don’t. 

Today it is a different story. I love the feel of sun on my face when I’m in the garden whether working or just sitting and enjoying the view. The bright colors, sweetly scented flowers and delicious food that I get from my garden all contribute to my love of gardening. The smell of geraniums and tomato plants. The taste of Sungold cherry tomatoes, warm from the vine. The smell of the earth in spring. Digging home grown carrots in colors of purple, white, yellow and orange in early spring. What’s not to love! I even like weeding. My husband and I used that as our “quiet” time when all the kids were still at home. We still go out and weed together in the evenings. It’s cheaper than therapy!Image