5 Great Tomatoes for Cool Climates | Veggie Gardener (With Commentary from The Tomato Lady!)

this is a good article that I got in my email. it showcases early tomatoes. I  have grown all of these but Novia. I am carrying SubArctic, Legend, and Black Prince. Look for my My Two Cents Worth: I will tell you my thoughts on the variety.

Here’s a tip for early tomatoes. I will try it and let you know how it works. Or you can try it and let me know how it works for you. Flick the blossoms (they are self pollinating) or take a cotton swab/paint brush to pollinate your early tomatoes. Sometimes we don’t have the necessary wind or the bees aren’t out yet so they aren’t being pollinated, therefore no fruit. I don’t know why I never thought of this myself!

Tomatoes are very adaptive plants, and can produce fruit in a wide variety of climates and regions. Whether you live in zone 4 or in zone 10, you can grow tomatoes without too much trouble.Although this is true it is important to choose varieties that are well-matched for the climate you live in for the best results. Some tomato varieties perform best in very warm climates, while others are bred for better production in cooler climates.If you live in a cool climate (from zone 6 to zone 4) here are five tomato varieties that should thrive for your area.

Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure is a determinate tomato variety that performs very well in cool climates. They are generally ready to pick in about 67 days after transplanting outside which is great for shorter seasons.The compact size of this tomato plant makes them perfect for containers. According to my sources it is now sold on Burpee seed racks as Burpee Early Harvest Hybrid. I honestly don’t know why they change the names! My Two Cents Worth: I have grown this for sale but not put it in my own garden (I only have so much garden space). I have heard from my customers that they love this tomato. It is a very healthy plant in my greenhouse.


Sub Arctic

With a name like Sub Arctic you know this tomato does well in cooler, short climates. It is a determinate variety that produces four ounce tomatoes in about 42 days after transplanting.Ideal for short seasons in the north, or for a quick harvest in southern vegetable gardens. My Two Cents Worth: I love this tomato. Grew it for years but never put it in my garden until I had a leftover plant. I put it into an enormous container and loved, loved, loved it. They are a smaller tomato, about the size of a ping pong ball, sometimes larger and very sweet and bright red. I am offering this one this year.


The Legend tomato is another variety that produces well in cool climates and is resistant to late blight.It produces large fruit that can measure four to five inches in diameter and are a bright, glossy red color. This is one of the earliest maturing slicing tomatoes available. My Two Cents Worth: This is a lovely tomato, good flavor, consistent size, shape and color. Plus, it doesn’t want to take over the world. In my garden the fruit didn’t get to 5″ across but about the size of baseballs. I am offering this one this year.


The Novia tomato variety is an indeterminate that produces seven to nine ounce fruit and is very disease resistant.They contain a high level of lycopene which is a beneficial antioxidant. These tomatoes perform well in cooler climates, but can also be grown as far south as zone 9.

Black Prince

The Black Prince tomato variety comes from Siberia, so you know it is used to some cold weather and short seasons.This heirloom tomato features medium-sized fruit that are a deep red with green to purplish shoulders. They are loved for their rich, almost smoky tomato flavor and excellent hardiness in cold temperatures. My Two Cents Worth: This is very pretty tomato. One of those that are considered “black” Mine were a dark, dusky puprle with green shoulders and about the size of large eggs. The inside is a  beautiful dark red and the taste is good but I honestly don”t get the “smokey”  flavor. I think that is a trick of the mind!  I am offering this one this year.

Source: 5 Great Tomatoes for Cool Climates | Veggie Gardener


Starting Seeds in March

This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?


Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.


This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!

Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.

One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.

Freaky Fruits: Seeds Sprouting Inside Tomato – Garden Culture Magazine

seeds-sprouting-inside-tomato-1Interesting article. I’ve seen seeds germinating inside of tomatoes but NEVER to this extent.

What’s the real cause of seeds sprouting inside tomato fruits? It’s not normal, at least not in years past. Is it a GMO thing, or something else entirely?

Source: Freaky Fruits: Seeds Sprouting Inside Tomato – Garden Culture Magazine


What I do With My Tomatoes – Canning and More Canning

2014-table-of-tomatoes  Here is a picture of one day’s harvest of tomatoes, which finally started ripening, (I swear in our neck of the woods it’s a fall crop now). I canned 31 quarts of tomatoes, so far and there will be many more2014-canned-tomatoes-2.

I like to do it this way because I can use them for just about anything, sauces, as an ingredient in a recipe, pepper steak, even soup. I mix all the colors together which I think is very pretty and strengthens the flavors, making it more complex.2014-canned-tomatoes


End Of Season Advice for Tomatoes

Here in the Inland Northwest, our weather is extremely variable.

Here are several ways to motivate your tomatoes to ripen their fruit. Remember that the plants main purpose in life, is to procreate and it panics when you do one or more of the following:

Cut back on watering

Shovel pruning – cut the roots about a foot from the plants on two sides. If it’s really late in the season, do all four sides.

Start picking off extra blossoms. One caveat: if it is a cherry tomato leave them alone since they take very little time to go from blossom to ripe fruit.

Pick off tomatoes that you know aren’t going to have enough time to get big enough. These would be the very large, whopper size tomatoes such as Mortgage Lifter, Aussie, Big Rainbow, Rose etc.

Pinch off growing tips as to focus their attention into ripening what they have

Watch the weather like a hawk protect the plants with row cover, bed sheets, tarps, blankets, anything to keep the frost off the fruit. tomatoes-with-tarp

Here we have used blue tarps.

Once frost touches the fruit they will rot rather than ripen.DSCF9210

This what a frost damaged tomato looks like. 

Before a hard, plant killing frost, pick all green ones and bring them inside, most will ripen, the rest you can use for fried green tomatoes or a green tomato relish.


Bruschetta | The Pioneer Woman Cooks | Ree Drummond


tomato, basil bruschetta

Bruschetta | The Pioneer Woman Cooks | Ree Drummond.


How I Keep Track Of My Tomatoes In My Garden

This year I only wanted 10 tomato plants in my garden. Not so much, the belt laid plans of mice and men, right? So I have more than that. When I plant, I try to mix up the colors and the shapes and the sizes so that I can keep the varieties straight. Let’s face it, a medium red looks like a medium red, except for taste. Even to The Tomato Lady.

Another thing I do is to make a map. There is now way I can rely on the markers: they fade, fall out or, and I am pretty sure this happens, at least to me, the squirrels think it’s funny to switch out the markers. Probably because I pull out all the walnut trees they try to plant in my yard. Sigh.

Below is a picture of my original map as I walked through the garden making notes.


This what it looks like once I transfer it to my computer. I include frames of reference such as raspeberries, arbor, greenhouse so that I can orient myself. Works like a charm and I have records from years past. Works for anything you want to keep track of.



The Letter of the Day is Z; “Z” is for the Zebra Twins, Black and Green

Black Zebra

A natural and stabilized cross between Green Zebra and a black tomato by Jeff Dawson.

These tomatoes are vigorous, plants that produce 4 oz., 1 1/2”, juicy, round tomatoes with purple/mahogany colored skin and green stripes. 

Great smokey and sweet flavor. 




Green Zebra

Customer favorite

This is one of the most unusual variety you’ll ever grow! 

Fully ripened fruits are bright green, with stripes of a still lighter green. 

Round, smallish, 2 to 4 oz. fruits have excellent, tart, “real tomato” flavor. 

Plants are vigorous. 





The Letter of the Day is X: “X: is for Xtra Large Tomato Varieties

My Love’s Pink Oxheart

Vigorous vine produces big bunches of huge pink tomatoes which are oxheart shaped, meaty, and have fantastic flavor. They have a good balance of sweet and acid. The plant is unlike otheroxheart tomatoes, it has sturday foliage, not wispy like some oxhearts. This tomato has several large, large fruits that weren’t yet ripe. I was hoping to take them to the fair last year but they didn’t turn until several days right after the fair. I would have won the largest with one of them, it topped out at over 3 pounds!





I won the largest tomato of the 2011 Spokane County Fair with this one.

A large leafy heirloom that produces deep, rose-pink, 3″, meaty globes with a taste that rivals those varieties heralded most for their luscious taste.

Seed is from a doctor in PA who got it from one of her Amish patients.




A favorite

An excellent slicer, with most fruits over 1 pound – many 2 to 3 pounds – and still holds the world record of 7+ pounds for a single fruit! Not in our neck of the woods, probably somewhere south where they have lot sof heat and a way longer growing season.

Produces smooth and solid fruits that seldom crack, with small cavities, nearly solid meat, and excellent flavor.

Developed from Beefsteak after 13 years of careful selection.



A favorite despite the late maturation date. We had loads of them for canning in September.

Simply amazing! These were enormous tomatoes in my garden. Some were so big, you could have used 3 or 4 in one quart jar and a joy to slip the skins for canning.

Good producer of 2 x 3-inch (and bigger), 1 lb., red, paste tomatoes.

Sweet, tangy, meaty fruit. One of the best flavored sauce tomatoes.


Late season





The Letter of the Day is M: “M” is for Mortgage Lifter and Maules Red Hot, a Cayenne Type of Pepper

Mortgage Lifter

These long time favorites are also known as Radiator Charlie. They produce good yields of large, smooth, pink-skinned fruits and have few seeds, even in times of drought. Mild and delectable sweet flavor.

I like these a lot, last year we had 1-2 lb. tomatoes. Yummy. The back story on this is very interesting and one of the reasons I like heirloom tomatoes. In a nutshell, during the Depression there was a gentleman who raised these tomato plants and sold them for $1.00, a hefty sum back then, and was able to pay off his $6000 dollar mortgage in 6 years. It is also known as Radiator Charlie due to the fact he owned a radiator shop.


75-85 days


Maules Red Hot

Great for Northern areas, these peppers will give you loads of 10” long cayenne type peppers. They mature from green to red with a flavor that is excellent for hot sauces or making dried pepper flakes.

these were a bonus seed that I rec’d from a seed company. Any variety that works well in the north with it;s shorter season is something I want to promote.