Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Great Tomato Race

When you grow tomatoes and first start to see the yellow blossoms, the question almost asks itself – which tomato will ripen first?
Black Sea Man
This year we have 24 varieties of mostly heirloom organic tomatoes growing in the high tunnel. When I shop for tomato seed, I rely on tried-and-true growing experience and taste. But I also look at the number of days it takes for the tomato plant to begin producing fruit.
In the days before the high tunnel, we were limited to tomatoes with a very short growing season (50 - 65 days). Now we have the luxury of planting tomatoes with growing spans of 85+ days. 
It's fun to watch the daily progress in the high tunnel as I make my way down the aisles, diligently cutting away the suckers on the indeterminate plants climbing their strings. Already the Black Trifele has taken on its signature triangular shape. I also recognize the Red Pears even though they're diminutive. Indigo Rose  (a Farmers' Market favorite) boasts dark leaves and stems and the marble-sized new fruit have deep purple shoulders.
Last year, the great tomato race was won by Stupice with Silvery Fir Tree, Moskovich and Sweetie Cherry following close behind. All those varieties are making a return appearance this year.
For 2014, I fully expect Black Sea Man (pictured above) to take the prize. This particular plant is loaded with fruit already!
Here's a peek in the high tunnel in a photo taken Tuesday, June 3.

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