Yes, I’m still thinking about tomatoes as I slowly peruse catalogues and websites. When I find something of particular interest, I search internet sites for growers’ comments (davesgarden.com is one place to look). Most new tomatoes are bred in North America for disease resistance and productivity, but some varieties are more narrowly focused and unique, like indeterminate ‘Momotaro’, bred in Japan and offered by Tomato Growers Supply Company (tomatogrowers.com). It was purposely bred for flavour, and many growers say it’s the most delicious tomato — intensely rich and sweet, with just the right amount of acid. They also agree that the plants are low on productivity, but no one thinks that’s a problem because the flavour is so good.
‘Momotaro’ is the most popular fresh-eating tomato in Japan. A possible translation of “momotaro” might be “peach boy,” but I’m not sure about that.
Another interesting plant from Tomato Growers Supply Company is ‘Super Marzano VFNT Hybrid’, a hybrid of the heritage ‘San Marzano’ tomato famous for making rich sauces, but sadly vulnerable to tomato blights. ‘Super Marzano VFNT Hybrid’ has inbred disease resistance to verticillium and fusarium wilts, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus — as well as an increased amount of natural pectin, making it a quick-cooking tomato in the saucepot. This would also be a good choice for chili sauce, marmalade, caponata, etc.
Looking at more heritage plants from Italy, I noticed Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine lists ‘Principe Borghese’ (superseeds.com). Although there are many heritage plum-shaped varieties for making sauces, this tomato is used in Italy for drying in the sun. The small one- to two-ounce (28- to 57-g) fruits with meaty interiors are borne like grapes in large clusters of several dozen per plant. The vines, with tomatoes intact, are simply thrown over a fence to dry in the hot Italian sun. Halving the plum-shaped fruits and drying them at a very low oven temperature (perhaps 100° F) for several hours should work, too.
Pinetree Seeds also has ‘Coustralee’ (sometimes spelled ‘Cuostralee’), an interesting French heirloom that produces enormous one- to two-pound (450- to 900-g) lobed, beefsteak-type fruits. I was skeptical at first, because overly large tomatoes often have large watery seed cavities with copious gel and little flavour. But Dave’s Garden has favourable comments from growers, and a photo of the interior showing small cavities and lots of meaty flesh. This would be a good tomato to grow for a crowd, or possibly competitions.
I’ve found two tomatoes that excel in particular ways. ‘Peron’, alternatively known as ‘Sprayless’ (superseeds.com), was developed by Professor Abelardo Piovano of the National University of Argentina. It’s believed to be the most naturally insect repellant tomato available to home gardeners. I’ve never had a problem with insects on tomatoes, except for one tomato hornworm that was large as a pony! But I suppose there are regions where tomatoes are bothered by flea beetles or other mysterious pests, and this would be a good plant to grow.
My favourite new and unusual discovery is ‘Yaqui’ (tomatogrowers.com), a plant with so much potential success that it might just be a “super tomato.” ‘Yaqui’ is a compact determinate plant and matures in 65 to 70 days, producing large numbers of blocky plum tomatoes. The plants are resistant to verticillium and fusarium wilts, alternaria stem canker, grey leaf spot, bacterial speck and nematodes. ‘Yaqui’ is outstanding for both the quality and quantity of its fruits, and is certainly a good choice for less than ideal growing locations, providing at least five hours of sunlight is available.
Okay, I’ll keep any further tomato thoughts for another time. There are just so many good tomatoes!