Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Epic” Bloom Day — July 2014

An epic tomato roundup!

In early May, Storey Editor Carleen Madigan sent out an email seeking foster parents for tomato plants that had been sent to us from North Carolina by Craig LeHoullier, author of the forthcoming book, Epic Tomatoes. Partially for fun, and partially to ensure that we’d have the fruit we needed for photo shoots for the book, a number of us here at Storey volunteered some garden space and pledged to take good care of our charges.

Now that the heat and rains of summer have arrived, many of us are beginning to see signs of fruit. In honor of Bloom Day this month, we thought it would be fun to collect all our “epic” tomatoes virtually, from the giant to the dwarf, as they continue to grow in various corners of Western Massachusetts. 

Are you growing tomatoes this summer? What varieties are in your garden? Tomato overload after the jump.


Variety: Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is the only one in my garden that I see an actual tomato on so far; it was ahead of the others I started from seed. It’s also the only one in my garden that looks stressed; it’s at the end of the row and I’m sure gets the most sun, but also maybe the least water.  I did cram them in there. 

Variety: Rosella Purple


Varieties: Nepal, Lillian’s Red Paste, Little Lucky
Lillian’s Red Paste
Lillian’s Red Paste plant

Little Lucky has not been so lucky — no fruit yet!
Variety: Dwarf Wild Fred

Here’s the first tomato emerging on our Dwarf Wild Fred growing in a pot on our deck!


Varieties: Hugh’s, Yellow White

Both Hugh's and Yellow White are looking robust and have started to fruit.  Early on they bravely suffered some minor nibblings by spider mites, but you wouldn't know it now.  They have been growing like crazy, and I've been dutifully suckering them and whispering sweet tomato lullabies in the evenings...
Yellow White
Yellow White
Varieties: Lucky Cross, Mexico Midget, Tiger Tom

Tiger Tom has good fruit set but the leaves are sort of curling in (not sure if this is normal). They look healthy otherwise. Lucky Cross has some fruit and looks healthy; the leaves on this one and Tiger Tom are huge compared to the other varieties! Mexico Midget looks the spindliest and sprawliest of all my tomatoes and has the only signs of disease — yellowed leaves in the interior lower branches; not sure if it’s blight or just too much moisture — but it has lots of blossoms and a few teeny green tomatoes.
Lucky Cross
Mexico Midget
Tiger Tom
Varieties: Lillian’s Yellow, Cherokee Chocolate

Our Cherokee Chocolate and Lillian’s Yellow are keeping pace with the rest of our toms, with nice fruit set on both plants. I love the deeply ridged fruit of the Lilllian’s Yellow, but the plant has some discoloration on lower leaves and branches. A few other (non-Epic) varieties in our garden show the same. Blight? Hopefully not. It doesn’t seem to be spreading.
Cherokee Chocolate
Lillian’s Yellow
Lillian’s Yellow flowers
Variety: Golden Queen

It seems to be flourishing!


Varieties: Mullen’s Mortgage Lifter, Big Boy
Mullen’s Mortgage Lifter
Big Boy
Variety: Sun Gold

I planted my sungold over Memorial Day weekend. I started getting fruit pretty early, probably at the end of June. But now it’s really starting to bloom and fruit even more. I have some photos of pizzas I made last year with sun golds I grew and it makes me get a hankering for more of the same this year.
Just planted: Memorial Day weekend
How it looked on July 12

Varieties: Yellow Oxhart, Giant Syrian
Yellow Oxhart
Giant Syrian


Craig said...

Hey all! I am enjoying looking through my babies!

Anne, Abraham Lincoln is a tricky one - good luck...the original source of this is the USDA collection, because commercial sources aren't offering what the 1923 catalog described. Mine is stressed as well, but has quite a few tomatoes...fingers crossed.

Gwen, how do you like the growth habit of these dwarf types as typified by Rosella Purple? This is one delicious tomato...here's hoping you get some (I shipped the first from my plant to Storey this week to photograph!)

Carleen, your shapes of Nepal and Lillian's look great...Little Lucky can be temperamental - if the plant stays healthy, it will eventually fruit!

Deborah, you are also getting to grow one of our new Dwarf varieties - this one was named for my dad, Wilfred - you will be surprised at the size of the tomatoes on this compact plant!

Hannah, both of these varieties are super vigorous, as you can tell - jack in the beanstalk types! Really got my fingers crossed for your Yellow White, since mine is having issues...no pressure on you, of course!

Lisa, those look great - my Tiger Tom is battling disease, you should have some beauties - think striped golf balls. Hoping you get Lucky Cross - lovely fruit, amazing flavor. Mexico Midget is the smallest of tomatoes - they fit in a pea pod..but have huge flavor. And if any drop on the ground and stay there, you will have the variety forever!

Emily, you have two that have amazing flavor - Lillians' is the best yellow tomato I've eaten, but it will take patience.

Carolyn, yippee for a flourishing Golden Queen - this was the first big selling yellow tomato, 1882 - the fruit aren't all that large but are very pretty - mine is struggling big time, so again, really hoping you succeed...

Deb, those look really good - Big Boy was the very first hybrid tomato, 1949 - and Mullens Mortgage Lifter is an incredibly vigorously growing variety whose fruit size will astound.

Zan, you are growing the remarkably flavored Sun Gold...lucky you - there will be much sharing and drooling involved.

Leslie, you have the two very cool looking heart shaped varieties whose plants can get huge...and tomatoes too. Really looking forward to your results...

Which goes for everyone! Hope that growing these varieties is an interesting (and delicious) experience for all!

Craig (proud papa of the seedlings of the plants you are growing!)

Lisa (editor at Storey) said...

Hi, Craig - thanks for the encouragement! I'll definitely let a couple of Mexican Midgets stay in the bed for future summers. I think we may be able to pick the first few this week.

Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,

Thanks for these great insights into what we're growing --it helps to know what to expect (and to know that success can vary for everyone). What a treat to have you watching over our efforts! (And I can't wait to taste our Lillians...)