Steve Bogash, Regional Horticulture Educator for Penn State Extension, Franklin County, Chambersburg, PA joins us to share the results of the 2011 tomato tasting, and make some suggestions for the tomatoes to order now to grow this year in your garden.The trials focusing mostly on tomatoes (also peppers and other plants) have been running since 2000. Every year, up to 70 tomato varieties are grown and judged for taste, production, disease resistance, ease of training and appearance.
Steve found that although the heirloom varieties are often delicious, the yields may be low. Some of the winning old-timers have drawbacks, for example incredibly delicious and beautiful yellow, orange and red ‘Pineapple’ is susceptible to cracking. Do we home gardeners care? Some of us do, some are happy to put up with blemishes for wonderful flavor. Steve again recommended Burpee’s ‘Brandy Boy’, which combines the flavor of the favorite heirloom ‘Brandywine’ with the high yield and disease resistance of a modern hybrid for those who want the best of both worlds. Other well-known heirloom winners included ‘Mortgage Lifter’, ‘Arkansas Traveler’ and ‘Marianna’s Peace’.
If sweetness is what you are after, many of the cherry and grape types will be the varieties you’ll hope to grow. ‘Sakusa Honey’ is just about the best, but Steve pointed out that the price of the seeds (from Johnny’s Seeds) was steep – a whopping $9.95 per pack. Other cherry types noted were ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Five Star’, ‘Maglia Rosa’, and ‘Sun Gold’ -- a small orange, moderately disease-resistant variety with a flavor that was described as “candy.”
Slicing tomatoes that were judged best for taste included ‘Scarlet Red’, ‘Big Beef’, ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Stupice’.
A few patio types to try in containers that did well in the judging were ‘Bush Early Girl’, Bush Steak’, and ‘Sweet ‘N Neat’. (Photos courtesy Steve Bogash and PA Extension.)
Steve reminds listeners that they are invited to the free tastings the third week of August at the Chambersburg, PA Extension office.