Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Tomato Tastin' at this year's Como Cookout

I am sorry to report that the 2010 Tomato Tastin' Experience scheduled for Sept., 19th at the Como Cookout is canceled. The outlook for tomato availability is poor. Chalk it up to a wet season that lead to lots of disease, and not enough consistently high temperatures to ripen fruit. We have reports of vines producing a few here and there, but the rest remain green, or the plants have succumbed to blight. The homegrown tomato dearth is an unexpected outcome with all the excitement in April of Minnesota's early spring warm-up. To see the past 6 years of results of the Tomato Tastin' Experience, sponsored by the OWLS Community Garden, check out this past post.

Those folks who planted some early producing, and determinate tomato varieties have had better luck at getting a bumper crop. Growing a diversity of crops and varieties wins out again! If you would like to augment your own crop, look-up a nearby farmer's market.

If you want to learn more about tomato diseases, look over this U of MN Extension bulletins:

Tomato Diseases

Early Blight of Tomatoes and Potatoes
Late Blight of Potato and Tomato
Nonparasitic Disorders of Tomatoes
Parasitic Diseases of Tomato
Tomato Anthracnose
Septoria Leaf Spot of Tomato
Verticillium Wilt of Tomato and Potato

Extension also has been supporting seed trials grown and reported by Master Gardeners. Tomatoes get a lot of attention during the seed trials and below summarizes their results which are published every year in The Northern Gardener magazine. Tomatoes of various kinds were tested against each other since 1988. Past winners are:

  • 1988 (determinate early): Celebrity VFNT hybrid
  • 1989 (determinate midseason): Mountain Pride VF hybrid
  • 1990 (cherry): Sweet Million FNTL hybrid
  • 1991 (paste): Square Paste
  • 1993 (yellow, orange, gold): Lemon Boy hybrid
  • 1994 (Beefsteak): Supersteak hybrid
  • 1995 (main season hybrid large red determinate): Celebrity Hybrid
  • 1998 (container types): Cherry Gold
  • 2000 ((indeterminate red hybrid main season): (tie) Park's Whopper and Big Boy
  • 2003 (heirloom varieties): Brandywine
  • 2005 (grape types): (tie) Juliet and Yellow Jelly Bean
  • 2007 (heirlooms): Pineapple
  • 2008 (slicing types - past winners): Lemon Boy
  • 2010 (paste): not yet evaluated

Several varieties selected as best by Master Gardeners have also been favorites at the Tomato Tastin' Experience (bolded above), a useful correlation for tomato fiends.

image credit: University of Minnesota