Early tomatoes – variety trial report

It’s time so start tomato retrospective (as I clear out the dead tomato plants – one of my least favorite chores). We plant a large variety of tomatoes, and usually we take careful records of which ones people like and their opinions. This year was so hectic we only have good data in the category of early tomatoes. But that was a good trial.

The early tomatoes tested this year were Stupice, 4th of July, Polar baby, Silvery Fir Tree, Early Pick, Oregon Spring, and Red Robin – all red tomatoes. The best find was Polar Baby – wow, it’s early. It’s unclear which of 4th of July, Stupice and Early Pick we’ll grow; Early Pick and 4th of July have better flavor, but Stupice is open pollinated. Silvery Fir Tree and Oregon Spring are out. Red Robin only if I’m inspired to experiment more in containers – it wasn’t really worth it.

The Data:

(note on dates: we had an exceptionally late, wet, spring this year – lots of rain in May and June. With our cold nights and clay soil, it takes tomatoes a while to get started and most production is in August, September and October. Official last frost is April 30, locals say May 15 is tomato-safe, but last couple of years we’ve had killing frosts in late May. This year we had no frosts after April 25 or so. And the killing frosts in late October were right on time – though we were spared the usual regular light frosts earlier in the month.)

Stupice (OP/Peter’s Seed)
seeds started early March, planted in garden 4/30
first ripe 7/20
Small red salad type. Very sweet (“too sweet”). Productive for a long time.

4th of July (Hybrid/Burpee)
seeds started early March, planted in garden 4/30
first ripe 7/20
Small red salad type. Great flavor, much more flavor than stupice but not as sweet (“too sweet”). Productive for a long time. tends to crack.

Polar baby (OP/Peter’s seed)
seeds started early March, planted in garden 4/30
first ripe 7/2 (maybe before, I wasn’t checking!)
entered in county fair 7/16; won first in “red tomatoes”
Very small plant. Tomatoes were small, red, sweet but not much flavor – only worth it since they are remarkably early, several weeks before any others. Gave up producing in midsummer.

Silvery Fir Tree (OP/containerseeds.com)
seeds started early March, planted in garden 5/14
first ripe in august
Medium-small tomatoes, larger than salad type. Nice foliage. Terrible flavor in our trail. Not productive, had disease problems.

Early Pick (Hybrid/Burpee)
seeds started early March, planted in garden 5/14
first ripe 7/29
Medium-small tomatoes, larger than salad type. Lots of flavor: more flavor but less sweet than stupice.

Oregon Spring (OP/Pinetree)
seeds started early March; planted in garden 4/30
first ripe mid-july
Medium-small tomatoes, larger than salad type. more acidic, less flavor, consistency not great.

Red Robin (OP/containerseeds.com)
seeds started early March; planted in pots in late April
First ripe late June
entered in county fair 7/16, won first in “cherry tomatoes”.
Very small, compact, designed for containers.
In container outside: very small, very flavorful tomatoes. In greenhouse: much larger, watery and bland. Haven’t tested in the ground.

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