This has been my best tomato season in the eight years I have lived in Houston. My eight years in Midland Texas were a complete bust with gardening save for the peach tree I planted in the spring of 2002, the spring after my father passed away. So, for tomato comparison I would have to go back to 1996, Bakersfield, California for a season that compares. In Bakersfield I could not grow anything poorly. My neighborhood had spent the prior 100 years as some of the best farmland in the San Joaquin Valley prior to being converted to a neighborhood of homes, schools and shops. Put a green stick in the ground, add water and it would have grown.
What made this season so good for my tomatoes? A number of things….an early start – mid-February my tomato plant were planted deep and the weather cooperated. The soil has benefitted from several years of composting – the clay is a lot less sticky and worm friendly now. I added worm castings and rock phosphate into each planting hole this year… I selected a few different varieties this year as well as some known producers for the Houston conditions. I put my yellow and black hoop striped shirt on and buzzed lots of blossoms with my electric toothbrush…..I repeat my toothbrush not my lovely wife”s. I tried to water evenly but did experience some cracking – taste was not impacted. As a design of experiment criteria I added too many variables to know what worked…I think they all worked together…. I will read, learn, listen to others and add some new variables next season….
The varieties this year, several Celebrity plants – produced heavily and well into the heat – as designed. The Oxheart - wonderful heirloom variety, oblong and pink in color with great flavor. Mortgage Lifter, big. lobed and very meaty heirloom variety – over a pound in weight and great on sandwiches. Early Girl, an F1 hybrid….prolific and very pretty dark red tomatoes. I was surprised that it held up as long as it did in the heat. For those in cooler climes – try this -
Dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes are popular in farmers markets in the San
Francisco Bay Area. The variety is also popular with home gardeners in
that region, where it thrives despite the area’s cool and often overcast
summers – the technique: not watering tomatoes after transplanting, forcing the
roots to grow deeper to seek out moisture, producing more “concentrated
flavor,” and saving water.
The Beef Master Plant was a surprise…it started off slow….nearly wound up going through the chipper/shredder! Produced lots of very large meaty tomatoes, lobed style F1 hybrid plant. Lastly – my volunteer cherry tomato – awesome producer, sweet tasting and one that I would like to grow again…..I have attempted top save some seeds thanks to advice from “Jimmy Cracked Corn” and his blog…chck him out – he is a quick fun read!
I added a Juliet variety yesterday – I love this tomato but did not find any for the spring so July 8th I added it for a fall harvest – very prolific producer in this hot and humid climate.
I am including a handful of old tomato photos from mt archives. No captions so you don’t have to try and read anytthing before the picture scrolls.