Veggies of a Different Color

The Organic Gardening Test Garden yielded a rainbow harvest in 2012.

By Doug Hall

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Tomatoes

We can’t resist loading the test garden with tomatoes—the new varieties that intrigue us with their wondrous catalog descriptions as well as our old favorites. Out of about two dozen varieties we grew in 2012, these rose to the top.


‘Big Daddy’. This new hybrid was the most consistent producer of flawless fruits in the 2012 trials, even if it wasn’t the most flavorful.

Burpee

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

  Big Daddy Tomato
Black Cherry Tomato  

‘Black Cherry’. These dusky-red fruits have a rich, not-too-sweet flavor. The yield is not as overwhelming as some cherry varieties.

Tomato Growers Supply Co.

Photo: Patrick Montero

‘Dester’. Unsurpassed for flavor in the 2012 test garden was heirloom tomato ‘Dester’, which dazzled us with a wonderfully rich melding of tart and sweet. Alas, the plants lack disease resistance, so the harvest ended too soon.

Seed Savers Exchange

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

  Destor Tomato
Green Zebra Tomato  

‘Green Zebra’. Returning to the test garden by popular demand, tangy ‘Green Zebra’ scored high in our taste tests. It takes a bit of practice to determine when the green-streaked fruits are perfectly ripe.

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

Photo: Patrick Montero

‘Indigo Rose’. Far and away the test garden’s most arresting tomato was ‘Indigo Rose’, bred for high anthocyanin pigments, with unripe fruits that look like black-skinned plums. Unlike its appearance, its taste is unremarkable.

Nichols Garden Nursery

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

  Indigo Rose Tomato
Isis Candy Tomato  

‘Isis Candy’. Uneven rainfall made 2012 a bad year for cracked fruits, and ‘Isis Candy’ took it the worst. We ended up discarding too many of these sweet, marbled cherries.

Renee’s Garden

Photo: Patrick Montero

‘Kellogg’s Breakfast Potato Leaf’. An heirloom beefsteak of monstrous size, ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast Potato Leaf’ bears sweet, low-acid fruits in a pale orange color.

Tomato Growers Supply Co.

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

  Kellogg's Breakfast Potato Leaf Tomato
Mandarin Cross Tomato  

‘Mandarin Cross’. Orange-colored ‘Mandarin Cross’ is prolific and healthy, bearing fruit until the first frost.

Renee’s Garden

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

‘Paul Robeson’. ‘Paul Robeson’ shares a deep, smoky flavor with other “black” heirlooms but cracked badly for us; picking in the green-shoulder stage to forestall cracking resulted in blander fruits.

Fedco Seeds

Photo: Patrick Montero

  Paul Robeson Tomato
Pilcer Vecy Tomato  

‘Pilcer Vesy’. Bright yellow ‘Pilcer Vesy’ is a beefsteak with classic tomato flavor—unusual for such an early bearer.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Photo: Thomas MacDonald

‘Tang’. Orange ‘Tang’ has a well-balanced flavor and meaty fruits on vigorous vines.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Photo: Patrick Montero

 

  Tang Tomato
     
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