Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tomatoey Thoughts

We had a lot of rain last week, and this cracked 'Brandywine' was the result. It had to be eaten right away, but still tasted wonderful. They really have an excellent flavour and I like the pink shade, too.

The real problem is in cultivation. 'Brandywine' is from North America and is (I think) named after the Battle of Brandywine Creek, in Pennsylvania. If it was developed in this area, it is not really adapted for Sydney conditions. I should have realised from the potato leaves that the plant was adapted for lower temperatures and light levels: my plants are horribly burnt. The fruit fly bags have protected the fruit from scorching, but fruit set has been poor. The average tomato plant, according to Malcolm Campbell, will set fruit as long as there are periods below 27 C during the day. I suspect that the 'Brandywine' might stop setting fruit at something closer to 24 C, or that it prefers lower overnight temperatures -- our minima rarely fell below 20 C in January. I plan to keep growing 'Brandywines', but in future I will plant them early and late in the season. If anyone has ideas on what would be a good mid-season tomato for Sydney, I'd like to hear about it. My Dad used to plant 'Grosse Lisse'.

I'm completely unimpressed with 'Tommy Toe', after two years of growing it. I'm used to rampant cherry tomato plants which just appear as volunteers and produce trusses of yummy fruit. 'Tommy Toe' takes ages to flower, and then only gives you a couple of tomatoes at a time. Worst of all, they don't have much flavour. A big thumbs down to this one.

The other variety I grew this year was 'Principe Borghese', which are small "paste" tomatoes, used in cooking and for sun-drying. I managed to sun-dry some and they taste fine, but I prefer fresh tomatoes. Worth the experiment, but I probably won't bother buying the seeds again.

How about you?


Jamie said...

Tomatoes are fussy, cranky odd bods. A friend in Ashfield told me a while back about his self-seeding, rampant, fruit-through-winter, delicious Tommy Toes (admittedly growing up a warm brick wall).

I've never grown them and so I can't say, but one thing I have stuck to is this: if a tomato variety is a dud in my backyard, never again. Just move on, because there are plenty more to choose from.

But I'm glad the Brandywines tasted great. I've never heard a bad word about them.

Anonymous said...

I don't bother with tomatoes in town as they ALWAYS get fruit fly / hen pecked, but at the farm there is a plentiful supply of what we rudely call "ring sown" tomatoes ... essentially volunteers.

greenfumb said...

My tomatoes were c**p this year, I had some kind of viral problem, scorched leaves, poor fruit set, fruit fly........ I tried some heritage types like Black Russian and Green Zebra but wasn't very impressed with the flavour.

I have a second crop of Romas in that look a lot better so fingers crossed.

Kiyi Kiyi said...

I've given up on planting Brandywine. Where I live (far Northern US- Minnesota) they will maybe produce one tomato-if you're lucky and you start the plants inside 4 months before planting them out.
Our season is too short for them. :( They do taste amazing though.
Now I only plant 80 day and earlier varieties. Still have to start them inside, but only 2 1/2 months before planting. LOL

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