Slow Roasted Cherry Tomato Pesto. For more delicious tomato recipes, check out From Seed to Table
According to my mother, when I was very young I once ate so many tomatoes that I developed a temporary allergic reaction. This story may be true, or it may just be her way of discouraging me from filching the last few heirlooms from her garden when production winds down in September. Either way, my love of tomatoes continues to this day, and I look forward to tomato season the way a bargain hunter wakes up at 3 a.m., anxious to score the best Black Friday deals.
Unfortunately, I no longer have enough sunny space for a dedicated tomato bed, so like small space gardeners everywhere, I’ve turned to containers as my solution. Last year I had great success with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, but while I admired their well-behaved good looks in a pot, the truth is, they’re a little too sweet for me. I prefer a tomato with a bit more acidity and bite. Bring it on, full-flavored tomatoes; I can take it!
That’s why I’m excited about the Contra Costa Master Gardener’s first annual tomato sale, going on from 10:00 to 3:00 April 4, 5 and 6. Located in “Our Garden” in the parking lot of the Contra Costa Times at 2640 Shadelands Drive in Walnut Creek, the sale features over 30 varieties of tomatoes, available for only $2.00 for each 4” pot. Rumor has it worm compost will be available as well. All varieties have been field tested by master gardeners, taking the guess work out of the selection process. Better still, the following three heirloom tomato varieties are well-suited to containers:*
Black Krim Tomato
Indeterminate - 78 days
Image courtesy of Patsy Bell Hobson
Originally from the Isle of Krim in the Black Sea, this rare Russian beefsteak turns almost black with sufficient sunlight and heat. Fantastic intense, slightly salty flavor. Suitable for container/patio gardens.
Black Sea Man
Determinate - 75 days
Image courtesy of the San Diego Master Gardeners
Russian heirloom which produces in 75 days and does well in containers. The master gardener who field tested it wrote: "It has a delicious sweet-tart, complex tomato flavor. With mahogany brown, medium-sized fruit that is the most unusual and beautiful tomato when sliced. It hasa combination of red, ink, green and mahogay flesh. A smallish plant, but a very good producer."
Silvery Fir Tree
Determinate - 58 Days
Image courtesy of Golden Harvest Organics
A traditional Russian variety which all feel the threat of Siberian winters at their roots, it yields heavy crops of round, slightly flatted 3" fruits...a real eye catcher. Does well in hanging baskets where tomatoes hang like oraments on a fir tree an on patios in containers.
Last year the cherry tomatoes stayed upright easily with the help of a small cage, but since I'm going bigger and bolder this time, I'm trying these pruning tips for keeping tomatoes vertical, courtesy of Peaceful Valley, to keep my tomatoes in check. They also have a terrific video on how to plant in containers or in the ground.
I'll be at the Tomato Sale helping out Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, so if you're in the neighborhood, drop by and test my knowledge! Speaking of which, if you're new to growing your own tomatoes, determinate means your crop will ripen at the same time - a great option if you plan on freezing, canning or making large batches of sauce. Indeterminate plants produce fewer tomatoes at any given time, but continue producing throughout the growing season. In general, heirloom tomatoes produce fewer overall tomatoes than newer varieties.
I'm leaning towards the Black Krim. What do y'all think?
*All tomato descriptions courtesy of the Contra Costa County Master Gardeners.