What is in this article?:
- With the rapid growth in vegetable gardening, demand promises to be higher than ever for tomato varieties.
-- Pineapple. "While there really aren't any great yellow/orange/red tomatoes, Pineapple is the one that provides the most consistent production and good flavor. It's soft and cracks readily but is the best of this type that we've trialed. Pineapple makes an excellent addition to homemade tomato juice."
-- Mortgage Lifter (Radiator Charlie). "Excellent flavor and high production make Mortgage Lifter the No. 1 large, pink heirloom. I recommend it to growers. High production and moderate disease resistance separate this variety from most heirlooms."
-- Arkansas Traveler. "This variety makes relatively small fruit at 5 to 8 ounces, but the production is good and the flavor excellent."
-- Marianna's Peace. "This variety originally came into our program as one of those sample packets included with your order. The fruit are very large -- often more than a pound -- pink and very flavorful. The plants are enormous and require very tall supports. Even after every other heirloom has started to fade in the fall, Marianna's Peace will keep on producing."
-- Stupice. "A lot of tomatoes claim to be early, but most don't taste like much. Stupice is the one early tomato that tastes like a real, mid-season tomato. The fruit are small at only 3 to 6 ounces, but they will beat most other tomatoes onto your plate by two to three weeks."
Patio or Container
-- Bush Early Girl. "Without a doubt, Bush Early Girl is the 'top of the heap' among slicing tomatoes that you can grow in a container. A single plant will produce a huge number of great-tasting fruit. Be sure your container is at least 14 inches across (bigger is better) and feed them well to get the most from these robust plants."
-- BushSteak. "Second only to Bush Early Girl is BushSteak. These plants produce heavy crops of large, meaty fruit about a week after you start to pick Bush Early Girl. Again, use large containers and feed them well."
-- Sweet 'N Neat (Red, Scarlet, and Yellow). "We've looked at a lot of container-type cherry tomatoes, and while most varieties are at least OK, the entire Sweet 'N Neat series produces copious amounts of delicious fruit on very compact plants. You can grow them as hanging baskets or in ground pots. Plant single plants in 8-inch pots or three plants in 14-inch pots."
Bogash said that consumers should be able to find some of these seeds from their favorite garden center, but some varieties will be more difficult to locate.
"We have examined so many tomatoes over the years, and these are only a few of the standouts from our program," he said. "There are many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tomato varieties. Our goal for this program has been to introduce new varieties to growers."
More information, including a list of seed companies that supply seeds to the Penn State Extension variety trials program, is available in "Tomato Report 2011: The Best of the Penn State Tomato Trials," available on the Web at http://extension.psu.edu/vegetable-fruit/fact-sheets/tomato-report-2011.