Growing Tomatoes (2010 crop)

Nothing says "Backyard Garden" like tomatoes. Nothing you can buy in a store will ever beat the taste of those you grow yourself. Even city dwellers can manage to grow a couple of these on a patio or balcony. Although they are relatively easy to start from seed, this year we planted about 40 started seedlings. We ended up with about 24 "Super Sweet 100" (the sweetest and best cherry tomato I have yet found) and a few of each of the following: "Beefmaster," "Early Girl," "Mr. Stripey," "Roma," and "Lemon Boy." This collection should give us about 2-3,000 tomatoes if we have a good year. The seedlings were planted in rows about 2 feet apart with each indidual plant spaced about the same. With this "dense" planting, we are going to need to stake the plants as they will quickly start sprawling all over the ground making it difficult to weed and harvest the tomatoes.

Super Sweet 100 Seedlings
Super Sweet 100 Seedlings (about two weeks after planting.
The tomato crop as it appears around the second week of June. We also have our first Roma tomatoes coming in! This is cheating a bit, as we bought these quite large and they had a huge headstart from the greenhouse.
By June 19th, almost all the tomatoes were flowering and many had green tomatoes visible. We also replaced one of the "casualties" (a supersweet 100 that died) with an unusual heirloom variety known as "Black Prince." This variety comes from Siberia (of all places) and claims to produce black tomatoes.
By July 5th most of the tomatoes were close to 5 feet high and needed staking. We ended up using quite a few of the steel posts (from the old goat fence and chicken pen) for this particular job. Almost all the plants have green tomatoes on them at this point.
By late July, the first few Cherry tomatoes were coming in. The tomatoes closest to the plant on each cluster always ripen first.
More and more cherry tomatoes are ripening.... every single day.
By August we had an absolute glut of Super Sweet 100's. When it would rain, many of them would split... Definitely should plan our picking to account for rain coming in.
We ended up with about two five gallon buckets full of Super Sweet 100's. (you can see a few "Black Prince" ripening in the upper right hand corner). At least three or four times that amount ended up falling on the ground... we just couldn't keep up. Most of these we scraped up and fed to the chickens and goats... both will devour these sweet tomatoes. Definitely should not have planted that many cherry tomatoes... very high yield and just too many to eat... completely sick of these by the end of the season. Also, they are just too small to make sauce. Removing the skins and seeds would be an all day affair.
Some "Early Girl" tomatoes ripening.
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Some "Lemon Boy" ripening.
A cluster of Roma tomatoes ripening. We ended up getting enough Romas to make about a gallon of tomato sauce. These are by far the best tomatoes to make sauce. They have low water content (easier to boil down), and the skins pop right off.
We ended up getting a huge crop of all the tomatoes. "Black Prince" was somewhat of a disappointment, however everything else did well. We had far too many tomatoes to eat or give away. Many went to the goats and chickens.
By September, most of the tomato plants were beginning to show their age. But we still got a few tomatoes each day right up until the frost. Next year, we are going to adjust our selections to include more Romas, a few less "full size" varieties and far less cherry tomatoes. All in all, a very successful year for tomatoes.