Lazy Ox Farm

  (Alton, Missouri)
Tomato variety trial notes, etc.
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2011 Tomato Trial Results

     We trialed quite a few new varieties of tomatoes this year, some of which were outstanding. (Have I ever mentioned that I love my job?) What we look for in a tomato is flavor, production, disease and bug resistance, crack resistance, and beauty. We do very little to control diseases and bugs. Maybe it's because we are lazy and maybe its because we want beginner gardeners to be able to duplicate our results. I'm not saying. Anyhow, if a tomato variety does well for us, you can be sure it is easy to grow. Keep in mind, though, that we have a particular climate and a particular soil. Your results may vary. The winners this year are:

Virginia Sweets:  A huge yellow/orange/red bicolor with an extremely sweet flavor. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the tomato for you. It produced continuously for us even in the hottest parts of our steamy summer. It's beautiful, too.

Bill's Big: Not sure about this name. It might be Wild Bill's Big Red. Yes, its big! And it just keeps on producing big tomatoes all season. It is crack resistant and cosmetically unchallenged. It has that rich, red tomato flavor and the meatiness of a beefsteak. This is our new favorite red beefsteak tomato.

Orange Russian 117: Oo la la, what a beauty! This is a yellow/orange/red bicolor oxheart, and has the best attributes of both bicolors and oxhearts: Super sweet flavor, meatiness, and excellent production all season. It's crack resistant, too. This is a County Fair winner, for sure.

Well, its back to work for me. I need to eat a few more tomatoes. Did I mention that I love my job?


My Favorite Tomato Variety

We sell quite a few varieties of tomato plants and seeds, and I am often asked which one is my favorite. I pause, and  try to think of a nice way to say, "Do you really think that I would grow 60 or 70 varieties of tomatoes if I had a favorite?" Maybe I can narrow it down to 10 favorites. Here I go...             For a main crop red slicer, Abraham Lincoln is my favorite. It puts out a steady suply of medium to large, round, red, cosmetically unchallenged fruits. The best thing is its flavor. It has that good old fashioned rich and sweet flavor that says, "Tom-ahhh-to."          But, I love bicolors, too. We have three varieties of yellow/red/orange heirlooms that are amazing. Pineapple, Candy Stripe, and Virginia Sweets are all large, reasonably productive, gorgeous, and have an extraordinary sweet and fruity flavor. Can't choose a favorite. Flip a coin.          I've had a love affair with oxhearts going on for two years now, and Anna Russian is my favorite. It is pink, abundant, pretty, and very tasty. Whoops, I forgot about Orange Russian. It's a yellow/red bi-color oxheart. The best of both worlds, and simply stunning and very sweet.          Favorite smallish slicer:  Green Zebra. So productive and very tasty. Gorgeous, too.          Favorite red cherry:  Peacevine Cherry. Rampant growth and production of super sweet, little, red morsels.          Favorite yellow cherry:  Honeydrop. Yum! Ten times the flavor of yellow pear.          There's more, but I'm out of room. Just remember that my growing climate is probably different than yours, so try new varieties every year so you can find your 10 favorites!


Fresh Tomatoes in December?

Yes! We are eating fresh tomatoes from our garden in Zone 6 on December 8, and anticipate having some with Christmas dinner. The vines died over a month ago, but we had the foresight to pick all the unripe fruits before the first killing frost. We put them in crates in our pumphouse, and we take them out as they show color and bring them in the house. There they continue to ripen. Do they taste like sun ripened tomatoes? Honestly, no. But they are a sight better than supermarket tomatoes and are ours and are organic.

You don't have to have a root cellar to do this. Our pumphouse is an ancient out building on our farm that is constructed of concrete blocks held together by ivy. The tomatoes need to be kept cool, but not allowed to freeze. They need moist air, too. It rains in our pumphouse, (not enough ivy on top, I guess), but our veggies are happy there as long as they don't  sit in water. You can store root crops and tomatoes and peppers in a crawl space under your house. If your crawl  space is uninsulated you may want to insulate a small area with rigid insulation. It needn't be complicated or fancy. Just keep them cold and moist without freezing.

Out of the 40 or so varieties we are eating from our "root cellar" these days, the Japanese Black Trifele is by far the tastiest. (JBT is an all around awesome tomato, and you should try it.) We have so many  tomatoes that I process a big batch into sauce or salsa every week.  I cheat and add a little sugar to mimic sun ripened tomatoes, and it turns out great. It is so much nicer canning in cold weather than in hot!

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