Yes, I know we still have tomatoes on the vine and some are just getting ripe, but it’s never too soon to plan for next year’s crop. If you were lucky enough to attend the Master Gardeners’ Tomato Extravaganza in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, you would have come away with valuable information on what varieties to plant next year. As part of the event, they hold a tomato tasting. Inside the meeting room attendees were able to peruse table after table of delicious tomato tidbits. They even had a basil sampling and basil lemonade. But in case you weren’t able to attend, read on.
You can find the best, most disease resistant cultivar to grow in our area, but what good is that if the tomato doesn’t taste good? Sure, we want production, but we also want something tasty enough to warrant the effort we put into growing it. Here are a few of the standouts:
Sara Black. Hands down my favorite. A black tomato (similar to Black Krim) from Germany. The skin was soft and the flavor was strong with a bit of sweetness. The flesh was fairly firm, yet still juicy. An heirloom from Germany, this variety is said to be more crack resistant than Cherokee Purple.
Brown Sugar. A close second to Sara Black this variety was sweeter, but didn’t have quite as strong of a tomato taste. The color of this variety is classified as black, but it really did appear more brownish than most black tomatoes. This indeterminate variety has a slightly softer, more juicy flesh than Sara Black.
Stupice. A great variety to grow on the Central Coast because it can tolerate our cooler summers. It’s also considered one of the Winter Tomatoes. Medium in size (similar to Early Girl) with a nice tangy taste. This indeterminate variety takes 55-70 days to produce.
New Girl. Billed as better tasting than Early Girl and it was. A much stronger tomato flavor with a nice soft skin. Gorgeous red tomato color. This F1 hybrid is indeterminate.
Jubilee and Sungold. Both are small yellow cherry tomatoes. Both are sweet and less acidic than most red cherry tomatoes. I give a slight edge to Jubilee for having a slightly firmer, yet juicy, texture than Sungold. Sliced on the plate Sungold wasn’t a pretty sight. Then again how many cherry tomatoes actually make it into the house?
Yellow Pear. Slighty larger than both Jubilee and Sungold, this yellow tomato is sweet and firm.
Basil Greek Yevani. This was a really interesting basil. It has a strong basil taste with a hint of sage and cinnamon. What really stood out, however, was the texture. It was more succulent than most basils. Sometimes fresh basil can be a bit chewy when eating it fresh. Not this one. It fleshy leaf was crisp and delicious.
Please note that some of these varieties may take a bit of online searching for seeds as they aren’t commonly available as starter plants and we won’t know until spring if our growers will have them.
Kudos to the Master Gardeners for putting on such an informative event. You can find more information on their events here.