Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes

If you hadn’t guessed already, this post is about tomatoes. More specifically, all of the tomatoes I will be growing in 2015. Every year I go through the same thing: I pick out a million tomatoes I want to grow (because I just want to grow all of the tomatoes), then realize I have a small yard which cannot accommodate growing that many tomatoes, so I cut the list back to something I believe is manageable, start the “manageable” amount of tomatoes in the house, then panic when planting time comes because I have 35 tomato plants and only room to comfortably grow 20. Same story every year – you think I would learn. But somehow I always manage to find places to put the tomatoes – sometimes not ideal places, but I’ve somehow seemed to make it work.


So I wrote previously about the seeds that I ordered around the beginning of January. All of those seeds have now arrived and I’m excited to get them started in the upcoming weeks and months. But I do have several other seeds that were already in my collection that I’ve added to the big list, so I thought I would go over everything in a bit more detail.

I’ve tried to limit the number (not very successfully) of indeterminate tomatoes that I grow just because they take up quite a bit of growing space. Indeterminate tomatoes generally do not produce all of their fruit at once and always need to be staked and supported so the plants do not fall over from the weight of the fruit. They are best planted with lots of space between the plants, but I do not always follow this rule. I’m sure my indeterminates would produce better if I gave them the space they truly deserve, but I seem to do alright with them regardless. They also appreciate a bit of a pruning throughout the season, although again, I don’t do much pruning on my tomatoes because I’m kind of lazy and neglectful. I usually give them a little pruning near the end of the season so the sun can reach the fruits and help them ripen a bit on the vines. The other reason I’m a bit hesitant to planting more indeterminates is that since our season is significantly shorter than many (US zone 3), most of the tomatoes are brought indoors to ripen. It’s good because I can enjoy fresh tomatoes garden until almost December but it kind of sucks not to be able to eat the majority of them sun ripened and straight from the vine.

Here are the indeterminates I will be growing this year:
Blue Gold Berries – I have not grown this one yet, but last year was my first year successfully growing a blue variety tomato and now I am obsessed (the taste it unlike any other tomato). Plus I’d never seen a blue/yellow variety so of course I was all over this.
Purple Bumble Bee – I have not grown this but I buy similar looking tomatoes at the farmer’s market during the winter and I really enjoy them. This one was described as ideal for farmer’s market sellers, so I’m pretty confident it will be exactly what I think it is.
Pink Bumble Bee – I grew this one last year (you can read about it here) and was a bit torn on whether I should grow it again or not, but I’ve decided to give it another chance in hopes that I’ll like it more this year.
Sunrise Bumble Bee – I guess I was attracted to the Bumble Bee varieties this year!
Blue Beauty – This is one of the prettiest tomatoes I’ve ever seen and I’m hoping it will be similar in taste to the indigo rose. I usually don’t bother with the larger variety tomatoes since they require such a long growing season (and I’ve never had one ripen on the vine) but I really couldn’t resist with this one.
Green Grape – I grew this one last year and loved it (you can read about it here), so I’m interested to see if it will be as successful this year.
Chocolate Cherry – This would be my second year growing this one as well (you can read about it here). It is fairly similar in look and taste as the black cherry but I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to grow so I just put them both on the list.
Blondkopfchen – This was one of my favorites last year (you can read about it here) – it produced teeny tiny yellow tomatoes that were really tasty and a lot of them did ripen on the vines outside. I also like the name because it is fun to say.
Blue Berries – I tried to grow this last year but squirrels murdered the plant when it was just a baby, so I’m giving it another go. Are blue tomatoes the new green tomatoes for me? Perhaps.
Pink Pear – This was another that was murdered by the squirrels last spring so I’ll try it again this year. I’ve got to start devising a plan for those wire domes I was going to construct in order to keep the squirrels away from my little seedlings.
Indigo Rose – This was hands down one of my favorites from last year (you can read about it here). This one seems to be more of a semi-determinate as the plant doesn’t get overly big, but still larger than a determinate (I think my plant last year was between 3-4 feet tall). The tomatoes took forever to ripen though which was the only downside. Another thing I loved about this tomato is that the leaves were a beautiful blue/green so it made for an overall stunning plant.
Black Cherry – I’ve grown black cherry for quite a number of years now and it is always really good. I do get a few tomatoes every year that ripen on the vines outdoors.
Green Zebra – This is another that I’ve grown consistently for a few years and is the tomato that got me totally hooked on green varieties. The plant is very disease resistant and produces lots of fruit.

I’m trying all new determinate varieties this year. Determinates are pretty ideal for people with not a lot of growing space or for people who container garden. They generally do not need to be staked or supported as the plants only grow around 2 feet tall, if that. Determinates usually produce all of their fruit at the same time as well. I like determinates because they always seem to start producing ripe fruit sometimes months before any of the indeterminate varieties. I usually end up throwing basil seeds in the bottom of the determinate pots in order to maximize space, but also because basil and tomatoes have a bit of a romance going on.

This year I’ll be growing these determinate varieties:
Gold Nugget – I’ve grown this before and I will admit that I am not overly crazy about it, but my husband really likes them. The good thing about them is that they are one of the earliest producers so I will not complain too much.
Koralik – I have not grown this variety but it was recommended somewhere (I can’t remember where).
Golden Bison – I think this one was also recommended to me – I’ve been on the hunt for a determinate yellow that I will really enjoy so the pressure is really on for this one to perform well.

I have started growing a number of tumbling and dwarf varieties the last couple of years – these are both a type of determinate tomatoes but I figured I would separate them as I like to consider them under their own categories. These tomatoes are pretty much ideal for me because I can put them almost anywhere and they will perform well. A few years ago I was watching the best cooking show ever (Jamie At Home) and he was talking about growing these cherry tomatoes in old spaghetti sauce cans. At the time I thought it was BS because the cans were fairly small and there was no way I thought a tomato plant would thrive in those conditions. But what I didn’t realize at the time is that he was actually growing dwarf varieties. Silly me. Last year was my first year growing a dwarf variety (Red Robin) and I actually ended up putting multiple plants in to a 12″ terra cotta pot (of course with basil seeds sprinkled in the bottom of the pot) and the plants thrived. I’m going to experiment with some smaller pots this year – I’ll just need to be diligent about watering them really well daily. With tumbling varieties I kind of do the same thing except I stick them in with other determinates (I’ve been known to grow up to 3 tumbling tomatoes in a large planter with another determinate and basil – crazy, I know!). Tumbling varieties are ideal for hanging baskets or trailing over the edge of a pot. If you are going to stick them in a pot with other tomatoes, just ensure that the pot is heavy and sturdy enough to hold the weight – I learned the hard way last year when we had a heavy windstorm that blew some pots that may have been a bit top heavy right off the deck.

Tumbling varieties I will be growing this year:
Tumbler – I’ve grown this one for about 4 years. It is the earliest tomato to produce fruit in my garden.
Ditmarsher – This one is new-to-me this year and I first read about it on You Grow Girl.
Pearly Pink Orange – I’ve also never grown this but found it on my search for tumbling varieties. It is actually supposed to be just pink, so who knows where the orange came from, but I guess I will find out for myself.

Dwarf varieties I will be growing this year:
Red Robin – This plant produced so many fruit last year for such a little plant.
Adrina – I found this one when searching for dwarf tomatoes so growing it will be a total experiment.
Hahm Gelbe – Another one I read about on You Grow Girl as well as heard about on her podcast. I’ve been on the search for seeds for a couple of years and was very excited to finally get a hold of some. – Lime Green Salad – Again, one I first read about on You Grow Girl and I’m most excited for the crinkled leaves.
Yellow Pygmy – I will admit that I chose this one based on the name and if it turns out to be a good tomato it will be a total plus.

So that’s the tomato list for this year. I’m unbelievably excited for the growing season this year and hopefully I’ll have lots of good things to report back on these tomatoes. And I’m also curious to see how I can tetris all of these plants in to my small garden! Are you trying any new varieties this year? I’d love to hear about them!

Tomato seed sources (I am not associated with or compensated by these companies, I just love and support the work that they do in preserving rare and heirloom seeds): Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Tatiana’s Tomatobase, Heritage Harvest Seed, Seed Savers Exchange, West Coast Seeds, Urban Harvest

The Last of the Tomatoes

You might remember that we had an unexpected snow storm in early September which forced me to harvest all of my unripe tomatoes far earlier than I’d wanted. So we’ve been eating away at them for a few weeks as they ripened and I ended up giving away quite a few, but we still had lots left over. They’d all ripened indoors and were sitting in cardboard boxes in the corner of my dining room up until a couple of hours ago. Some were even starting to resemble prunes, so I decided I needed to do something with them now or run the risk of losing them. I’ve heard of people freezing cherry tomatoes whole, but I’ve never actually tried it. My go-to method is roasting them first. And it is so easy!

First, start by washing and drying the tomatoes and cutting them up – I had tomatoes of all sizes: the tiny ones were just stabbed with a knife, the regular cherry tomatoes were cut in half, and the smallish/medium sized tomatoes were quartered. Toss the cut up tomatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper (you may choose to add some herbs as well, such as basil or oregano – or get really crazy and add some hot chili flakes), then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet – I covered mine in foil and then parchment paper because I am too lazy to do dishes (let’s call a spade a spade here).


Next you’ll roast them in the oven at about 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so (until they look roasted enough to you – very scientific).


After they’re roasted to perfection, let them cool to room temperature and put them in to smaller freezer bags. In the winter, I add them to homemade pizza and add into soups in place of canned tomatoes (like beef barley and minestrone). Roasting them really brings out the flavor and preserves that little bit of summer to enjoy throughout the dark and cold months.

Habanero Hot Pepper

I honestly thought that I would hate the Habanero pepper and that I would want to die immediately after eating it. Rated 100,000 – 350,000 on the scoville scale, I was frightened. Afterall, I could barely stand to eat the Chinese 5 Color hot pepper that I grew and it was rated far less on the scoville scale than the Habanero. But at the same time, I felt like I needed to at least try it. And I’m so glad that I did. I loved it.


The words seem surreal as I type them – I love the Habanero pepper and it was absolutely my favorite hot pepper this year. Let me explain a bit – the flavor of the habanero is truly unlike any other hot pepper that I grew this year. They have a very sweet flavor with a bit of smokiness and although the heat is fairly intense, it subsides quickly and leaves you feeling very satisfied. Instead of reaching for a glass of milk or shoving popsicles into my mouth, I didn’t need anything to relieve myself from the heat. Now maybe either I’ve burned all of the taste buds off of my tongue or my peppers weren’t actually that hot – I don’t know. I felt like I should have been clutching my stomach in the fetal position while crying. Also, I should mention that I removed all of the seeds from my peppers before eating them which would definitely lessen some of the heat in the peppers. But all in all, they were very hot and pleasantly delicious.

I should mention some of the things I wasn’t thrilled about. This pepper took the longest amount of time to grow and produce ripe peppers. My seeds were started last February in the house and were moved out to the greenhouse in May. The plant didn’t produce flowers until about a month later than all the other peppers and then it seemed to take forever for any peppers to appear. Once they did appear, they grew very slowly and in fact, I ended up having to move the entire potted plant back in to the house a few weeks ago as the peppers were just starting to ripen and the nights were below freezing temperatures – the last thing I wanted to do was to lose my precious peppers to frost. Also, the one plant only produced two peppers – one a decent size and the other quite small. Despite this, I will try growing this pepper again because the flavor was so amazing. I’ve also purchased some Mustard Habanero seeds to try out next year and I have my eye on the Chocolate Habanero pepper as well (who am I kidding, I will order those seeds in a couple of months).

And now for the best part – fish tacos with fresh mango habanero salsa. So good. I’d never made fish tacos before, even though pork tacos are a weekly staple at our house. This recipe was killer – you can find the fish tacos recipe here (I omitted the slaw in place of the salsa) and the salsa recipe here. I will absolutely be making this recipe again, and it was a perfect use for the peppers.


That brings my pepper posts to an end for this growing season. I’m so excited that I finally had some good success with growing peppers (thank you greenhouse!) and I can’t wait until the next season. I’ve already started a few peppers in the house (really, really hot ones!) and I have a list of other peppers I’d like to try – so basically my entire greenhouse will be just peppers next year – I can’t wait!

Habanero hot pepper seeds purchased from Botanical Interests.

2014 Tomatoes Part Three

Looking back on the tomato season, I would say that this year was weird. It could have been better but it also could have been much worse. Several young tomato plants met a terrible demise early in the season due to savage squirrels and some tomatoes didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped (a few plants producing only one or two tomatoes!). An early morning wind storm in July knocked a few pots of tomatoes from my deck on to the ground, surprisingly not breaking the pots but doing some damage to the plants inside of them. Aside from that, the plants did not suffer from any blight or insect infestations. Then almost all of the tomatoes had to be harvested several weeks early and brought into the house to ripen due to a freak summer snowstorm. But some plants did perform quite well – Black Cherry, Green Zebra, Indigo Rose, and Tumbler. My overall tomato harvest was big enough to last a couple of months and I was also able to roast and freeze a lot of tomatoes for use over the winter. Even though I’ve been growing tomatoes for as long as I’ve been gardening, each year brings new surprises and I learn new things – no two growing seasons are ever the same, especially in Calgary (or insert your location). I’ve made lots of notes for next year and I’m constantly exploring new methods to try (next year I will be experimenting with the disgusting fish head method). On a positive note, I did discover quite a few new-to-me varieties that I will be absolutely growing again, so even though the season was weird, I think it was successful.

And now on to the last tomatoes of the season!


Doesn’t that cat bowl make you squeal in delight?!


Chocolate Cherry

This was my first year growing Chocolate Cherry and you may confuse it with Black Cherry that I featured in an earlier tomato post because they look quite similar except Chocolate Cherry is quite a bit smaller in size. The harvest was just okay – it really could have been better, especially for an indeterminate plant. I got maybe a small bowl full of tomatoes, but this may have been the result of me trying to jam as many plants into a small space as I could – I’m blaming me, not the plant. Regardless of the small harvest, this tomato is really tasty – very sweet with very little acidity. The flavor is very pleasant and the texture is ideal for me – I will absolutely plant these again.



Say that one three times. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what this plant was – I had to dig through my seeds to figure it out because the label got lost somewhere but once I figured it out I loudly said “Oh, of course!”. And I definitely won’t forget this one because although the tomatoes are teeny tiny, they taste amazing! They almost remind me of a currant tomato, size-wise. These little tomatoes are unlike any other yellow tomato I’ve had – they are very flavorful and have a really nice texture. They have a great balance between sweetness and acidity. These have also gone on my “must plant again” list. And I’m so pleased that I finally found a yellow tomato that I love.



I grew several small red tomatoes this year but only chose to feature Riesentraube because it was by far the worst. Riesentraube is larger than a cherry tomato and smaller than a paste tomato but the name actually translates to “giant bunch of grapes” in German. My harvest was not a “giant bunch” of grape-sized tomatoes, it was more like a “small bunch” of elephant grapes (if that’s a real thing), and the tomatoes themselves were nothing exciting. I was not a fan of the texture, they were not very sweet and fairly acidity which left me very disappointed. I juggled whether or not I wanted to include Riesentraube in my post but decided that maybe someone was considering it and I should warn that person to not bother.

That brings my 2014 tomato posts to an end. Read Part One here and Part Two here. Now to start planning for next year! I have my eye on another blue variety and several dwarf varieties and I’m always up for suggestions.

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Blondkopfchen seeds from Urban Harvest (no longer available) but also sold at Seed Savers Exchange, Riesentraube from Urban Harvest (no longer available) but also sold at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Anaheim NuMex Joe E. Parker “Hot” Pepper

You may have noticed that the title contains the word hot which has quotations surrounding it: “hot”. That’s because although this pepper is classified as a hot pepper, I do not believe it is such (it is rated 800-1000 on the scoville scale). I think I need to come up with a new pepper classification to categorize peppers that are in between sweet and hot peppers. I guess that when I first started eating and growing peppers I was a bit naive because I didn’t realize that the pepper spectrum is so vast. I do enjoy the more mild hot peppers quite a bit, but I sometimes find myself disappointed when I taste them because I’m expecting to burn my face off. From now on I am going to ensure that my expectations are clear when choosing peppers to grow – I need a good variety of sweet, mild hot and face-burning hot peppers. But I can’t be too hard on myself – this is my first year of successfully growing hot peppers from seed!


For some reason I ended up with three plants of this variety in my greenhouse – I can’t remember why (goldfish brain). All of the plants were fairly compact – about a foot or so tall and each plant produced 2-3 peppers. Not an amazing amount, but enough to flavor a few small dishes (fresh salsa & thrown in with some banana peppers I was canning to add more colors). The peppers themselves were a good size – a couple of inches wide and about 6 inches long (except for a few runts). I know I complained above about feeling disappointment towards the lack of heat in these, but the taste is really good for a mild pepper – slightly sweet but with a peppery taste without the heat (if that makes sense). I think that if I had a better yield of these I would have stuffed them and roasted them because that would have really brought out the flavor.

I have one more hot pepper left for this year and that is the Habanero which are yet to ripen in my greenhouse (these ones have been so slow!), but I’m confident that I will not be disappointed with these ones.

Anaheim NuMex Joe E. Parker pepper seeds from Botanical Interests.