I posted this message on the California gardening site but got little response. Question is: What are the best tasting tomatoes for the SF bay area, and specifically the east bay (Oakland / Brekeley region)? The below is a summary of my tomato growing experience in Alameda, CA. Please feel free to comment on any of it. Thanks Avigen
Thanks for the recomendations. The first year here in Alameda I tried a set of Heirlooms which looked great but generally didn't taste that way. I'm thinking that the problem was the lack of heat that you mention. The first year crop included: Brandywine (tasted good but mealy), green zebra (very good but rapidly killed dead by v-wilt in the area, now grow it in pots), Cherokee Purple (OK not amazing but disease got it too), Tigrella (OK, not great re: taste, but very hearty and prolific), Paul Robson (Good taste and hearty, medium prolific, very late), Matts wild cherry (very hearty but microscopic tomatoes, taste is so-so), Aunt Rubies german green (so-so flavor but prolific and hearty), Black Krim (good taste, VERY prolific and hearty), Black Brandywine (OK, not great, not prolific), Zapotec pleated (pretty good taste but pretty late and somewhat v-wilt sensitive), Black prince (v-wilt killed it), green grape (v-wilt killed it) and black plum (nothing to write home about and late).
The following year I did mainly early hybrids and a few heirlooms: Early girl (taste is good if you ripen on the vine completely otherwise so-so, prolific v-wilt resistant and early), Dona (very similar to early girl re: taste but more v-wilt sensitive), sungold (taste is great, somewhat v-wilt sensitive and not that prolific in my yard), Early cascade (mid season, not early, defines the words prolific and hearty, NO taste what so ever), Stupice (disease resistant, not as early as early girl, taste so-so), Thessaloniki (mid to late, very good flavor, OK resistance to v-wilt). Of all of the heirlooms I've tried here in Alameda, Thessaloniki is the one that I would recomend most highly for a pink followed by Black Krim for a black. Paul Robson is OK too. For an early pink I would go with early girl.
This year I'm doing a hybrid vs heirloom face-off: in one corner I have early girl, celebrity, and big beef and in the other I have carbon, Black Krim again (this time up against a hot fence, hoping for still better taste), caspian pink, cosoluto genovese, green zebra (in a pot), and Greek Asemina (from Annie's annuals). We'll see how it goes.
Update, Capsian pink is putting up tomatoes as fast as big beef and early girl, and faster than carbon, cosoluto,green zebra, celebrity, black krim, and Asemina. No sign of v-wilt problems yet but that usualy start after fruiting is in full swing. I'm hoping that caspian pink is to the west coast what pink Brandywine is to the northeast. Some have commented than caspian pink does better in cooler conditions. Alameda is reliably 70-75 in the day and 55-60 at night. We'll see how the taste test goes in the next months. Avigen
Have you tried a Brazilian Beauty? Or some of the English varieties? Ailsa Craig or Harbinger? I've heard that moneymaker is very adaptable I don't know, never grown it. eweed lives in a cooler climate (up near the border) and has a FANTASTIC garden so might want to talk to him/her and see what types they grow.
Sorry couldn't be more help but I live in SE TX and cold is not a problem here.
avigen --- the heirlooms you mentioned are truly delicious but not so in your case ? That is a mystery ! You seem to have a serious disease problem. If I were you the first thing I would do is to adapt some type of a disease control system such as an Ortho spray followed up a week later with a product by Eden Bio Science called Messenger. It helps the plants to build up their immune system. In all my years I've never heard of a Brandywine tasting mealy ? Perhaps Carolyn will come in on this and help you ? I'd love to hear her comments on this cause this is a new one for me...
Things like tomato taste seem to work differently in different climates. The reason I tried to grow the varieties above is that I've tasted them grown elsewhere (probably the California central valley where it gets hot) and thought they were fantastic. Grow them here and some are good, although inferior to the ones grown elsewhere, but most are inferior to early girl, which I'll concede is not gods gift to tomato breeding. I'm about 0.5 miles from the beach on SF Bay and in the summer the fog rolls in through the Golden Gate, though not all the way down to Alameda where I am, but it keeps a lid on temperatures on most days. The temps pick up a little in late August and September so and fruit picked then seems to be the best on an average year. As far as disease, I'm pretty sure it is verticillium wilt, which is a soil fungus that is pretty much untreatable short of micro waving your plot. Several varieties seem to be fairly resistant to it so I working with these and trying to expand my list by experimentation. Araness, I haven't tried the varieties you mention, but English varieties sound like a good idea because of the similarities in climate. I did grow Tirgrella, an English variety and it grew well. I'll get to the others next season. Let me know about Brazilian beauty, it sounds exotic. Avigen
Marmande is supposed to do well in the cool SF area. I am growing it out this year for the first time, so I have no personal experience on the finished tomatoes. So far the plants are very healthy but I only have blossoms here on them.
It may be worth trying a few next year?
BTW Stupice grew fine here. The first tomatoes off were average, but the later tomatoes had a vast improvement in flavor.. Probably more heat later in the season was part of that flavor improvement; and also I reduced the fertizer and water as time went on... I probably overwatered at first. Have you tried to correlate watering with flavor?
Brazillian beauty goes in next year and thanks for the reference to Sloat Gardens. It seems funny that European varieties far out number available South and Central America varieties when tomatoes originated and were domesticated over here (probably 2000 + years ago) and have only been in Europe for 500 years tops. If you want genetic diversity, I would seem that Europe is the wrong place to look (a small subset of what available in the Americas). In fact, I recently read a report out of U of some mid-western state claiming that the genetic diversity of a 15 or so heirloom varieties was no greater than a set of 15 hybrids.
Rick, regarding watering, the first year I watered alot: big mistake. Second year I watered once a week (soil is sandy and afternoons are very windy) until fruiting and then once every 2 weeks after that; better fruit. As far as fertilizer I dig in chicken manure at the begining of the season and give the plants a shot of fish emulsion 2 weeks after planting and thats it. Too much fertilizer = a lot of green and not much red. Avigen
Araness I wasn't aware of a tomatoe called Ailisa Craig but I bought some onion plants from texas called something like that yes it could be both.
Just a guess but I think Earl Of Edgecombe from England an orange beefsteak and Siberia a smaller salid sized red from you guessed it Russia may do well for the bay area but I suspiscion if you want tomatoes to get with the program you need to do this. I live 10 miles from the salt water and to get the heat and make tomatoes ripen this is what it takes for bumper crops year after year.
I haven't. I did grow Zapotec Pleated and it was good but way late. Matt's wild cherry is also from Mexico. Fruit are very small but the plant is unstoppable by most things including many diseases (I read this and can verify v-wilt resistance) and California winters. It was found growing wild so I guess you might expect this kind of robustness. It would be interesting to make hybrids between this one and some "poddle" with big tomatoes and good taste such as pink brandywine and just eat the F1 fruit. Avigen
hoop houses are cheap to build go up fast and can be put up by anyone with even mediocre construction skills this is 14 x 44 and is less than 275.00 I just finished another 12x 24 that is about 150. I am sold on these it was 45 degrees 5 nights ago but my stuff was warmer than that and not wet with clammy dew in the morning.
Ha T Plant is easy to recognize on the beach he is the one with a life girl on each arm lol.
Danny the The Seattle Seahawks are as bad as a yellow pear lol. I had season tickets on the 20 yard line and sat in those seats for 17 losing games finaley they had a chance to win and refused to kick a field goal running the same stupid up the center play from first and goal now it is forth and goal at the one and they get a roughing the passer call get the ball at the goal line try three more stupid up the centers and refuse the field goal for the second time and fail.
Montania gets the ball at the one passes to the eight three more passes he is stalled at the Seattle 32 and SF shows the sea Hawks how to win they kick the field goal and I don't go to another game and have not been back since so I am a fan of anyone other than seattle lol. Ernie
I did some research on this for a friend. Here's a list I came up with. my friend is trying 4 of these varieties but it too early for any results.
the varieties are: San Francisco Fog; Stupice; Green Grape; Green Zebra: Siletz; Fireworks; Oregon Spring; Nepal; Visitation Valley.
This list comes strictly from research, not practical application as of now.
Thanks for the suggestions. of those mentioned, I've tried SF fog, stupice, green zebra and green grape. My Farther has tried Oregon Spring in Orinda (inland) and says that it the best variety he has tried (previously he prefered early girl). Taste wise SF for and stupice aren't so great but no complaints in any other department (vigor, yield, disease). Grreen zebra tastes great but is killed by my soil ( I now grow it in pots) as is green grape. I'll have to try the rest. This year caspian pink, big beef, and early girl are churning them out (average of 12-15 per plant) but none are red yet. Green zebra and asmima (a greek tomato) both in pots are likewise productive. Carbon, celebrity and black krim are further back with 5-8 tomatoes per plant. Cosoluto genovese is a big dissapointment: big plant (8 feet+), lots of big flowers, lots of dead flowers, 2 tomatoes total. Could be that I need more bees. Carbon seems to be the same story, no bees, no tomatoes. Avigen