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Sun Dried Tomatoes

posted by: brokenbar on 08.20.2008 at 09:54 pm in Harvest Forum

I raise tomatoes for sun drying. I do about 1000 to 2000 lbs a year which I sell to the upscale restaurants in Cody Wyoming & Billings Montana. I wanted to pass on my favorites for you considering doing some drying. Any tomato can be used for drying but some varieties are better than others.

I grow 15 mainstay varieties that I have kept as I culled others that did not meet my criteria.
I also try at least 5 new varieties of paste types each year and am lucky if one makes it into my herd. I am looking for specific things:

� Meaty with a low moisture content
� Few seeds
� A rich and tangy flavor
� Size-Small tomatoes are just more work for me.
� Not fussy-Take heat and cold and wind. No primadonnas!
� Bloom well and set lots and lots of fruit
� Indeterminate
� Dry to a nice pliable consistency

These are my Top Five
Chinese Giant
Carol Chyko
Cuoro D Toro
San Marzano Redorta

I wanted to add that were I to be stranded on a desert Island with only one tomato it would be Russo Sicilian Togeta. This is my �gallstar�h that sets fruit first, ripens the earliest, bears heavy crops in any weather and is producing right up until hard frost. It is not a true paste but rather a stuffing tomato. None-the-less, the flavor of these dried is as good as it gets. It is also wonderful for just eating or slicing and the fruit is extra large.

For those wanting to know my Secret Recipe for drying, here you go:

Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt. You may choose to forego the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry. Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leatherlike with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off theexcess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in m root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them within 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.


clipped on: 03.11.2013 at 10:50 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2013 at 10:50 pm

RE: Need advice about Roma Tomatoes (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: fusion_power on 01.19.2013 at 04:23 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

I too would suggest growing at least 2 varieties and given the zone, would do 1 determinate and 1 indeterminate. That will spread the harvest enough so that you will have ripe fruit the maximum length of time. My suggestions would be Costoluto Genovese for a large tomato that can be dried or made into sauce and Opalka for a dual purpose sauce and slicing tomato. If you want to hedge your bets a bit and have some early fresh fruit, Bloody Butcher would give you a good return.


Here is another post from Brokenbar re drying varieties. This is an updated list from last spring.

"Top 20 for Drying (D)-Sauce(S)-Salsa (SA) IMHO

This is how I use them but most can be used all three ways. I want dry, dry, dry, few seeds, big, meaty. I prefer tomatoes that are more twangy than sweet for drying.

Chinese (D)
Federle (D)
Opalka (D)
Dinofrios German (D)
Romeo (D)
Zapotec (D) (SA)
Big Mama (D Stabilized F8 )
Venetian Marketplace (D-S)
Nile River Egyptian (D)
Russo Sicilian Togeta (D-SA)
Costoluto Genovese (S)
Costoluto Fiorentino (D) (S)
Giant Pepperview (D)
Nick�s (D)
Amish Paste (D)
Super Italian Paste (D)
Chico Grande (D-S)
Seaches Italian (D)
Joe�s Plum (D)
Goldman's Italian American


Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Keep slices as uniform as possible so they will dry at the same rate.

Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. You can re-use the wine soak 3 times but then it should be discarded.

Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt and garlic powder. You may choose to fore-go the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry.

Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leather-like with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off the excess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly re-liquifies at room temperature however).

As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in my root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********
Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them within 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just a perfect growth medium for botulism bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil. "


clipped on: 01.19.2013 at 09:50 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2013 at 09:50 pm

RE: Need advice about Roma Tomatoes (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: missingtheobvious on 01.18.2013 at 06:36 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

A few years back on GW, there was a member (brokenbar) who had a home business drying tomatoes for sale to local restaurants -- literally tons of fruit. (She may also have sold to farmer's markets; I don't remember.) Unfortunately, she retired from the business, they moved, and she stopped posting (at least in this forum; you might try a general site search for her user-name, to see what's still around).

Since I am interested in drying tomatoes, I kept a list of the varieties she recommended. Besides flavor, her criteria included indeterminate, few seeds, and large fruit. The last two were to reduce the time spent preparing and trimming the fruit. (I don't know if she peeled and/or seeded them. My preference, so far, is to seed but not peel.)

These were her favorites:
= Russo Sicilian Toggeta, aka Russo Sicilian; various spellings (her overall favorite; also good fresh)
= Chinese Giant, which I can't find, and assume is the variety called simply Chinese
= Carol Chyko's Large Paste
= Cuoro Di Toro (there are many varieties with similar names: preferably the true oxhearts?)
= Opalka (also good fresh)
= San Marzano Redorta

She also mentioned growing these every year; some are not pastes, but I believe they were all grown for drying (her husband grew and sold tomatoes which weren't for drying):
= Zapotec Pink Pleated, aka Zapotec
= Long Tom (also good fresh)
= Amish Paste (some like it fresh)
= Mexico
= Baylor Paste
= Beach Boy
= Enormous Plum (also good fresh)
= 1 x 6

She grew smaller amounts of these varieties, as specials; flavors are more piquant, and she charged more for them (I think part of that was small fruit size and/or additional prep time):
= Costoluto Genovese
= Principe Borghese (too small for mass production, but excellent flavor)
= Basinga
= Canestrino
= De Barao Black (also good fresh)
= Federle (also good fresh)
= Pantano Romanesco

These varieties have been suggested by other sources:
= Black Plum
= Cherry Roma
= Green Zebra
= Mexico
= Pompador
= Purple Calabash
= Red Star
= San Marzano

So far whenever I grow a bunch of varieties for dehydrating, it's a Late Blight year, so all I can report is that I dried a bunch of Juliets (had to do something with them). If you don't mind the trouble to quarter and seed them, they're fine (as well as unbelievably prolific and blemishless).

I grew some Romas a couple of years ago. They dried okay, but I wasn't fond of the quality of the fruit, or the determinate aspect. I've also dried various tomatoes which I purchased, which also dried well; some were Roma-shape, others were larger, some very meaty with as many as 6 cells.


clipped on: 01.19.2013 at 09:48 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2013 at 09:48 pm

RE: Varietal recommendations for cool weather crops (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: okiedawn on 11.24.2010 at 12:29 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


The key term of 'sure fire' is a tricky one because there are not necessarily a lot of cool-season crops that are 100% or even 90% consistent here since our cool season weather can fluctuate wildly. However, there are some varieties that are pretty consistent as long as we don't have either extra, extra cold weather after they're planted or a spell of extra-early hot weather that induces bolting before a plant can produce.

So, here's my most reliable varieties, though I hate to use the term surefire for some of them.


BC = Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
P = Pinetree
SESE = Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
W = Willhite Seed Company
JSS = Johnny's Selected Seeds
V = Victory Seed

Chioggia BC, SESE, V (JSS has improved version Chioggia Guardsmark)
Cylindra BC, JSS, P, V
Burpee's Golden P, V

Packman (W)
Small Miracle (Park Seed)

BRUSSELS SPROUTS: (Fall only as Spring gets too hot too early)
Long Island Improved BC, P, W, V, SESE

Early Dutch Flat SESE
Caraflex JSS
Gonzalez JSS, P
Early Jersey Wakefield BC, P, SESE, V, W
Red Acre SESE, V, W

Red-Cored Chantenay P, SESE, V, W
Little Finger BC, P, V, W
Danvers 126 BC, SESE, V, W
Amarillo BC
Cosmic Purple BC, V
Short-N-Sweet (Burpee seedrack at local stores)
Scarlet Nantes JSS, SESE, W

Early Snowball BC, P, SESE, V, W

Georgia Southern BC, SESE, V, W
Vates P, SESE, V, W

Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch BC, P, V, W
Red Russian BC, JSS, SESE, V, W

Early Purple Vienna BC, P, SESE, V
Early White Vienna BC, P, V, W

Black-Seeded Simpson P, JSS, SESE, V
Simpson Elie P
Buttercrunch JSS, SESE, V, W
Little Gem BC, V
Jericho JSS, SESE
Paris Island Cos BC, JSS, SESE, V, W
Red Sails JSS, P, SESE
Red Salad Bowl JSS, SESE, V

Lancelot (Dixondale)

Southern Giant Curled BC, SESE, W, V
Tendergreen V

ONIONS: (all from Dixondale, although 1015Y also is found everywhere locally)
Texas 1015Y (aka as Texas Supersweet)
Southern Red Belle

Little Marvel BC, SESE, V, W
Wando BC, SESE, V, W
Sugar Snap BC, JSS, SESE
Super Sugar Snap JSS, P
Mammouth Melting Sugar Pea BC, SESE, V, W

POTATOES: I try to plant whatever I can find locally, but if you need to mail order, most of these are found at one of the big online seed potato companies: Ronninger's, Irish Eyes, or Wood Prairie Farm. SESE has seed potatoes also, although I think they get theirs from Wood Prairie Farm. Once I have a variety, I try to save the small potatoes to use as seed potatoes for the next crop. I generally replant the tiny seed potatoes immediately after I harvest but sometimes I store them in the root cellar and plant them in winter at the proper time.
Yukon Gold
Adirondack Red
Adirondack Blue
Red Norland
Austrian Peanut
French Fingerling
Rose Finn Apple
Purple Peruvian

French Breakfast BC, P, V
Pink Beauty BC, JSS
Purple Plum BC, P, V
Scarlet Globe BC, V, W
White Hailstone BC, P, V
White IcicleBC, P, SESE, V, W

American Purple Top BC, SESE, V

Bloomsdale Longstanding P, SESE, V, W

SWISS CHARD: (all grow equally well for me)

Five-Color Silverbeet SESE, V (Bright Lights and Neon Lights are similar and usually on the Burpee seed rack in local stores)
Ruby Red JSS, V, W
Lucullus SESE, V
For actual turnips: Purple Top White Globe BC, JSS, SESE, P, V

For turnip greens: Seven Top SESE, V, W

The above are available at many online sources, in seed catalogs, and often in local stores as well. I just listed the seed sources I use most often, and I haven't compared my list to the updated 2011 websites or catalogs but just based the list on where I normally find them.

Hope this helps,


PS: If you want to grow fancy dandelions like OkieTim will be having this year, you can get the variety Dente de Leon from Seeds From Italy ( I believe JSS has the cultivated forms of dandelion too.


clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 09:06 pm    last updated on: 12.21.2011 at 11:02 am

Tips For Planting of Warm-Season Crops

posted by: okiedawn on 03.19.2011 at 11:25 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

By now, for most parts of Oklahoma, the cool-season crops should be in the ground (you still could be succession sowing radishes weekly) or about to go into the ground soon. (Broccoli is an exception. Some of us have found that planting broccoli in latest March or earliest April reduces the likeliness of recurring cold weather causing bolting or buttonheads.) Now it is time to turn our focus to planting the warm season crops.

Warm-season crops fall into two general categories: tender and very tender. In general, tender crops can be planted at or near the last frost date and very tender crops need to go in a bit later when the soil is a bit warmer.

By date, here's the OSU-recommended planting dates for tender and very tender vegetable garden crops:

Sweet Corn, planted from seed or plants, tender

APRIL 10-30:
Snap beans (bush or pole), from seed, tender
Eggplants, from plants, very tender (planting towards the end of the recommended period lessens flea beetle damage most years)
Tomatoes, from plants, tender

Cucumbers, from seed or plants, very tender
Okra, from seed, tender
Peppers, from plants, tender (planting later in recommended period gives better results most years)
Pumpkins, from seed, tender
Summer squash, from seed, very tender

APRIL 15-30:
Lima Beans, from seed, tender

MAY 1-20:
Cantaloupes, seed or plants, tender
Watermelons, seed, very tender

MAY 1-JUNE 10:
Southern Peas, seed, tender
Sweet Potatoes, plants (slips), very tender

MAY 15-JUNE 15
Winter Squash, Seed or Plants, very tender


BEANS: Most beans germinate best if planted after soil temperature at planting depth is staying consistently at or above 60 degrees. Beans planted into colder soil tend to germinate poorly or rot before germination and if they germinate in the colder soil they still are very vulnerable to diseases in cooler soil temps.

For Lima Beans, wait until soil temps are staying at 65 degrees.

Beans produce poorly when air temps are high, so planting on-time or slightly early can pay off in better yields and earlier yields as long as the soil temps are in the right range for seed germination.

CANTALOUPE/MUSKMELON/OTHER MISCELLANEOUS MELONS BUT NOT WATERMELONS: Sow seed or transplant young plants raised in plantable pots only after soil temps are staying consistently above 60 degrees. If your soil is still cold and you are eager to plant, lay down black plastic on a prepared seedbed for about 7-10 days to preheat the soil and raise its temperature a little. Planting into cold soils can give poor germination rates and weak seedlings that remain stunted and slow to grow and produce.

To start your own seedlings indoors, sow seed indoors into plantable pots to reduce transplant shock about 2-4 weeks before your anticipated transplant date. Harden off properly before transplanting into garden.

CUCUMBERS: Sow seeds or transplant your indoor-raised seedlings in plantable pots only after soil at planting depth is remaining at or above 60 degrees. Ideal transplants would be about 3 weeks old and planted in plantable pots or peat pellets to minimize transplant shock. As with beans above, you can lay down black plastic in advance of planting to warm up the soil. If you diret-seed into cold soils, germination rates may be poor and the young seedlings very vulnerable to disease.

EGGPLANTS: Very sensitive to cold weather and frost. While tomato plants can tolerate air temperatures right down to just above freezing, eggplant can be damaged by those cold temps. It generally is recommended that eggplants can go into the ground about 2 weeks after tomato plants. Plant after air and soil temps are stable and soil temps are staying consistently above 65 degrees.

OKRA: Plant seed when soil temperature at planting depth is consistently staying at or above 68 degrees, and only after you've had at least 5 consecutive days with nighttime low temps staying above 50 degrees and unlikely to drop below that level very much again if at all. Okra does best when direct-seeded. If using transplants, use plantable pots. To increase germination rates, you can pre-soak your okra seed in room-temperature water for 24 hours before direct-sowing into the ground, or if desired, heat up water to 110 degrees but no hotter and pre-soak the okra seed for 90 minutes before direct-sowing.

PEPPERS: For best and earliest yields, always use transplants instead of direct seeding. Plants that are direct-seeded tend to not produce well until fall's cooler temps arrive because by the time they're large enough to produce, they're having to fight really high air and soil temperatures although the heat is more of a problem for sweet peppers than hot peppers. (High humidity plays a role in this too.)

Like tomatoes, peppers are very heat-sensitive, and have very specific temperatures at which the best fruitset occurs. In general, and once again this applies more to sweets than hots, peppers set fruit best when nighttime air temps remain above 60 degrees and daytime highs remain below 80 degrees. Luckily for us here in Oklahoma, most peppers set fruit somewhat better at higher temps since we often are exceeding 80 degrees pretty early in the year.

Transplants that are about 8 to 10 weeks old and are 6-8" tall are optimal, but taller and older transplants will work as long as they aren't rootbound.

Peppers are set back by cold temperatures so plant them a couple of weeks after tomatoes.

Pepper plants that are exposed to temperatures in the 40s for only a brief time can remain stunted and produce poorly for their entire life. Some will outgrow the cold-related stunting but still not produce well, and some will outgrow the stunting but not produce well until the fall. Thus, it is advisable to not let your plants be exposed to temps in the 40s if you want an early crop and a big crop.

You can transplant pepper plants into the ground once soil temps have remained above 55 degrees for 3 or more consecutive days. I usually wait until soil temps are 65 degrees or higher and I get better and EARLIER yields from those late plantings that from earlier plantings.

PUMPKINS: Technically these can be planted any time after the last killing frost. However, they'll germinate fastest and produce best if you wait until soil temperatures are staying consistently above 70 degrees.

SOUTHERN PEAS: These are the warm-season peas like blackeyed peas, purple hull pink eye peas, lady, crowder, cream or zipper peas. (The green English peas, shelling peas, or sugar snap peas are cool-season crops that should have been planted in February through mid-March.) Southern peas should be planted only after soil temperature at planting depth is staying consistently above 65 degrees.

SQUASH, SUMMER: These are very cold-sensitive. Plant only after all danger of frost is past and soil temperatures are staying at or above 60 degrees at planting depth and daytime high temps are staying above 65 degrees consistently.

SWEET CORN: Because there are several different types of sweet corn, the planting of sweet corn has become more complicated than it used to be and you need to know what type of corn you're planting in order to know what soil temperatures it needs for best germination and growth.

In each instance, plant only after soil temperatures at planting depth are staying consistently at or above the temperature recommended for that specific type of corn. Corn seed planted into soil temps below 50 degrees tends to rot and germinate poorly if at all.

TRADITIONAL SWEET CORN (SU): This is the traditional sweet corn grown for hundreds of years and there are both open-pollinated and hybrid types. This has traditional corn flavor and is not terribly sweet. The amount of sweetness varies from one variety to another. This is the most cold-tolerant corn. SU corns have sugars that convert rapidly to starch after harvest. Seeds can germinate at soil temperatures as low as 50 degrees but it is better to wait until soil temperatures at planting depth are staying consistently above 55 degrees.

SUGARY ENHANCED (SE, SE+, EH or Enhanced Heritage) corn is bred to have increased tenderness and more sweetness than SU corn types. Its sugars convert to starches more slowly than SU's. No isolation from SU corn is needed. SE corn germinates at or above 60 degrees, and 65-70 is even better.

SHRUNKEN GENE (SH): Commonly referred to as supersweet corn. These are easily recognized because the dry kernels (seed corn, for example) have a shriveled or shrunken appearance. The presence of the SH gene gives the corn much more sweetness and a much slower conversion of starches to sugars after harvest. These SH corn varieties must be isoalted from SU, SE and Synergistic corn varieties to prevent cross-pollination which will give you tough, starchy kernels. In a home garden planting, isolation of 25' is usually recommended or time isolation of 2 weeks between pollination times. Supersweet corns should be planted only after soil temperature is consistently staying at or above 70 degrees.

SYNERGISTIC (AKA TRIPLESWEETS): These ears are 75% SE kernels and 25% SH kernels so they have the tenderness of the SE's and the extreme sweetness of the SH's. These can be grown with other Synergistic varieties, SE's and SU's but cannot be grown with SH's or they will cross-pollinate and all your corn will be starchy and not sweet. Triplesweets can germinate at 65 degrees but 70 degrees is even better.

SWEET POTATOES: Plant from slips after soil temperatures at planting depth are staying consistently at or above 60 degrees.

TOMATOES: Transplant into the ground as soon as possible after the last frost date but only once temperatures have stabilized enough that a return to frost and freezing temperatures is unlikely. Be prepared to cover up the plants to protect them from any possible late frosts or freezes. Planting only after soil temps are at a stable 50-55 degrees at planting depth is recommended.

For the best yields, you want your plants in the ground early enough that they can flower, pollinate and set fruit earlier in the season while temperatures are in the right range. Once it is excessively hot, especially in combination with excessive humidity, pollination and fertilization can be impeded.
You'll get the best bloom and fertilization resulting in good fruit set when the nighttime lows are staying above 55 degrees but below 72-75 degrees. Plants that produce bite-sized tomatoes (grape, cherry, currant, plum or pear-shaped) are not impacted by high temperatures and high humidity to the extent that plants producing larger tomatoes are.

While tomato plants can endure cold soil temps and even cold but above-freezing air temps, they can be damaged or killed by freezing temperatures or frost, so always cover them up if those conditions threaten after plants are in the ground.

Once daytime temperatures are exceeding about 92-95 degrees and night-time temperatures are exceeding 72-75 degrees, fruit-set can be affected as those higher temps can cause blossom drop. That is why we risk planting earlier and covering up plants if late frost or freeze threatens.

WATERMELONS: These need warm weather to germinate and grow. Plant only after soil temperatures have stabilized at or above 70 degrees and all danger of frost has ended.

I hope the above info helps. Although we humans like to use a planting calender, plants don't grow because the calendar says they should. They grow when planted at the right soil and air temperatures, so if your soil/air are at the right level and are staying there consistently, that's the right time to plant no matter what the calendar says. In our state, though, you always have to be prepared for an occasional cold spell even after the last frost date and may need to cover up plants to protect them during an occasional late cold spell.

You may wonder how much later you can plant than the recommended dates or soil temperatures and that is a very complicated topic to discuss because every vegetable is affected negatively by hot temperatures in some way. For example, bean blossoms can drop off the plants at high temperatures, thereby reducing yields. Very hot air temperaturs can impede corn from pollinating/fertilizing properly so that you may get cobs but few corn kernels on sweet corn that pollinates/fertilizes at high temps.

On the crops that have a planting date with the words "or later" added, you can plant later than the recommended dates but your success with later plantings can vary depending on how hot the weather is and how early in the plants' growth it occurs.

Finally, if you are in an area plagued by drought, later plantings may not produce well in extreme heat and extreme drought, so the earlier you can plant the better. In a drought year, I push myself to plant as early as is reasonably possible and I water well and fertilize well (without overfertilizing) to try to push the plants to produce as early as possible before the heat shuts them down.

Also, you should know that in a drought year like much of the state is currently facing, pests tend to arrive early and often, so be prepared to go after them vigorously and to protect your crops from them so that your veggie crops can produce a good yield despite the drought and pests.

You can check the OK Mesonet for your county's soil temps, or use a kitchen thermometer or soil thermometer with a metal probe to check your soil's temperature at planting dept. With beds raised above grade level, you usually will have warmer temps earlier than with grade-level beds.

I've linked the OSU Garden Planning Guide for you as it contains not only planting dates, but also contains in-row spacing, spacing between rows and other helpful info.


Here is a link that might be useful: OSU Garden Planning Guide


clipped on: 08.14.2011 at 10:53 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2011 at 10:53 pm

Planting Tips For Cool-Season Crops

posted by: okiedawn on 02.18.2011 at 03:04 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

This info is partly for Brandy who asked about planting calendars on another thread, but it also is info I've wanted to pull together into one thread for a while because we increase our odds of success with cool-season crops if we plant them when the temperatures are right for them.

This is about cool-season crops. Within the category of cool-season crops, there are two basic sub-categories, although at least one more crop could sort of fit into a third category.

There are cold hardy crops, which are those that can tolerate some sub-freezing temperatures at least down to a certain level, and they can be planted before our average last frost dates. These cool-season crops are hardy ones: aspargus, rhubarb, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, onion, peas, spinach, radishes, turnips and rutabagas.

There are semi-hardy crops, which are those that will be damaged by sub-freezing temperatures, but which otherwise will grow well in cool weather and generally are not harmed by a very light frost or brief periods of freezing temperatures. Cool season crops that are semi-hardy are carrots, cauliflowers, Irish potatoes, beets, lettuce and beets.

Swiss chard, technically speaking is semi-tender and needs warmer temperatures, but it is closely related to beets and in my garden I treat it like a semi-hardy crop. However, it has better heat-tolerance than true cool-season crops.

Each crop has specific temperatures it needs in order to perform best. Sometimes in our highly variable climate it can be difficult to get each crop into the ground at the right time, but we increase our harvest potential when we're able to do so. I plant more by soil temperature, air temperature and 10-day forecast than by a calendar and I base planting decisions on knowing what each crop needs as detailed below.

BEETS: You can sow beet seed into the ground 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date, but if you sow it too early, it takes so long to germinate that the seed might rot before it sprouts. For best results, sow your beet seeds after your soil temperature at planting depth has reached 45 degrees and is staying there consistently. For the best-quality crop, plant as early as you reasonably can so your crop can mature before daytime high temperatures are regularly exceeding 65 degrees.

If you plant too early and your plants happen to sprout and grow quickly, they can be "endangered" if you have a long cold spell of a couple of weeks of 45 degrees or lower once your plants are 4-6" tall. This can cause them to go dormant and then when temperatures warm up again they can bolt and go to seed. This is a common problem with all cool-season biennial vegetables.

BROCCOLI: Broccoli produces more reliably when you start your plants inside and set them out when they have 3 to 5 leaves or when they are about 3 to 5 weeks old. Your broccoli will give you the best possible harvest when it grows and matures when temperatures are between 45 and 75 degrees, and in our climate, that's a fairly brief period, which is why it is best to start with seedlings. As with beets, a prolonged period of cold temperatures (40 degrees and below for broccoli) once plants are 4-6" tall can induce dormancy, and then often the plants will form only small button heads once their dormancy breaks. Temperatures below the mid-20s can kill your broccoli plants so try to transplant them into the ground after your 20-degree nights have passed. Warm temperatures can cause your plants to bolt, or flower and go to seed, so you need to plant early enough that your plants have time to form harvestable heads before it gets too hot.

Some forms of sprouting broccoli tolerate warmer temperatures and continue forming small sideshoots in pretty warm temperatures.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS: In the warmer parts of our area, this does better as a fall crop, but in northern parts of OK and northward it sometimes performs well in the spring. Brussels sprouts have very specific temperature needs and will give the best crop if it can mature when temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees. Brussels sprouts can tolerate cooler temperatures, but doesn't produce well at much higher temperatures. As with other cool-season biennial crops, prolonged temperatures below 40 degrees can induce bolting, but otherwise the plants themselves are cold hardy to temperatures down to about 20-degrees. It is better to start with transplants as that helps increase your odds of harvesting a good crop before the heat arrives.

CABBAGE: Cabbage is very cold tolerant and can handle temperatures down into the low 20s, but if direct sown from seed, germinates and grows best once soil temperatures are at or above 50 degrees. This is one reason many people start transplants indoors where the seeds will germinate more quickly than those sown directly into the ground. As with other cool-season crops, long-term exposure to temperatures below 40 degrees once the cabbage are a certain size can induce dormancy followed by bolting. If temperatures get too hot too fast, the heads can become puffy and misshapen although I haven't noticed that often, even with cabbage that isn't harvested until June or July.

CARROTS: Carrots have a reputation (somewhat justified) for being hard to grow, but they are not that hard if you are able to meet their needs. Carrots produce best and have the best flavor if they grow and mature when temperatures are between 45 and 85 degrees. Generally you want to plant your seed about 90 days before your daytime high temperatures begin regularly exceeding 85 degrees. Unfortunately, in our climate those mid-80s can arrive pretty early and carrot seed can be slow to sprout in cool soils. Sow your carrot seed after soil temps have warmed to 45 degrees. It is important to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and one way to do this is to place a board, a piece of cardboard, or a sheet of plastic over the bed where carrot seeds have been sown. Check underneath it daily, mist the soil surface lightly and remove the covering for good once you see the earliest sprouts. Carrots are fairly cold tolerant, but temperatures in the low 20s can kill the plants. Like other cool-season biennial crops, carrots can bolt if subject to long-term temperatures below 45 degrees while already a good sized plant. If you leave your carrots in the ground too long, even though they seem fine, their flavor will be negatively impacted and they may become tough.

CAULIFLOWER: This does best in southern OK as a fall crop, but folks from central OK northward might have more luck with it as a spring crop than we do down here. Cauliflower produces the best-quality harvest when the heads mature before daytime highs begin regularly exceeding 75 degrees, which can be a problem in areas where your temperatures warm up very quickly. Some newer hybrids mature more quickly than older OP varieties and may increase your chance of success. Because of the heat issues, Cauliflower is easiest when grown from transplants and can tolerate very cool temperatures if well-hardened off.

COLLARDS/KALE: These grow best between 45 and 75 degrees but will tolerate a very wide range of temperatures. You can direct-seed collards and kale seeds once soil temperatures reach 40 degrees. For many people they grow better as a fall crop than as a spring crop, although in long cool springs they perform well. Even though they can
"survive" in warm temperaturs, their flavor can become very hot or strong. Often they will overwinter (might not have done so in NE OK last week!) if planted in fall a month or two before your first fall froze. You can plant them in fall, harvest from them during the winter and into spring, but warm spring temps will cause them to bolt.

KOHLRABI: Technically a cool-season temperature but can tolerate pretty warm temperatures. The best quality harvest will come before daytime highs regularly are exceeding 75 degrees. You can direct-sow kohlrabi after soil temps are at 45 degrees or above. Temperatures below 20 degrees can kill kohlrabi plants and, like other cool-season biennals, prolonged exposure to temps below 40 degrees once the plants are a certain size can cause bolting.

LETTUCE: In our climate, lettuce is strictly a cool-season crop although some people grow it indoors year-round. You can direct-seed lettuce about 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date although temperatures in the mid- to upper-20s can kill some varieties. A few varieties are somewhat more cold-tolerant. Very few lettuce varieties have any heat tolerance in terms of what we consider "heat" here in this part of the country. Those lettuce varieties described as "heat-tolerant" may be hate-tolerant in Pennsylvania or Michigan or New Hampshire, but onlly because their summer heat is not as extreme as ours. The most heat-tolerant lettuces I've found are those from very hot parts of the world, like Australia or Israel. Your best quality harvest will be that harvested before your daytime high temps are exceeding 80 degrees.

MUSTARD: Mustard greens need to mature at cooler temperatures are the flavor can become more strong than most taste buds can bear. Plant mustard greens about 3 to 4 weeks before the last killing frost, and aim to harvest your crop before daytime highs begin regularly exceeding 70 degrees.

PEAS: This refers to English peas, snow peas and snap peas. All other peas like black-eyed, purplehull pinkeye, cream, zipper and lady peas are warm-season crops generally referred to as "southern peas".

Peas are highest in quality when they mature before daytime highs regularly exceed 75 degrees. You can direct sow them but they can be so slow to germinate in cool soil that they rot before sprouting. Pre-sprouting them indoors in a damp coffee filter or paper towel placed in a ziplock bag can help work your way around that issue. You should plant your peas late enough that they receive as little exposure as possible to temperatures in the low- to mid-20s. While small, pea plants tolerate cold temps and even snow, but once the plants are blooming, freezing temps can freeze back the tips of the plants and can knock the blossoms off the plants. Smooth-seeded varieties are more cold-tolerant than wrinkle-seeded ones.

POTATOES: This refers to Irist potatoes and not to sweet potatoes, which are a warm-season crop. Potatoes grow and produce best when they have nighttime lows between 45 and 55 degrees and daytime highs between 60 and 75 degrees, a period of time that is all too brief in our climate. Plant your seed potatoes in the ground about 4 weeks before your average frost date. Late plantings will produce smaller crops because your plants need to set and size their tubers before your temps are hitting 85 degrees. Heavy mulching can keep the ground somewhat cooler, but don't mulch until foliage is up above the ground.

RADISHES: These are very easy. You can sow radish seed once your soil temp is exceeding 45 degeres and can continue to succession every week or two until about a month before your daytime highs begin exceeding 80 degrees. Radishes harvested once temps are that high often have a strong, unpleasant flavor and pithy texture.

SPINACH: A true cool-season crop, spinach matures best before daytime highs regularly exceed 50 degrees, so often performs better here as a fall crop than a spring one. Spinach seed sprouts best once soil temps are 45 degrees or warmer, which is one reason it is hard to get a spring crop.

TURNIPS/RUTABAGAS: These grow best at temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees. You can sow the seed pretty early in spring or even in late winter but not so early that your plants will be exposed to temperatures below 20 degrees.

ONIONS: These have very specific needs and you must plant precisely at the correct times in order to maximize your harvest. You want to plant as early as possible so the plants can get as large as possible before bulbing is initiated by daylength. This is where onions from transplants have the advantage over those sown from seed in our climate. Generally, the best time to plant is 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date.

Many people experience trouble with onions bolting(flowering and going to seed). As with other cool-season biennial crops, this occurs once plants of a certain size are exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees for about 10 to 14 days. The size? Roughly one-quarter inch, or about when the plant has formed 6 leaves. There is little you can do to avoid this other than planting at the proper time, planting at the proper depth (planting too deeply harms them) and hoping for consistently cool weather. Always choose the right type of plants for your climate, selecting either short day, intermediate or long-day types as recommended for your specific region. Onions bulb when daylength (i.e. number of hours of daily sunlight) reaches a certain level no matter when you planted them. So, earlier planting (as long as it isn't so early they'll freeze or bolt) gives you the best chance of raising nice big onions.

In our climate, you just have to accept that some years the weather is so erratic and bolting will occur.

I'm linking Tom Clothier's seed germination/temperature data base as I often do when we're discussing seed-starting and germination issues. It is full of useful information, but you cannot go to it and just pick the best germination temperature that gives you the highest percentage of seed germinated in the shortest number of days. Why? Because if you do that, you'll be planting much too late for many cool-season crops. Carrots, for example, germinate best at 77 degrees, with 96% of the seeds germinated in 6 days. However, carrots grow and produce best when grown at air temps between 45 and 85 degrees, and if you wait until your soil temp is 77, your air temps likely will be in the upper 70s or 80s already and soon to move into the 90s. So, you have to compare the temperatures each crop needs for good growing conditions to the seed-germination temperatures and choose a temperature that will get your crop growing in time to take advantage of the best growing temperatures.

Hope this info is helpful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Germination Temperature Charts


clipped on: 08.14.2011 at 10:51 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2011 at 10:51 pm

Bread & Butter Jalapenos -- was Candied Jalapenos

posted by: kathy_in_washington on 09.10.2009 at 07:37 pm in Harvest Forum

JRSlick (Jay) had a recipe a couple of days ago for Bread & Butter Pickled Jalapenos. That intrigued me, so I bought the required 4 pounds, and other ingredients and want to start them tomorrow.

I have a question, though: Because I don't eat Jalapenos (husband does) I don't know if I'm supposed to take all of the seeds from the sliced peppers. Also don't know if I use a White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar. Jay mentions SLICING the peppers and onions, then mentions CHOPPED, and lastly mentions putting them through the FOOD PROCESSOR. So I'm confused. B&B pickles normally are slices -- and this sounds like it might be a relish when he mentions chopping and/or using the food processor.

If anyone (or Jay) knows about these, or has made them, I'd love to hear. Here's the copied recipe and notes Jay made:

"I know they are not Candied Jalapenos, but they are really good. I send them by the case to my Uncle in Texas. He can't get enough of them. Jay

Here is a great canning recipe for Jalapenos. I probably made over 50 pints last year.

Recipe: Bread and Butter Jalapenos

This makes a very tasty and spicy addition to almost any meal.
Bread and Butter Jalapenos
4 lbs jalepeno peppers
2 lbs onions
3 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ginger
Wash and cut jalapenos and onions into thin slices and cold pack into jars (I would suggest a pair of rubber gloves for handling jalapenos, personal experience!). I usually chop all the onions and pepper and dump in a 2 gallon ziptop bag, then mix. Place remaining ingredients in large saucepot and bring to a boil. Pour hot mixture into jars,leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water
bath. Yield: about 7 Pints.

I always make 1.5 batches of brine, there never seems to be enough. I also run everything through a food processor. It makes it alot easier to prepare."


clipped on: 07.26.2011 at 09:46 pm    last updated on: 07.26.2011 at 09:46 pm

RE: 2011 garden help (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: okiedawn on 02.02.2011 at 07:19 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

FAVORITE BUSH BEANS: My favorites are mostly oddball varieties from Italy or heirloom varieties that you likely haven't heard of before.

Some of the more common and easy-to-find bush bean varieties that we like and which perform well here include these: Contender, Provider, Jade, Topcrop and Derby. Some of the more unusual heirloom varieties we like include Marconi (a bush Romano type bean), Tanya's Pink Pod (very heat tolerant), Royal Burgundy (purple beans), Dragon Tongue, Merveille de Piemonte (Wonder of the Piedmont), and Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco.

For huge yields, you'd be better off planting pole beans because they produce much larger harvests than bush beans. I plant both kinds....bush beans for the earlier harvests and lots of beans for fresh eating, and pole beans for the much heavier harvests and for fresh eating and also canning or freezing. Pole beans will need some sort of support to grow on...either tee pees made of poles or a trellis.

Most bush beans that produce heavily may stay more or less upright but also may fall over because they are top-heavy with beans. You could stake each plant to hold it up, or just put up with them leaning over a bit.

OKRA: I don't normally have a problem with Clemson Spineless 80 getting tough very quickly but in very hot years, all okra can get tough if it isn't getting enough water. Some other okras known for their tenderness include Cowhorn, Stewart's Zeebest and Green Velvet.

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Many vegetable varieties grow well here. I've linked the list of OSU-recommended vegetable varieties for home gardens. However, most of us grow lots of other varieties that are not included on that list.

GURNEY'S: I buy seeds from probably 20 companies a year, but this is not one of them. That's a hint.....


Here is a link that might be useful: Recommended Vegetable Varieties


clipped on: 02.03.2011 at 02:47 pm    last updated on: 02.03.2011 at 02:47 pm

RE: candied jalapenos (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: cadia on 01.08.2011 at 02:29 pm in Hot Pepper Forum

Ree ( Pioneer Woman makes the best!
Cowboy Candy
* 3 pounds Firm, Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, Washed
* 2 cups Cider Vinegar
* 6 cups White Granulated Sugar
* one half teaspoons Turmeric
* one half teaspoons Celery Seed
* 3 teaspoons Granulated Garlic
* 1 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems.

Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.

If you do not want to can these to the point of shelf stable, you can simply put the jars in your refrigerator and store them there. I prefer to keep the fridge space free so I can them. If you wish to can them, follow the instructions below.

Note: If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It�s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or � in short, don�t toss it out!

To can, place jars in a canner and cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth, then label.

Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don�t. I won�t tell!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pioneer Woman


clipped on: 01.11.2011 at 11:08 pm    last updated on: 01.11.2011 at 11:08 pm

RE: How to grow seedlings with thick stems? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: miesenbacher on 03.22.2010 at 03:06 am in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Ever wondered how commercial seedling providers get these beautiful, stalky, plants with thick stems to market? It's called the cold treatment and has been going on at commercial greenhouses for over 30 years. Here's how they do it.

This was taken out of the book "Greenhouse Tomatoes, Lettuce & Cucumbers" by S.H. Wittwer & S. Honma where they recommend 'Cold Treatment' for hardening off tomato seedlings.
The cold treatment should be started just as the first true leaves emerge, whether the seedlings are still in seed rows or pricked-off. Air and soil temperatures should be lowered to 52 to 56 deg F for ten days to three weeks. A ten to twelve day cold treatment is adequate during periods of good sunlight. Three weeks are usually necessary in the fall and early winter when most of the days are cloudy and plant growth is slow. The amount of cold during the ten-day to three week period is more important than the time of day in which it is given. Cold exposure during either the day or night, or both, is effective. Night temperatures of 52 to 56 deg F are recommended when the days are sunny and partly cloudy.
Following the cold treatment, night temperatures should be raised to 58 to 62 deg F. Cool daytime temperatures (60 to 62 deg F) should be maintained in cloudy dull weather. On bright sunny or partly cloudy days, temperatures of 65 to 75 deg F accompanied by good ventilation are suggested.
Tomato plants properly exposed to a cold treatment develop large cotyledons and thick stems, with fewer leaves formed before the first flower cluster, up to double the number of flowers in the first, and often the second clusters, and higher early and total yields.

Basically this cold treatment is used to give healthier, more stalky seedlings that will give increased yields and earlier harvests. In regards to light intensity and duration they had this to say.
The tomato is a facultative short day plant which flowers and fruits earliest if the day is not extended beyond 12 hours by artificial light. Young tomato plants do not need the light intensities of full sunlight. Where there is no overlapping of leaves, light saturation is reached at intensities from 2000 to 3000 foot candles, or about one-fifth to one-third the intensity of direct sunlight at high noon. If artificial lights are used, an intensity of at least 500 foot candles should be provided at the leaf surface. Tests with fluorescent fixtures reveal that Wide Spectrum Gro Lux is slightly superior to cool white.
Hope this helps. Ami


clipped on: 01.11.2011 at 03:42 pm    last updated on: 01.11.2011 at 03:42 pm

RE: Where to buy pecan trees (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: scottokla on 12.30.2010 at 10:34 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

The rootstock in this case is just as important as the variety. If you don't get a tree with a "cold-hardy" rootstock then you have a decent chance of the tree dying when the temp gets down below zero at your location. The reason is that most rootstocks are chosen based on what grows fast and produces the biggest tree in the shortest time-frame, which is not what usually works best up here in the colder areas of the pecan range.

The two cold-hardy rootstocks commonly used here are seeds from either Giles or Peruque. Anything Womack's labels as "cold-hardy" or "northern rootstock" will work.

As far as the cultivar (top part of the tree) goes, I have a personal favorite for this area, but everyone has their own opinion. You need to get a variety that ripens at least 10 to 15 days before Stuart (the baseline for comparisons) so that you don't lose crops to early freezes. In my opinion, as long as you have good and deep soil, Kanza should be your main choice, and then pick a pollinator from among Pawnee, Major, or Peruque. Major and Peruque are the best trees (strong, heealthy), but Pawnee is a large, thin-shelled nut. All will do well this far north. I don't have a single bad thing to say about Kanza, or a bad thing to say about Womacks.

Good luck. Pecans are fun to grow, yummy, and healthy.


clipped on: 01.01.2011 at 07:36 pm    last updated on: 01.01.2011 at 07:36 pm

RE: 2011 Tomato Grow List (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: elkwc on 11.04.2010 at 07:38 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I will post my list as it stands now. There will be some changes to it. I know I will be receiving a few new to me varieties to try. And as I go through my inventory and cut it down sure I will find a couple more to add. Most of these will stay. Jay

2011 Grow List

All Around Types

Amish Canner - Was first year to grow - Red - 4-7 ounces. Grew in container. Moderate production. Look for it to be better in ground.
Atkinson - Red - 4-8 ounces. A very good producer, good disease resistance,great flavor.
Glick's 18 Mennonite - Has become one of my stand by all around types. Good flavor and production. Above average disease resistance.
Homestead 24 - New
Heinz 1439 or 1350 - Determinates - Round 6-8 ounce, Red, VF disease resistance. I may end up growing both.


Blondkopfchen - New
Camp Joy - New
Black Cherry - Moderate producer for a cherry. Good flavor
Sungold Hybrid - Heavy producer of golden cherries with very good flavor
Texas Star Cherry Cross - This will be one I regrow to see if it is stable. The best tasting cherry I've grown. Very heavy producer all season with good disease resistance.
Sungold OP or another of the Sungold op selections - Moderate producer of good flavored golden fruit.

Plum and small types

Juane Flammee' - Orange - A must grow for me. Disease resistant, heavy producer, very good flavor
Malinowski - Red - Last year first year. Large hen egg to tennis ball size. Good flavor and heavy production.
Mystery Black Pear - Will grow again to see if it is stable. Pear shape, dark color. Below average production in a container. Best tasting pear type I've grown.
Possibly Belarus Orange 1 - A heavy producer of average tasting fruit. Very dependable.


Big Beef Hybrid
Big Beef OP
Carmello - Will be new to me.
Goliath Hybrid


1884 Pink Heart - Moderate producer of 3-6 ounce yellow fruit with a pink heart on some fruit.
Barlow Jap - 2nd year to grow. First year never tasted a fruit. This year produced all season. Moderate to heavy production of 6-13 ounce fruit. The flavor was better in Sept and Oct than earlier. Seems to have good disease resistance.
Big Cheef - First year last year. Was a very heavy producer. Surprising for a Brandywine cross. Good flavor. Only grew one plant and disease got it. Will grow 2-4 next year for a better test.
Cherokee Purple - Very good flavor. Heavy producer and fair disease resistance.
Cowlick's Brandywine - Tried it 2 years ago and lost one plant to disease issues and the other set real late. Gets another chance.
Dana's Dusky Rose - One of the new ones I was impressed with. Produced early and all season. Good disease resistance
Ed's Millenium - Set very heavy too years ago before I lost it too disease. Will grow 2-4 plants this year.
Hege's German Pink - A very good 8-12 ounce pink. Fair disease resistance. And usually a good producer
Indian Stripe - Similar to Cherokee Purple. More disease prone and not as heavy a producer. Good flavor. Not as good as the CL Cherokee Purple.
JD's Special C-Tex - Will give it one more try. Has never produced heavy here and seems to be disease prone. Fair flavor the one year I got fruit from it.
JD's Special Pink Heart - Will grow again to see if it is stable. 3-12 ounce heart , good producer, great taste. One of the top 3 tasting maters I grew this year.
Pink Girl Hybrid
Prudence Purple - New to me.
Royal Hillbilly - Last season first year. Moderate set overall of very good flavored red fruit. 8-13 ounce
Spudakee - Another chance. Produced heavy 2 years ago before disease hit them late. Flavor not as good as Cherokee Purple
Vorlon - New
Vintage Wine Striped - A PL variety that has never failed me and have never lost one to disease. Heavy , steady production. Starts early and goes till frost. Taste just above average but a lot better than a grocery store variety and can be used in salsa's ect when the better ones are producing.

May possibly grow either Grandpa Charlie or Grandpa Willie


Arkansas Marvel - New
Texas Star - I received crossed seeds. I saved seeds from a fruit that was true to type and also ordered seeds from another source to try next year. A bicolor that produces large fruit , very good flavor and can produce heavy yields when conditions are right.

Orange/ Yellows

KB - A very good flavor and a favorite orange. One I grow almost every year.
KBX - This summer was the first year I have ever picked a fruit from a plant. Has died early every year before. Had one plant make it almost the whole season this year. Great flavor. Better than KB but not near the disease resistance or production.
Woodle Orange - Had very good flavor and above average production. Set started a little later than some of the others
Apfelsin - Good set of hen egg size fruit.


Emeral Evergreen - The best GWR I've ever grown or tasted
Either Absinthe( Was in a container this year and fruit set was late. Need to try in the ground as I read many good comments about it) orGreen Giant - Been a few years since I've grown this one.


Bella Rossa - Transplanted very late and had heavy set. Good taste.
Mountain Magic - Will be new to me. Supposed to have very good disease resistance.
Plum Regal - Will be new to me. Supposed to have very good disease resistance


clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:42 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:42 pm

RE: 2011 Tomato Grow List (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: okiedawn on 11.04.2010 at 02:29 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


I'm not sure I can narrow it down to a top ten....maybe a top 100. And, if you asked me this question on ten consecutive days, I might come up with ten different top ten lists. There's just so many wonderful tomatoes to grow and not nearly enough space or time to grow all of them.

Tomato performance in Oklahoma can be highly variable and a gardener's success in any given year is very sharply dependent on the weather. Our "problem" with tomatoes is that we go from too cold to plant in March and part of April to too hot for fruit set in June or July, so precise timing can ensure success as long as Mother Nature performs more or less as expected. If you plant too early, cold can damage or kill your plants and if you plant too late, heat will prevent pollination/fertilization. Summer blossom drop is a huge issue here.

So, whatever variety you choose to grow, be sure you do your best to plant at the right time and you'll much improve the performance of any tomato variety you choose.

In general, the types of tomatoes that perform best over the long haul in Oklahoma are those that produce small or mid-sized fruit. The varieties like Big Rainbow, Omar's Lebanese, Giant Belgium, Pineapple, Brandywine, etc. that set very large fruit tend to bloom and set fruit late and in our climate that means the heat can shut them down before they produce very much.

We had a lot of trouble with abnormally early hot temps and persistent abnormally high humidity in 2010 interfering with the production of all sizes of tomatoes except bite-sized ones and a lot of folks had a disappointing year. Hopefully, in 2011 we'll have more normal weather and better results.

People who know me will tell you there's no way I can narrow it down to a "Top Ten" and we know this is true because this question has been asked before. I'll do my best though.

TOP TEN (mix of types and includes heirlooms and hybrids)

1. Better Bush--for early red tomatoes and lots of them. If you want tomatoes slightly earlier than this, you can't go wrong with "Sophie's Choice". If you want very heavy yields of smallish-medium sized red tomatoes early in the summer, it is hard to beat Burpee's Fourth of July. If I can get Fourth of July in the ground in late March or earliest April, I'll have ripe tomatoes from it by Memorial day. (I'm so far south I'm almost in Texas though, so don't know if y'all could get fruit quite as early in central OK.)
2. Jet Star--for consistent production of medium-sized red tomatoes
3. Supersonic--for consistent production of medium-large red fruit
4. Brandy Boy--for pink tomatoes with flavor very similar to Brandywine but with earlier and heavier production and better heat tolerance
5. Dr. Wyche's Yellow--heavy production of yellow fruit with great flavor
6. Sun Gold Cherry--a golden-orange cherry with great fruity-tomatoey flavor or, for one with even more sweetness but a little less traditional tomatoey flavor, grow Sun Sugar
7. Black Cherry--possibly the best cherry tomato ever, a title formerly held for many years by Sun Gold. Colo is 'black' but in the tomato world black tomatoes generally range from mahoghany brownish to reddish-greenish-maroonish.
8. Indian Stripe or Cherokee Purple--very similar but Indian Stripe is a little earlier for me, produces slightly more fruit per plant and doesn't seem as prone to cracking as Cherokee Purple. Both are outstanding though.
9. Mortgage Lifter---for tasty pink fruit that is a bit later than most others on this list, which gives you great tomatoes to harvest late in the season
10. Better Boy or Celebrity--not necessarily tops in flavor but incredibly reliable year in and year out in a red hybrid tomato. One with even better flavor that is less well-known is Big Beef.

I hope other folks here will add their own top ten lists to give you more ideas.

I try to grow a blend of heirlooms (for uniqueness, a wider range of flavor, etc.) and hybrids (more reliable producers in difficult weather) and all my tomatoes are chosen with a purpose.

So, here's a couple of purpose-driven lists:

If you want to grow tomatoes for salsa or sauce-making, here's a few that grow well here:

1. Santa Clara Canner
2. Heidi (remarkably heat and drought tolerant)
3. Rutgers
4. San Mazano Redorta
5. Viva Italia
6. Martino's Roma
7. Amish Paste
8. Viva Italia

For dehydrating:

1. Principe' Borghese
2. Black Plum
and any cherry, grape or currant type you like

For bite-sized tomatoes for salads and snacking:
1. Sun Gold (a golden-orange cherry type)
2. Black Cherry (a black cherry type)
3. Ildi (a yellow grape type)
4. Rose Quartz (a pink grape type)
5. Sweethearts (a heart-shaped red type)
6. Tess's Land Race Currant (a currant type that produces mostly tiny red tomatoes but also sometimes a few pink and gold ones, with absolutely superb flavor and the heaviest yields you can imagine)
7. Riesentraube (a large red cherry type with multiflora blossom clusters, although all the flowers do not set fruit)
8. Coyote (a whitish-yellow currant type that's very tasty)
9. Black Plum (slightly larger than most bite-sized but excellent flavor)
10. Red Grape (huge yields and very consistent.

Remember too that while Oklahoma technically has a very long growing season, what we really have is two tomato seasons--spring and fall. Plant spring tomatoes in March or April depending on the weather, and harvest from late May or early June until whenever they stop producting. Plant fall tomatoes in late June or earliest July and you'll be harvesting from those plants in latest summer and in fall.

Finally, I've linked an old thread from last year in which we discussed this same topic of 'top ten' varieties at great length.

We have many experienced gardeners here and we can talk about gardening all day and all night, year in and year out. I don't know how we'd survive the cold, non-gardening months of the year if we couldn't come to this forum and talk about gardening.


Here is a link that might be useful: Old Thread on Top Ten Tomatoes


clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:40 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:40 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: elkwc on 08.01.2009 at 08:37 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I will try to get my seeds out and go through them in the next few nights. I'm sure I have all you mentioned. I'm attaching the list I made last winter. I might be out of a few of these but have most. All from commercial sources will be 4 years or less old and I only had germination troubles with one variety from a commercial source this year and it was only a year old and expected that from what I had read on the forums. I did look and all you mentioned were from commercial sources. I think Sioux was from Baker Creek. I will put the source down when I send seeds. Now many or the others are saved seeds from others and a few from me. Don't ask me why I accumulated so many seeds. A true addict. I had some other plans and now they have changed. Just pm me your address and I'll send the seeds. Jay
Inventory list- Names only

1. Adelia
2. Aker's West Virginia
3.Amazon Chocolate-.
4. Amish Gold
5. Amish Oxheart
6.Amish Paste .
7. Amish Potato Leaf -
8. Amish Yellow
10.Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red
x11.Anna Maries Heart
12.Anna Russian
13.Anna's Noire ( Black Pineapple )
16.Aunt Gerties Gold
16.Aunt Ginny's Purple
17.Aunt Ruby's German Green
x20a. Barlow Jap
21.Barne's Mountain Yellow
23.Bear Claw
x25.Beauty King
26. Beefsteak Red
27.Belarus Orange
28. Belize Pink Heart
x29.Berkeley Tie-Dye
30.Big Beef op
x31. Biggun's
32. Big Month
33. Big Zebra
34. Black and Brown Boar
x34a. Black Cherry
35. Black from Tula
36. Black Krim-
37. Black Mountain Pink.
38. Black Prince
39. Black Sea Man
40. Black Zebra
x41. Boar's Hoof.
42. Box Car Willie -
42a. Bradley
43. Brad's Black Heart.
x44. Brandywine Cowlick's
45. Brandywine Glick's
46. Brandywine Quisenberry
47. Brandywine Sudduth
48. Brandywine OTV
49. Brandywine Red Landis strain
50. Brandywine Red RL
52. Brandywine Red PL
53. Brandywine Yellow Platfoot strain
54. Break O Day
55. Brown and Black Boar
56. Buckbee's New Fifty Day 
57. Buckeye Yellow
58. Bulgarian #7
59. Burcham's
60. Burpee Gloriana
61. Campbell's 1327
61a. Candy Stripe
62.Red Cardinal Ukranian
63. Caspian Pink
64. Carbon
65. Chalk's Earl Jewel
66. Chapman
67. Charlie's Green
68. Cheatham's Potato Leaf-M
68a. Chello Cherry can be bi color @ core
69. Cherokee Chocolate
69. Cherokee Green
70. Cherokee Purple
71. Cherokee Purple PL
72. Cherokee Red
73. Cherry Duke's
74. Chocolate Stripes
75. Church
76. Cindy's West Virginia
x77. Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red
78. Condine Red
79. Copia
80. Coustralee
81. Coyote
82. Crnkovic Yugoslavian
83. Czech Select
84. Dagma's Perfection t
x85. Daniels
86. De Barrao Black
87. Debbie -
88. Delicious
89. Depp's Pink Firefly
90. Djena Lee's Golden Girl
91. Doctor Lyler
92. Dora
92a. Dorothy's Mennonite Beefsteak
93. Druzba
94. Dr. Wyche's Yellow
95. Earl's Faux
96. Early Rouge
x97. Ernesto
x98. Ernie's Pointed
x99. Ernie's Plump-
x100. Ernie's Round
101. Ethel Watkin's Best
x102. Eva's Amish Stripe
103. Eva Ball Purple
104. Evan's Purple Pear
105. Eva's Shoeneck
107. Ferris Wheel.
108. Fireball
109. Firesteel
110. Flame(Hillbilly)
111. Flammee' Jaune
111a. Flamingo
112. Florida Pink.
113. Frank's Large Red
114. Freckled Child
115. Gail's Sweet Plum
115a. Galina's Gold Cherry
116. Gary Ibsen's Gold
117. Gary O'Sena - SA
x118. German Breault
119 - German Head
120. German Johnson
121. German Lunchbox
122. German Pink - NL
123. German Tree aka German Tree
124. Giant Black Ukranian
125. Giant Paste .
126. Giant Pink Belgium
127. Giant Syrian
128. Giant Tree -
129. Gigantesque
130. Gillogy Pink
131. Giraffe
132. Glacier
133. Glacier's Giants
x134. Glick's 18 Mennonite
135. God Love
136. Gogosha
136a. Golden Cherokee
137. Golden Jubilee
137a. Golden Queen USDA
137a. Gold Medal
138. Goliath op
139. Good Old Fashioned Red
140. Goosecreek
140a. Grace Lahman's Pink
140b. Grandfather Ashlock
141. Grandma Viney's Yellow and Pink
142. Grandpa Charie
143. Grandpa Willie
144. Granny Cantrell German
x145. Gran's Portuguese Neighbor
146. Green Bush Italian
147. Green Giant
148. Green Zebra
149. Grub's Mystery Green
150. Guido
x151. Harzfeuer
x152. Haley's Purple Comet
153. Hanky Red
154. Hartford
155. Hazelfield Farm -
156. Hawaiian Currant
157. Heart of Compassion"
x158. Hege's German Pink
159. Heidi
160. Heinz 1350
161. Heinz 1439
162. Henderson's Pink Ponderosa .
163. Hillbilly West Virginia - SF
164. Homer Fike's Yellow Oxheart
164a. Honey
165. Hugh's
166. Hungarian Giant -
167. Hungarian Oval
168. Illini Star
169. Illinois Beauty
170. Imur Prior Beta
x171. Indian Stripe
172. Italian Sweet r
173.Italian Tree
174. Japanese Oxheart
175. JD's Special C-Tex
176. JD's Special Pink - BV
177. Jerry's German Giant
178. Joe's Portuguese
179. Julia Child
180. Kalman's Hungarian Pink
181. Kanora - USDA P163636
182. Kansas Depression
183. Kasachstan Rubin
184. KBX PL
185. Kellogg's Breakfast
186. Kentucky Beefsteak
187. Kentucky Plate
188. Kentucky Striped
189. Kimberly
190. Kornesevvije
191. Korney's Cross
192. Kosovo
193. Kroska Pink Bulgarian
194. Kumato
195. Lafayette
196. Lahman Pink
197. Lancaster County Big Pink
x198. Large Barred Boar
199. Large German
200. Large Mennonite Heritage
201. Large Red
202. LeDoux Special
203. Lida Ukranian
204. Lillian's Red Kansas Paste
205. Lillian's Yellow
x206. Limbaugh's Pink Potato Top
209 Lime Green Salad
x209a. Lincoln Adams
210. Lithuanian Pink
211. Little Lucky
212. Livingston's Beauty
213. Livingston's Magnus
214. Lucky Cross
215. Lumpy Red
x216. Lynnwood - DJ
217. Lyuda's Mom's Red Ukraine
218. Magnum Beefsteak
219. Mama Leone
x220. Manalucie
221. Manyel
222. Marglobe Supreme
x223. Marianna's Conflict
224. Marianna's Peace
225. Marizol Black
226. Marizol Bratka
227. Marizol Gold
228. Marizol Red
229. Martin's Amish/Mennonite
230. Mary Robinson's German Bi-Color - NL
231. Matina
x232. Matt D Imperio
233. McClintock's Big Pink
234. Mexico
235. Mexico Midget
235a. Midnight in Moscow
236. Milka's Red Bulgarian
237. Millet's Dakota
238. Millionaire
239. Miracle Russian Paste
240. Missouri Pink Love Apple
241. Monk
241a. Moneymaker .
242. Moonglow - SF
245. Mortage Lifter Estler's
246. Mortage Lifter
247. Mr. Bruno
248. Mr. Fumo
249. Mrs. Maxwell's Big Italian
250. Mule Team
x251. Mystery Black
252. Nebraska Wedding
253. Nepal
254. Neve's Azorean Red
255. New Big Dwarf
256. Noir De Crimmee'
257. Novikov's Giant
258. Oaxacan Jewel
259. Oaxacan Pink Mexican
260. Old Brooks
261. Old German
262. Old Italian
263. Old Pink Plum
264. Old Virginia
265. Olena Ukraine..
266. Oleyar's German
267. Olga's Round Yellow Chicken
268. Olomovic
269. Opalka
270. Orange Russian 117 .
x271. Orangina
x272. OSU Blue Fruit
273. Pantano Romanesco
275. Paul Robeson
276. Paquebot Roma
277. Perito Italian
277a. Pierce's Pride
278. Pineapple
x279. Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
x280. Pink Boar
281. Pink Climber
282. Pink (Rozoviy) Flamingo
283. Persimmon .
284. Pipo
285. Placero
286. Polish
287. Polish
287a. Polish Ellis
x288. Polish Pastel
289. Pork Chop
290. Porter
291. Porter Improved
x292. Portuguese Monster 1 & 2
293. Provenzano
294. Pruden's Purple
x295. Prue
296. Purple Calabash
x297. Purple Haze
298. Puszta Kolosz
299. Raad Red
x299a. Rainy's Maltese
301. Red Barn
302. Red Boar
303. Red Paragon
304. Red Penna
305. Red Ponderosa aka Crimson Cushion
306. Red Rose
x307. Rinaldo - Bully
308. Rio Grande
309. Rose
310. Rose Beauty
311. Rostova
312. Rouge D Irak
313. Roughwood Golden Plum
314. Rousich - SHP
315. Royal Hillbilly
316. Russian Bogatyr
317 Russian Rose
318. Rutgers
319. Sabre
320. Sabre Ukranian
x321. Sandul Modovan Ribbed
x322. Sandul Moldovan Smooth
323. San Francisco Fog
324. Santa Clara Canner
325. Santorina
326. Sarnowski Polish Plum
327. Sheyenne
328. Siberian
x328a. Siberian Finger
329. Siletz
330. Sioux
331. Sisters
332. Slava
333. Sophies Choice -
334. Southern Nights
335. Spears Tennessee Green
x335a. Spudakee
x335b. Spudatula
336. St. Pierre
337. Stump O' the World
x337a. Sugar Lump Cherry
337b. Summer Cider Apricot
338. Summertime Improved
339. Sunset's Red Horizons
340. Super Choice
341. Super Sioux - SF
342. Sweet Home - SHP
343. Tappy's Heritage
344. Tadese
345. Tennessee Britches
346. Texas Star
347. The Dutchman eet.
347a. Thessaloniki
347b. Thunder Creek
348. Tidwell German
349. -Tiffen Mennonite
350. Tiny Tiger-
351. Todd County Amish
352. Tom's Yellow Wonder
353. Trophy
353a. True Black Brandywine
354. Turl's Mut
355. Uncle Mark Bagby
356. Valiant
357. VG Russian
358. Victoria
359. Vintage Wine Striped
360. Virginia Sweets .
361. Wagner
362. Watermelon
363. Weeping Charlie
364. Wes
365. West Virginia Hillbilly
366. Wins All
367. White Tomesol
368. Williams Striped -
369. Wisconsin 55 .
370. Wisconsin 55 Gold
371. Yellow Boar
x371a. Yellow Submarine
372. Yellow Stuffer
373. Yoder's German Yellow
374. Zogola Polish


clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:35 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:35 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: okiedawn on 07.31.2009 at 09:53 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


Just wait until winter time and we can't work in the garden because it is too wet or too cold or buried under sleet or snow....we'll talk about tomatoes until the cows come home!

What do we do with all the tomtoes? We eat all we can. We preserve all we can. I don't can much any more because of the new ceramic-top stove, but I dehydrate several thousand of the small bite-sized ones, and freeze oodles and oodles of the large ones for cooking in winter time.

There's nothing like pulling out a container of frozen tomato puree and using it in winter as a base for a soup like Chicken-Tortilla Soup, 15-bean soup, a vegetable soup or Taco Soup. I take Taco Soup, 15-bean soup and Chicken-Tortilla Soup to our county's firefighters a lot when they are out at major wildfires and other disasters. I use tons of tomatoes in the winter months.

We make a lot of fresh homemade salsa and pico de gallo.

A lot of people use tomatoes in the standard ways....fresh in salads and on burgers and sandwiches, in pasta sauces, in soups and salsas, as fried green tomatoes, etc. To use up all the ones we grow, I have tons of recipes that use them in all kinds of recipes from marmalade to tomato pie to caprese salad to tomato cake....oh, you can use them a million different ways! Since I started freezing more of them and cooking more with them, I hardly ever have any left over to give away, and I used to give away tons every year. (I've cut back from 300-400 plants to less than 100, so obviously I have a lot less to give away than I used to.)

If you are feeling really adventurous, you can make and can your own catsup! You can pickle green tomatoes. You can stuff and broil tomatoes. There's just endless ways to use them.

I mostly purchase seeds for the varieties I grow. I have tried seed-saving, and some years I have done quite a bit of it, but most years I am so distracted by all the mowing, weedeating, weeding, watering, harvesting and putting up the harvest that I run out of time and good intentions before I get any seedsaving done at all. In 2003, I think I saved seed from every flower and veggie I grew, but that's because it was a very dry year (I think about 18" of rain) so the harvest was finished early, what little harvest there was, and I had lots of time to collect seeds that year. LOL

There are tons of seed suppliers. I get most of mine from Tomato Growers Supply Company, Seed Savers Exchange, Harris Seed, Victory Seed, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Willhite Seed (based in Poolville, TX, west of Fort Worth), Stokes, Johnny's Selected Seed, Tomatofest and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

I know I spend more on seeds than the average gardener, but I don't spend a lot of money on other stuff that some people do, like fancy clothing or shoes, manicures, jewelry, expensive handbags, going on tropical vacations or to OU Football games, etc. My spending money goes to gardening stuff. All my Christmas and birthday gifts are garden-related too.

I consider tomato seeds a good investment. Let's say I spend $3.00 for a pack of seeds that has 30 seeds in it. I might raise 6 to 10 plants per year of that variety, so one packet will last me 3 to 5 years. Some seeds, of course, are more than $3.00 a packet, but some of the others that are fairly common are less. Some companies (and Baker Creek does this often) overpack their seeds, or at least some varieties of them, so even though their catalog and website will say a packet has 25 seeds or 30 or whatever, when you open the packet you might see 50 or 70 or 100.

Lots of people save seeds and trade/swap them with other gardeners, or kindly send them to other gardeners for nothing more than postage. I wish I had the time and discipline to save seeds, but by the time I do everything else, I just don't. Last year, though, I did clean out my seed box of odds and ends of leftover packets of tomato seeds and sent a lot out to people on this forum. That was fun, and it left me lots of space in the box for more seeds, and it gave some folks a chance to try a few tomato varieties.

Some serious seed savers like George (Macmex) and Jerreth are listed seed savers who make their seeds available through the annual yearbook of the Seed Savers Exchange. (The yearbook is for members only and the website/catalog offer a much more limited selection for purchase by the general public.)

Some people, like Trudi at (I think that's her website) send seed out to lots of people.

Some people trade through seed exchange websites.

One thing to keep in mind with traded seed is that there is always a chance you'll get seed from a cross-pollinated bloom if the seed saver doesn't bag blossoms. (It is a slim chance with tomatoes, but it happens.)

And, contrary to some rumors started here (grinning as I say this), I do not bathe in tomato juice. However, if you are handling tomato plants a lot and your hands are stained green, just cut a tomato in half and rub it all over your hands to remove the green stains. It works as well as anything else.

A Tomato Cult? Well, OK. Everyone has got to belong to something, so maybe some of us do belong to the cult of avid tomato growers (and eaters). Everyone has got to belong to something!



clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:29 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:31 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: okiedawn on 07.31.2009 at 08:12 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum


Now, look what you went and did to my brain. You mentioned Caspian could I not have it on my top ten list? And, thinking about it then made me think about Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter. Did I really like Estler's Mortgage Lifter better? What was I thinking? And then there's Porterhouse, which gave me some wonderful tomatoes this year. Why isn't it on the Top Ten list? Then there's Black From Tula....I've always loved it. Why did I drop it? Was it because of True Black Brandywine? Indian Stripe? Who edged it out. I am about to hyperventilate just thinking about some of the wonderful tomatoes that are NOT on the list....and it is because you reminded me of them. All right, I'm calm now. I had to narrow them down and I did. That doesn't mean I still don't love the others.

And then, I went on to Carol's list, and she reminded me of Rutgers, which tastes so good and is such a heavy producer. Why didn't I put it on a list? And Arkansas Traveler? Shouldn't it have made it onto my list of Top Ten Late Summer Producers? Oh, wait, I didn't make a list with that name.....but I could. LOL

Bella, see there....that is why the ultimate top ten list is so hard. As soon as I think I'm done, somebody mentions a tomato that almost made it onto the list and I start second-guessing myself.

A lot of us have experimented with many tomatoes, always looking for that perfect combination of flavor and productivity. Like Carol, I'm not sure I've ever met a tomato that I just didn't like. And, like Jay, I'm always adding or subtracting one or two from the list based on this year's results.

Weather influences it a lot. I love some of the big bi-colors like Pineapple, Big Rainbow, Hillbilly (Flame), Black Pineapple (the most bizarre mix of colors you'll ever see in one tomato), German Queen, German Head and Giant Belgium. They produce really well for me if I get them in the ground in March and we don't have any late cold weather and they set blooms before too much hot weather arrives. BUT, if we have a really wet spring, their flavor is bland and they are very watery and they split and they, I don't have them on my lists because they need to have conditions that are "just right", which is rare here in Oklahoma.

One thing I have noticed on the Tomato Forum is that some people will describe the flavor of a tomato variety in terrible, disparaging terms like it was the worst thing ever and they'll swear that they're never going to grow it again. Well, I've just never had that strong of a reaction to a tomato. My attitude is more like Carol's....I've never met a home-grown tomato I didn't like, but there are some I like more than others.

Part of the torture involved in coming up with a list for "next year" every year is that you can't predict the weather. For example, for next year's list, I'm going with NOAA's prediction that an El Nino (Southern Oscillation) period is returning this winter. For us, El Nino normally means a wet winter and spring, so that means I'll avoid any of the tomatoes that have much lower quality in a wet year. On the other hand, NOAA is saying it will be a mild El Nino and not a strong one like we had in 1996 or 1997 when (I lived in Texas then) it rained heavily and we had a lot of flooding. If they were saying a strong El Nino for 2010, I wouldn't grow many of the larger tomatoes because their flavor waters down. I'd go more with plants that produce smaller fruit like Jaune Flammee' and Little Lucky. If we were in the midst of a strong drought (which here in southern OK often seems related to a strong La Nina Southern Oscillation) that was expected to continue into the spring and summer of 2010, I'd plant the ones that do well in a drought, and that would include some of the big ones like Lucky Cross and German Queen as well as Arkansas Traveler and Bradley Pink. So, you see, not only do I take flavor into consideration, but also weather-based performance.

The tomatoes that performed well for me during the drought years of 2005 and 2006, when Love County had severe to moderate drought were almost completely different from the varieties that performed well in the very wet years of 2004 and 2007 (wet for us through July, at least). So, coming up with a list involves all kinds of factors, including what generally does well, what does best in the kind of weather I 'think' (or 'guess') we'll have, what I haven't grown in a while and have been missing, and whatever new ones I'm wanting to try.

The hardest gardening-related task I do the entire year is choose my tomato varieties. I'd rather spend a day digging out bermuda grass by hand from my rock-hard red clay soil than try to narrow a list down and then absolutely, positively stick with that list without making revisions to it. In fact, any 'grow list' I come up with is going to change numerous times before I plant my seeds inside on Super Bowl weekend.

I need to get outside and work in the garden before it heats up too much here, but later today when it is too hot to be out (which for me probably will come fairly early since the humidity is so high today and the heat index is likely to be miserable), maybe I'll make my top ten lists by color.

I'd grow tomatoes year-round if I could, but once temperatures reach a certain level and the days are short (in terms of hours of sunlight), the flavor just isn't there, so it really isn't worth trying to keep a couple producing in pots inside. I've tried it and just don't think it is worth the effort involved in dragging them outside into the sun during the day and then into the house at night.



clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:27 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:27 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: elkwc on 07.31.2009 at 12:19 am in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I was about to hit the hay when I saw this thread and your reply. Your lists was about like my first thoughts. Top Ten for production, top ten for taste, bi-colors, reds, pinks and ect. Then that made me think about the Amazon Chocolates sitting on the table in the kitchen begging to be sampled. So I went and made a BPT and now while the seeds are soaking in Oxiclean will add a few random thoughts.
For Taste Lucky Cross is the only tomato I've ever grown I will grow for just one tomato a year. The best I've ever ate. Production is poor.
Kellogg's Breakfast when it is good is very good. Coolness and water tend to ruin the taste. But a must grow and a top three for sure.
Chapman was very good for me two years ago. Hasn't done as well since. Hopefully will set some during this cool period. Had very good taste and a good producer that year.
Cherokee Purple has been more productive and better for me than Indian Stripe and I like IS. I'm growing the PL versions of CP this year but so far they aren't near as good.
Texas Star was a very good bicolor two years ago and growing it again this year. And also very productive.
Caspian Pink has usually done well for me.
Florida Pink, Hege's German Pink, NAR and Pineapple are all about equal for me.
I'm just tasting some of the new to me that I'm growing this year. Amazon Chocolate was good tonight. It is setting well and if it keeps up could move to my must grow list.
For hybrids Goliath is my must grow every year along with BrandyBoy. Others that do well and I like the taste off are Porterhouse and Heartland.
Carbon and Black from Tula are two more on my to grow every year llst.
So not a top ten list but some of my opinions. I'm sure after this season and tasting some of the new ones that my must grow list will grow and change. I always enjoy reading others lists and their impressions. And what does well in one area won't do well here. I was doing a search the other night and read a list by Dawn in 07 about tomatoes that didn't do well or impress her. At least along those lines. And was surprised how closely her results mirrored mine. So many of the popular ones have flopped here. One exception is she says she has got good flavor from Brandywine and I'm still searching for that elusive flavor. Will be waiting to see others comments. Jay


clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:25 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:26 pm

RE: To Tomato Gurus, especially Dawn (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: okiedawn on 07.30.2009 at 10:18 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Hi Bella,

Only 10? Oh my. Are you trying to kill me? Trying to make me cry? The thought of only growing 10 varieties just makes me feel so sad.

I'll try to list 10 but it will be very hard. I have a lot of favorites, so if someone asked me this question 14 days in a row, I'd probably come up with 14 different lists. Furthermore, on the day I wrote any one of those 14 lists, I'd be convinced..."All right, these ten really are my faves...."

So, here's my top ten. And, just so you know, I adore the flavors of the Black Tomatoes (which really aren't black) so the list may skew heavily towards them.

1. Black Krim
2. True Black Brandywine
3. Indian Stripe--for fresh eating (or Cherokee Purple...they're almost identical in taste, but IS produces slightly better and slightly earlier in my garden)....and, oops, now the list is really 11
4. Black Cherry
5. Sun Gold Cherry (Sun Sugar is almost identical but has better crack resistance and I really can't tell them apart when I grow them side by side)....and, oops, now the list is really 12
6. Nebraska Wedding
7. Jet Star
8. Brandy Boy (if I lived in a cooler climate where Brandyine produced well, I'd replace this with Brandywine Sudduth).....and, oops, now the list is really 13
9. Dr. Wyche's Yellow
10. Supersonic

That's my basic top ten.

If I was growing only heirlooms, though, it would be...

1. True Black Brandywine
2. Black Krim
3. Cherokee Purple
4. Indian Stripe
5. Black Cherry
6. Ildi Cherry
7. Nebraska Wedding
8. Estler's Mortgage Lifter
9. Dr. Wyche's Yellow
10. Neve's Azorean Red

If I were growing only hybrids, this would be my list....

1. Sweet Million Cherry
2. Better Bush (because it is so early)
3. Lemon Boy
4. Sun Gold Cherry
5. Jet Star
6. Supersonic
7. Ramapo
8. Better Boy
9. Beefmaster
10. Big Beef

If I were growing only small bite-sized tomatoes for dehydrating for winter, and for summertime snacking in the garden, and for salads, this is the list....mixed hybrids and heirlooms.....

1. Black Cherry (black cherry type)
2. Sun Gold (golden-orange cherry type)
3. Tess's Land Race Currant (red currant type)
4. Ildi (yellow grape type)
5. Riesentraube (red cherry type)
6. Black Plum (black plum type)
7. Orange Santa (orange plum type but with a pointy end)
8. Rose Quartz (pink grape type)
9. Red Grape (red grape type)
10. Coyote (yellowish-ivory colored currant type)

And, if I was going to grow only paste-type tomatoes for canning, cooking, saucing, freezing as crushed tomatoes, or dehydrating, this would be my list...

1. Martino's Roma
2. San Marzano Redorta
3. Amish Paste
4. Viva Italia
5. Principe' Borghese (for dehydrating)
6. Super San Marzano
7. Grandman Mary's Paste
8. Rio Grande
9. Jersey Devil
10. Black Plum (for dehydrating)

So, it isn't quite a Top Ten list, but it is five top ten lists.

I can't wait to see what other avid growers list as their top ten.

But, if you asked me tomorrow or the next day, my ultimate top ten list might be different.



clipped on: 12.26.2010 at 08:23 pm    last updated on: 12.26.2010 at 08:24 pm

RE: Any advice on what to plant? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: okiedawn on 12.05.2008 at 04:24 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Hi Southerngardenchick,

Welcome to the Oklahoma Gardening forum. I'm glad to see you here. I can't speak for everyone on the forum, but I personally believe people from anywhere and everywhere are welcome to post here. We are a very inclusive online community. FYI--that "guy named George", along with wife Jereth, are two of the SSE's longest-serving seed savers/seed sharers and my admiration for them and their efforts is boundless.

TOMATOES: There are so many tomato varieties to try and so little time (relatively speaking), and I like to grow a huge variety every year. One reason for that is any given variety will perform differently in any given year, and sometimes performs one way in spring/summer and another way in summer/fall. So, having a lot of different plants is a way to hedge your bets and ensure you'll have some successful plants, even if they all are not successful.

Here's some favorites of mine, but I have to confess, that if I was asked this question 100 times, I could answer it 100 different ways.......there's just so many wonderful ones.

EARLY TOMATOES: These are (at least in my mind) the plants that flower and set fruit very early in the season, generally 48-65 days after being transplanted. Because they mature in cooler weather, their flavor is not the same as that of a ripe summer tomato, but they do taste better than grocery store tomatoes. And, honestly, I'm not that crazy about early tomatoes because mid-season tomatoes can produce ripe fruit just 7-10 days later and taste much better.

If planting early tomatoes, I'd go with Bush Early Girl, Fourth of July, or Better Bush and, of those three, I prefer Better Bush. Bush Early Girl is a shorter, stockier version of Early Girl and, at least in my garden, it produces about two to three times as many tomatoes as regular Early Girl. Fourth of July, if set out slightly before or very close to my last freeze date, will give me ripe tomatoes by Memorial Day. Better Bush is a very tough, disease-resistant plant that blooms and sets fruit well in cooler weather and still continues to produce well in the hotter weather too. Bloody Butcher is also early and prolific, and I like to grow New Big Dwarf as an early, planted in flowers pots, carried inside on cold nights and back out into the sun daily. It isn't quite as early as some of the others, but is fairly early and has outstanding flavor.

MID-SEASON TOMATOES: These are the most reliable producers here because they bloom and set fruit before the summer temperatures get too hot for fruit set to occur. Many of my favorites fall into this category. In general, these are tomatoes that produce ripe fruit from about 70-80 days after the plants are transplanted.

Some good mid-season hybrids are Ramapo F-1 (available through the New Jersey Ag Ext Service/Rutgers Univ.), Celebrity (some people love the flavor, others hate it, but it does produce and is very disease-resistant), Better Boy, Beefmaster, Brandy Boy (yummy), Supersonic, Jet Star, Lemon Boy, Roma, Sweet Million (cherry), and SunGold (cherry).

Some good mid-season heirlooms (and I've grown hundreds over the decades) are:


Aunt Ruby's German Green
Cherokee Green
Green Giant


Dr. Wyche's Yellow (originally from the Hugo, OK, area)
Golden Queen (Livingston's)
Ildi (yellow grape)
Dr. Carolyn (ivory-yellow cherry)
Coyote (yellow currant type)
Jubilee (also known as Golden Jubilee)
Nebraska Wedding (best orange or yellow one I've ever grown and it outperforms Kellogg's Breakfast in my part of the state)
Kellogg's Breakfast (Very popular nationwide but has never performed well for me and I have tried it several times. It seems to do better in a rainier, more humid climate and I have drought, low humidity and heat most years.)
Dixie Golden Giant
Jaune Flamme'

PURPLE (In the tomato world purple is a reddish-pinkish shade):

Pruden's Purple (may be the same as George's Prudence Purple)
Purple Russian
Cherokee Purple

PINK: (In the tomato world, pink is more of a pale red or similar to, but not as dark as, the purple types.)

Brandywine Sudduth's
Estler's Mortgage Lifter (hard to find)
Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter
Porter (small fruit, just a bit larger than a large red cherry tomato)
Earl's Faux
Stump of the World
Valena Pink
Rosalita (grape type)
New Big Dwarf
Arkansas Traveler
Traveler 76
Bradley Pink

BLACK: (Listed in order from most favorite to least, although even the 'least' is very good. All other colors are ramdom, or unranked, lists. In the tomato world black is an oddball color, and of course, is not black at all. Most black tomatoes are a dark red with maroonish, mahogany shades and often green shoulders or green striping or splotches.)

Black Cherry
Indian Stripe
True Black Brandywine
Black Krim
Black Seaman
Paul Robeson (would rank higher due to excellent flavor, but is very susceptible to early blight in my garden)
Black Prince
Black Plum
Black From Tula
Southern Night
Black Ethiopian
Black Pineapple


Neve's Azorean Red
Tess's Land Race Currant (The largest and most prolific tomato plant of any kind that I have ever planted, and the tiny fruit have great flavor. If you need a plant to cover up or hide a shed, chicken coop, outhouse (OK, being silly), etc., this is the one.)
Mule Team
Box Car Willie
Sioux (took me several years of growing this one to get a good crop)

Bi-Color: These can be streaked, splotched, etc. Often, they go through several color changes before they ripen.

Royal Hillbilly (from the Tomato Man himself)
Lucky Cross
Little Lucky
Rainbow (also known as Big Rainbow)
Georgia Streak
Mr. Stripey
Old German

PASTE/PLUM TYPES (for salsa and sauce):

San Marzano Redorta
San Marzano
Amish Paste
Jersey Devil
Grandma Mary's Paste
Polish Linguisa

FOR LATE TOMATOES: Most late tomatoes (mature in 85 days or longer from transplanting) are those plants that produce very, very large fruit. For the most part, they hate our climate, except in the years that we have a cooler and wetter than usual June and July. I don't grow a lot of them, but have a few every year. These are some faves:

Big Boy, Brandywine, Marglobe, Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red, Ponderosa, German Johnson Pink, Giant Belgium, Tennessee Britches, Ponderosa Pink, Omar's Lebanese, Big Zac and the old open-pollinated Goliath (not the modern hybrid of the same name).


Principe' Borghere


Yellow Pear

FOR FALL TOMATOES: I plant a mix of hybrids bred to set in the heat (Sunmaster, Sun Leaper, etc.....all the Sun varieties taste about the same to me) and some very, very old tomatoes from the Livingston Tomato Co., some of which date back at least 100 years. These include Paragon, Favorite, Stone, Dwarf Stone, Golden Queen, Gold Ball and Perfection.

FOR LONG KEEPING TYPES (pick green and let them ripen in storage): Burpee Longkeeper, Winter Red, Red October and the following from Sandhill Preservation Center ( Ruby Treasure, Yellow In Red Out, Old-Fashioned Garden Peach (different from plain old Garden Peach which is not a longkeeper), Winterkeeper and Green Thumb. George has had good luck with Sunray lasting a long time in storage too.


Red Robin
Canary Yellow
Pixie Orange
New Big Dwarf
Window Box Roma

Now, what were the other veggies.....beans, summer and winter squash, and peppers.

Beans: There are so many good ones, but some of my favorites are heirlooms from places like Baker Creek ( or Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( These include McCasland, Turkey Craw, Louisiana Purple Pod Pole Bean, Cherokee Cornfield Bean, Willow Leaf White Lima, Christmas Lima, Worcester Indian Red Lima and Hopi. I also like some of the bush bean hybrids like Top Crop, Contender and Derby, and our family loves the flat and broad Roma type beans. Our current fave roma-types are from Franchi Simenti Seed, imported into the USA by Seeds From Italy ( and include Smeraldo, Supermarconi and Meraviglia Venezia. If you are in a really hot, dry area, you cannot go wrong with the beans offered by Native Seed/SEARCH and Seeds of Change.

Summer Squash: There are many kinds of summer squash and you can buy seeds from them just about anywhere. We are partial to Costa Romanesco and cucuzzi, also known as Serpent of Italy. These two zucchini types are more resistant to squash bugs than most. I also like Cocozelle, which is a bush type zuke, Gold Rush yellow zucchini, and old-fashioned yellow straightneck or yellow crookneck.

Winter Squash: Most of my favorites are heirlooms, including Marina di Chioggia, Sibley, Queensland Blue, Red Warty Thing, Galeuse d'Eysines, Musquee de Provence, Seminole, Winter Luxury Pie, Howden, Jack-Be-Little and Small Sugar Pie Pumpkin.

Peppers: How to choose peppers? I mostly go by flavor but like to grow a colorful rainbow of peppers too.

Hot Peppers: If you like them really hot, grow habaneros. I grow the standard orange habanero, and also Red Savina, Brown Habanero, Peach Habanero, White Habanero, and Mustard Habanero. They are too hot for me, but hubby loves them. I also grow Fatali, a yellow habanero type. For less heat, I like Grande' Jalapeno, and Jaloro a yellow jalapeno. Biker Billy is a large, tasty jalapeno type too. Bulgarian carrot is an orange heirloom pepper and Fish is an heirloom with variegated hot fruit and leaves. Mucho Nacho is a huge jalapeno and Big Jim is the largest chile pepper I've ever grown. A tiny pepper that adds a lot of heat to salsa is Bird pepper or Chile Pequin, and Peter Red Pepper is grown by many people because of its' resemblance to a certain part of the male anatomy. If you have room for ornamental peppers (and I make room for lots of them in my "flower beds"), you can't go wrong with Poinsettia, Medusa, Black Pearl, Filius Blue, and Medusa.

SWEET PEPPERS: We're fond of the gigantic Super Heavyweight yellow sweet bell, and Hungarian Rainbow, which is a very heavy producer in our garden. I also grow Orange Beauty, Chocolate Beauty, Red Beauty, and Purple Beauty. Alma Paprika is one we grow every year, and Jimmy Nardello's is a great sweet frying pepper.

I don't know how large your garden is, but suggest you include herbs if you have the space. Cooking with garden-fresh herbs is a delight, and you don't have to have a lot of space. Most years I grow the following: borage, several kinds of basil, several kinds of parsley, garlic, lemon verbena, lemon balm, chamomile, several kinds of sages including Pineapple Sage, several kinds of dill, cilantro, chives, and sometimes lemongrass.

There are lots of other garden crops you can grow if space permits. In the cool season (Feb.-Mar.) you can plant onions, edible podded peas, potatoes, edamame, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and other greens, cauliflower, chard, carrots, beets and turnips. For warm-season crops, in addition to the ones already mentioned, you can grow sweet corn, cucumbers, black-eyed peas and other southern peas (cream, crowder, cowpeas), okra, cantaloupes, muskmelons and other melons, and sweet potatoes.

With succession planting and intercropping, you can produce edible food from your garden from roughly March through October and sometimes earlier or later depending on the weather.

Got questions? Ask. That's why all of us are share knowledge and ideas.



clipped on: 12.06.2008 at 10:53 am    last updated on: 12.06.2008 at 10:53 am

Pergola/Arbor design assistance needed - (warning big images)

posted by: shawnharper on 06.07.2007 at 01:00 am in Landscape Design Forum

Hi there -

I'm at the end of my creativity limit for the design of a pergola in our backyard. I hope this is the right forum to ask this in...

We're looking for something to make the BBQ/island area feel more enclosed and to provide relief from the baking afternoon sun (sun comes in from the "house" side near the right-angle turn in the roof gutter).

I sketched a basic design 18 months back, but that was not quite to scale, and was before the stamped concrete was poured (which moved a little).

A revised sketch is shown as well (not as much color).

While the revised approach would probabaly be OK, I'm going for more than OK. The issues I see with it are:
It incroaches into the "corner" area (unlanscaped so far) too much. We intend to make that a "reading/lounging nook" with a couple chaises, smallish japanese maples, hydrangeas. Having a big post near the middle would kinda kill that feel.
Also, the spans seem a bit much for 2x10's (~18' across)
Lastly, it's just kinda run of the mill. Something with curves or angles might be nice, but our home is Arts and Crafts, so maybe we should stick with right angles...

So, if you have any pearls of wisdom, I'd love to hear them.


Shawn (in Campbell CA)

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clipped on: 06.18.2007 at 02:50 pm    last updated on: 06.18.2007 at 02:51 pm