As you might have noticed, our tomatoes are stellar performers right now! We are very proud of them, as it takes a lot of work and planning to have ripe tomatoes in North Idaho in early June (we picked the first ones on June 1). Here's a little info on varieties, and how we achieve earliness.
Although we call our colorful slicing tomatoes "heirloom tomatoes", they don't actually fit the definition of that word. They are all hybrids, bred for flavor, crack resistance, yield, vigor, uniformity, size, and vine performance. We choose them over true heirlooms because the flavor is nearly indistinguishable, and the yields are much higher. In addition, we get many more fruits of roughly the same weight which makes it much easier to pack, and the vines are easier to tame than their open pollinated counterparts. The varieties we're growing are called Damsel (pink), Tomimaru Muchoo (pink), Marnero (purple), Margold (yellow/red), Beorange (yellow), and Marbonne (red fluted). Likewise, our cherry tomatoes are all hybrids except one (Black Cherry, purple). Contrary to popular belief that every farmer grows Sun Golds, we don't! The Sun Gold plant is a nightmare to work with, and the fruits crack too readily. Instead, we grow a certified organic seed called Citrine and another called Sun Orange, both of which are crack resistant and have the classic Sun Gold flavor that everyone knows and loves.
To get early fruits, all of our tomato seeds are started in mid-January in our mini greenhouse-within-a-greenhouse. The heat is at 65 and our LED grow lights are on for 16 hours each day. We plant them in the ground in the third week of March into a high tunnel heated to 60. March and April are expensive months for heating as you can imagine! We start pruning and de-leafing in mid-April, and then we begin to lower-and-lean (lower the vines, which will reach over 20' long by the end of September) in late- May. The combination of early seeding, added heat, careful pruning and variety selection give us (and you!) tomatoes for as long as possible each season.
We hope you enjoy this week's produce. Beans debut this week!