Sunday, 30 March 2014

Little Big Chocolate Yum - update

Just a few pictures of this years young plants all F3's. The variegated leaf colour appears at random and most of the plants have a good amount of colour and pattern. Many of the plants (20) have quite crinkly rugose leaves and although early days they appear to have a compact growing habit.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Sosulka Chernaya - Black Icicle

Black Icicle lined up
Sosulka Chernaya is the original Ukraine name of this variety which translates to Black Icicle and what a lovely tomato this is. For me it's not really a paste tomato as it's a bit too juicy although they do cook well, are lovely sliced raw and good in salads. The last few summers they have grown strongly and produced a heavy crop all summer until the frosts. Given how well they set in cooler temperatures, I think this one is ideally suited for cooler climates and one I might try growing outdoors this year.

They are a indeterminate variety and plants grow fairly tall, the leaves are wispy and droop somewhat, I keep thinking they need a drink when they don't! Fruits when ripe hold well both on the vine and once picked. Unripe picked fruit also keeps well, which is handy come the end of the season. My seeds originally came from Baker Creek.

Black Icicle are excellent producers

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Grappler's Quest

Grappler's Quest is a delightful cherry variety bred by Tom Wagner. This is his description taken from New World Seeds and crops "All I wanted was a sweet red cherry from the most unlikely of parents; Schimmeig Creg, Sun Sugar, and Green Grape. I feel like I am in a grappling tournament, facing one opponent after another.  But if somebody wants to grapple with me…the quest may end soon."

What a mix!

So far for me Grappler's Quest have been a small chocolate brown cherry, taste is great with a good balance of sweet. They are not one to pass without sampling and were a good producer even in cooler times of our early 2013 summer. I like this variety very much and will be growing them again this year, I guess this line should really be called Grappler's Chocolate Brown or something similar.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Zahl Tomatoes

Bred by Tom Wagner, I bought this variety a few years ago, here's the description from the site  "Zahl: This is my attempt to resurrect the German tomato that has been in my immediate family since 1888 in this country and who knows how long in Graben Neudorf, Germany.  This is a large version of the German tomato…that is all they called it, and measures about 5 inches in diameter with many small locules.  It is Pink and is fasciated as the old strain was.  When I was a kid I couldn’t leave anything uncrossed, and I cross the German tomato with a Beefsteak tomato and stabilized that cross through several selfings and called it Der Beefsteak. About twenty years ago I crossed Der Beefsteak with Count II, a variety that may be obsolete.  Zahl needs a home." Tom Wagner, New World seeds.

Well, I've been growing 'Zahl' the last few years and I'm afraid I'm not making a very good foster mum! I was hoping to keep selecting to stay close to Tom's description, the tomatoes I've grown have indeed been fasciated, often producing somewhat ugly looking ripe tomatoes, luckily the taste has been super. However the plants I've grown have remained very short growing and some are perhaps semi- determinate, fruit is red and size for me has been smaller than 5'' diameter with very few if any seeds. The plants have jointless pedicle.

Zahl has a jointless Pedicle, no knuckle joint attaching
fruit to stem.
I started 3 plants last season 2 were fairly similar to each other and look much like these shown below

Then from the third plant, these beauties

Quite different from the other two plants and totally different from any other tomato I grew last season.
So the question is are they from the packet of Zahl? Or a mix up my end? I don't think any way to know for certain, certainly one to grow again as they are a good tasting tomato and very pretty to look at.

I have one possibly two seeds left to sow from Tom's original seed he sent, which I'm planning on starting in the propagator this week. Alongside them I'll sow the seeds I have saved from Zahl in 2011 and 2013. Hoping for good things this year!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Dancing With Smurfs

How can you not love that name! This is a beautiful cherry variety bred by Tom Wagner. The seeds I received in 2011 were F3, meaning they were still segregating for traits and selections needed to be made over the coming years for the next generations of seed to be saved. I've been selecting for my favourites each time, based on taste, looks and earliness. Dancing With Smurfs is not an overly sweet type of cherry as some are, but what it does have is a good rich tomato taste, great for snacking on. I've found this variety easy to grow in a greenhouse and here it will crop outside in a sheltered spot.

Dancing With Smurfs F4

The blue - anthocyanin colour is seen most intensely on fruits that have been in direct sunlight. This can be seen on stems and fruits from very early on and fruits continue to darken as they grow. Leaves do tend to curl a bit which helps lets more sunlight in. The shaded under side of the tomato retains it's original colour and ripens to red, a great way to check they are ripe.

The picture below shows the reduction in intensity of the blue-black colour (Anthocyanin) when tomatoes are grown in a slightly shady spot, taste and production remained good. I think Dancing With Smurfs and another similar cherry of Tom's, Helsing Junction Blues are my favourite 'antho' cherries that I've grown so far. I'll continue making my selections from the plants I grow and save seeds to be sown next year. 

Dancing With Smurfs F6

Friday, 21 March 2014

'The Machine'

Gary Cass was kind enough to share a few seeds of this F2 variety with me last year. In the previous season he found one off type plant growing from a pack of Orange Flesh Purple Smudge sourced from Carol Knapp, who thought it may have come from a field cross and Yellow Ruffle had been growing close by.

Well I'm very glad he sent seeds as both the plants I grew proved to be good growers, looked great and a pleasure to eat.

'The Machine' A

'The Machine' B

'Machine' A is the more delicate and refined looking plant. Lovely looking yellow fruits with faint red striping. A good mild taste and fruits kept well

'The Machine' A, unripe fruit

'The Machine' A, leaves are pretty

'The Machine' A

'The Machine' A

'Machine' B is the larger fruited of the two and the plants have heavier set leaves, flowers the lot. Very pretty type fruit Bi or is it Tri coloured fruits with a good sweet taste. I've nick named it Brains. 

'The Machine' B, unripe

'The Machine' B, chunkier leaves

'The Machine' B

'The Machine' B

'The Machine' B

Sliced Brain!


Charterhouse Green F1

This striking F1 seedling is one of 3 I'm growing from the same parents, although all are quite different. The newly named Charterhouse Green has the leaf colour of the pollen parent Tigrette (this I believe was an F1 variety named Tigrette Cherry F1, I'm unsure to the generation of seeds I have, but seed was saved from a plant with red striped yellow fruit.)  Growth currently is very compact on this potato leaf dwarf. 

Charterhouse Green

I'll be growing all three plants on, aside from the foliage colour it's interesting as well to have two potato leaf to one regular type. The mother plant was a compact potato leaf dwarf with yellow fruit ant very tasty.

F1 Siblings

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Choosing My Cherry Tomato Favourites

This year I'm planning on growing out a varied array of cherry tomato varieties, to compare them in the same growing season with a view to picking my ultimate top 10 - 20. I have an idea this will help me reduce the overall amount of varieties I seem to have gathered! I've included my favourites that I've grown before, but maybe not grown them along some of the others on the list to be able to make a final call. Also quite a few new to me varieties in the mix which is fun and I hope there will be some new stars.

I've included Sweet Aperitif and Rosella as they are from the same breeders as Black Opal, which I found so good last year. Similarly I have a number of cherry tomatoes bred by J&L Select seeds as one of their varieties Ambrosia Gold, was outstanding last year. 

Seeds sown;
Ambrosia Bronze
Ambrosia Giant
Ambrosia Gold
Ambrosia Red
Black Opal
Bosque Green Cherry
Cafe Bule
Chocolate Pear
Cinnamon Pear
Copper Currant
Dancing with Smurfs
Esmeralda Golosina
Floridity F1
Green Bumble Bee
Green Doctors Frosted
Green Envy F1 (?)
Green Grape Beyond
Green Pear
Green Tiger (British)
Green Tiger
Green Zebra Cherry
Ivory Pear
Medovya Kaplya
Napia Rose
Orange Muscat
Pink Bumble Bee
Pink Tiger
Purple Bumble Bee
Rancho Solito
Rosada F1
Shokoladka F1
St Nicks F1
Submarine Blush
Sugar Drop
Suncherry Extra Sweet F1
Suncherry Premium F1
Sun Sugar F1
Sungold F1
Sweet Aperitif
55 Flower Goddess

Blush, very pretty and crops well, nice tomato, maybe not enough flavour?
A Fred Hempel variety.

Dancing with Smurfs, a recent introduction by Tom Wagner,
I like these a lot, not sweet but good tomato taste and they
 look stunning

Purple Bumble Bee, bred by Fred Hempel. Pretty but flavour a little
disappointing, growing again before making up my mind.

Pink Bumble Bee (Fred Hempel), pretty variety but not sure the
taste is there for me?

Green Zebra Cherry, good rich tomato flavour not very sweet.
Vines are quite short growing but productive,
lots of lovely green striped large cherries.

As I started to say above last season I was lucky enough to find two new favourites to add to my cherry affair! Black Opal and Ambrosia Gold, both utterly delish! Ambrosia Gold no picture yet, had that lovely leaf scent the same as Sungold.

Black Opal, my favourite black cherry! Gorgeous sweet
flavour, I couldn't get enough of these beauties last year.

Which leads me on to what are my current Tastiest Top 8 cherry tomatoes?

Ambrosia Gold
Black Opal
Floridity F1
Suncherry Premium F1
Sungold F1
Sunsugar F1
Rosada F1
They are mostly F1 varieties.

Trio of Coyote


Great tasting cherry tomatoes already bubbling near the top spots are
Medovya Kaplya
Cafe Bule
Green Doctor and Green Doctors Frosted
Green Pear
Verde Claro

Verde Claro, bred and developed by Tom Wagner, seeds are from Tom

Medovya Kaplya, such a pretty fruit and the best tasting
yellow pear I've tasted, Particularly good later in the
season and they carry on until cut down by frost.

Green Doctor's Frosted on the left Green Doctors on the right. Subtly skin
colour separates the two, taste is very close, but if I had to call it
Green Doctors Frosted would just edge to the front.

Cherries under development 
Varieties I like very much and are likely to be hustling for the top spots in the near future, but are still being grown out for a few more generations until stable. All varieties bred by Tom Wagner, except Purple Haze OP which is from Keith Mueller's F1 variety.

Black Casady
Golden Crabapple
Grappler's Quest
Matt's Casady
Matt's Folly
Momognahela Epidote
Purple Haze OP
Sweet Casady

These are one of the selections I've made from Golden Crabapple

Grappler's Quest

Matts Casady

My selections of Sweet Casady and Black Casady