Tomato review 2016...

21 February, 2016

One of the delights of the backyard veg garden is tomatoes. Those flavourless red balls you buy at the supermarket (or maybe like me, knowing their inherent falsity, don't buy) have absolutely nothing on a homegrown, picked-when-perfectly-ripe tomato.

(As an aside I'm totally loving instagram - I always get onto these things way after they were cool and new - and my favourite hashtag in the world is #supermarkettomatoespfft - so true!)

Because of these truths I really only eat tomatoes when they are ripe in my backyard veg patch.

And because I love tomatoes, and can never just stick to one or two types like some gardeners I know, I grow multiple varieties every year. Some are old favourites, some are being grown for the first time.

Either way, it's always an adventure.

This year I grew the varieties: Sweet Bite, Brin de Muget, Champion, Sun Sugar, Black Krim, Black Russian, Sainte Lucie, Potiron Ecaplate, Big Beef (F1), Green Zebra, Gardeners Delight, Heirloom Bicolour, Ananas Noir, Pink Bumblebee, Husky Cherry Gold, Mr Ugly, Pink Grape, Brown Cherry, Black Cherry, Pink Girl, Lemon Drop and saved seed from market bought tomatoes I call Huge Tomato, Yellow Tomato and Black Tomato.

24 varieties in all, which for me is very restrained. I have seed for over 40 varieties, and am sure next year will have quite a few more.

I will post about growing methods in another post.

Of those seeds sown not all made it to fruiting tomato adulthood, but for the purposes of today's post here are the current fruiting varieties.

Sweet Bite - bought as a seedling from the big green shed store after the tomato I planted in its place died. Early fruiting but average flavour. Won't get it again (unless perhaps I need another replacement plant).

Brin de Muget - reliable cropper, tasty tomato, will grow again next year for sure. I was given the seed but don't have many left and it is a few years  old so I may need to save some seed. I'm told the shape is very much like Riesentraube (thanks foodnstuff!) so may need to try that instead and see if it does compare.

Champion - not particularly prolific, standard good homegrown tomato taste but nothing super special. Don't know if I'll grow it again. Doesn't live up to its name.

Sun Sugar - golden orbs of tomato delight. Very prolific, did particularly well in the wicking bed patch. Will grow again.

Black Krim - a bit slow to ripen, but a delight to grow.  Happen to be between ripe ones currently which is why they are missing from the picture. Tasty and beautiful. Will grow again.

Black Russian - earlier than Black Krim in my yard, but slightly less tasty to my tastebuds. Might grow again.

Sainte Lucie - quite prolific, nice big beefsteak tomatoes. Good flavour. Well worth growing.

Potiron Ecaplate - did particularly well in the wicking beds, ground sown plants are much smaller and yet to ripen. Massive tomatoes in the wicking beds still to ripen. Flavour excellent. Must grow again.

Big Beef (F1) - thought I'd try a hybrid as an experiment, not worthwhile. Tasteless red balls. Supermarket tomatoes owe more of their inferiority to variety than I realised. Will keep for adding to the passata/salsa/sauce stash, but otherwise would end up in the compost heap. Never again.

Green Zebra - reliable tasty green tomato. Good flavour. Will grow again without doubt.

Gardeners Delight - Reliable, prolific, good flavour, moderate disease resistance. Will likely grow again.

Heirloom Bicolour - I wish I had one to show you, but I am currently between ripe toms of this variety. Big yellow beefsteak type with a pink/red splotch on the bottom of the fruit, through the skin and flesh. Looks amazing sliced. Great flavour. Relatively prolific. Grew for the first time and am sure it will be a garden staple from now on.

Ananas Noir - have heard many good things, but late to ripen. Have not yet tried one and its almost March. Doubt whether the taste will make up for the slowness, but we will see. TBA.

Pink Bumblebee - not very disease resistant but very pretty striped cherry toms. Flavour unremarkable. Probably will grow again though, just for its looks.

Husky Cherry Gold - slow to ripen this year, but has been good in previous years. Who knows. Good medium size yellow tomato, but don't remember it being that special. Might go back to Garden Peach, similar size and colour but GP is more prolific and earlier.

Mr Ugly - finally fruited this year, have grown for the last few years but always died. Good beefsteak type tom, taste comparable to others, nothing special. Was expecting more from the name, more warty and bumpy. Ah well.

Pink Grape - very similar to Gardeners Delight, not as pink as I expected. Another one grown for the first time. Very disease susceptible, though this may be just the plant that happened to grow this year. Might try again, not sure.

Brown Cherry - seedlings died this year, though have grown previously with success. Will try again.

Black Cherry - died, will likely try again.

Pink Girl - another one that I am between ripe toms of. Small beefsteak size, very good pink colour, good flavour though nothing special. Worth growing again for the colour.

Lemon Drop - very old seed, didn't germinate, probably my fault. Might try more pears next year. Have been very prolific previously. Don't remember the taste to be anything super special though.

Huge Tomato - my toms are not as huge as the ones I saw at the market, though this may be due to growing conditions or a mix of genetics. Pretty big beefsteak, rather tasty. May grow again.

Yellow Tomato - not yellow, though looks remarkably like Brin de Muget, so I think I may just have been a bit random with my seed sowing and mis-labelled. Probably will try again next year.

Black Tomato - died. Looks very like Black Krim when grown in previous years. Probably wont try again when I have Black Krim to rely on.

Also grown were two self sown tomatoes that came up in the compost, which added to the mix.

That's the tomato wrap up for 2016, though there are still plenty of tomatoes to ripen and eat.

What are your must grow varieties? Any standouts I should try and source for 2017 crops?


  1. Thanks for the round-up Bec, 3 new tomatoes to try next year. I guess everyone's taste buds are different because Lemon Drop is on of my favourite tomatoes.

    1. So true. I know people who grow Gross Lisse every year and love them, but I find them unremarkable. Each to their tomato own :)

  2. Good to see them all set out like that. I must do that myself next year. I have a problem with your Black Russians (or maybe you have the problem ;-)

    I've grown BR for the last umpteen years. I love the flavour. The shape is perfectly rounded, like a Grosse Lisse and it ripens to a brownish colour. Now, I grew Black Krim for the first time this year. They're huge, much larger than my Black Russians. And they are the beefsteak type...with those 'shoulders' on the top and they've ripened to a sort of brownish pink colour underneath, and dark greenish on top, exactly like your Black Russians in the photo.

    So I'm confused. Is my Black Russian seed wrong and should the fruit be more like yours? Or is yours Black Krim? I know from experience that it's sooooo easy to get tomato seedlings mixed up no matter how careful I think I've been with labelling.

    I have a post in the pipeline about my Black Krim, with photos, so you will see it eventually, but the Black Russians have all finished so no photo.

    No real problems...they are all delicious anyway!

    1. I have grown Black Russian before (many years I admit) and these were actually another (the second and last) big green store buys when my home seed sown BR died. So if there is any error I blame them :)
      Now that you mention it previous growing they were rounder, however interestingly my seed grown Black Krims are much bigger and slightly squatter - if you know what I mean. In the pic above most of them are like the four at the bottom, not the top one, labelled BR. But it is minor differences. Seed stock or genetics perhaps.
      Suffice to say I don't know what is wrong or right, properly speaking. Shows how much we rely on 'what the label says.'

  3. I'm working on my final review as well and have left the BEST until last - tomatoes (although my tomato season ended months ago...I'm very tardy this year!). So many things, aside from variety, can impact on how a tomato tastes, including something as basic as your soil. Just goes to show that different varieties are always worth trying as you just never know what will suit your conditions and your taste buds!

    I quite agree on hybrids, with one exception. Our tomato patch was taken down by blight a few years ago and so I decided to add a couple of brand new hybrid varieties that were said to be blight resistant (both early & late) AND they were supposed to be very tasty too - Mountain Merit (slicing tomato) & Mountain Magic (salad tomato). Mountain Merit was unspectacular when it came to taste, but Mountain Magic tasted really good - comparable to some of the heirlooms I grew. Although I prefer to grow predominately heirlooms as well (probably about 15 or 16 varieties this year), I'll always make room for a couple Mountain Magics...I'm call it tomato insurance ;)

    1. I look forward to reading your post when you get around to it :) True, it's not just variety but many other factors that impact on tastiness.
      Interesting you found a hybrid that tastes like a tomato. I haven't been too troubled by disease in recent growing years so don't stress too much about it, but it would be good to know if I can get my hands on that one. I'll have a look out at the Aus seed stores. Tomato insurance for sure! :) Cheers!

  4. What an interesting post. I am going to look for some of your favourite tomatoes in the UK and see if I can grow them. I have grown a golden and a deep maroon ( almost black) tomato in NZ a few years ago. Can't remember the names of the variety unfortunately but they were quite prolific and extremely tasty.

    1. Cheers! There are so many varieties available I'm sure you will find something similar to what you grew before!

  5. All my tomatoes that I grew from seed, Starting in September, are only now just starting to ripen, well the roma's are. The beef steak, day dream and another variety I forget are all still very green and small :(
    I'm glad I got some advance seedlings from a friend with a greenhouse

    1. I only got ripe tomatoes from about mid Jan onwards. They are very slow this year, but I put it partly down to late planting out which was entirely my fault. Bad time management! Ah well.
      I will try some early sowing and coddling with plastic guards this year and see if I get something closer to Christmas. Fingers crossed.

  6. I love that you're growing so many different varieties of tomatoes. I'm trying to stay away from varieties that are inconsistent croppers this year while leaving room for some new ones.

    1. Yes, choosing tomato varieties is an ongoing trial and error activity. I always end the season with new must grows while others get chopped from the list.

  7. wow! I have sent this link to my dad, who is the tomato expert in our family.
    i'm like you - I never buy supermarket tomatoes. would rather have a short but delicious season of eating homegrowns.
    I also love black krims; for sauces I love the romas; but tis year I have really fallen for the big beryl, a stripey orange one that is the colour of luscious apricots inside. it's just so pretty on the plate! very fleshy too - barely any seeds. can recommend that one if you want an orangey one (I can't see one in your list).

    1. Cheers! I would be interested in what such a sage gardener thinks.
      I have grown romas in the past for just sauce, but have found the regular ones not that much worse and I like variety. Big Beryl sounds awesome, I will see where I can find some seed. You are right, I have mainly red or yellow, but no orange toms.

  8. Love this post, my absolute favourite of this year was amish paste. I found Black Russian also to be a bit lacking.. You have such great info on the blog!

    1. Cheers! I have heard of Amish Paste, may need to find myself some of that one.