Growing tomatoes outdoors in Southwest Idaho can be a challenge. The length of the warm weather vegetable growing season cannot be relied on to be long enough for many varieties, especially if the spring is cool or damp, or the frost dates don’t cooperate. Two months of fierce heat can’t make up the difference. And we are just enough north that the longer daylight hours are limited. This year I experimented with two new varieties of tomato, after four years of disappointing harvests.
Both types of tomatoes began to produce ripe tomatoes in promising numbers in early August and the vines are loaded. Since the spring was actually on the cool side, this is a good sign for the varieties. With the average last frost date in mid September, I am hopeful for an abundance to save for winter. Since they were grown under nearly exact circumstances, it is a perfect opportunity to discuss some differences between them.
- The tomatoes grown were Heinz and Stupice, both of which I purchased from Territorial Seed Company. The two rows were within a few feet of each other in similar raised beds,
- supported by the same size cages, and
- watered the same amounts by the same overhead lawn sprinklers.
- I started all plants from seed, and kept them under my grow lights for the same amount of time (around 4 weeks, then began the process of hardening them off) before transplanting them in the same few days.
The Stupice tomatoes are an indeterminate type, which surprisingly began ripening about a week before the Heinz.
- The Stupice tomatoes have produced about half again as much fruit as the Heinz up to this point. Depending on the weather, it looks like they should win the overall production contest. The vines are loaded.
- The fruit is almost perfectly round and juicy when ripe. You can see from the two photos below that the Stupice plants are quite a bit larger than the Heinz plants. (click to enlarge any photo on the site)
The Heinz tomatoes are distinctly meatier and hold longer once picked.
- The fruit that picks easily when touched (that is, is basically comes off when I put my hands on it) has been more orange when I get it out in the light.
- It is a determinate tomato plant. Many of the tomatoes today are a light green, so I am expecting the typical all of sudden determinate harvest soon.
- One of my Heinz plants is showing signs of curling leaves, but it is producing fine. I will be keeping an eye on it.
The Stupice are my first choice for fresh eating, but I have used both in processing, just mixing them because I haven’t yet had enough of one kind all at once for a given project.
- For canning and soup making, I simply core, cut in large chunks, and puree – skins and all.
- With minor adjustments, like no celery, resorting to granulated garlic, and a couple tablespoons of cream per bowl when serving, we used this recipe for soup and can’t wait to try it again.
I plan on trying both types of tomatoes again next year, with ratios of each variety still depending on the final harvest results.