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Tomato Trial Results 2003
by John Harmon
September 7, 2003

With our Yukon summer a quickly fading memory it's time to take a look at how the tomatoes did this year. Long time readers will know that I try out four new varieties of tomatoes every year. When I say "new" I mean new to me because most of the tomatoes I try are old heirloom varieties.

This year I tried a red, a couple of pinks and a purple tomato from various parts of the world. I've learned over the years not to expect too much. Many of the heirloom varieties are daylight sensitive and can't adjust to our long hours of daylight. That is what I believe was the problem with the heirloom tomato I grew this year called Bull'sHeart ( Cuore De Toro ). It is listed as an Italian heirloom with huge, pink, oxheart fruits weighing in at 2 pounds or more with a wonderful sweet flavor. This is a determinate variety. This means that all the fruit ripens at more or less the same time. At 89 days it needs a heated greenhouse to mature here in the north. It didn't do very well. I got tons of fruit but all very small. Not one tomato grew larger than a few ounces. I think this one was just confused by the long hours of daylight. Not a variety I would recommend for the north.

The star performer of this year's picks was the Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red. It's listed as an indeterminate variety that will produce "huge, delicious 1-2 pound fruits, a single slice will cover a sandwich. High yields of wrinkle free fruits all season long". This one lived up to it's name and then some. From just one plant I harvested four tomatoes over a pound and two over two pounds along with some smaller ones. They are very meaty and tasty with a nice balance of acid and sweet. This one did great and I can recommend this variety for gardeners in the north. It's great for sandwiches or just slicing up as a side dish. You can save seeds from this variety if you can find them. They are solid and have very little in the way of seeds.

I also tried a variety named Anna Russian. I keep trying Russian heirloom tomatoes in the hopes of finding another great variety like the Russian Black tomato. The Russian Black is still my favorite of all time so far. This one is a Russian heirloom with Ox-heart type foliage on indeterminate vines. It's fairly fast at just 68days. The claim was for "pinkish red, heart shaped fruits from Russian stock. Large, early fruits have outstanding flavor and average one pound in size". I didn't get any fruit of a pound but lots at a half pound. I wasn't impressed with the flavor. The ones I grew were kinda bland without much flavor at all.

The last one I tried for this year is the Marizol Purple and I admit I picked it because I liked the name. It's listed as "an heirloom from Germany with dark purplish pink fruits that are very sweet. Large 8 ounce fruits, will bear till frost". This one is also an indeterminate variety and claims 80 days to maturity. It produced well with lots of fruit that were redder than purple but still very good for fresh eating. I like the taste of this one and the dark red color. It was not however outstanding and there are other varieties I would grow ahead of this one.

I have to say the winner this year was the Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red. It made great sandwiches and one slice did indeed cover a slice of even homemade bread. If you want a big, meaty great tasting red tomatoes give this one a try next year. I'll have seeds from this year's crop for sale later in the winter on my website at If you want to try out some of the 300 other varieties of tomatoes available check out or just click on the link to the on my website.

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