Herbaria (August 17, 2012): The All Tomato Edition

This week’s Herbaria, which you will notice is (once again) last week’s Herbaria, is all about tomatoes. Several varieties ripened at once this week and canning has begun.

I am writing this at the airport while I wait for a flight and unfortunately there is one new variety in this batch whose name I can not recall. I promise to update this page when I return home.

From Left to Right:

Top Row: 1.’White Currant’ If you can only grow one currant variety, this is the one. These tiny tomatoes pack a sweet punch. They are also incredibly prolific and perfect for preserving. Last year I made tarragon and lemon pickle with the end of season glut. They were a hit. I still have one jar that I am reserving until new jars can replace it. 2. ‘Black Seaman’ Amazingly, this massive tomato came from a determinate (bushing) plant. They also get a snicker everytime I mention them in workshops and presentations. I’ve grown ‘Black Seaman’ every year for several years now, both in pots and in the ground, and it is probably my number one favourite determinate, should I be forced to choose. The tomatoes are black, rich, and a little bit salty, too. They are a nice, dense, slicer. I had this one on a sandwich with lunch. 3.’Cherokee’ No one knows the real name of this red currant variety. I procured the seeds last fall from a couple in Athens, Georgia who have been growing it in their backyard since the 80′s. They got the seed from a Cherokee man. I can’t say that I’ve been impressed with them. The fruit is tough skinned and not very tasty, but that could come down to growing the plant in a pot and the hot, dry summer we had in Toronto.

Middle Row: 4. Unknown I am growing this one in a recycling bin in the front “yard.” 5.’Mirabelle Multiflora’ About a decade back I experimented with this variety in a 12″ metal pot on my former roof garden. It did not do well, and now that I have it in the ground I can see what went wrong. It was incorrectly labelled as a determinate, and I can tell you unequivocally that this is an indeterminate (vine) — and a very big one at that! It certainly lives up to its name. I predict that we will be enjoying these by the handful right through to the end of the season. 6. ‘Citron Compact’ I’m not impressed with this dwarf. Again, it could be down to the way I am growing it, but my plant has only popped out two insipid little tomatoes so far and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to make more.

Bottom Row: 7.’Zapotec Pink Pleated’ Oh how I love this variety. It has won a permanent position in my top five. Something truly exceptional would have to come along to knock it out. It was my most prolific producer last year but I don’t see that happening in 2012. It’s not the plant’s fault. I got started late. To be fair, I am surprised by how quickly it managed to catch up. The hot summer helped. This is a Mexican variety that really needs heat to happen. 8. ‘Snow White’ This is my first year growing this whitish variety. I’d classify the size as “saladette.” It’s a bit too large to be called a cherry. So far I’m impressed. I’ve been eating them raw straight off of the vine — always a good indication of taste. 9. ‘Red Velvet’ This is the third fuzzy, soft tomato that I have grown. Like this one the others sported beautiful, silver, soft leaves, but I’d say that this one has them beat in size and performance. It’s a beaut. The good news is that the tomatoes aren’t bad either. I’d grow it again, which is more than I can say for the other two.

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Herbaria F.A.Q

What is this?

An herbarium is a collection of plant specimens. Herbaria is the plural form. A collection of collections.

Every week, until I can no longer find anything living to fill up the boxes, I am photographing and posting a collection of flowers, leaves, stems, and other plant parts that are in my garden. This is an experiment in celebrating diversity and I hope it will allow me to focus more closely on the beauty that is inherent in the different parts of each plant. It also serves as a visual file of the seasons and a record of my garden, my gardening practice, and the plants that I choose to grow.

Why doesn’t this start at the beginning of the calendar year or garden season?

I would have preferred starting this project at either of those times, but alas, that is now how things worked out. The idea for this project came to me rather spontaneously one May morning as I sat pondering how I could best use a stack of nine wooden, pint-sized fruit boxes that I had recently purchased at the flea market. I have a thing for wooden boxes and I love to display little collections of cherished items within them. These nine little boxes begged to be kept together as a display — it didn’t take long before the idea came to mind: little boxes within a box, framed within weeks and months of boxes. Within the hour I had worked out the logistics of the project and was photographing my first box. That was May 16, 2012.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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10 thoughts on “Herbaria (August 17, 2012): The All Tomato Edition

  1. Mother Nature has provided the peoples of the Earth with every thing we have or ever will have, we are so Blessed for this small blue marble.

  2. Oh, this is right up my alley! I always have trouble picking just a couple of tomato varieties to plant each year, and usually wind up with about 10 different plants. Not that I’m complaining!

  3. We also grew the Cherokee Purple this year, and it was a relief to see that you had the same stretched & cracked result we did, no matter how we watered. Unlike you, though, ours were tender & rich. I hope to keep growing them. Don’t give up on this ugly, awkward guy!

    • I should have mentioned this. A few varieties cracked this year, but subsequent fruit came in fine once the weather extreme levelled off.

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