A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 17
, 2014     
(See below for archives)

Thanks to all of you who joined us at Tomatomania 2014. The event was a big success and very enjoyable. The weather was ideal and we had a bumper crop of tomatoes. The event centers around the tomato taste test, a “blind” comparison of about 115 kinds of tomatoes. The tomatoes are grouped by category---paste, cherry, novelty, and so on, so that guests can sample any category that is of particular interest to them. After the tasting is completed, and you have made notes on your preferences, you cast a ballot for your favorites. We then give you the variety key so that you can record your personal comments and start to plan next year’s garden. It’s not a truly scientific test, but in the end this is meant to be mostly a fun event. But we do take the test results very seriously. We definitely add and subtract varieties based on the polling results.

Every year there are plenty of surprises. In the large red/pink tomato class, for example, the winner was ‘Rose de Berne.’ I am guessing most of you have never heard of it. I hadn’t either until we grew it for the first time a few years ago. This illustrates my feelings about constantly trying new varieties. You never know when a new favorite will show up. I am always perplexed when someone tells me that they have been growing a certain variety all their life. I think, Really?---with all the thousands of tomato varieties out there, you think the one you grow is the best? What is the likelihood of that?

You can click here for the test results, and draw your own conclusions. I’d like to point out a few things that interested me. You might recall that a guest at Tomatomania 2013 gave me some seed from a family heirloom tomato called ‘Macedonia.’ We grew it, of course, and it was in this year’s taste test. It was the second highest scoring paste tomato, so it will be in our regular production next year. Thanks to the mystery woman who passed along the seed! ‘Black Aisburg’ was the top vote getter in the darker novelty tomato category. That’s a fairly new one for us, so a bit of a surprise. I’ll be adding it to my own garden next year for further evaluation. ’Cherry Roma’ was the number one grape tomato. It was first tried by us in 2013, when it also scored well. Now it has proved to be reliably consistent---that is something we look for in tomato quality. Another remarkably consistent variety is ‘Husky Cherry Red.’ This is a shorter growing type, so it is often recommended for containers. It has a stocky habit, so it doesn’t need staking. It was number one in its category, as it has been for several years now. Some of my personal favorites did not fare well. L I’ll still grow them, but with a more critical eye (or maybe tongue). Always looking for something tastier!

This year I grew a new pepper that has done very well. It is an elongated sweet pepper called ‘Thunderbolt.’ I’ve grown the similar ‘Marconi’ for years and I have been happy with it. For this photo I picked the largest of each that I could find. ‘Thunderbolt’ is bigger, but I don’t know if the size difference is consistent. More importantly, I failed to note the quantity produced. Regardless, ‘Thunderbolt’ does look promising, so at the very least, we’ll be including it in our “Vintage Veggie” offering for 2015.

My home raspberry patch (I like to call it a patch, but actually it is quite modest in size) performed well this year. I picked quite a few berries in July, more than usual. The variety I am growing is ‘Heritage,’ an “everbearing” type, which means it bears a second crop in autumn. I have been picking the second crop for the past week or so. I was out there last evening and I noticed an unusually large number of bees; not flying around, but eating the very berries I wanted to pick. This was distressing, particularly because when the berries first start to ripen there aren’t very many, and I didn’t feel like sharing. But the weather was cool and the bees seemed to be moving slowly. I hope that means the bees are nearing their end, and large clusters of future berries won’t have to be shared with them.

You all know how I enjoy harvesting root crops. I am always a little surprised when I pull something out of the ground that has been mostly hidden from view. Although the carrots in this photo are tasty, you can see how many of them are twisted up---that is because I did a poor job of thinning them out. That’s okay for your home garden but if you want to sell them at market you want them to look “normal.” The ‘Pink Beauty’ radishes I sowed specifically for autumn harvest. I sowed the seed on August 18 and now many of them are ready for harvest---not even a month old. Fun!

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.


Archives  (Click on the green text for links)

September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012- My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com