Tomato season is almost here, and Storey staffers are growing some of the unusual varieties featured in Craig LeHoullier’s book, Epic Tomatoes.
In early May, Storey editor Carleen Madigan sent out an email seeking foster parents for tomato plants that had been sent to us from North Carolina by Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes. Partially for fun, and partially to ensure that we’d have the fruit we needed for photo shoots for the book, a number of us here at Storey volunteered some garden space and pledged to take good care of our charges.
Now that the heat and rains of summer have arrived, many of us are beginning to see signs of fruit. In honor of Bloom Day this month, we thought it would be fun to collect all our “epic” tomatoes virtually, from the giant to the dwarf, as they continue to grow in various corners of Western Massachusetts.
Are you growing tomatoes this summer? What varieties are in your garden?
ANNE GUEST, NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS
Variety: Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln is the only one in my garden that I see an actual tomato on so far; it was ahead of the others I started from seed. It’s also the only one in my garden that looks stressed; it’s at the end of the row and I’m sure gets the most sun, but also maybe the least water. I did cram them in there.
GWEN STEEGE, WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS
Variety: Rosella Purple
CARLEEN MADIGAN, CUMMINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Nepal, Lillian’s Red Paste, Little Lucky
DEBORAH BALMUTH, WINDSOR, MASSACHUSETTS
Variety: Dwarf Wild Fred
Here’s the first tomato emerging on our Dwarf Wild Fred growing in a pot on our deck!
HANNAH FRIES, MONTEREY, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Hugh’s, Yellow White
Both Hugh’s and Yellow White are looking robust and have started to fruit. Early on they bravely suffered some minor nibblings by spider mites, but you wouldn’t know it now. They have been growing like crazy, and I’ve been dutifully suckering them and whispering sweet tomato lullabies in the evenings…
LISA HILEY, WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Lucky Cross, Mexico Midget, Tiger Tom
Tiger Tom has good fruit set but the leaves are sort of curling in (not sure if this is normal). They look healthy otherwise. Lucky Cross has some fruit and looks healthy; the leaves on this one and Tiger Tom are huge compared to the other varieties! Mexico Midget looks the spindliest and sprawliest of all my tomatoes and has the only signs of disease — yellowed leaves in the interior lower branches; not sure if it’s blight or just too much moisture — but it has lots of blossoms and a few teeny green tomatoes.
EMILY SPIEGELMAN, WENDELL, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Lillian’s Yellow, Cherokee Chocolate
Our Cherokee Chocolate and Lillian’s Yellow are keeping pace with the rest of our toms, with nice fruit set on both plants. I love the deeply ridged fruit of the Lilllian’s Yellow, but the plant has some discoloration on lower leaves and branches. A few other (non-Epic) varieties in our garden show the same. Blight? Hopefully not. It doesn’t seem to be spreading.
CAROLINE BURCH, STAMFORD, VERMONT
Variety: Golden Queen
It seems to be flourishing!
DEB BURNS, WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Mullen’s Mortgage Lifter, Big Boy
ZAN DAVIES, NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS
Variety: Sun Gold
I planted my sun gold over Memorial Day weekend. I started getting fruit pretty early, probably at the end of June. But now it’s really starting to bloom and fruit even more. I have some photos of pizzas I made last year with sun golds I grew and it makes me get a hankering for more of the same this year.
LESLIE CHARLES, CHESTERFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
Varieties: Yellow Oxhart, Giant Syrian