This is my first season growing tomatoes in southwestern Oregon and my first season gardening on this property. From Google Earth, I know someone has been gardening on this plot since 1994. The 1994 image of the garden seems to show a well-established garden plot so I am assuming the garden was established before 1985. I had the soil tested in the spring of 2014. The soil was a little too acidic and needed a little nitrogen. I tilled in about 1/3 of the recommend lime, 4 to 5 wheelbarrow loads of mint compost, and no nitrogen.
The tomatoes were planted densely with 4 plants per 3-foot diameter cage. The plants were planted in early May. I started the seeds about 3 to 4 weeks too early so the plants were very leggy (2’ to 3’) at the time they were planted. I planted them very deep with half to two thirds of the total plant into the soil. I used two lines of T-Tape (Emitter Spacing: 6″, Flow Rate: 0.25 GPH) on a 20 PSI regulated line operating 45 min. 3 times a week for irrigation.
We had a warmer and drier than normal spring so the early planting worked out OK. The plants that shook off transplanting shock started growing well and looked good throughout the growing season. I got about 5% blossom end rot on all varieties and toward the end of the season there were noticeable levels of late blight effecting all varieties. Other than blossom end rot and late blight there were no other notable issues.
Not knowing what would grow well here I went with a lot of variety to insure that I got something. I grew 36 varieties of tomatoes. We usually can mostly tomato sauce and soup base, so I grew 16 varieties of paste tomatoes, 16 varieties of classic/beefsteak tomatoes for eating fresh and canning, and 4 varieties of cherry tomatoes for early tomatoes and cooking. All together I grew 82 tomato plants.
All varieties grew well, were equally affected by disease, and produced fruit that ripened well before the end of summer. Our favorite classic tomatoes are Brandywine from Croatia, Kellogg’s Breakfast, and Virginia Sweet, they all grew and produced very well. Our favorite paste tomatoes are Goldman’s Italian American Paste, Jeff’s Plum, Opalka, San Marzano, and super San Marzano. They all produced very well. For cherry tomatoes our favorites are Black Cherry, Sun Gold, and Sweet 100.
As all varieties did well, I decided to judge the varieties on the size of the fruit and robustness of the vine.