2014 Tomato Report


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.




4 thoughts on “2014 Tomato Report

  1. Just wondered way you didn’t try more of the black tomatoes from Russia. They do well in cooler climates and produce in a shorter time.

  2. Hi Dot,

    I have not been a fan of the taste of the black tomatoes. But the True Black Brandywine may have won me over. I will be looking at those for next year.

    • I agree about the taste on the first varieties that were introduced like Black Krim and Black Prince. I thought they were awful, but there are some really wonderful ones that I grow every year. I have found that any tomato cannot be judged by just one year of growing, conditions change from year to year. What is great one year maybe not as good the next. It’s all in the hands of Mother Nature. This year was a bad tomato year in the Bay Area , I think to much heat. They were leggy, some shorter than usual and some produced very few tomatoes, one not at all. Wish I could be as good about journaling as you are. I do keep a database on the seeds that I have and have grown going all the way back to the BAREC days, but that’s it. Maybe I will try to do better this year, not sure it’s in my nature. Every year is new and always new ones to try.

  3. Congratulations on a great first year with the tomatoes in Oregon. Glad you are saving the Jeff’s Plum seeds. In general, I had an excellent year myself (140 lbs from 24 plants made into sauce, and for eating and cooking). Putting the seedlings that I started from seed into the ground on April 6 meant I had a great crop in July. Those that waited to put in their seedlings until May did not get the abundance that I did from the reports I have heard from other MGSCC’s. My beds face East so getting the intense sunlight and heat in mid-April through late July makes a big difference. By August, the plants were mostly done producing. I still have one “volunteer” [I thought is was a Brandywine from Croatia from the seed I harvested the year previously, but it came up a super large red cherry] that is extremely aggressive and now covers nearly the entire 11’x6′ planter. Unfortunately, the flavor is so-so. BTW – I learned firsthand that Sungold is a hybrid when the seeds I harvested from last year came up a red cherry :-(.

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