Tiger Mountain is not a good location for growing tomatoes. The nights are cool (rarely above 50 degrees), the ground stays even colder on account of the numerous springs and seeps just below the topsoil . Still, I wouldn't be much of a gardener if I weren't willing to rise to the challenge.
Over the last 10 years I've learned a few tricks to keeping the tomato patch a little warmer than the rest of the garden. And this will be the fourth year that I've hedged my bets by planting a few tomatoes in the greenhouse where I can really coddle them. Every once in awhile we have a warmer than usual summer, and I'm blessed with all the tomatoes I can possibly eat and preserve. And every year around this time, hope trumps experience and I start seeds of varieties that, if it's a warm summer, will maybe give me a few really nice slicing tomatoes, probably in September.
San Marzano is my standby for cooking and canning. It's loaded with pectin, and not very juicy at all so it makes wonderful thick sauce. This one is most reliable in the greenhouse, but I get bigger harvests from the ones I plant outside.Fortunately the green ones ripen well indoors.
Stupice isn't the tastiest tomato by any means but I know that no matter how cold a summer we have, I will get some ripe tomatoes from this plant. They'll be small and misshapen, but by god, I will have my tomatoes!
Ferline and Legend are my hedge against early blight if we have a wet summer with cool nights. I can't tell the two apart, but I continue to plant both, and marvel that a disease-resistant tomato of such perfect appearance could also taste so good.
Loveheart, because one must have a cherry tomato.
Sungella is like the popular Sungold cultivar, but a little bigger, about the size of a hen's egg. It produces reliably no matter what kind of a summer we're having, and it's so good I don't know why I bother with Stupice, except that the undergardener is deeply suspicious of tomatoes that are not red.
Early Goliath is the only beefsteak-type tomato I have ever gotten to ripen outdoors here. It's worth battling the slugs for these. They're that good.
Marmande is getting a second try. I've tasted this one and know how wonderful it is, but I didn't get a single ripe one last summer.
Anna Russian is another "stretch" tomato. Last year I didn't get any ripe ones. Two summers ago I got a few, and they were so good I just have to try again and hope for a hot summer.
Early Girl, only because the seeds were free and I remember growing this one in Utah, where just a couple plants bore well enough to give me a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes every few days.
Costeluto Genovese is a new one for me. It's an old Italian cooking variety and I don't know what I was thinking. The climate here is nothing like Genoa.
Last year I surrounded my plants with gallon jugs of water. The idea was that the water would heat up during the day and keep the plants a little warmer at night. It seemed to help. This year I'm going to paint the jugs black so the water will get even warmer during the day. And I'm going to erect a cloche over the bed to keep the plants covered at night and on cool days.
This is going to be the year for abundant ripe tomatoes. I can feel it. I have hope.