Off To The Tomato Races

Tomatoes are a big crop here at Happy Acres, and a popular one in gardens everywhere. And no wonder they’re so popular – growing them yourself is the best way I know to get really good tasting, vine ripened tomatoes. This time of year, we have several tomato races going on. Which is appropriate I guess, since this weekend many Hoosiers were watching the annual Indy 500 race a few hundred miles north of here.

But our races are all about tomatoes, and don’t require a helmet or expensive cars. We’ve already had the “first tomato to bloom” race, which was won by Sun Gold. And with a lead like that, it was sure to win the “first tomato to set on” race too!

Sun Gold – first tomato to set on (click on any image to enlarge)

One of the most eagerly awaited races in many backyard gardens, including ours, is the “first tomato to ripen” race. That one will probably be won by Sun Gold too, with Supersweet 100 running a close second, and Early Girl not far behind that.

But another popular tomato race around here is “first tomato to the top of the cage”. Most of our tomatoes are indeterminate varieties that are supported by homemade cages made from concrete remesh material. Often this race is decided before the “first tomato to ripen” race is won.

Supersweet 100 is leading the race to the top of the cage

I’m also growing a few determinate tomatoes this year that I will support with the stake and weave system. Which means there’s another tomato race going on called “first to flop over and need twine”. The way they are growing, this one should be decided soon!

determinate tomatoes don’t need staking – yet

And of course there’s the “first tomato to wind up on a BLT” race. I believe that one was won by Cherokee Purple last year. I know CP starred on quite a few BLT sandwiches, and hopefully it will be back this year for a command performance.

young Cherokee Purple tomato – destined for BLT?

I’ll be back later on to announce the other winners, as the various races are decided. In the meantime, happy growing, and if you’re growing tomatoes I hope they are all winners for you!

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13 Responses to Off To The Tomato Races

  1. Robin says:

    Boy, you have a lot of races going on at HA! Your tomatoes are way ahead of mine.

    I think the only race that is going on here is the race to see how hot and humid it can possibly get in PA in May! It was 95 yesterday.

    • Dave says:

      I think it was 94 here yesterday. Today it is ‘cooling off’ to 88!

      • Robin says:

        We are cooling down to 91 today with a real feel temp of 97. The weather is supposed to return to normal on Thursday…thank heavens! This hot weather is really tough on the spring crops!

  2. Jenny says:

    I love tomato races! My first on the vine was Roma but they’re all in bloom now so can’t wait to see which one will be first to ripen. And having mostly late heirloom varieties makes it a bit difficult to be patient in getting them to the table. I do look forward to my first CP on sandwich too 🙂

  3. kathy says:

    Yummm…Cherokee Purple is my favorite tomato after trying them for the first time last year. This year we have two planted. Supersweet 100’s are awesome too and we have two of those this year also. Can’t wait for them to start coming on. Love your “races”!

  4. Lou Murray's Green World says:

    Tomato races? Must not be much to do at Happy Acres. 😉 somehow, from the blog headline, I pictured you rolling them down a hill to see which one reached the bottom first. That was quite a visual image. My Early Girls are lagging behind Box Car Willie, Mortgage Lifter and Black Plum in flowering AND setting fruit. One of my paste tomatoes has also set fruit (San Marzano or Amish Paste, the label is long buried under rampant foliage). I can’t imagine that the Early Girls can catch up with first to ripen, which is really all I care about. I’ll enjoy hearing who wins your various races.

  5. Daphne says:

    Since I can’t eat them, I have just one tomato growing in my garden. Cherokee Purple. It will win all the races here.

  6. Liz says:

    In Melbourne we traditionally plant our tomatoes on Cup Day – it seems the racing analogies work everywhere.

  7. GrafixMuse says:

    Your tomatoes are growing very nicely. I grow paste tomatoes and they take their sweet time producing. Although the first ripe tomato is always celebrated.

  8. Echo Wu says:

    Hi Dave,

    You sure grew a lot of tomatoes in your garden! Some of your tomatoes were heirloom / open pollinated and some were hybrid. Do these different variety of tomatoes cross pollinate when you plant them in the same area of garden?

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Dave says:

      I’ve not had any issues with the tomatoes cross-pollinating. The tomatoes will always come true to type no matter how they are pollinated. It would only matter when you save seeds, and tomatoes are mostly self-pollinating anyway.

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