Our 2014 Sale!
When: Saturday, April 26, 9:00 am to Noon
Where: 792 Grant St, Herndon, VA
This has been a big year for us. Nova Labs, a Maker Space Co-op, has come aboard to sponsor our teams with ample workspace and tools for our kids to work on their projects; and we expanded our seedling capacity this year in response to last year's sellout.
Six years ago, we had one team for ten kids. This year, we fielded six teams for kids ages 6 and up. One of our teams went on to compete at States' Championships. Our rookie FTC team won an Innovation award and made it to final rounds in two regional competitions.
With gratitude, I invite all of you back to my front porch. Have a cup of coffee with us, chat about tomatoes, choose something special for your garden.
All proceeds go to Nova Labs Robotics, dedicated to founding and supporting FIRST Robotics teams for young inventors, and introducing them to the excitement of lifelong learning. Thank you for supporting our kids!
Our 2014 Varieties
Last year, Baker Creek sent ten tomato varieties off for nutrient analysis. Purple (or black) tomatoes landed at the top for sugars, lycopene, potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, followed by Indigo Apple. We have 3 of the top four tomatoes: Black Icicle, Cherokee Purple, and Indigo Apple.
Those of you who have grown Ghost Peppers in the past may be aware that while they were once considered the World's Hottest Peppers, three varieties have been discovered that are hotter. One of them is the Trinidad Scorpion. We have the seeds this year, straight from the Chili Pepper Institute, and I just love it that there is such a place.
The big surprise last year was Pork Chop, a yellow slicer with gold stripes. It was early, more productive that Kellogg's Breakfast, and disease resistant in our garden.
An asterisk (*) indicates a variety we have grown before in our Herndon garden, and which did very well for us. Germination and growth rates will affect final availability. All varieties are indeterminate unless noted.
Beefsteak and Slicer Tomatoes
These will range in size from 8 oz to 2 pounds. Even the largest types can produce fruit of varying sizes on the same plant. All of these vines are full size and indeterminate; if you want full-sized fruit on smaller vines, check out the Dwarf Tomatoes, below.
||Tri-Color: yellow, green, & pink||See photo, left. Delicious, fruity, 12 oz. One of our family favorites, aka "Black Pineapple" potential for high sugar, can become overripe quickly.|
|Aunt Ruby's German Green*||Green||Vines are 4-6', fruit large with an irregular shape, and have high acid for a tart finish. Productive and delicious for us.|
||Purple or "Black"||Contest winner for it's rich, earthy, sweet flavor, smaller vines than Cherokee Purple. I can attest to its deliciousness.|
||Green, w/ some yellow||Mutation of Cherokee Purple, an excellent tasting green for us in 2013.|
||Purple||An old reliable, dating back to 1800's. Meaty and earthy, my husband's favorite, can be oddly shaped.|
|Costoluto Genovese||Red||Medium sized slicer with a flattened, ribbed shape, dates back to early 1800's Italy, excellent in sauces, "flavor is intense and acidic."|
|Cuor di Bue||Red||6–10 oz. The name means "oxheart" and that is the shape; a beloved Italian variety, vigorous vines with very good yields. Flavor is said to be excellent.|
|Dr. Wyche's Yellow||Yellow to deep gold||1 lb beefsteaks, with deep flavor more typical of reds. While some growers report high yields, moderate yields are more typical. A Carolyn Male recommendation.|
||Pink||Vigorous vines, 6-10', 1-2 lb fruit, meaty, lots of happy growers. Recommended to me by Herndon gardeners, and yes, these are awesome.|
||Ivory to pale yellow||12-16 oz. A family favorite, mellow, almost tropical fruit flavor, mild and sweet. My son gets annoyed if I fail to grow at least one.|
|Green Moldovan||Green||10 oz flattened orbs, very good reviews on Baker Creek and Dave's Garden. Seems worth trying for those of us who love greens.|
|Green Skin Long Keeper||green skin, pink flesh||8 oz-- I have not been able to find a lot of info on these, but I love the idea of a slicer that will keep into winter. We will be testing these this year, and plan to offer a few for those who want to try it.|
|Grub's Mystery Green*
||Green, may have golden color when ripe.||8 oz - 1 lb, very productive. Tomatoheads often list this as their favorite green. According to Tatiana's, "outstanding flavor, one of the best green-when-ripe tomatoes I tried." Potato leaf, compact vines.|
||Gold to Orange||Best overall tomato for us in 2012; disease resistant, huge fruit with small core, few seeds, meaty, rich, fruity, vigorous vines, very productive. I love this one.|
||Gold to Orange||A potato leaf variant of Kellogg's Breakfast, above. Some growers find this equivilant, some report KBX is superior, with more "zing" and sometimes larger fruit.|
|Omar's Lebanese||Pink||1–3 lbs, up to 4 lbs with specialty growing techniques used to grow the largest fruit possible, Omar's also gets good reviews for flavor, and is recommended by Dr. Carolyn Male.|
||Yellow w/ gold stripes||This was the big surprise for us in 2013; they came in early for a beefsteak and produced enough for sauce (I only grew one vine). Fruity, juicy, leaning to the sweet side, delicious.|
|Rozella||Yellow w/ pink center||New. Big juicy bi-color beefsteak, a cross of Lillian's Yellow and an unknown variety. Potato leaf vine. Expect this to be sweet.|
|Solar Flare||Red w/ gold stripes||Medium to large slicer, relatively new but early reviews are positive. Bred by Wild Boar Farms, who also gave us Pork Chop, so I am hopeful for this one.|
||Purple||8-12 oz, Excellent, classic smokey flavor; I think this is better but less productive than Cherokee Purple, a personal favorite. Named for alien race on Babylon 5. Potato leaf.|
|White Tomesol||Ivory to pale yellow||Medium to large slicer. Most whites are fruity and mild, this one is said to taste of lemon; reviewers note high yields.|
|Yellow Mortgage Lifter||Yellow||1 lb beefsteak with very good flavor; dates back to 1940's.|
New Dwarf Tomatoes
Developed by the Dwarf Tomato Project using traditional breeding methods, these vines are excellent options for smaller spaces or containers of at least five gallons. They are being reviewed as some of the best-tasting tomatoes to be had, and our tests bear this out. They need support; those flimsy wire cages sold at nurseries are not enough. Stake them, and enjoy awesome deliciousness.
|Dwarf Artic Rose
||Pink||3–6 oz, round fruit with "Very good balanced flavor" according to Tatiana's.|
|Dwarf Wild Fred
||Purple||6–12 oz, an excellent-tasting beefsteak with irregular shape. Bred from Carbon.|
||Dark Purple||4 oz round fruit on 3 1/2 foot plants w/ rugose leaves; productive,|
||Purple||Similar to Cherokee Purple in flavor and size, on a dwarf plant; excellent flavor, rugose leaf.|
|Summer Sunrise||Yellow||Medium slicer on 4–5 foot vines, can have slight blush, "well balanced, full, delicious flavor. The plant seems to be quite disease tolerant and yields quite well."|
|Summertime Green||Green||A remarkable variety, can produce very large fruit (1 lb) on a 3' vine. Check out the description at Tatiana's.|
Salad, Canning, and Cherry Tomatoes
Perfect for tossing into a salad, serving as a snack, drying, and canning, or pickling when unripe.
|A Grappoli d'Inverno||Red||Small plum-shaped fruit in large clusters, good for canning, roasting, and considered an excellent long-keeper. Flavor said to be strong, acidic.|
|Black Cherry*||Dusky Purple||1-ounce fruit in large clusters. Very popular. Full flavor with a hit of sweetness; some splitting, but that won't stop you from eating them.|
|Black Icicle||Purple||Baker Creek just tested a selection of tomatoes for nutrients, and Black Icicle came out with the highest BRIX rating (for sugars) and the highest potassium levels.|
|Blue Berries||Red fruit w/ blue skin||Small cherry tomato. Anthocyanins are good for you, and this tomato produces the indigo-colored nutrients in the skin. Flavor said to be sweet.|
|Blush||Yellow w/ pink streaks||Shaped like a small plum tomato, 2 inches long. Flavor is sweet, w/ hint of pineapple. Good for drying.|
|Dr. Carolyn*||Pale Yellow||Cherry tomato, known for reliable production and sweet flavor. Produced in a shady area of our garden; some cracking noted.|
|Green Grape||Gold skin, green flesh||1-ounce fruit w/ spicy, sweet flavor; a Carolyn Male recommendation. Lots of happy growers report great productivity and "tangy" flavor. Allow to ripen till skin is golden.|
|Green Pear||Green||1 oz pear-shaped fruit, fun in salads, very productive vine, good flavor.|
|Indigo Apple||Red w/ indigo skin||High levels of Lycopene and Vitamin C in recent Baker Creek tests; growers disagree on taste, so we will be testing these this year.|
|Ivory Pear||Ivory to yellow||1 oz pear-shaped cherries, mild flavor, good for kids who resist eating vegetables, and fun to grow. High yields.|
|Michael Pollan||green w/ gold stripes||Size varies from 2-5 inches, fruit is elongated and vines are productive. Early reviews look promising.|
|Poma Amoris Minora Lutea||yellow||2–3 oz round fruit, productive vine; fruit is tart, not sweet, good for canning, drying, sauce, and eating fresh. A long-keeper, with a history dating back to Italy, 1533.|
|Red Fig||Red||Larger than most "pear" tomatoes, still considered a cherry tomato. Great reviews for flavor, very productive vines. History uncertain. Great for kids.|
|Roma||Red||Plum-shaped fruit on determinate vines, very productive, most fruit ripens at once, making this an excellent selection for canning or sauce.|
|Rose de Berne
||Pink||6–8 oz round fruit, uniform shape, "Highly recommended - this is one that I will grow regularly for comparing against the flavor of my 'experimental' varieties" according to Tatiana's.|
|Rose Quartz Multiflora||Pink||Cherry tomatoes produced in abundance on aggressive vines. Balanced flavor.|
|San Marzano Lungo #2
||Red||4–inch long plum, with dry flesh that is excellent for sauce, canning, drying; indeterminate vines give continuous production (in constast to Roma, above).|
|Sungella||Gold to orange||Golf ball sized, sweet and tangy fruit in clusters, this is a stable cross between Tangella, an heirloom from England, and Sungold, a hybrid.|
|Svart||purple/ brownish||"3-6 oz. Delicious excellent flavor. Very high yields throughout the season" according to Tatiana's. Little known about their history.|
|Umberto Pear||Pink||2 oz fruit, better known as King Umberto, dates back to 1885, used in cooking, canning, drying, although at least one grower likes them for fresh eating; balance of sweet and acid flavors.|
Peppers, Eggplants, and Basil
|Some of us find bell peppers tricky to grow. Check out the tips in this article for advice.|
||Classic bell pepper with great reviews for productivity. Ripens red. Disease resistant. Performed well in a pot for us in 2013.|
||Pimento shape, 2–4 inches long, ripens reds, very sweet. Great reviews, but tricky to germinate for us. Trying again this year.|
|Tequila Sunrise||A sweet pepper that looks like a hot one, 3–6 inches long, narrow, ripens golden orange. Fruit are bourne upright on plant for a unique, ornamental look, but thick stems make harvesting tricky; allow to fully ripen for best flavor.|
||Big bell peppers that ripen yellow, can be used at any stage; growers list them as a favorite;|
Hot Chili Peppers
|Mulato||Mildly hot, tasting somewhat like chocolate or licorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco; heat rating 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units, used in mole.|
|Onza||3 inch long, medium-hot chili that ripens red, plant grows to about 3 feet.|
|Scotch Bonnet (Yellow)||Scotch Bonnets are recommended by Spencer Allain, our very own Herdon Robotics Salsameister for their intense heat and fruity flavor. This cultivar ripens golden yellow.|
|Thai Red Chili||Very hot, we use these in one of our favorite recipes, so we're growing them. There are several chilis with similar names, they are all prolific. This one ripens red.|
|Trinidad Scorpian||Yes, it's true. Clocking in at 1.5 million Scovilles, these are hotter than Ghost Peppers. While they have not yet been weaponized (as far as I know), they probably could be. Handle with tongs, or at the very least, with caution. If you happen to accidentally test one, we recommend Mint ice cream as a balm. Ripens red.|
|Ping Tung*||8–12 inches long, 2 inches diameter, lovely lavendar color, delicious stir-fried. Eggplants are more vulnerable to frost than tomatoes, be aware if you're planting early.|
|Rosita||6–8 inches long, 4 inches wide, pinkish lavendar fruits with mild flesh, not bitter; great for stuffing, grilling.|
Basil, in 2-inch pots
||Sweet basil traditionally used in pesto. Must have for mozarella-tomato-basil salad.|
||Darker, rugose leaves, stronger flavor, stands up to cooking better.|
Additional support from Nova Labs has made it possible for us to expand. Last year, we had a total of six teams: four FLL, one FLL Jr., and one FTC team. Our kids won awards for Robot Design, a Champions Award, and more; The Disorder of the Phoenix competed at the States' Championship in Harrisonburg.
We welcome volunteers and community participation. Contact Nova Labs Robotics to learn more about coaching and mentoring local teams.
Thank you for supporting our kids. Happy Growing!