The Most Interesting Tomato Plant of the Month (July Edition)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

 Grow Tomatoes My Friends...

Streaky Mystery Tomato
The most interesting tomato plant growing in the garden during the month of July has absolutely nothing to do with the famous Dos Equis beer advertising campaign. Except that is interesting for one very specific reason: I have exactly no idea what this tomato variety is, nor the type of tomato it will deliver. This plant and the tomatoes on it is pictured to your immediate right. Notice those streaks? That is what makes it interesting.

I can guess, from looking at pictures of tomatoes, and I think I've got it figured out. But, until the tomatoes on this plant reach a stage to where they actually ripen, the true identity will be unknown. This is the result from an accident involving numerous tomato starter plants that were knocked askew during a home remodeling project. As a result, the starter plants that my tomato growing friend delivered earlier this year came with a giant question mark.

Nels Christensen-USS Kitty Hawk
I know it would be convenient to blame this little problem on the friend who provided the vast majority of my garden starter plants this year. But, seriously, you can't blame Nels Christensen for this problem. That's Nels pictured to the left. Forgive the blurry image if you will. It was taken some time ago, while Nels was serving his country onboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) supercarrier during the Vietnam War. Nels survived the conflict, came home and now provides starter plants for my Citrus Heights vegetable garden.

But this little garden starter plant mixup was not his fault. Even if it was, you can forgive a guy who served his country in the Gulf of Tonkin.

As a result of the tomato starter plant mishap that took place earlier this year, I really do not have any idea of what is growing in the garden this July. I can tell you the garden is home to 22 tomato plants. But that's about it. The tomatoes that these 22-plants hold, and they are holding quite a bit this year, are an absolute mystery.

Interesting Plant of the Month
In some strange way, this makes gardening a bit more fun. I may ask Nels to perform another remodeling project, and suffer through another accident, at his house next spring.

This particular plant is developing new tomatoes at a rather rapid clip. The way they are clustered together would lead me to believe that this could possibly be a cherry tomato variety. Not just any cherry tomato variety, but something rather special. How many cherry tomato varieties develop streaks? As someone who has grown a vast number of cherry varieties, I can tell you from experience that the answer is: Not Many.

It is true that cherry tomato varieties come in a vast number of shapes, sizes and colors. Although I'm partial to a variety called Black Cherry, that doesn't mean I won't grow anything else. My summer vegetable gardens have been home to a great many cherry varieties. There is no greater joy in life than harvesting a late summer bowl of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes. A bowl of that late season color is striking to say the least. These cherry tomato types are great for snacking. It's probably one of the healthiest summer snacks you could choose.

Mysterious Stripes
While the identities of the plants that I was provided with this year are unknown, the news isn't exactly all bad. The seed list that my garden friend created survived this horrible early season accident. That list gives me something to check. Thanks to Google images, numerous pictures of each variety on this seed list do pop up. Nels and I have deduced that the Most Interesting Tomato Plant for the month of July could be one be one of two choices: Patty's Striped Beefsteak OR the Black Strawberry Tomato from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

While I would be absolutely thrilled to report that one single tomato plant in my garden has developed 50-75 beefsteak tomatoes so far, and appears ready to develop far more, my guess is this isn't a beefsteak variety. A check with the Baker Creek Seed website however, provides photos that indicate my "most interesting tomato plant of the month" is, in fact, the Black Strawberry.

This isn't a horrible development, by the way. Not by a longshot. If you were to believe, or buy into, the marketing language from our friends at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, the Black Strawberry produces a lip-smacking result: "A bowl full resembles a luminous and luxurious bunch of gems, and indeed the flavor is decadent and indulgent, with perfectly sweet and tart balanced flavor!"

From this colorful language I guess one could infer that this is a good cherry tomato.

Customer reviews, however, are a bit more honest. I must admit, those reviews aren't half bad. Of the 18 people who have taken the time out of their day to review the product, most indicate that it's a keeper. Jill from San Diego wrote the following: "Not only are they beautiful but they are good! They have a deep, complex flavor and are better when they are soft and the bottoms turn red."

The Most Interesting Tomato Plant of the Month (July Edition) has grown to a height of five feet so far, which means it's growing faster than other plants in this year's garden. It's developed an extraordinary amount of fruit so far, and seems destined to develop a lot more as the summer moves forward. Which means, hopefully, a large bowl or two of cherry tomato varieties in my kitchen as the summer growing season moves forward.

Grow Tomatoes, My Friends.

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