Earlier this month, at our Littleton location, we celebrated our annual Tomato Festival. The Tomato Festival is usually when our resident veggie guru, Leo Ortiz, presents the results of our tomato and pepper trials. Each year in our community gardens, Leo grows one of every variety of tomato and pepper that we carry at O’Toole’s to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t. Every year is different, but as Leo says, “This year has been a challenge from the very start.”The 2018 growing season has definitely been…let’s just say "interesting." We started with warm weather in April, only to turn wet and cold by the end of May. Then, June and July brought hotter than normal temperatures mixed with long spells of rain. Of course, as Littleton residents no doubt remember, we also had three monster hail storms in July that took a heavy toll on most of our tomato plants and some of our peppers. After that last storm, our gardens looked like they’d been through a Salad Shooter!
The damage really depleted our regular crop, but there’s still reason for hope says the ever-optimistic Leo. “With the help of Age Old Kelp, we are starting to see some of the plants rejuvenate and actually producing flowers.” We were worried that it was getting too late in the season to get ripe fruit, but in this last week, we’ve started to see promising signs and we’re hopefully for a bumper crop this fall!
One tomato plant that was spared by the hail and is doing fantastic is our Indigo Rose. “This was one of my favorites from last year and has come through for us again,” says Leo. Indigo Rose is a considered a Blue Tomato. These tomatoes have a high concentration of anthocyanins – the class of pigmentation that gives blueberries and blackberries their colors. Indigo Rose tomatoes taste great and are packed with antioxidants. This unusual little tomato is proof that even the angriest hail cloud has a silver lining – or, in this case, a blue one!
Due to our roller-coaster of a growing season, we don’t have enough data to compile complete tomato and pepper trial results. So, instead we present you our 2017 findings to help you as you plan for next year!
Earliest Producer Overall Fourth of JulyEarliest Heirloom Cherokee PurpleMost Productive Indigo RubySweetest Yellow Yellow CherrySweetest Black Indigo RubySweetest Red Black CherryLargest Yellow PineappleLargest BlackBlack KrimLargest Red BrandywineLargest HeirloomMortgage LifterBest Tasting Overall Big Beef
Sweetest Green BellHottest ScorpionEarliest Producer AnaheimLargest Better BellMost Productive FresnoMost Unusual Scotch Bonnet