Heirloom tomatoes, clockwise from top left: Odessa, Black Brandywine, Green Zebra.
It was a dismal year for tomatoes in Vancouver – mostly due to the lack of a real summer. Unlike the heat waves and droughts experienced on other parts of the continent, we had almost autumn-like weather – rain and cloud interspersed with random life-saving days of sun.
All of this equalled bad news for tomatoes growers. I planted five heirloom varieties – Green Zebra, Odessa, Black Prince, Black Brandywine, and Black Sea. Only three produced enough to be declared successful; the other two gave me a few tomatoes, but I don’t know that I’ll grow them again.
On a positive note, this was the first year in a long while that I didn’t get tomato blight, despite the rain. Probably because I had them under an overhang, and used a ground-level drip irrigation system.
The three winners are shown above. Odessa, a small, early, deep red determinate variety, was very prolific and had great flavour. Large and lumpy Black Brandywine was a moderate producer with a deep rich flavour. And Green Zebra produced loads of small, sweet and tangy salad tomatoes. I’ll definitely be saving the seeds and planting these varieties next year.