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Here's what we've started in the greenhouse this winter, for transplant in early May to the main garden. Most of these tomato and pepper seed varieties came from either Tomato Growers Supply Company or Totally Tomatoes.
Tomatoes Started From Seed, Jan. 27, 2001.
"Days" refers to the number of days it takes to go from seed to first harvest, theoretically. Your mileage may vary.
Celebrity VFFNTA Hybrid
This is the variety that gets planted in our garden year after year. A dependable semi-determinate, medium sized tomato that's great fresh or as a canning tomato (the skin comes off quite easily). A 1984 ALL-AMERICA SELECTIONS winner. Exceptionally flavorful, firm 7 to 8 oz. fruit on strong vines with good cover and outstanding disease resistance. Highly productive and widely adaptable. 70 days.
Classica VFFNA Hybrid
We had great luck with this one last year. Very prolific and great for canning. A beautiful new pear tomato that may become the replacement for Roma. Fruits weigh about 3-1/2 ozs. and are nearly twice the size of Roma. They also have significantly more flavor, which makes them great for eating fresh as well as canning, freezing, or making into sauce or salsa. Very strong plants set a heavy crop and have less tendency for blossom end rot than other pear tomatoes. Color is deep red both inside and out. Determinate. 76 days.
Sweet Million FNT Hybrid
My favorite cherry tomato, great for snacking directly off the vine. An improved version of Sweet 100, this variety offers the same wonderful flavor and yields, but much better disease resistance and tolerance to cracking. Incredibly long clusters of 1 inch dark red fruit grow on tall, vigorous plants. Indeterminate. 65 days.
Carnival Hybrid VFFNTASt
I'm following up on a hot tip from a listener in Chico, who recommended this one. He says it has replaced Celebrity in his garden. We'll see...that's a big mountain to climb! Recently released sister variety to Celebrity Hybrid, somewhat earlier and larger, with 8 oz., firm, smooth, flavorful fruits. Disease resistance comparable to Celebrity, but vigorous vines are shorter and more compact. Determinate. 68 days.
Update: By Feb. 17, only one of the Carnival seeds had sprouted, and it was a rather deformed-looking seedling. All other varieties of tomato and pepper seeds germinated without problems. We planted more Carnival seeds on Feb. 17. Once again, the seeds were started in the greenhouse, in a soil mix intended for seed starting, with the pots resting on a propagation mat to provide bottom heat.
Update #2: By Mar. 12, none of the Feb. 17 Carnival seeds had sprouted. As a last resort, we planted the remaining few seeds of Carnival on Mar. 12. I will be contacting the seed supplier, Totally Tomatoes, to see if they will honor their replacement guarantee.
A UC Cooperative Extension taste test winner in 1999. 8 to 10 oz. round, red fruit have very good tomato flavor and excellent yields. This variety is lower in acid than most other tomatoes and often recommended to people who are on a low-acid diet. Determinate. 80 days.
Big Beef VFFNTA Hybrid
1994 ALL-AMERICA SELECTIONS AWARD. Another locally popular variety, but one I haven't grown in five years, so I'll give it another go. One of the finest new hybrids yet for home gardeners. Impressive yields of extra-large, 10 to 12 oz. smooth tomatoes with real old-time flavor. Its improvements include greater disease resistance, earlier harvests and fruit that stays enormous even at the end of a long season. Indeterminate. 73 days.
I'm giving this one another chance in 2001. Last year, Goliath got mixed reviews: a tasty tomato, yet there was a lot of dieback on some of the vines. Appropriately named, this variety does bear giant fruit. Strong, vigorous plants yield large to huge red fruit with the classic beefsteak shape and flavor. Tomatoes are solid with few seeds. It is not unusual for fruit to become a mammoth 3 lbs. This is an heirloom variety grown since the late 1800's. Indeterminate. 85 days.
First Lady II Hybrid
I'm growing this one for the first time this year. 66 days. Extra-early, full-season bearer of mid-sized and tasty fruits that are crack-resistant and perfect for the early market. Considered by many to be the most flavorful of all hybrid varieties. Red, smooth-skinned, round fruits cluster on the vine. Indeterminate.
Husky Red Hybrid
Another first timer. 68 days. The unlimited production potential of an "indeterminate" and the controlled growth of a "determinate" plant combine for all-season-long production &emdash; the best of both types! With a compact plant height of only 4 to 4-1/2 ft., 'Husky' qualities include dark green, rugose foliage and strong, thick central stems (hence the name 'Husky'). Attractive fruits of 5 to 7 ounces, ideal for small spaces, patios, planters and even larger pots.
I'm going to try this one outside this summer, and then try it this fall in the greenhouse. 68 days. Excellent variety for more Northern climates due to its high quality fruits even under cool growing conditions. Uniform, attractive fruits mature early and have superb flavor. Vigorous, compact determinate plants feature strong disease and crack-resistance.
Another test for outside and the greenhouse. 70 days. Developed specifically for the home gardeners, its sugar-like flavor ranks among the sweetest of all mid-size tomatoes. Fruits average 4 to 6 ounces. Very disease resistant. An improved Homestead type. Determinate.
An oldie but a goodie, we'll try this one for our canning needs this year. 72 days. A more uniform and slightly earlier Rutgers type - still unsurpassed for canning. Beautiful dark red fruits are solid, meaty and sweet. Smooth fruits ripen all the way through. Old fashioned flavor, indeterminate.
Peppers Planted From Seed, Jan. 27, 2001
From Harris seeds. Here's a sweet pepper that we plant every year. It's tasty and colorful! Vigorous hybrid (F1) plants produce large, thick walled fruit that change color as they mature: from ivory-yellow to pink, to orange-red. Sweet fleshed, good for cooked dishes and salads alike. Resistant to TMV. 66 days.
1981 ALL-AMERICA SELECTIONS winner. And a yearly winner in our sweet pepper tasting contests. Outstanding yield, good looks and flavor combine with earliness to make this pepper a winner. Wedge-shaped fruit is 3 to 5 inches long, pale yellow at first, maturing to orange-red; very sweet when ripe. Plants have continuous pendant fruiting habit and perform well in both hot and cool regions. An extremely early, heavy producer. Plants grow to 18", bearing wedge-shaped, tasty peppers with sturdy walls and crunchy, firm, sweet, flesh. A very reliable yielder, all season long. Tobacco Mosaic Virus resistant. 60 days.
Spanish Spice Hybrid
Spicy Mediterranean flavor that is neither hot nor sweet. Jeanne, who doesn't like hot peppers at all, likes this one. 7 inches long, dark green peppers are great for grilling or frying because their thin walls cook quickly. Peppers look something like a wrinkled Anaheim chile. Continued production throughout the season. 63 to 68 days.
Lido Lamuyo Hybrid
New for us in 2001. 75 days. Classic elongated European type, averaging 6" long and tapering to 3.5 inches wide.Exceptionally sweet, turning from green to an intense bright red about two weeks later. Tall, vigorous plants have good disease resistance.
Sweet Banana Supreme Hybrid
65 days. A major improvement over the old Sweet Banana, with hybrid uniformity, much larger fruits ( averaging 8" long by 2" across), and a heavier yield on more vigorous plants. Fruits mature from a pale yellow to a deep red (rather than orange like the old Sweet Banana). Plants are vigorous, growing about 24" tall, upright and spreading.
72 days. The little Italian peppers found pickled in gourmet produce departments. Our strain is imported directly from Milan, Italy, and is unsurpassed for purity and productivity. Abundant yields of thin, yellowish-green fruits, 2 to 4" long, sweet until late maturity. Harvest when fruits reach full size (green). Perfect for canning. Plants are vigorous, reaching a height of about 30 in.
62 days. A new one for us. According to the Totally Tomatoes catalog, this one is "Bred for Italians, and does their cuisine proud! Sweet and crisp enough to enjoy raw, but is at its very best when lightly cooked. And the yield-Luigi averaged an astounding 45 peppers per plant in recent trials! Fruits are cylindrical, elongated (4-5") and tapered, most often used green but will mature to a deep red. Very versatile in the kitchen! Plants grow to about 24", with excellent disease resistance."
This one is new for us, a tip from a listener who says it is outstanding. 70 days. Flavor as sweet as apples! Gourmet chefs use them in salads, stir-fried, roasted and stuffed. Long fruits grow up to 11" and can weigh up to 12 ounces. Best flavor at light green stage.
Giant Marconi Hybrid
72 days. 2001 AAS Winner. While not technically a Marconi Pepper, it displays so many similar traits it has earned the name! Large, tapered, elongated fruits grow 8" by 3", with a sweet, smoky flavor that's equally delectable when fruits are eaten green or red, fresh or grilled. Widely adaptable, it produces larger than normal crops just about anywhere. Withstands severe weather with excellent disease resistance.
NuMex Joe E. Parker
The overall winner of the Farmer Fred Pepper Party Taste Tests in August, 2000. Great in chili! This is a very productive version of NuMex 6-4 that offers more uniform peppers. 6 to 7-inch thick-fleshed peppers turn from green to red and are relatively mild to medium in flavor. Ripens earlier than most other peppers of its type. 65 days.
My favorite for nachos. This moderately pungent fruit is deep green, but turns red at full maturity. Very smooth peppers are 7-1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide and borne on tall, productive plants that offer good foliage cover for the fruit. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Excellent for canning, freezing or drying. 75 days.
Ancho Villa Hybrid
A 2000 Farmer Fred Pepper Party Taste Test winner, great for roasting. Better yields and larger fruits are what this hybrid offers over open-pollinated ancho varieties. Extra-large ancho peppers turn from dark green to red, but are most often used in the green stage for making chiles rellenos. Once ripened to red, they are popular for drying. Expect abundant harvests throughout an extended season and tall plants that are resistant to potato virus Y and pepper mottle virus. 78 days.
Cherry Bomb Hybrid
Hot cherry pepper that yields up to 50% more than the older, open-pollinated type. Thick-walled fruit is round to oval and matures from green to red. Pungency is medium-hot with about 20% less heat than a Jalapeno. 65 days.
This one got great reviews at the August 2000 Farmer Fred Pepper Party. This bright red version of Habanero is one hot pepper - a staggering 285,000 Scoville Units! The fruit shape and size are much like the regular Habanero, wrinkled 1 inch to 1-1/2 inch long peppers with a tapered end. These peppers turn a brilliant red upon maturity and grow in abundance on 3-1/2 foot tall plants. Hot enough to suit even the most dedicated chile lover. 90 to 100 days.
This one took the "Best of Class-Hot" award at the 1999 Farmer Fred Pepper Party. Hybrid Hungarian hot wax pepper. Very productive plants bear 8-inch long, very hot banana peppers with medium-thick flesh. They mature from yellow to red and are larger than older, open-pollinated types of Hungarian Wax. Great for pickling. 60 days.
Fiery, thick-walled peppers grow 3 in. long and 1-1/2 inches wide, with rounded tips. Dark green at first, then turning red. Good for fresh use or pickling; famous for nachos and other Tex-Mex dishes. 75 days.
Ring of Fire
A hot pepper that ripens in two months. Extremely hot, pencil-thin Cayenne-type peppers are about 4 inches long. Plants stay quite short but yield heavy, concentrated sets of these fiery peppers. Good choice for short season gardeners. 60 days.
A new very mild version of Jalapeno pepper with 400 Scoville units. Regular Jalapeno has 5,000 Scoville units. Also larger than Jalapeno - this one has peppers about 3 inches long. Very useful for cooking Mexican cuisine when less heat is desired. 60 days.
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