Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the title is accurate. And no, I’m not talkin’ about no stinkin’ cherry tomatoes, either. Real, live tomatoes big enough to slice and put in a sandwich!
If you live in Humboldt, you know what an achievement this is. Our foggy, cool summers don’t usually allow much of anything in the tomato department – if I get a few bowlfuls of cherry tomatoes, I’m usually pretty pleased. But this year, the bar has been raised.
Earlier in the season, Log House Plants sent me three of their grafted tomatoes to test out in the garden. (Learn more about grafted tomatoes here and here.) Being a realist, and also prone to moping about at the slightest disappointment, I told them to please only send me grafted cherry tomatoes, as there was no way in hell a proper slicing tomato would do anything but break my heart.
With great confidence in their tomatoes, they ignored my pessimism and sent a ‘Big Beef’ (true to its name), a medium-sized Siberian variety called ‘Sasha’s Altai’ (thanks to Amy Stewart for uncovering the story behind it), and my very favorite cherry tomato, ‘Sungold’. I snorted when I saw the ‘Big Beef’, but the plants were so robust that I put a little faith in the process and popped them all in.
Well, a few months later, these behemoths are out-pacing every other tomato plant I’ve ever had. I grew some normal old ‘Sungold’ plants to compare, and while they’re doing pretty well for Humboldt, they’re only about two feet tall, while the grafted tomatoes are about 5 feet tall and busting out of their tomato cages.
I planted everything too late, as last year we had a freak June frost which made me paranoid of planting too early, so I am just now starting to pick real, live cherry tomatoes from the grafted ‘Sungold’ (the normal ‘Sungolds’ are still unproductive). And today was the day I ‘d been waiting for: the ‘Sasha’s Altai’ gave me my very first-ever homegrown slicing tomato. Wow!
While the ‘Big Beef’ is putting on tons of tomatoes, it’s too soon to tell whether this will be a bumper crop of one of my favorite foods, green tomatoes (OMG – fried green tomatoes – heavenly!), or whether they’ll turn a delightful stoplight color suitable for dousing in fresh basil, fresh mozzarella balls, and possibly a bit of balsamic. I’ll keep you updated.
Next year, I’m definitely shelling out for some grafted tomatoes (they were about $13 at our local nurseries), as well as Log House’s newest star, grafted basil. Yeah, you heard me right. I’ve been growing delicate little basils indoors under lights because the great outdoors is too chilly and cold for their basilly little selves to handle. I’m guessing one of those grafted ones would actually give me outdoor basil, and I can’t wait for next summer so I can try!
Anyone else try out the new grafted tomatoes? I’m keen to hear whether your experience has been as good as mine has so far.