For the beauty queen in all of us, there was Color Me Beautiful, a guide that helped you develop your own color personality, providing tips that range from makeup to clothes to camouflaging your figure. In the garden, however, Color Me Tomatoes are the up and coming trend.
I’m still trawling this year’s catalogs in search of delightful new tomatoes hitting the market. In the New York area, I generally plant tomatoes outside one to two weeks after the last frost, which ranges from April 21 to May 7 depending on whom you ask. This means your tomatoes will be planted outside during either the second or third week of May if you are conservative, or the end of April and into the first week of May if you are bold.
I know people who plant their tomatoes outside during the earlier range, but they generally supplement them with some sort of heat-trapping device, such as an impromptu bell jar made out of a transparent gallon milk jug, or a wall-o-water season extender. From my personal experience, if the ground and air are too cold, then your tomatoes will just sit and sulk until things warm up. Tomatoes that I plant on the later side seem to be happier and healthier—and ultimately more vigorous. I know some will disagree with me and give their applause to the early head start, but I still like to wait until the middle of May. What this means is that I start sowing seeds indoors from the middle of March and into April.
So, with this in mind, what are some of the seeds you should be sowing this year? For starters, who can resist a name like the “Artisan Tomato™ Collection”? It makes me feel so cultured! The Artisan Tomato™ Collection consists of the Bumble Bee and Tiger series of cherry tomatoes, including ‘Lucky Tiger’, ‘Blush’, ‘Green Tiger’, ‘Pink Tiger’, ‘Sunrise Bumble Bee’, ‘Pink Bumble Bee’, and ‘Purple Bumble Bee’.
Each of the tomatoes in this collection is touted as superb and sweet, with good crack resistance. The fruits themselves are bi-colored, striped, or blushed, tasty beauties all of them. And while some are round and others elongated, all are prolific. You can order each variety separately or as a collection. One of the selling points of these indeterminate tomatoes is that they can be harvested early and allowed to ripen inside without compromising flavor.
If you find yourself looking for something larger than a cherry tomato but you still desire color and flare, try growing ‘Indigo Apple’ or ‘Indigo Rose’. ‘Indigo Apple’ produces 3-4 inch fruits that turn almost pitch black when ripe, with a red underside. ‘Indigo Rose’ produces similar color, but the fruits are smaller at 2-3 inches. Aside from the size difference, ‘Indigo Rose’ is also on the acidic side, while ‘Indigo Apple’ is sweeter.
If you are short on space, look for ‘Homeslice’ tomatoes. This compact determinate grows only 18-24 inches tall and equally wide, forming a mounding habit. It’s also ideal for container culture. High-yielding as well, it produces an early harvest of firm and meaty, medium-sized tomatoes (around 5-6 oz.), with the harvest ready 63 days from transplanting.
You can find these and many other colorful tomato seeds in high-quality catalogs such as Johnny’s Select Seeds, Territorial Seeds, Jung Seeds, and Tomato Growers Supply Company. Happy growing!
All photos courtesy of Johnny’s Select Seeds