Garden Planning: A Review of My Tomato Growing Plans

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Now is the time of year that we all begin to really start thinking about our garden and what we are planning on doing in the yard.  Even thought it still feels like winter in Cleveland (we usually have a couple nice, warm days thrown in my now, but I guess that isn't happening!), I can tell spring is on the horizon.  The days are longer, and my daffodils are starting to pop up, which just makes me think of everything I want to do in my yard!

If you've followed me on my Instagram account for some time, you probably know that I love working in my yard and am an avid gardener.  If you're a new follower to me in last few months, you may not know this!  

I started gardening the first full summer I was in my house, which was the summer of 2016.  I just started and had no clue what I was doing except for mixing up the soil.  I threw some plants in the ground and voila--I actually had a lot of fruit my first year.  My tomatoes did so-so, but I had so many cucumbers, beans, peppers (green, red, and banana), and TONS of cherry tomatoes.  I was so into it due to my success, I researched more about gardening, organic gardening, how to naturally prevent diseases and pests (I was lucky I never had this issue my first year--except for Japanese beetles--but I just put on gloves, picked them off the leaves and put them in soapy water!), and how to have a huge crop.  I expanded my garden and my gardening skills and actually think I have a few things to share.  :)

 

 My very first garden--July 2016

My very first garden--July 2016

 My Huge Red Pepper--August 2016

My Huge Red Pepper--August 2016

 Yummy homegrown peppers for fajitas

Yummy homegrown peppers for fajitas

 I had hundreds of bowls like these for cherry tomatoes.  This was  from the SuperSweet 100.  

I had hundreds of bowls like these for cherry tomatoes.  This was  from the SuperSweet 100.  

Although I love growing many other plants and will be talking about those in the future, this post is primarily focused on tomato planting and what tomatoes I'm planning on growing this summer.   Last year, after doing some research and talking with my dad (my inspiration for gardening), I decided to order from Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants.  I ordered a big order of her tomato plants and only grew those.  They are grown in Southern California, are organically started, and can be a little on the more expensive side--but let me tell you, they are worth it.  I also ordered her starter kit of fertilizers and organic disease and pest control.  That will be saved for another post as well (including my opinions on the best products and how I managed it), but if you do end up ordering from her, I would definitely consider ordering one of her kits.  

Please note, this post is not an ad or sponsored.  This is totally my opinion--I was just impressed with the plants I received last summer and am beginning to plan for the season and thought I'd share with you all.  :)

Because we had such a rainy summer, I did have some issues with disease on my plants, but luckily, it only remained on the leaves and did not harm the fruit.   I did some prevention work, which I think helped, but I did not have a good year of peppers at all.  I basically lost those plants but did well with everything else.

 My Tomato Success--Summer 2017

My Tomato Success--Summer 2017

 Our fall was so warm through the end of October, I ended up picking off all these green tomatoes before the frost and let them ripen inside.  I had tomatoes through December!

Our fall was so warm through the end of October, I ended up picking off all these green tomatoes before the frost and let them ripen inside.  I had tomatoes through December!

 This was a normal tomato harvest during August and September with Laurel's plants.  As you can see, my garden is not that big in square feet, but that's a ton of daily tomatoes for that space!

This was a normal tomato harvest during August and September with Laurel's plants.  As you can see, my garden is not that big in square feet, but that's a ton of daily tomatoes for that space!

Last year, I ordered a variety of different tomato plants from her website:

1)  Bear Claw

This was one of my most prolific tomato plants last season.  The plant remained mostly disease free, had no issues with pests or blossom end rot, and they were sooooo good.  They were huge and perfect for a BLT.  These were one of my first plants I ate fruit off of and one that lasted through early September.  After that, I think it reached its limit.  I would definitely recommend this one and am planning on ordering in the future.  

 Huge Bear Claw.

Huge Bear Claw.

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2) Costoluto Genovese

This is a true heirloom tomato and definitely looks like it.  It was even reported to be grown by Thomas Jefferson!  This was prolific and very hearty.  It was one of the ones to best resist any disease.  It was one of the first to provide tomatoes and continued all the way through the frost.  I definitely recommend.  This is a great all purpose tomato--great for fresh eating, recipes, and can even be used in a sauce.  I had all sizes--from cherry tomato sizes to medium size to larger size.  I really loved this plant!

 Costoluto on the vine

Costoluto on the vine

 They look like a little pumpkin!

They look like a little pumpkin!

 They make a bowl and display look so pretty!

They make a bowl and display look so pretty!

3)  Goose Creek

The Goose Creek tomato is one of the most sought after heirloom tomatoes around.  Everyone is always looking for the real deal, and many other reviewers, bloggers, and articles on the internet indicate that Laurel's carries the real deal.  I liked these but maybe not as much as others.  I will likely invest in this one, just because an heirloom tomato garden needs one of these plants.  Mine did really well--was prolific.  It was one of the later ones to ripen but lasted all the way through the frost.  Do not grow these and expect them to be huge.  They are smaller in size but sweet in taste.  Great for fresh eating!

 The small but sweet Goose Creek

The small but sweet Goose Creek

 Goose Creek sliced for a burger and eating on the side.

Goose Creek sliced for a burger and eating on the side.

4) Goldman's Italian-American

Here is another beautiful heirloom that looks gorgeous on the vine or in a basket.  I wish this would have been a little more prolific, but I will say I was lucky that so many of these tomatoes came at the same time, so I could make a delicious sauce.  These are primarily paste/sauce tomatoes.  They were late bloomers and were one of my last ones that I picked.  I'm up in the air if I want to get these again, but my sauce sure was delicious.  

 Goldman's on the vine

Goldman's on the vine

 Deliciousness!

Deliciousness!

5)  Mortgage Lifter

The Mortgage Lifter is another HUGE heirloom that is a must for your garden.  This was very prolific; however, it suffered the most from leaf disease (blight).  Thankfully, my tomatoes had no issues and were delicious.  This tomato gets its name from the grower who grew these and sold to pay off his mortgage.  If you go to Laurels site, she will give you the back story on all of them!  This is mainly great for fresh eating and fresh recipes, like a BLT or Caprese!

 Mortgage Lifter

Mortgage Lifter

6)  Florida 91

This was not necessarily an Heirloom, but one that I wanted to try due to its ability to produce in all kinds of weather.  I had a ton of these tomatoes.  It was one that I picked from toward the end of the season and lasted all the way through the frost.  It was not bad, but not one of my favorites.  It was a denser tomato with a thicker skin and was not as soft and juicy as the others.  This is great though if you are looking to produce a ton of tomatoes!

 

 A ton of Florida 91s on the vine

A ton of Florida 91s on the vine

 More on the vine

More on the vine

7) Purple Bumblebee

This became a quick favorite amongst my family, and one that I recommend buying.  It was very prolific all season--I had them at first picking all the way through the frost.  Super tasty and absolutely beautiful.  These are a unique hybrid creation with tie-dye features.   Highly recommend!

 Purple Bumblebee on the vine

Purple Bumblebee on the vine

 The purple bumblebee are the purple and green colored ones.

The purple bumblebee are the purple and green colored ones.

8) Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry

This is another very heirloom tomato plant, and I loved that the cherry tomatoes were yellow!  They looked so pretty in my tomato bowl!  They were super sweet and great fresh eating tomatoes.  The only downside to this tomato was that it really suffered from blight, and I wonder if this was the plant that brought it in.  I didn't have any major issues with the fruit, but the leaves definitely suffered.  Because of this, I'm not sure I would plant this again; however, it is a classic heirloom with tasty and beautiful fruit!

 The Hartman's are the yellow ones in this bowl

The Hartman's are the yellow ones in this bowl

9)  Hawaiian Pineapple

Although this plant was not as prolific as I would have liked, I did end up getting one tomato off of it that was just beautiful, which called for a post about this plant.  It struggled bearing fruit, but the few that I had were just beautiful, delicious, and so super sweet.  I'm not sure I would try my hand at this again, but if this tomato looks like your type of fruit, feel free to try it yourself!

 Hawaiian pineapple (gotta love my dirty hands and wrists!)

Hawaiian pineapple (gotta love my dirty hands and wrists!)

I planted a few others, but these were the ones I really wanted to highlight from last year and bring to your attention that you may want to try this year yourself!

MY SUMMER PLANS

Because of my success with Laurel's Heirloom Plants, I definitely plan on trying some of these again!  I will likely order a few that I loved last year, as well as a few new ones.  I did not plant my Supersweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes last year, and I missed those, so I will definitely be on the lookout for another one or two of those plants, as well as a good Roma tomato and some other local plants.  This year I'm interested in trying a mix, as well as looking at some Burpee plants too!  You can check out Burpee's extensive list here.

Here are my picks you definitely need to check out!

On Laurels (www.heirloomtomatoplants.com):

  1. Bear Claw
  2. Costoluto Genovese
  3. Purple Bumblebee, Pink Bumblebee, and Sunrise Bumblebee
  4. Black Krim
  5. Purple Cherokee
  6. Goose Creek
  7. Goldman's Italian-American
  8. Blondkopfchen
  9. Brandywine Pink
  10. Fireworks
  11. Italian Heirloom
  12. Sungold
  13. TomatoBerry

At Burpee (www.burpee.com):

  1. Supersweet 100 
  2. Steakhouse Hybrid
  3. Fresh Salsa Hybrid
  4. Better Boy (Always a great classic)
  5. Fourth of July Hybrid
  6. Heirloom Taste Collection
  7. Sunny Boy Hybrid
  8. Early Girl
  9. Tomato Hybrid Collection

What do you think of these choices?  Are you planting a garden this year?  I'd love to hear more in your comments below!