- Author: Donna Woodward, Field Test Committee Chair
Summer is winding down and the produce from our gardens is starting to wane. I just cut down my Prairie Fire tomato that I had planted as part of our experiment with growing tomatoes in containers. Our Napa Master Gardeners Field Test Group embarked on a trial following the tomato sale in April to see how we would fare with growing tomatoes in containers. We also enlisted input from 42 members of the public who purchased tomatoes at the sale.
The three tomato varieties that were selected for the trial were Prairie Fire, Renee's Super Bush, and Inca Jewel. Of the three, Prairie Fire was the most successful for me. It produced lots of delicious grape-type tomatoes. They were not quite as sweet as Sun Gold or similar cherry tomatoes, but I found the flavor more interesting. Lately the plant was starting to look stressed, and the fruit was getting splotchy, so I decided to terminate that plant.
My Super Bush started out very lush and green but after a couple of months some of the lower leaves began to turn brown and yellow. It has produced some nice tomatoes, and there are still green ones on the bush, but the harvest is not what I would consider plentiful. I have trimmed away all the dying leaves and hope it will revive enough to ripen the remaining tomatoes. I either watered too much, too little, or maybe it was a mishap with fertilizer. I think I had applied a too-strong solution because the leaf problem happened right after that.
The Inca Jewel met with a similar fate, and, while some of the tomatoes look fine, others are hard and mottled. Again, I trimmed all the dying leaves and am waiting for the last of the tomatoes to ripen.
A survey will soon be emailed to all of those who signed up to participate in the trial. Here are some photos of my plants now. I hope to get lots of input from all who participated in the trial.
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Photo credits: Donna Woodward