Part of Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2011
This was not a tomato on my original tasting list. Yet, oddly enough, I have 15 of these tomato plants in my driveway. Funny story (as if anything in my life is anything but).
So, a few years ago, in a fit of industrious maternal instinct, I helped my kids build a fold-away lemonade stand/puppet theater. Honestly, it was far less effort than it sounds like and maybe someday I will post the plans. But, long and short of it is that my kids have a little stand they can drag out whenever they feel like being entrepreneurial. Which is cute and charming and sweet… right up until I found them out at the end of our driveway one morning hawking half dead plants that they had dug up from my garden. Then, it was not so cute.
“Look, Mom,â€ my 7 year old told me proudly, “We are going to sell plants to get enough money to buy a new Lego set. We are selling this one for $10.â€ He said as he indicating a wilted chunk of lamb’s ear. While I commend them for aspiring to become the Junior Petitti’s (including the blatant price gouging), I was not so keen on sacrificing my garden for the cause.
So, not wanting to have my garden claimed by the market forces of my children, I went to a plant auction that night and snapped up 20 gallon size Patio Tomato plants for $2 apiece. I figured that if the boys sold them for $3-$5 each (which is less than the $9.99 that they are sold at the store for) they would make a little profit and be happy. My children instantly lost interest in selling plants as soon as they saw them. That get-rich-quick scheme was sooooooo yesterday, apparently. Now they were hatching up a plan to build a super robot who would rob a bank for them. Still, I forced them to drag a few tomato plants to the neighbors and they managed to sell 5 before rebelling completely and abandoning the rest on the driveway, where they have remained (except for the few that my youngest son and I spent 3 days shuffling back and forth from the driveway to the porch because he insisted that PATIO tomatoes would grow better on a PATIO and I insisted that the mailman would sue us when he tripped over one of the 15 tomato plants placed in the middle of the front porch).
Thus, I have many of these plants and, I will admit, they are only minimally cared for. But, I figured as Patio Tomato tends to be a popular starter garden plant (you know, “well, we will get this tomato and put it on the porch and see if I can actually grow something before I put in a whole gardenâ€), it would be best to see how it performed under conditions similar to how your average newbie gardener would care for them.
The description from a company that sells this tomato reads:
The University of Florida developed this variety just for the home garden, with a compact habit ideal for containers, patio culture, or small-space gardening. It’s a great combination of big fruit on small plants, and is as stunning as an ornamental as it is delicious!
The big, bright red, smooth-skinned fruits weigh between 8 and 12 ounces each, measuring 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. They are firm and crack-resistant, with good uniform coloring and terrific juicy-sweet taste.
The Beauty Pageant:
Size: Varies WIDELY. The picture above isÂ a good selection of the typical size of the tomatoes I get from these plants. Anywhere from golf ball size to baseball size.
Shape: Tends to be round when small but will flatten if the fruit is larger. They are a bit lumpy, but not grotesquely so.
Color: On the vine, they get to be an orange-ish red with slightly yellow shoulders. If left on the counter, they will develop to a deeper red. But, if you wait for them to get deep red on the vine, they will fall off and rot. Odd.
The inside:Pretty loose gel., which makes it very juicy. Medium seeds on just this side of being small. Walls and core are medium thickness so the inside it pretty evenly split between gel and flesh.
Texture: Surprisingly smooth. It has a nice mouth-feel . The skin is a little on the thick side, but not distractingly so.
Off the Vine Tasting: The flavor is ok. Really, just ok. Better than a store tomato, certainly. Not too much sweet about this tomato. Both the flesh and the gel have a tang and a bit of sour with the tomato flavor.
Sliced and Salted Tasting: Salt really brings out the tomato flavor in this tomato while playing down the tang and sour. It become a full flavored, standard tomato.
Cooking Thoughts: Great baseline tomato for basic recipes, like sauce, salsa and salads.
Despite being only marginally cared for, they have done pretty well. First and foremost, they are not dead. They are not big plants, but they produce well. They do stay very compact and almost upright despite not having any support.
Will Hanna grow this one again:
No, I won’t, but I would recommend it for what it was bred for. If you are looking for a starting tomato to test the waters out with vegetable gardening, this is a good choice. Even if you flake out and don’t care much for the plant, you will be rewarded with a decent tomato. And thus the addition begins.