In the Garden
In May, my friend Randy gave me some extra special tomatoes. Randy owns a seed company called Sun Mountain Natives.
Sun Mountain Natives is a distributor of hand-collected native seeds.
Supplying seeds from wildflowers, forbs, grasses, wetland species, shrubs, and trees.
We specialize in supplying seed mixes that meet your project's seeding specifications.
Our specialty is to provide custom seed mixes based on our customer’s needs.
With our experience and specialized cleaning equipment, we can provide custom cleaning.
We clean berries, small lots of seed, cones, grasses, and most other native plants.
We offer the Heritage line of native wildflowers and grasses.
Heritage mixes are designed to be adapted to different eco-regions throughout the western states.
Many years ago, Randy was given some really old tomato seed. This seed was from the University of Idaho tomato breeding program dating back to the 1970's. He was able to get some of the seeds to grow and now grows these varieties in his home garden.
Most tomatoes need a long frost-free period to get the fruit to maturity. In northern states and in areas of high elevation, it can be challenging to have enough frost free days to get a good harvest before it freezes/frosts and kills the plants. Therefore, it became a priority for some land grant universities to develop tomato varieties that would develop over a shorter growing season. In 1938 there was some success at North Dakota State University and 14 early season varieties were released.
Since then, even more breakthroughs have been made in Canada where earliness and ability to set fruit at cooler temperatures is imperative. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, the sub-artic series of tomatoes were introduced. These are called "early" tomatoes. They were small plants with sparse foliage and many small fruits.
This is a Sub-Artic Maxi tomato that I got from Randy. It produced really nice sized fruits!
In the 1970's, the University of Idaho introduced 9 "ultra early" tomato varieties. These ultra early varieties ripen even earlier. They are not only for cold regions. They can be used to extend the time when ripe tomatoes are available in warmer areas of the country too.
This is an Ida Gold, obviously a gold (not red) colored tomato.
This is a Gem State...it was REALLY low growing along the ground. No need for a tomato cage!
This is called "Santa". They are a little bit bigger than a traditional cherry tomato and nice and sweet!
This one is called Latah (we live in Latah county in Idaho). It seems to be producing a little bit later than the other varieties that I have but it has a good amount of tomatoes!
Early and ultra early tomato varieties should never be pruned or over fertilized. We picked our first tomato on August 1st! My other tomatoes just started turning red this past week (this blog post is being posted on September 1, 2019).
Randy gave me two publications that talk about these tomatoes and tips for growing them. Click on them below to read:
Growing Tomatoes in Cool Summer Areas by A. A. Boe and Margaret I. Luckman
"Ultra Early" Tomatoes by A. A. Boe
Here is about a 20 minute video of my garden this year. I am pretty sure I pointed out the early and ultra early tomatoes in the video at 15 minutes into the video.
The garden was very prolific this year. The only thing I could not get going was peas and now I have realized that some critter was coming in and digging up and eating the peas after I planted them (4 times!). I was finally able to get some snap peas to grow and we are enjoying them right now.
Anyway, I have a better idea about how much less I need to grow for next year. Not complaining...it is a good problem to have...too much food! I donated some to the food bank last week (see pic below) and will probably be donating some more soon! Some of the tomatoes in these boxes were the early varieties!