Rogers Gardens own Tomato “Guru,” Steve Goto, has selected his best tomato varieties for the 2016 season.  His selections include his 2015 favorites and winners from the 2015 Rogers Gardens’ Tomato Tasting event.

Aiko 35 days, indeterminate. A wonderful new selection from Japan, this variety is simply a highly producing, extremely disease resistant and very easy to grow plant with little drama.  Extremely early fruit are red grape shaped with excellent sugar to acid ratios.  This is one of ur favorite for salads and appetizers.  Outstanding in containers, needs at least 6 hours of sunlight.  I’m rating this variety as one of Steve Goto’s top ten.

Berkeley Tie-Dye Heart 75 -85 days, indeterminate. It has a strong assertive flavor of the Berkeley Tie-Dye and a super dense meaty flesh. Good to outstanding production. Wispy droopy leaves that look like they need water when they sometimes don’t. Wilt leaf gene is common in heart tomatoes. Several shapes of the same plant, ranging from blocky-round to long slender hearts. Outstanding assertive tomato flavor. Very meaty with almost no juice.

Black from Tula 80-85 days. Determinate. A Russian HEIRLOOM described as “the ugliest, most delicious tomato ever grown.  Rich, full flavor makes this a favorite for slicing and fresh use.  Great yields of 3” – 4” slightly flattened fruits.  Produces through the summer into the fall.

Cherokee Chocolate 75 days, indeterminate. A stabilized version of Cherokee Purple. This 10 to 16 oz. mahogany-colored variety has excellent flavor and beautiful large fruit. Very productive, vigorous plants that yield a large harvest of chocolate-colored tomatoes with the ample size and wonderful flavor associated with Cherokee Purple.

Chica Cherry, 75 days, indeterminate.  Truly a no brainer for any garden.  This round, red cherry is not like other cherries I’ve ever grown.  Extremely highly productive sweet flavored fruit that makes  all other cherry tomatoes look like they are running in place.  Great in all climates.  Great in the ground and especially in containers.  Very disease resistant.  Our test garden plant produced over 18 pounds of fruit the past three years.   My wife rates this variety the number one pick for 2016.

Delicious 77 days, indeterminate. Huge red, smooth fruit is nearly solid and often weighs more than 2 lbs. Excellent flavor, tiny seed cavities, and very little cracking. This is the variety that holds the world record for the largest tomato ever grown.

Green Tiger 70 days, indeterminate. Exciting new class of elongated cherry tomatoes! Crack-resistant fruits reach up to  two inches in length, tapering to a pronounced point. Color is an amazing green striped with yellow, with a lime-green interior. Chefs rave about their extraordinary beauty and superb flavor. Equally well suited for greenhouse or outdoor culture.

Indigo Rose 70 days, indeterminate. Darkest tomato bred so far, exceptionally high in Anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful anti-oxidants. In the early stages of fruit development, Indigo Rose develops a dark purple pigment in its skin when exposed to direct sunlight. Green when unripe, purple-red when ripe. The 1-2 oz., cocktail-sized tomatoes have good sweet flavor with ‘plummy’ overtones. Developed by Jim Myers at Oregon State University using traditional plant breeding techniques. Moderately vigorous.

Japanese Pink Cherry 70 days, indeterminate. Large-fruited cherry tomato is deep pink with amazingly good rich, sweet flavor and crisp texture. Highly productive plants grow long clusters of tomatoes that are crack resistant yet still very juicy. Great disease resistance and beautiful pink color that is hard to find in cherry tomatoes. Make this variety a very special newcomer.

Jetsetter Hybrid 64 days, indeterminate. Short season plant that doesn’t sacrifice size or flavor for its early maturity.  Medium to large tomatoes can weigh up to 8oz with good, rich flavor.  Yields are plentiful on vigorous plants that have lots of disease resistance. So. Cal growers, should plant before September for fruit production in the fall through winter.

Marvel Striped Slicing Tomato
90 to 110 days, indeterminate.  Traditional 10-16 oz. fruits. Wonderful bi-color fruit.  This was the best bi-color I grew in less than perfect lighting conditions. Wonderful growth in containers.  Another great tomato from the Zapotec people. Mild sweet and juicy with few seeds. Great for sandwiches or salads.

Michael Pollan 75 days. Bred at Wild Boar Farms, and named for the famous author and activist who has contributed so much to the sustainability movement. Small green fruits are uniquely top-shaped, with the most pronounced blossom end “beak” that we have ever seen. Color is green/yellow stripes. Flavor is mild and sweet. 2 to 4 ounce fruits usually grow in amazing clusters.

Neves Azorean Red 75 days, indeterminate.  A customer born on the island told me about this tomato.  I grew it after finding the seeds and found it to be a wonderful 1 to 2 lb red beauty.  Hugh tomato flavor, this plant is very disease resistant and long bearing.

Red Pear Italian 80 days, indeterminate. Large, red ,pear shaped, solid fruit growing up to one pound. No to be mistaken with the cherry type of Red Pear. Excellent flavor. Large yields. Loves warmer climates. Great for salads and for cooking and canning. Heavy producing plant produces fruit over a long season.

Reika 80 days, determinate.  A short version of the Pink Momotaro without the drama.  Compact plant that grows and produces in almost any climate.  This fruit is similar in flavor profile as Momotaro.  If you love Momotaro but had less than stellar results, then this one is for you.   6 to 8 oz fruit can be used in many dishes, including Aprils’ famous salsa.

Snow White Cherry 75 days, indeterminate. Ivory-colored cherry tomatoes that ripen to a pale yellow. Fruit is deliciously sweet, round, 1/2-inch and borne from productive vines. This has always been a great hit with kids, especially those who claimed to not like tomatoes.

Speckled Roman 85 Days, indeterminate.  Developed by SSE member, John Swenson, as a result of a stabilized cross of Antique Roman and Banana Legs. Gorgeous 3″ wide by 5″ long fruits with jagged orange and yellow stripes. Meaty, great tomato taste. One of the best for processing. Very productive with few seeds.

Sungold Cherry, 57 days, indeterminate. Once voted the sweetest tomato ever by discerning English Gardeners.  A positively luscious, bite size golden beautiful over-flowing with an abundance of fruits.  Thin-skinned, with a juicy flesh that holds its sweet-fresh-from-the-vine flavor.  Golden orange, small, round, very early and heavy cropper for both indoors and in greenhouses.  Cascading trusses are smothered in fruits that remain ripe and ready for picking over long periods of time. Steve Goto say’s, “this one is a must in your garden.  I love these for an afternoon snack right off the vine.”

Sunrise Bumble Bee 70 days, indeterminate. ½ ounce fruit is a gorgeous combination of yellows and reds, inside and out. Excellent sweet and tangy flavor. Great in mixes with the other artisan varieties. Highly productive and great for containers.

Yellow Momotaro 80 days, determinate.  A Japanese Momotaro variety producing 6 ounce fruit on smaller plants.  Great taste on vivid yellow fruit.  Very good yields.  Our plant produced 8 lbs. of fruit in 2015.  Sweet fruit with a slight tart back end.  Looks and tastes great in salsa.  Great for container planting.