Category Archives: Tomatoes

Beaverlodge Slicer Tomato, this time outdoors in San Francisco

This is one of the first tomatoes that I grew in San Francisco, but I grew it indoors, and it did great, but given that you have to hand pollinate tomatoes indoors, and the tomato size is small and plentiful, it was a lot of work.

I was skeptical about how well it would do outside, in the cold and wind of summer, but I’ve been surprised. It has been the best performer of the four varieties I planted – two others SF Fog and Russia Big Roma which did quite well previously were not so happy this year for some reason. The fourth, Lange Aermer, grew like a bush, but set no blossoms, and no tomatoes.

Beaverlodge Slicer Tomatoes
Beaverlodge Slicer Tomatoes
Beaverlodge Slicer Leaves
Beaverlodge Slicer Leaves

This time, Beaverlodge Slicer grew true to size as a determinant to a height of 4 feet. The leaves are the size of my hand, draping along the sides of the plant. The tomatoes are frequently misshapen as a result of fasciated blossoms growing multiple fruits that fuse together similar to the hairstyle of Mom from Futurama. The first time I grew these, the fruits were much more uniform, and seemed light and somewhat hollow. This time the consistency is much more tomato-like, but the flavor is much the same, absolutely delicious. The leaves seem really resilient to the mildew/blight/wilt or whatever it is my tomatoes usually get on the balcony from the wind and cold, which is great.

I don’t know what to make of the inconsistencies of this variety. Maybe I’ll source the Beaverlodge Slicer seed from another supplier and try that next year.

Growing Tomatoes in San Francisco & Disease Control – Update

This year, I got a late start to starting the tomatoes. I was optimistic about the grafting, but poor germination with the rootstock and uneven stem sizes lead to failed grafts, and I had to start over a couple of times, eventually deciding to grow the traditional way, from seed, in July.

Azoychka, which had a successful graft, and Blue Beauty which was grafted as well started exhibiting the same symptoms from the year before. The lowest leaves started to brown, and eventually the branches easily snapped off. Many of the blossoms eventually die off, while some produce tomatoes. It didn’t seem like there was any obvious issue with airborne diseases like mold or mildew, because the leaves went straight from healthy to brown.

Black Prince
Black Prince

Frustrated, I read even more on tomato leaf diseases and learned that there are some varieties of powdery mildew that can kill leaves just like I was seeing, with no real visual indication of its presence. I also read about milk being an effective topical against mildew and decided to mix baking soda, milk, neem oil, and a small amount of liquid dish soap into a sprayer. Baking soda reduces the pH making it difficult for funguses to grow, neem oil can not only treat, but prevent fungals, the bacteria in milk actively kills fungus, and the dish soap helps it all to spread more evenly on the leaf surface and keeps it on the leaf surface longer.

I started applying this to the older Azoychka, and Blue Beauty, and the younger Russian Big Roma, and Black Prince.  After a couple weeks, I stopped using the milk and started using Serenade, an organic fungicide. The milk, while extremely effective, smells awful after a couple days, and we often keep the balcony door open for ventilation and it had to stop. So, while I was at it, bought a Solo Sprayer to replace my Ace Hardware POS sprayer. The Solo is nice because you can angle the sprayer head up to 90 degrees and further rotate the head in any direction to easily cover the entire plant.

Russian Big Roma
Russian Big Roma

The results of these weekly treatments is pretty exciting. The older plants slowed the progress of their branch & blossom loss dramatically. The younger plants have grown up, produced tomatoes, and show very, very little signs of disease. The two pictures in this post show the full plants that have been sprayed most of their life with an organic anti-fungal concoction. By this time in the tomato’s life without treatment, the bottom 1/3 of the plant would be denuded. The other remarkable thing about these plants is that it is now November, and they are still growing strong, and looking perfectly healthy in the cooler, wetter weather with less sunlight. Not to be too optimistic, but if this keeps up, the plants will still be producing next Spring.

Blue Beauty Tomatoes in San Francisco

Blue Beauty Tomato Plant
Blue Beauty Tomato Plant

I’m going to preface this by saying, this not so positive review is more than likely from the environment these tomatoes were grown in. The balcony where it continues to grow (yes, even in the middle of October) is full of sun, but there are frequent heavy winds bringing very chilly, moisture laden air. Some tomatoes do great out there, and others don’t. Any other summer environment in the US will probably grow these much, much better. In the photo on the right, Azoychka is on the left and Blue Beauty on the right. You can see how small and spindly it has gotten with colder and windier conditions.  Azoychka is a really good cold weather tomato.

My Blue Beauty Tomatoes
My Blue Beauty Tomatoes
Blue Beauty Tomatoes
Blue Beauty Tomatoes grown in good conditions

The Blue Beauty tomatoes are a product of Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms. He took the OSU Indigo Blue tomatoes and cross-bred them with his Beauty King Tomato. The areas of skin exposed to sunlight develop the anthocyanin pigment, and the bottoms ripen to a pinkish-red hue.  The flavor is mildly sweet with a light tomato flavor. It is definitely a cool looking tomato, and I will probably have to try growing it again indoors. It had loads of flowers, but most of them dropped outside due to the conditions. I also grafted this onto Estamino rootstock. I don’t think the grafting had much effect on this plant since conditions weren’t favorable for it.

You can see in the first photo on the left that the Blue Beauty tomatoes I grew are a bit gremlin like, a little mutant, battered, and scarred. It didn’t affect the inner flesh, or the flavor, but it takes some time to clean these up. The other photo on the left shows their real potential.

I am comparing the output between Azoychka with Estamino rootstock and an Azoychka control, but that is ongoing and will likely continue for another few months.