The Extreme Gardener

Experiments in permaculture and
other gardening adventures in northeastern Vermont

Another tomato for winter storage

November 25th, 2008

This past season we tried Ruby Treasure, another winner from Peters Seed and Research.

Now, if you’ve read many of my posts, it may seem like I’m in the business of promoting Peters Seeds, so a disclaimer is in order. I have no affiliation with Peter’s except that I’m an unabashed fan of their breeding work. What can I say – some people idolize rock stars, I idolize plant breeders.

Ruby Treasure tomato

Anyway, this tomato is for short term storage, 2-3 months. They were picked in September. We still have a few left, and they look like they would probably at least make it to Winter Solstice, except that we will eat them all up very soon because they are too hard to resist, even in the name of scientific inquiry.

The culinary quality is way superior to Golden Treasure, but of course, this one won’t last through the winter like GT. Both of these storage tomatoes suffered severe damage from disease this past season, which was abominably wet, the worst I’ve ever seen. It didn’t help that I mostly don’t stake tomatoes, and leave them sprawling on the raised beds. Usually I get away with it, but I’m sorry to say our harvest this year of both storage tomatoe varieties was pathetically small.

There’s always next year, and we’ll definitely be growing both of these Treasures, and maybe another storage variety or two to trial. I can’t say enough good things about storage (aka keeper) tomatoes for cold climates. Talk about a tiny carbon footprint – all you have to do is pick them carefully into a shallow box and stash them in a cool place out of direct sunlight, then put a few at a time on a sunny window sill a couple of days before you plan to eat them. No greenhouse, no canning jars, no stove, no freezer nor fridge burning up kilowatts – and very few ergs of energy required from me to prep them and keep them in storage.

Through the long cold months, there’s something about a side of fresh tomato with homegrown sprouts (alfalfa, kale, whatever) that keeps the winter larder satisfying to the palate.

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4 Responses to “Another tomato for winter storage”

  1. Ottawa Gardener says:

    That’s funny. Sometimes, I want to write the same disclaimer that no I don’t work for ‘xyz’ just am a ‘fan!’

    I am very interested in keeper tomatoes because despite them being less flavourable compared to supermarket varities, they are certainly very tasty!

    I’m looking forward to learning about trying the Peter’s garden variety actually.

  2. the extreme gardener says:

    Hi Ottawa Gardener – you know, we seem to be on the same garden path!
    I neglected to mention that both Ruby Treasure and Golden Treasure are indeterminate and really large framed plants – long heavy vines. I’m thinking about providing some kind of support for them next year, but it would require a bit of engineering and a considerable amount of labor in May or June when time and muscle energy is extremely precious. Yer basic stick in the ground wouldn’t do it… and I am averse to buying garden fixtures

  3. spud nw ohio says:

    Thanks a bunch for info on this type of tomato. I was just thinking how nice it would be to have some fresh homegrown tomatoes to eat. I will not buy store bought ones, pointless. Are these early tomatoes also? My thoughts on fall tomatoes are ones that are grown on shorter supports, easier to protect from lighter frosts. I enjoy your thoughts on carbon footprint on this also, enjoy em w/o the work of canning, processing etc. I’m just trying to think of how many do I need to plant.

  4. Alan Reed Bishop says:

    LOL, Don’t feel bad, I too often find myself looking up to plant breeders as well, and I am a plant breeder, so what does that say? Alan Kapuler and Ken Ettlinger are of particular interest for their views on seeds and ability to manipulate crops by way of traditional plant breeding, spirituality meets practicality is my thing I suppose.

    We used to grow a few winter keepers but quit once we brought the two large greenhouses online and started growing tomatoes through the winter time. I don’t eat them myself (don’t like tomatoes), but I do hear good things from those that do, and that’s enough for me.

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