Wild Galápagos Tomatoes – Translucent Little Gems

Wild Galápagos Tomato I love this tomato. When I found it back in January at Terrior Seed Company, it captured my imagination. The Galápagos Islands are amazing, and to have the opportunity to grow something I'm so passionate about from there, and to be able to eat it too, well it doesn't get much better than that. It lived up to what I imagined, and has fascinated me ever more.

What I didn't expect was how translucent these little tomatoes are. If they catch the light right, they shimmer like little gems on the plant. If you look closely at the right hand side of the photo above, you can see below the skin of the tomato. It's easier to see before they ripen.

Green Wild Galápagos Tomato photThe photo on left is a green one, and the white lines are the cells below the skin.    Being a wild tomato, they are very small. The average size is slightly smaller than a dime, with some almost as small as a currant. I did peel some, and the skin is indeed transparent.

For a small tomato though, it packs a lot of flavor. So much so that it comes close to Black Cherry, which is my favorite cherry variety. Nice balance of sweet and acid, with some salty undertones. Perhaps it's the high tolerance of salt that imparts these tomatoes with that salty zest. They  can be found growing close to the beach, in between rocks on the Galápagos.

The salt resistance has plant breeders excited along with its natural resistance to whiteflies. These characteristics are being bred into other tomato varieties. Its been a very wet summer here in southern New Jersey, and early blight, and black spot has impacted all the other tomatoes I'm growing, I haven't seen a sign of it on these plants.

They naturally sprawl, so they are dense, compact, and bush-like when staked. They are very prolific, and from I read, they produce up until frost. They also produced early, so a long season of hearty and flavorful tomatoes is something I'll take every year. There is a second variety from the Galápagos, Sara's Galapagos, and are red. They don't seem to be a true wild tomato either.

The best thing for me though is the giant tortoises of the Galápagos are said to like these tomatoes. To be able to share a taste with these magnificent and graceful creatures a half a world away is a true gift of nature, and places these tomatoes in a special part of my heart.



What's New in This Year's Garden

plant planting cellsSince the organization meeting for my community garden is coming up next week, and my plot will be available, it makes sense that I should get my seeds started. Most of what I grow will be planted after May 15, so I'm still good. Barely. Life happens so I will just go with the flow, and hope for the best. I have a couple new varieties this year, as always and I'm looking forward to what's going to happen with them. The Tabaris bean will be new, which I wrote about a little while back.

Toothache Plant or Szechuan Buttons will be new. It intrigues me. I look forward to growing and photographing it. It seems like a beautiful subject to photograph with the leaves described as bronze-purple, and flowers that look like yellow gumdrops with red eyes, it might be a specimen from a garden in Alice in Wonderland.  The leaves numb the mouth, hence the name Toothache Plant. There are references for culinary uses, for cocktails, and as a medicinal herb. It's a member of the Asteraceae family, which includes sunflowers, asters and daisies. Sounds like a fun plant.

Dragon Carrots, which is vegetable that people rave about, will have a place in my garden. Red skin with orange interiors, and chock full of vitamins, they demonstrate that nutrition can be fun. First and foremost, food is nutrition, and when you can grow fresh, organic nutrition, you should take advantage of it. It's a simple concept.

Paris White Cos lettuce is a new to me, but considering Jefferson grew this for 60 years at Monticello, it's been around a long time. It's a French heirloom. I find the French have a nice selection of heirloom lettuces. It's a romaine lettuce, which I enjoy a lot.

Green Pear Tomatoes sound interesting. I like green tomatoes a lot. Aunt Ruby's German Green Beefsteaks are legendary, and rightfully so. They have a sweet, spicy flavor that sets the standard for green tomatoes. The Green Pears are fruity in addition to the traditional spicy sweet green tomato flavor profile from the description. Throw in prolific and I'm sold.

Wild Galápagos Tomatoes are another tomato that captured my imagination. Anything Galápagos related is fascinating, especially the giant tortoises. I wasn't aware that wild tomatoes grew there until I came across these seeds. The seeds I have are one of two varieties endemic to the Galápagos. They are small, yellow-orange grape shaped, and because of their resistance to a number of tomato pests including the whitefly, and resistance to salt. plant breeders use them as source to cross with other varieties. It all sounds great but the key for me, I have a connection to the giant tortoises.

Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes introduces me to the Trifele tomatoes of Russia. Russia contributes a lot of varieties to the heirloom tomato rainbow, and these large, black, pear shape tomatoes are described everywhere, and I do mean everywhere on the Internet as;

In Russia the Trifele varieties of tomatoes (of which there are several colors) are highly prized and command big prices.

Where the Japanese in the name comes from I can't find a source for that because of the above sentence defines the tomato on the Google. I did find a source for the red, pink, and yellow Trifele varieties, Amishlandseeds.com, scroll through this interesting collection of Russian varieties to find them. Gotta love looking at Russian tomatoes with Japanese in their name on a website called Amish Land. A rainbow indeed.

Black tomatoes are some of the most flavorful around. These are compact, determinate potato leaf plants that produce all season, and can handle all types of weather from what I read. I'll see if they can handle the oppressive Jersey July humidity.

Sungold Tomato seeds were shared with me by Carol Ann, a good friend. They are sweet, early and have notes of fruit. The color is described as orange, tangerine, apricot or gold. I'll take any or all of those colors. They will be a nice contrast with the Green Pear described earlier, and the Black Cherry that I will be growing.

And finally, Speckled Roman, also from my friend Carol Ann, who raves about these paste tomatoes. Red with orange stripes, just the name alone makes want to grow them. Speckled has a gesture of humor to me, which I love.  They were developed by John Senson of the Seed Savers Exchange, and are said to be a cross between Antique Roman and Banana Legs.

That's what's new this year. Now, if the weather cooperates...