I am a member of the Diggers Club. Now I know that some BLF members have said that this is a very expensive organisation, and I agree with that sentiment. I belong for a couple of reasons. The first being that I really believe that what they stand for is spot on. Even if they seem to think that everyone of their membership is really well off and can afford around $100 to listen to speakers, who while they are no doubt very good at what they do, are certainly no more knowledgeable than, for example,our own Annette McFarlane who gives free talks at libraries, who no doubt pay her a fee, but we get it for free.
The other reason is that they have a very large range of heirloom seeds. Some of which you can't get elsewhere and I am particularly keen to read of their experiments with Tomato Taste testing. Each year they do blind testing with a number of guest tasters, comparing most of their range with some bought at supermarkets. They stress that modern supermarket tomatoes are bred for withstanding long distance travel and storage, are ripening artificially, and must have thicker skins to resist deterioration. Taste is not as important as these other criteria. This is added to the fact that growers push a lot of water into their crop to boost the weight and size. This is in addition to the problem of spraying of the fruit for all the diseases and pests that they are renowned for. Organic growers tend to have much healthier considerations.
My criteria for growing a good tomato are: are they easy to grow? Do they give a good amount of tomatoes per plant? DO THEY TASTE GOOD? Even if a tomato satisfies the 1st two criteria, who wants to grow them if they don't taste very good? Now I have had varied success with them over the years, as I'm sure we all have. I tend not to grow them in summer and rely on the cherry types that self seed and which satisfy all the above criteria.
Diggers top taster one year was the black cherry tomato and I tried these but they took for ever to produce a quite small crop. They did taste good, but I've not grown them since. Maybe they are more suited to a colder climate, Maybe I didn't grow them very well. Others may have tried these, I would like feedback.
The ones I tried this year, were Amish Paste, a long Roma style tomato, and Green Zebra, a rounded type. Both did very well in the Diggers taste tests, and both satisfied the 3 criteria. I got very good crops from the Amish Paste, and I thought that they were very tasty. The Green Zebra were not quite as prolific, but a winner in the taste category too. Have any of you tried these? What are your favourite types and why?
The Amish Paste were prone to splitting, but as these were grown in old feed bags and polystyrene boxes they may not do this in a rich garden environment. I just cut off the split part and have had a bumper crop. I will definitely be growing more of both these types next year. Maybe we could get together and do a blind tasting with our best types next year.
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