What is the best red tomato variety for San Diego’s coastal climate? Please assume appropriate care, water, soil composition, nutrition, and sun exposure. Also, I s there a particular variety of tomato that you have had success with here in San Diego County?

Fri, April 01, 2016 8:17 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

Vivian Black: I like Early Girl and Momotoro tomatoes.

Linda Chisari: Carmello!  

Lynne Blackman: Our climate is coastal and we have the best results with Carmello and Juliet, which I order from Natural Gardening Co. I used to plant Stupice, but plants (from several sources) seemed to lack strength.

Lynlee Austel-Slayter: The best one is the heirloom tomato bin at People’s Co-op in Ocean Beach; available year round, organic, and cheap by comparison with growing your own.    

Constance Forest: I have had very good luck with the variety San Diego, developed for this climate. I have not been able to find it at chains like Home Depot, but it was always available at Grangetto’s in Fallbrook.

Christine Vargas: Celebrity.

Sue Martin: Stupice and Early Girl perform the best for me, only two blocks from the ocean. During especially cool, foggy summers, everything mildews and shrivels. Planting tomatoes in April instead of May could make a difference, but sometimes my winter garden is still finishing up.

Roy Wilburn:  Celebrity, BHN 1021, and Skyway have worked well for me in Poway. All three are determinant varieties. We also grow many types of cherry tomatoes, such as SunGold, Favorita, Nova, Yellow Pear, and Black Cherry. All these varieties can be found at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, on line. Also check the websites of Totally Tomato and TomatoFest. I grew tomatoes commercially on the coast of Baja, which is just like our coastal areas, now I get to tackle the heat of Poway in the summer. I am of the opinion that you can grow any variety you like, anywhere in San Diego County. You might want to prune your tomatoes more on the coast since sunburn is not an issue. Inland San Diego might make you want to prune less, when expecting tomatoes in the heat of late summer. This should provide more foliage for less burning. Using black shade cloth will help your fruit from sunburn in the hot inland areas.

Jim Bishop:  I grow only two tomato varieties; Sweet 100 and Better Girl. I grow my tomatoes in pots, so I only have a couple of plants. I’ve found heirloom and grafted varieties don’t produce enough fruit to be worth the effort. Sweet 100 is perennial and I have had the same plant for several years. Since it isn’t a hybrid, any plants that come from the fruit match the parent plant. It is one of the best tasting tomatoes I’ve ever grown. It fruits on and off all year, with the biggest crop in early summer. Usually I have just enough to eat right off the vine or in salads. Better Girl gives a couple of crops per year, mostly in the summer. The fruit is not large, but it doesn’t split as easily as other varieties. It is a perfect size for sandwiches or salads. Both varieties are great with basil, which we also grow in pots.

Charlotte Getz: I live in Encinitas, just two miles from the coast. I have had good luck with Stupice, SunGold, and Early Girl. I have tried many other varieties and they have not done well with the marine layers we get in the morning and at night in May and June, and sometimes in April.

Katie Pelisek: Early Girl and SunGold are staples in our garden. Last year we tried Spoon and it was a huge hit at the Boys and Girls Club!

Doris Enberg: I love SunGold cherry tomatoes.

Sheila Busch: I always have good production of SunGold cherry tomatoes. They are also the best tasting I have ever had. They hold up to the brutal sun and heavy clay soil in Escondido.

Walter Andersen: There are so many tomatoes it can be very confusing. I live about 10 miles from the coast. I have found these are very good for my area: San Diego hybrid (sometimes sold as Otay), Celebrity, Champion, Sweet 100 (cherry-like but not as sprawling).

Una Marie Pierce: Every year it seems as if I get the best tomatoes from the plants that come up as volunteers. I have three going just now and I’m waiting to see what I have.

Jason Chen: I’ve tried many and probably my favorites have been Momotoro Gold, Black Krim, Black Trifele, Black Cherry and my absolute favorite, Anna Russian (I love the sweet meatiness of it, great cooked and fresh). I think the main thing is watering and cutting suckers and extra canes out of the plants. Unfortunately last year I had an issue with nematodes and fusarium wilt, big time, especially when it was warm with the summer rains. I’ll have to try them in containers this year or spread out crab shells and organically combat the nematodes; not sure about the fusarium aside from buying resistant varieties.

Vince Lazaneo: I grew Litt’l Bites cherry, a window box tomato from Renee’s Garden for the first time last year and have planted it again. I grew the plants from seed in five gallon pots and had a big harvest of cherry sized fruit from the small plants. They were tasty and did not crack during my winter harvest. I don’t know how the plant would perform if it was planted in the ground.

Lucy Warren: I love SunGold; tough, reliable, and sweet little yellow bites for a long season—yum.

Arlene Watters: Cherokee Purple.

Gabrielle Ivany: I have had good luck with San Diego and Lemon Boy tomatoes. (92128)

Susi Torre-Bueno:It’s been tremendously frustrating to grow tomatoes – any kind – at our home in Vista due to the @#$%^& squirrels. I’m going to try SunGold and Sweet 100 this year, but expect I’ll have far better luck buying them at the Farmers’ Market.


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