Weekly update - and the first of Tomato Stories - Caitlin's Lucky Stripe

I've been pondering a picture of the day - or perhaps picture of the week. There is so much to discuss, show, and ponder - and ripening is only beginning. Instead, I've decided to start a series of brief tomato stories. It's Monday - seems like a good time to start something new.

First, just an overview of where things are:

Recent weather: This has really been as ideal a tomato growing season (at least here in my driveway) as I can recall. Warm (but not overly hot) days with ample (but not impossible) humidity, and enough, but not too much, rain. 

General garden observations: Vigorous growth, excellent fruit set, and lack of critters is all good. Foliage disease is appearing, as well as some blossom end rot. Lower blemished foliage shows a mix of some early blight, some septoria leaf spot. It is worse at the back side of the plant (away from the sun), or in the center of the plant...not surprising, since those are the areas that dry the slowest...poor air circulation, lack of direct sun. The plants are also setting fruit and afternoons are hot...and I am in containers, which all stress the plant. Every other day, it seems, I make the rounds and remove the blemished foliage, which opens the plants up and seems to slow the progression of diseases up the plant. The tomatoes in straw bales, not surprisingly, are dealing with it the best. 

Current activities:  Blemished/diseased foliage removal (see above), plant tying to keep them vertical, a bit of plant topping if they reach the top of the support, feeding (roughly every week and a half), watering (daily), making new crosses between indeterminate and dwarf varieties to expand possibilities in the dwarf category, and some photography.

The Driveway Garden on June 27

The Driveway Garden on June 27

Caitlin's Lucky Stripe tomato

Lucky Cross and Little Lucky are two favorite tomatoes that I've grown since (with the help of a gardening friend Larry) discovering/stabilizing/naming them in the early 2000s. They originated with a bee-produced, unexpected cross between Brandywine and a neighboring plant in my garden. Little Lucky is a potato leaf variety with medium round yellow fruit that have red marbling and a wonderful, sweet flavor.

In 2008 I was walking through the garden at Coon Rock Farm (they were growing my plants at the time for their sales and restaurant supply), and noted one Little Lucky had slightly larger, slightly oval to heart shaped fruit that had distinct stripes - yellow, but with fine pink vertical stripes. I took one tomato from the plant and saved seeds. Though I suspected it was to be a mini-project to stabilize, I decided to name it for my daughter, and christened it "Caitlin's Lucky Stripe".

Over the years, it has been quite variable (not unexpected) - sometimes just pink (no stripes), but always tasty and prolific. I sent Bill Minkey (a superb gardener and one of the main tomato gurus offering varieties through the Seed Savers Exchange) a sample, and he loved it - saw stripes and sent me seeds. I am growing one plant this year, and it is very encouraging - loaded with fruit that are showing distinct stripes. It won't take long to ripen and we can assess how we are doing in achieving stability.

Unripe fruit on Caitlin's Lucky Stripe

Unripe fruit on Caitlin's Lucky Stripe