Tuesday, February 15, 2011
A Tomato Surprise
Last summer my neighbour picked up a packet of Ildi tomato seed from a Thomspon & Morgan seed rack in the local grocery store. It was a bit late in the season to be seeding tomatoes (late April), but she did it anyway and gave me a dozen seedlings in mid-June.. the plants were tiny, and I certainly didn't think they would amount to much. I figured a frost would wipe out the plants long before they had a chance to produce their fruits..
And speaking of their fruits, here's a bit of background - Ildi is an open-pollinated tomato that grows about 5 to 6 feet tall. Each plant produces 3 to 4 trusses, with each truss bearing 50 to 75 fruits each. The packet also said that the small tomatoes are grape-shaped and golden yellow in colour. (thanks to Thompson and Morgan for the photograph)
So, I planted 6 plants in the main garden and 6 plants in our temporary terraced garden last summer. Yet, they were so small - in comparison, my other tomatoes were already 1 1/2 feet tall and the Ildi seedlings were just 2 inches tall. I underplanted them with a mix of romaine and red salad bowl lettuce and completely forgot about them!
Lucky for me, the season ended up being long and hot and just when the early planted tomatoes begin to wind down production, pretty Ildi picked up the slack. In terms of taste, they're not as incredibly sweet as Sungold (our #1 garden tomato), but they are still delicious, prolific and addictive! We harvested them through frosts and into November (I covered them with a row cover or a sheet of plastic at night). They really do produce sizable trusses that simply dripped in bright yellow tomatoes. We ate handfuls every day, but I have since learned that you can cut the trusses before the first fall frost, hang them in a cool garage or basement and harvest for weeks.
So the verdict - a definite 2 thumbs up! I would absolutely plant this prolific little tomato again and I think I would even plant another late crop of Ildi just in case this summer is also long and hot - fingers crossed!!