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  • The good, the bad and the new

    Two tomato varieties enter the gardening scene

    One of the great things about gardening is the fact there are new plants coming on the market every year.

    One of the worst things about gardening is the fact there are new plants coming on the market every year, and some of our old standbys go by the wayside.

    So, it’s a good/bad thing. Gardeners try to make the most out of it which can take some practice, but as you get more birthdays under your ever-expanding belt, it’s easier. You just have to accept the inevitable, stock up on the seeds of the plants you really love, and hope that they are “new and improved” this season.

    It’s easy to accept some plants, especially when what’s “new” is something that we’ve never seen before.

    For example, in the late 70s, the All-America Selections awarded one of their rare gold medals to the sugar snap pea. It truly was a work of superior plant breeding, crossing various types of peas to get something new. However, if a new sugar snap pea came on the market today, we’d feign something approaching boredom.

    Just the opposite, in the 80s or early 90s, AAS came up with a Thumbelina carrot that’s essentially “a bite” and that was it. It was hard to get excited about it and even harder to tell others that it was the best thing since Warner Brothers created Bugs Bunny.

    You can still find Thumbelina, but those who like carrots see no sense in wasting garden space for it.

    Which brings us to two new tomatoes that fall between the two aforementioned vegetables – Lizzano and Terenzo tomatoes.

    These two are not the big bacon-lettuce-tomato type tomatoes. These are the “boy, I’m a little hungry while working in the garden and need a pick-up” types. In other words, more along the lines of cherry tomatoes.

    Obviously, the names sound somewhat similar and somewhat Italian, which might be an apt description for the type of fruit – meatier like a Roma tomato instead of juicy like a Big Boy.

    The plants look the same, though they fruit a little differently. Lizzano produces the smaller fruit of the two, weighing in at about .4 ounces and about an inch across.

    ‘Terenzo’ is about .7 ounces and an inch and a quarter around. Side by side you can see the difference, but in different corners of the garden, you might not be able to see much difference, though Terenzo tends to bear most of the fruit at once while Lizzano bears a big mass but continues to produce scattered quantities.

    As cherry tomatoes, they’re great for lots of things from salads to salsa, though you’ll find yourself munching and nibbling on them straight from the plants.

    Both these tomatoes are great for containers, though they tend to flop and ramble. You can try staking or caging which looks kind of dorkish at the beginning, but later on in the season, no one cares.

    Still, with monthly fertilizing and regular waterings, the plants should keep producing throughout the summer.


    More Information:

    David Robson is an Extension Educator, Horticulture, at the Springfield Extension Center, University of Illinois Extension, P.O. Box 8199, Springfield, IL 62791. Telephone: 217-782-6515.

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