Nancy’s Tomato Chronicals – Week 14 of 2010
My good friend Rose Marie Nichols McGee, owner of Nichols Garden Nursery ( www.nicholsgardennursery.com) located in the cool wet confines of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, suggested I try growing the early beefsteak variety “Legend,” bred at Oregon State University.” “Legend” is said to thrive in cool springs and lagging summers, yet it also does well in hot temperatures. Most tomatoes stop producing when the temperature hits 90 degrees.
One of the secrets to “Legend’s” success is the early fruits of this determinate open-pollinated variety are parthnocarpic, meaning it will set fruit without pollination. Therefore, unseasonably cold or warm temperatures will not keep the plant from setting fruit.
“Legend” tomatoes produced early in the season are seed-free. And in times where cool weather persists, seed savers may have a tough time finding some to save.
But the other good news is “Legend” is resistant to the late blight, the airborne fungal disease that devastated many gardeners’ tomato plants last season. Best of all, McGee says, this early producing beefsteak slicer (68 days) has great flavor. I trust her taste because she’s a great cook and she shares her garden-fresh recipes on her blog the Gardener’s Pantry at nicholsgardennursery.wordpress.com.
The “Legend” tomato plants may not be available in garden centers just yet, so those wishing to grow it this year may have to resort to starting it from seed or buying plants on the Internet. Thompson & Morgan, www.tmseeds.com, carries “Legend” seeds, and locally I found them at English Gardens and Bordines.
Plants and seeds of “Legend” tomatoes are also available by mail order at Territorial Seed Company, (800) 626-0866, or at www.territorialseed.com. The deadline for ordering tomato plants is May 1.