The other day, before the Melon Tasting at Nichols Garden Nursery,we had a Tomato Tasting! What a fabulous day to be there!! We had a baker’s dozen of tomato varieties to taste.

The folks who tasted commented:
Larger tomatoes included:
‘Black Krim’ – the favorite; with a good balance of acid and sugar; stands alone; great on a hamburger
‘Carmello’ – bland, juicy, like a store-bought tomato
‘Crimson Carmello’ – acid with good flavor
‘Heartland’ – excellent flavor; juicy for sandwiches
‘Jaune de Flamme’ – yellow, juicy, watery flavor
‘Legend’ – meaty, but not flavorful
‘Margo’ – not at peak ripeness; crunchy
‘Marmand’ – acidic, bland, good for sauce
‘Rutgers’ – the “gold standard”, heirloom, the “Jersey tomato,” parent of many hybrid tomatoes

‘Thai Pink’ – represented the plum group, flavorful, slightly acid, good in salads
‘Sugary’ is a grape, – flavorful with a good bite (others didn’t like it at all)

Cherries included:
‘Cal Hy K9’ – red, crunchy, generally not liked
‘Orange Sunshine’ – less sweet, crispy
‘Sun Gold’ – the gold standard – fabulous, sweet
‘Sunsugar’ – hard to differentiate from ‘Sun Gold’

A group of foodie/garden writers is sitting with me now at Rose Marie’s kitchen table: Josh Young, Jim Long, Jane Whitfield, and Ros Creasy, tasting the cherry tomatoes… ‘Sun Gold’ and ‘Sunsugar’ were indistinguishable – basically we loved the orange cherries!!

If you’re in the area, come to Nichols on on Saturday the 20th from 1 to 4 pm and judge for yourself.

Looking forward to hearing what your favorites are….

Cathy Wilkinson Barash


I’ve decided that I’m not just an itinerant gardener; I’m an itinerant foodie as well. The other day, I had the pleasure of being at Nichols Garden when Mike Hessel, the “melon man” brought eight crates of different melons. The scent as he came in the door was sweet perfume!!! They set up a melon tasting preview for this week’s “Garden Time” TV show, and we all got to taste the melons. My favorite was “Hannah’s Choice” with “Jaipur” a close second.

You can come and taste for yourself during the Tour De Plants – Friday the 19th from 11 am to 4 pm and on Sunday the 21st from 1 to 4 pm. Nichols will be offering the seeds next year for these melons; if your taste buds crave more melons before then, if you’re in the Willamette Valley, you can buy the melons at New Season’s Market.

Tonight, we’re having mixed melon balls with vanilla ice cream …and Stam Chocolates (a Dutch delight in Des Moines).

Bon appetit.

Cathy Wilkinson Barash