Mystery seeds, internet sites, confidential reports, restricted chat rooms.... are the black helicopters just over the crest of the hill?  Well, no, actually it's the 1999 Internet Tomato Trials (ITT), a gang of hundreds of tomato afficionados blind-testing 800+ varieties of hybrid, heirloom, and open-pollinated tomatoes.  Three of our Idaho Falls community gardeners participated in this inaugural season of the trials, sharing results and "tomato wisdom" with like-minded gardeners from all over the world via the internet.

In the fall of 1998, Kristi Appelhans read about the tomato trials and inquired about participating. Before long she had 6 packets of mystery tomato seeds, identified only by number, ready to be grown up for planting out.  Lauren Koss, from the Rollandet Garden, and Ashley Krantz, our high school volunteer at Eastside, agreed to be part of the trial so that that the tomatoes could be grown out in three different locations. Despite a cold start to the season, all the tomatoes were in and growing by mid-June.  The gardeners recorded information on standard care as well as observations about time of blooming, first appearance of fruit, and first ripening.  They also gathered data on yield, size, and flavor of the fruit. At the end of the season a report from each garden site was submitted to the ITT, who then sent the gardeners a listing of the tomato names matched to the numbers on the seed packets. The summer's efforts rewarded the gardeners with a harvest of delicious tomatoes in new varieties that show promise for our challenging tomato environment.

Here are the results of our local trials:


Name Type Description Flavor Rating Source
Odessa Determinate Medium-sized, red 6 Wyatt Seeds
Aurora Indeterminate Small, red 9 Seeds Trust/High Altitude
Dr. Carolyn Indeterminate large cherry, pale yellow 9.5 Southern Exposure Seed Exch.
Sophie's Choice Determinate Medium, orange-red 9 Southern Exposure Seed Exch.
Sasha'a Altai Indeterminate Medium, red 9 Seeds Trust/High Altitude
Long Keeper Indeterminate medium, pinkish None ripe this season Widely available

*All varieties are open pollinated. Idaho Falls is USDA Zone 4 (sometimes just barely) and summer '99 had a particularly slow start.

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