Final EarthBox 2015 Recap — The Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Basil

by A.J. Coltrane

The 2013 Tomatoes and Tomatillos recap is here. 2014 here.

(Note that this won’t be the last gardening post of the year. It’s the final recap of how the summer went.)

2015 saw a total yield of 145.2 pounds for the eight tomato plants.  That’s an average of 18.2 pounds per tomato plant, or 12.1 pounds of produce per square foot of growing medium.

(For reference:  The 2013 total was 15.3 pounds per tomato plant.  The 2014 total was 17.2 pounds per plant.)

150822 harvest1

The Tomato Varieties:

Black Krim – 22.5 pounds. [75 day, Indeterminate. OP Heirloom. 23.5 pound two-year average.]  Excellent yield, attractive purple appearance, and a wonderful deep tomato taste. Winner.

Cosmonaut Volkov – 18.7 pounds. [68 day, semi-Determinate. OP Heirloom.]  The Seattle Tilth description said the Volkov would be early, and ready by mid-August. We harvested 1.5 pounds before August 29, and the other 17.2 pounds in September or later. The light red fruits were pleasant enough.. I’m not attached to these for 2016.

Oregon Spring – 18.0 pounds.  [60 day, Determinate.  15.7 pound two-year average.]  Starts early and produces all summer. Takes up very little space. The yield could have been better, but we lost at least a pound or two to bugs. One of our favorites.

Sweet Million – 9.9 pounds.  [65-75 day, Indeterminate.]  We chose these as a red cherry tomato to compliment the Sun Golds. The yield was poor, and they tasted more or less like supermarket cherry tomatoes. I thought they were a letdown all around. Not a keeper. We’re open to suggestions for a different cherry variety.

Roma – 22.8 pounds.  [75 day, Determinate. 22.0 pound three-year average.]  The Romas ripened really well this year. We did see a little more blossom end rot than in past years. I’m hoping that pairing them with a smaller determinate next year may help limit the stress. We’ll see. Keeper.

150906 harvest

Sun Golds – 16.2 pounds.  [65 day, Indeterminate. 17.9 pound three-year average.]  Productive and trouble free, and they taste like candy. Keeper.

Taxi – 25.9 pounds.  [65 day, Determinate. 25.3 pound two-year average.]  We’ve paired a Taxi with an Oregon Spring each of the last two years. They’re both early and they reach a similar compact size. No reason to mess with success. The bright yellow fruit and light taste makes for a nice contrast with the other varieties we’re growing. Keeper.

Tigerella – 12.4 pounds.  [65 day, Indeterminate. Heirloom. 14.3 two-year average.]  Here are the comments from last year:  “Average yield, average taste, but they are interesting to look at. Late to ripen. I’d be fine with trying another variety instead.”  I think all of those points held true again, but the yield went from average to fringe-poor. Not a keeper.


The Tomatillos:

This year was a repeat of what we grew in 2014.  The tomatillo box contained contained the “Mexican Strain” and “De Mipa” varieties. The “Mexican Strain” has a vertical habit, and the “De Mipa” sprawls a little more. It seems to be a good combo in the box. Our 2015 yield was 15.1 pounds, the three-year average is 17.0 pounds. I think the “Mexican Strain” plant was a little weaker this year, as compared to last year. Still, I’m happy with a yield anywhere in the 15-20 pound range.

150726 cucumber, tomatillo, tromboncino


The Basil:

2015 yield – 3.1 pounds.  2014 yield – 2.9 pounds. It doesn’t weigh much, but 3.1 pounds of basil is still over $200 worth at retail. Due to a lack of time, we mostly didn’t due the usual upkeep that basil likes, but the yield was fine anyway.


2015 Summary:

We harvested 280.5 pounds of “summer vegetables” out of the twelve EarthBoxes between June 24 and October 4. That’s 23.4 pounds per EarthBox, or 7.9 pounds per square foot of growing medium.

The only really significant thing that we changed was that we built three new trellises and used them with the cucumbers and tomatillos. I think the trellises helped the tomatillos in particular. The cucumbers burned up to some degree in the 90 degree days — one thing we may want to try is shading the root area of the cucumber boxes to see if that helps. The flip side is that it felt like we had a smaller proportion of green tomatoes and peppers at the final harvest.

Overall though, we really didn’t have time to do the pruning that the tomatoes and basil appreciate. It didn’t seem to matter that much. It could be that the weather was so crazy nice that it overcame whatever “user error” we provided.

We’re learning a little bit more every year.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.


3 thoughts on “Final EarthBox 2015 Recap — The Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Basil

  1. Haven’t tried growing Taxi or Oregon Spring, might try it next year. Love Black Krim – it’s my favorite year to year. I actually got overwhelmed with Tigerella this year and they had very nice sweet taste to them. KV is a nice choice for typical slicer but use it for sauce. Love that you have such nice variety. For cherry I recommend Black Cherry (think mini Black Krim in taste), and I also love Black Brandywine for large slicer.


  2. I think my observations on Sweet Million and Tigerella were much the same as yours. I’ve had good luck with Sweet 100 Plus cherry tom for several years now. This year Mexico Midget was a standout – the tomatoes are small but tasty, and there were millions of them. Juliet is still my favorite processing tomato, sort of like a small Roma.


  3. That is a phenomenal yield from your tomato plants! Even in my best year, which was last year, I don’t think mine came close to that. And this year it was quite a bit worse – most of it was my fault, I think, as I tried a different system which obviously didn’t work out that well. Totally agree with you on Taxi – I tried it for the first time and it’s fruity taste was a pleasant surprise as most yellow tomatoes I’ve tried tend to be rather bland.


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