South East Texas Tomato Festival

This weekend, I traveled to Washington on the Brazos to see the South East Texas Tomato Festival!

The bridge was out, so we had to take a detour, but it was all worth it. The folk there are testing, and comparing heirloom and a bit more recent varieties of tomatoes.

They had a huge range of tomatoes for the tasting. Seriously they had tables covered with a wide range of samples that they were quite generous with. I came away with a bit more than I can manage, but I will have to try. I have never seen so many different tomatoes side by side.

I am rather used to reinventing the wheel whenever I start researching. These wonderful folk have done major research and have produced wonderful data and evidence side by side, that I could see, touch and taste!

I managed to give a few Magenta Spreen plants away, and a few I’itois Onions as well, so I don’t feel too guilty. But indeed I am in these folks debt! The enjoyment, information and seeds that I came home with are treasures indeed!

Here are the tomatoes they gave me to take home and get seeds from!

Tomato setup

Most of these are small to medium. I prefer smaller because they mature faster and I am more likely to get some before the bugs and birds consume them. The big one in the middle however was too much to pass up. It is a near perfect balance of tomato qualities and it is named in honor of the great Paul Robeson! I had to have it!

There are 15 varieties here for me to try out. Two of them are mysteries, since I managed to fail on documenting them.

Mystery Tomato number 6, Purple somethingorother.
Purple mystery tomato

Mystery Tomato number 12, labeled Red Odd. I guess that is it’s name now.
Red Odd Tomato

After extracting seeds, these tomatoes made a wonderful fresh tomato sauce!
Smushed tomato

I saved the seeds in their juice.

seeds in juice and stuff

Quite a few  seeds!

Then I covered the juice and seeds with plastic wrap.

plastic wrap on seeds

Within three or so days mold will have covered the juice, and the goop will be really slimy and very acidic. This will kill most tomato diseases. Then I will wash the seeds in a strainer and spread them on cloth to dry. After they no longer stick to things, I will put them in packets for next year and plant a few of each for this year.

And yes, I made the rack for the shot glasses. A chunk of cedar with holes drilled in it. I added feet to it so the shot glasses don’t touch the table below. Simple enough, but it will keep the seed ordered and manageable.


10 comments to South East Texas Tomato Festival

  • Hi, Bob – glad you enjoyed the tasting! Thanks for the I’itois Onions; I will definitely be planting some.

    Your two mysteries are Redfield Beauty and Purple Haze F1. The Purple Haze may not come true from seed as it is a hybrid created by Keith Mueller

    Some folks have grown out the F2 seed before. I grew out F2 seed last year and got something that was very similar to Black Cherry (which is one of the parents), while others have gotten results a little closer to the F1 in size than I did.

    Looking forward to seeing you at the event again next year.

  • Skip J.

    Hello Bob;

    Good to see you in here again! An excellent post on plant breeding as always.

    As a sometimes bonsai “practioner” – I grow out water oak seedlings and willow oak seedlings that germinate in my yard. I have always thought that someday I would try to “model” with my little trees the interbreeding that goes on between the species. This would be a master-class challenge to my abilities because the subtle differences in their desired soil types and hydrology would have to be mimicked in their pots closely. Or said another way, call it “scale modeling” of bonsai trees.

    Well done Bob, my compliments!


  • Thank you for the solution to the mysteries, Suze!

    If the Purple Haze gives me more Black Cherry like plants, I will not be upset one bit! The two different Black Cherry samples that I tasted were both amazing. I have seeds saved from both the sweet and the tart versions.


  • Steve

    Been a bit cool here in NH. Tomato and eggplants are just starting to take off.

  • Hey Bob,

    I’m officially jealous now. I didn’t know there was a tomato festival in the area. I guess I’ll have to remember that for next year.

    Maxine and I just had a tasty lunch today of tomatoes from the raised beds that I built back in January. Tomatoes and basil from the garden baked on fresh bread with fresh mozzarella on top.

    Oh, Maxine just poked her head into the room and says that your tomatoes look fabulous.

    Good to see you posting again.

    – Charles

  • I will try to give you a heads up next time. Till then, I will be glad to share seeds, Charles.


  • Thanks Bob, I didn’t want to ask. I think we’ll in for some tasty tomatoes next season!

    – Charles

  • Do you have room now? I am cleaning seed and some of the Paul Robeson have already sprouted.

    I have no choice but to plant them. ^_^

  • Bill Thompson

    I would like to know where to go to get some really good tasting tomatoes without driving to The Farmers Market in Dallas. I am willing to drive miles to find a good home grown tomato. I am in Midlothian & thought Jacksonville was the tomato capital of Texas. Can you help me out & thanks.


  • I did a search on “Midlothian texas farmers market” using

    Cox Farms Market came up as closest. 1026 S Main St, Duncanville, TX‎ – (972) 283-8851‎

    Hope that helps, Bill!


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