Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rouge d'Iraq

Quite an intriguing name for a tomato, and I'll admit that these made the purchase list because of the controversial nature in which the description was written. Read for yourself at [Honestly Rowena, can't you just pick a plain ol' regular tom and leave politics alone?!] Now I don't care to further investigate what the fuss is all about, not to mention the validity of it, but suffice to say that Rouge d'Iraqs are the undisputed tomato producers of the garden this year — and that, fellow tomato enthusiasts, is all that matters right now. What it started me thinking though, is that I should at least leave some notes of my own, especially after what Hanna's Tomato Tastings suggested in reply to a comment of mine. She said, “The best thing to do is run your own test. Sometimes tomatoes grow and taste different depending on where they are grown. A so-so tomato for me may rock where you live. Take a chance and you may be surprised.

So, from now on I will state a few facts on growing conditions, plant observations, flavor and of course, if I will grow a particular tomato again. Please bear with me as I'm a fledgling giardiniera (gardener). Any extra tips would be greatly appreciated.

area (A) mixed earth/potting soil in a 6-foot corner of the lawn with excellent drainage
area (B) mixed clay/heavy soil situated on a medium slope with good drainage
Growing conditions/light: in full sun for most of the day (at least 8 hours)
Yield: unbelievably prolific, with up to 6 tomatoes in each cluster
Weight: 4-8 ounces, although I did get a couple of 12 oz. monsters!
Flavor/texture: ok taste, with a hint of sweetness and low acidity. Thick-skinned (noticeable when you bite into a fresh one) and a tad mealy but overall, firm enough to slice cleanly.
A keeper or flash-in-the-pan: a keeper if only for the sake of the yield. I use it in asian stirfries and also chopped fresh with cooked pasta, fresh basil, mozzarella and anchovies.
Extra notes:
Absolutely no problems with pests or diseases. For the plants grown in area (B), after 1 week of coddling I just let them be and they survived, although visually stunted compared to the ones grown in area (A). I was trying to mimic the growing conditions that you would expect of Iraq, and apparently the clay undersoil was damp enough for them to keep going. All I did was the occasional weeding and staking of the plants.

This indeterminate is determined to grow forever given prime conditions so I ended up cutting the tops in area (A) to ensure that the tomatoes already developing would stand a chance of making it off the vine. I used 4-foot bamboo poles to hold up the plant but next year I'm getting sticks twice the length.

I'd also like to note that this year we had a mild summer. I live in the upper part of a mountain valley where the temps are moderate, with digits reaching the low to mid-80's. We also had occasional rain showers which kept everything green.


  1. Great information Rowena! I'm new to veggie growing so this type of information is beneficial since you have hands on knowledge. I love your presentation photos too!

  2. I'd like to see Rare Seeds sources on the history of this tomato. Until then, I think what they said sounds ridiculous. The only place I've heard of where it is illegal to grow some heirloom varieties is the EU, which has a list of approved varieties of seeds which are permitted to be sold. [see, Wikipedia,, and The Guardian]

  3. It is great Rowena how you describe all the details. It looks a lovely tomato. I would not grow this one because I love my tomatoes dark red and fleshy when really ripe. But, nonetheless I like to try new ones. But; I have a vegetable gardener and he has his own mind.The picture is lovely too with the sunflowers and the Basil looking in from behind;it shows your artistic hand!

  4. PGL - I wish I had more to share but my gardening techniques lean on the side of "boot'em out of the house when they're old enough and let them fend for themselves!" Well not exactly so harsh but I figure that Mother Nature will determine who the survivors will be. ;-)

    Fern - I wouldn't mind knowing more about that too. In any case, it did grab my attention but more importantly, passed through italian customs and arrived at my door. There is just so much drama whenever I order out of country!

    Titania - I'm hoping for red with the other varieties but maybe it's asking too much. With Brandywine Pink, Furry Yellow Hog and Cherokee Purple it could be an impossible request, but the Thessaloniki might come through. Now if only they would all begin to ripen instead of hanging green on the vines!

  5. Please visit my blog to pick up your award! :)

  6. This is the time of year when yet again I kick myself for not having got round to planting tomatoes. Hope you enjoy yours.

  7. Gosh - I hope that's not true. It's bad enough when big companies go after seed savers, but if the government helping them out... grrr!

    I love the format and details you've included in this post - truly like a garden diary!

  8. Lovely photo and great post!! This is something to try..tomatoes look super :-)

  9. Anne - it's absolutely mind-boggling to stumble upon gardeners who are completely taken with tomatoes. I admire their gung ho attitude, despite the OCD attributes. Maybe there's a 12-step program called Tomato-Growers Anonymous

  10. Lovely pictures, beautiful tomatoes. It is useful to make these notes as it's easy to forget from year to year. This variety looks a bit like some of the ones which do well here, like marmande, although that is more ribbed into segments. Yours has few seeds by the look of it, which must make it good for cooking and preserving.

  11. I love Mortgage Lifter, a heirloom beeksteak tomato -delicious.
    We have to spray our tomatoes though because the humidity makes them prone to diseases.

    Nice blog - I'm adding a link so I don't lose you - I love gardening too !

  12. Great new site! Ok, now more than ever I want to lean to garden...

  13. Chaiselounge - I'm so glad that you mentioned the Marmande! Those were added to my purchase list out of curiosity (love the name). So far we haven't done anything except eat these Rouge tomatoes as they are the only ones producing enough to keep us happy at the moment.

    Scintilla - I've heard of Mortgage Lifter and hope to try that next year. So far we haven't had to do much other than water and staking, but then our summer was so mild this year.

    Jilli - it began as an idea to document my new hobby but I think it'll eventually grow to take up even more of my time! You live in an ideal part of Italy...all that sun! I'd be going crazy even if the water issue might tame me down a bit.


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