I wasn't certain I was going to have anything to talk about in a post tonight, but thanks to all the comments, I figure I'll post some comments in response. So this will be my second tomato post. Kind of fitting since I'm still not certain on what my slicer is going to be.
Dan, you're right, Bloody Butcher is comparable to Early Girl with about a 2-3 inch fruit. Definitely not the optimal slicer, but it worked for me last year, so I could make do. Besides, hehe CarolynP is kind enough to offer me seeds. Can't beat free for an experiment. Of course that's not the reason I'd grow them if I find something better.
I too think Brandywine is a good slicer to grow. Unfortunately I value DoubleD's experience and would rather have small tomatoes all season than burgers when the weather's waning. Legend was recommended by DoubleD a while back. It's a decent sized early variety. Unfortunately it's a determinate, so not good for my needs. That said, I think I convinced my brother to grow it, so hopefully it will compliment my sauce tomato for making salsa.
That said, DoubleD likes romas for canning, that seems odd to me due to their size and moisture content. Then again, CarolynP mentioned to me that paste tomatoes taste bad, not something I want to use for salsa. I don't know anyone that grows Heinz, but it sounds like a good variety for my salsa contribution. Such tough choices when there are SO many tomatoes to choose from and only 4 slots open in my garden.
That said, I happened on the EarthTainer (TM) videos on Tomatofest's site, and I like how they linked together the cages and secured them to the reservoir to firm up the cage system. I can easily see how they could be used without trellises if you had a compact determinate, but even if I go through the trouble of modifying my SWCs (Self Watering Containers) to be more like the EarthTainer (TM), I think I'll use the trellis, at least for my indeterminates. Hmm, while I am composing this, it dawned on me that if I built a THIRD (fourth really since I have to make one for my cantaloupe) SWC, I could put it somewhere else in my yard and grow two more plants. If I did that, I know I would do a Legend and another Heinz. That would give me two Heinz and a Legend for canning, and maybe even for slicing if I staggered the planting a bit. Of course, I probably have to remind folks that I am the only one in my immediate family that likes tomatoes. So although I know I can offload some to my family, my brother will be doing the same and we're sure to inundate them with generosity, hehe.
Anyway, back to tomatoes (I'll think on the potential for further expansion later). Thanks to Dan again for the suggestion of checking out Tomatofest. I know Judy likes them, but I was glad to hear they're heirloom vendors on the west coast. That makes me interested. So I went there. I must say I was not pleased. It's a pet peeve of mine, but anytime you are describing a tomato variety, you must include days to maturity and whether it is a determinate or indeterminate. Tomatofest was horrible at that. Shame on them. For instance, I was particularly interested in the Sunset Red Horizon that Dan suggested. It's all well and good that it came over (illegally) from Russia back in '99 and was named for Sunset Magazine because it's so good. Great. But what does that tell me about the TOMATO! If I can't answer those two simple questions about a variety, it's not on my list. Ok, rant over, and eventually I navigated to find that Sunset days to maturity is 72, compared to 60 days for Bloody butcher. Of course I could easily start it earlier inside and let it grow more inside before hardening off after the last frost. Drat, more dilemmas. So, it's safe to say Brandywine is out. But Sunset is a possibility, because two weeks isn't horrible to wait. Ouch, I just noticed you have to buy $15 worth of seeds from Tomatofest. Even if I get my Legend from them instead of Territorial, that's not enough. Hmm, maybe I go searching for an alternative source for Sunset...
Now to Cynthia's comment. I'm glad that I could answer your questions, but I don't even know exactly what I'll be growing in my SWCs this year. All I know is that I'll grow at least two SWC's worth (a far cry from the dozens that Judy grows or the dozen or so EG's growing... what's with Alabamans and their tomatoes?). Two cherry varieties, likely Black Cherry from CarolynP and Yellow Pear from Judy (thanks you two!), and two larger varieties, likely Heinz 2653 from Territorial for a determinate sauce tomato and the dilemma tomato slicer I've been vacillating over for two days (Sunset and Bloody Butcher getting the most thought now), hehe. Oh and I MAY add a Legend to the mix if I decide to add a third bin. Oooh, here's an idea, do both Sunset and Bloody butcher with Legend and only do one Hinez, hehe. I can be so greedy sometimes. Where would I stick them all and what would I do with them when they all start maturing. I know, canning party! Oh yeah, and Cynthia, I'm not so nuts over catalogs since I've limited myself to reading Territorial and maybe Baker Creek for pleasure reading, but I got bug-eyed over Tomatofest's options for cool weather climates. SHEESH, who knew there were so many varieties.
Sorry for all my ramblings, but writing this post made me think about everything folks have said compared to what I'm trying to accomplish.
So much for not having anything to say huh? Well, tomorrow I get off work early, so I may stop by Lowes and check out lights, bulbs, PVC and maybe SWC construction materials. Guess that's all for now folks.
Thanks for commenting and by all means, continue to help me decide. I love gardeners and their generocity of time, experience and even seeds! Thank you and enjoy your garden!