Mary's Veggie Garden

February 9, 2015

Tomato: Crimson Carmello

Filed under: Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:29 am

Last summer (2014) I had the opportunity to grow a Crimson Carmello tomato plant. Wow! That was one impressive plant. The plant was very healthy, therefore it retained most of its foliage, grew enormous and set loads of fruit. I harvested more than 22 pounds of tomatoes from the single plant and some of the fruit wasn’t weighed.

Crimson Carmello: heavy fruit set on healthy plants

9/4 Crimson Carmello: heavy fruit set on healthy plants

The seed was purchased from Renee’s Gardens and grown in the Locust Grove greenhouse. Plants were given to volunteers in the LG historic vegetable gardens for planting at home. The seed packet says Crimson Carmello is a “French variety renowned for exquisite taste. Disease resistant and productive.”  Resistant to Fusarium, Verticillium, Nematodes and TVM virus. 70 days.

ON 5/29 I transplanted Crimson Carmello into one of the sunniest parts of my home garden, a spot that gets the sun from about 10AM – 6PM. I gave it a 5′ high cage of concrete reinforcing wire. This was the right choice – the plant never stopped growing.

The Crimson Carmello plant is the big one in the center.

9/4 The Crimson Carmello plant is the big one in the center.

Here we see Crimson Carmello with its companions in early September. In the left foreground is a Megabite, a short determinate plant suffering from Septoria leaf spot. Crimson Carmello fills the center of the picture, extending a foot or more beyond it’s 5′ cage. Click the picture to see it full sized – you’ll notice some of the lower fruit is netted as protection against chipmunks. There is a paste tomato (Martino’s Plum) barely visible behind Crimson Carmello.

I manage my indeterminate tomatoes by pinching off 1 or 2 of the lowest suckers and letting the rest grow. I remove diseased foliage when I see it.  However, I did not remove much foliage from the Megabite – because it is indeterminate there would not have been much left – but that was a bad decision as Megabite served as a source of Septoria infection. However Megabite did provide a strong test for Septoria resistance in the Crimson Carmello. I should have pulled out the entire Megabite plant as soon as I discovered its tomatoes did not have much flavor.

Disease resistance: I was not able to test Crimson Carmello’s advertised disease resistance; thankfully I don’t have those problems in my garden. My garden does have Early Blight, Septoria, and by the end of October 2014, Late Blight.  Crimson Carmello occasionally got a touch of Early Blight; there is an infected leaf in the picture below, lower left corner. I snipped off those leaves and Early Blight remained an occasional minor problem.

Crimson Carmello showed what one seed catalog would call ‘Intermediate resistance’ to Septoria.  There were two sources of active Septoria – the Megabite plant next to Crimson Carmello and a Sungold plant about 10′ away. I was continuously removing Septoria infected leaves from the Sungold. Crimson Carmello resisted the Septoria until October when the oldest foliage started showing leaf spots. This was the same time my Jasper plant became infected. (Jasper is advertised with “Intermediate resistance to early blight, Septoria Leaf Spot, fusarium races 1 & 2, and late blight.”)  By this time several of my other tomato varieties were decimated by Septoria.

Late Blight: Crimson Carmello was not resistant to Late Blight which arrived late October. But I didn’t feel bad about removing entire infected branches because frost was around the corner. Some of the fruit on Jasper got infected but its foliage seemed resistant.

Crimson Carmello - green shoulders

Crimson Carmello

Fruit: The first Crimson Carmello fruit was harvested 80 days after transplanting. This longer than advertised maturity is typical in my garden because of the shade. Crimson Carmello tomatoes weigh 6-10 ounces. About half had ‘yellow shoulders’. The flavor was good and similar to the flavor I associate with hybrids, not heirlooms.  I preferred them sliced in sandwiches, though they were juicy enough that the slices made sandwich eating a messy operation. For snack eating I preferred Jasper and Sungold. The total Crimson Carmello harvest was over 22 pounds. Most of them went into chili where their juiciness was an advantage.

BTW Netting the tomato fruit does prevent chipmunk nibbling. Unfortunately the netting also reduces air circulation around the fruit which encourages the growth of a fungal disease called tomato anthracnose.  Crimson Carmello was a dense plant and would have benefited from better air circulation and more sun. Now that I know the plant, I’ll be proactive and remove a bit more foliage from the center of the plant.

This year I’m thinking of growing only Crimson Carmello and Jasper in my home garden. I’m hoping I can stop the cycle of Septoria infection by planting only resistant varieties for a year or two.



  1. Looks like a great variety! I grew Carmello one year. Is this a separate variety?

    Comment by Dan — February 9, 2015 @ 9:12 am | Reply

    • I do not know. Possibly. Some of the descriptions look like they came from the same source.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — February 9, 2015 @ 10:05 am | Reply

  2. 22 lbs. from one plant is incredible! I had one variety of tomato in my garden that had septoria two years in a row (yellow pear). I’m crossing my fingers that it was due to infected seed (I’ve purchased from a different supplier this year) and not simply that it was more susceptible to it, in which case purchasing “clean” seed won’t help.

    Comment by Margaret — February 9, 2015 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  3. Thanks for the helpful review of the ‘Crimson Carmella’! – I think I will try growing one of these this summer.

    Comment by Ginny — February 9, 2015 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  4. I hope Locust Grove start Crimson Carmello tomato plant again this year.

    Comment by Norma Chang — February 9, 2015 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  5. I grew Renee’s Crimson Carmella 3 years ago and failed, it produced very few fruits, maybe I didn’t fertilized it as I should.

    Comment by mac — February 9, 2015 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

    • I don’t fertilize a lot, though you cannot tell by that plant. Everything gets an organic tomato fertilizer when transplanted and once again after they start blooming. I’m not particularly good about watering either. I depend mostly on rain, and use the soaker hose only when absolutely necessary.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — February 10, 2015 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  6. Hi Mary, I would like to use concrete reinforcing wire for tomatoes this year. Where can I find them in Dutchess County? Thank you.

    Comment by Nancy Wu — February 9, 2015 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

    • I don’t think anyone sells them. Mine are all home made. Concrete reinforcing wire is available at big-box home improvement stores and such. People doing construction often have left-overs. Each cage should be 2′ in diameter which means you need a piece 6.5′ long. The formula is pi*d or 3.14*2 plus a bit extra to bend into hooks to close the piece into a cylinder. I’ve tried diameters wider and narrower than 2′ and neither work as well. Narrower cages are excessively tippy, and with wider cages a stake is needed for young plants.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — February 10, 2015 @ 9:25 am | Reply

    • Thank you for the information on concrete reinforcing wire and the equation. It has been so long since I am out of math classes. =)

      Comment by echolulu — February 11, 2015 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  7. When I grew tomatoes I always just ignored septoria leaf spot. It was just too endemic here. It never killed the plant. It did sap the strength of it though. Having a resistant variety is always good. And that yield is great.

    Comment by daphnegould — February 10, 2015 @ 9:54 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: