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Heirloom Tomatoes - You can grow some very tasty history at home!

By Karen England

News Flash! Tomato season has begun! I read somewhere that the number one homegrown food crop in America is the tomato, so it is no surprise that home gardeners are getting very excited right now. Special events are occurring nationwide with names like “Tomatomania” or “Tomato Fest” celebrating the arrival of Tomatoes for sale. As you are getting ready to choose & plant your favorite tomatoes, you might want to consider planting some of the 25+ heirloom tomato varieties that are available now at Sunshine Gardens. Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes that have been saved for generations chiefly because of their superb flavor. These heirloom varieties are in addition to the well known hybrid varieties available and have names like “Amish Paste”, “Aunt Ruby‘s German Green”, “Brandywine”, “Bulgarian”, “Druzba”, “Eva Purple Ball”, “Hillbilly”, “Green Zebra”, White wonder”, and lots more.

The only heirloom tomato I have grown is “Brandywine“, a very well known & grown heirloom variety that can even be purchased fresh by the pound at local farmer’s markets. It is a big pink tomato that is easy to grow and has wonderful flavor, and now there are two variations available of “Red Brandywine” & “Yellow Brandywine”. Here are four varieties I intend to try this year:

“Box Car Willie” - I want to grow this one just because of the cute name but the press release on this variety states “…This variety offers a very heavy crop of good-sized, smooth red tomatoes with delicious flavor. They range from 6 to 10 oz. And are shaped like round globes. An excellent tasting fruit with full-bodied flavor”. I can’t beat that!

“German Red Strawberry” - according to the vendor this is “easily one of the best tasting tomatoes you’ll ever grow. The aroma is enchanting, providing a preview of the pleasures to come. The exquisitely rich, complex flavor develops on the palate with undertones of slight sweetness that linger. They average 10 oz. but can grow to 1 pound or more. The tall plants yield an abundance of these wonderful fruits“. Wow - who can pass up a tomato with “sweetness undertones”?

“Marvel Stripe” - “This heirloom variety has become one of the gardener’s favorite bi-colored tomatoes because of its beauty, size & taste. Large yellow-orange fruit that is streaked with ruby red & have a sweet, fruity taste that is absolutely delicious. Tomatoes weigh about 1 pound, although they often become 2 lbs. Or even more. Large harvest on vigorous vines”.

“Mr. Stripey” aka “Tigerella” - Huge crops of red fruits with clearly defined yellow-orange stripes. 11/2 to 2 inch tomatoes that have a rich, tangy flavor & are a beautiful novelty for adding whole or cutting into salads”

Stay tuned next time for my favorite tomato recipes plus more tomato growing tips for hybrid & heirloom tomato varieties.

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm".


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