Somehow, my plans for the vegetable garden never feel quite real until I’ve narrowed down which tomatoes I’ll be growing. To say that they are the centerpiece of my garden would be an understatement; if woman could live on tomatoes alone, I think I’d be perfectly happy with that.
But, even the perfect tomato can be improved when paired with the perfect lettuce for a salad, homegrown sweet basil for pasta sauce, or some good sweet peppers and eggplant to add to a pizza. So, once I decide on my tomatoes, it becomes easier to figure out what else I want to grow. Aside from the whole “pairings” issue, there is the fact that tomatoes take up the largest area of my garden, and everything else must find a way to fit in around them. They receive not only the biggest space, but also the sunniest, with the best soil and closest access to the compost pile. And the beds in the tomato garden get weeded the most, if for no other reason than the sensory thrill I get from the aroma of tomato plant foliage.
So I’m obsessed. But we all have our little obsessions, and this one is fairly tame in the whole scheme of things.
This year, once again, I’m going all heirloom with my tomatoes. I’m finding it to be a bit like collecting trading cards as a kid. There is that urge to “collect them all.” Why grow one tomato when you can grow five? And why stop at five when you can grow twenty-two? There are enough tomatoes out there to keep me happily “collecting” for the rest of my life, and I still won’t have scratched the surface. We gardeners are the lucky ones. Collecting snow globes or some other tchotcke has nothing on collecting tomato seeds!
This year’s tomatoes:
Dix Doights De Naples–Italian heirloom. Paste tomato that produces clusters of tomatoes that supposedly cook down into a rich sauce. I’ll be interested to see if these will be suitable for drying, as well. I didn’t have nearly enough sun-dried tomatoes from this year’s crop.
Neve’s Azorean Red–Beefsteak tomato that is supposed to have a “bold, complex flavor.” We shall see…
Tiger-Like–Russian beefsteak that is reported to have a sweet, very complex flavor and orange skin with greenish-yellow striping.
Green Grape–I grew this in my garden last year, and really liked it. It produces prolifically, and the tomatoes are very sweet.
Heatherington Pink–Beefsteak, with fruits up to two pounds. Reported to be very sweet and juicy.
Polish Linguisa–Another paste tomato. Reported by some to be the best tasting paste tomato, and very prolific. I really just wanted to grow this as a nod to my Polish heritage
Ozark Pink–This beefsteak is supposed to be a good keeper, which makes me wonder about whether I’ll be impressed with the flavor and texture or not. Only one way to find out!
Russian Persimmon–Russian determinate variety, with orange-gold fruits that are reported to have a meaty, juicy texture and few seeds. I have a soft spot for orange tomatoes (they’re just so pretty!) so I’m looking forward to this one.
Stupice–Czech heirloom that is supposed to yield a very early harvest. I certainly hope so!
Goji Faranji–Iranian heirloom that produces large, ruffled beefsteaks with a tangy flavor.
Golden Jubilee–I’ve grown this tomato before, and really like it for its low acidity. The vines were pretty well-behaved, as well.
Banjan Roomii–I couldn’t find much info about this other than that it originated in Afghanistan. Good thing I like surprises.
Kellogg’s Breakfast–I can’t believe I haven’t grown this one before. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the flavor, so I’m definitely looking forward to trying it.
Chudo Rinka–a Ukrainian heirloom that produces clusters of deep red fruits. Again, one I couldn’t find much info on, so it will be a surprise.
Manitoba–a slicer developed in Manitoba, produces a very early harvest of 3 to 4 inch round fruits. I wanted more early season tomatoes, so I hope this one works out.
Red Pear–I got this mainly because I like my Yellow Pears so much. It will be fun to compare the two. And I love the shape.
Livingston’s Golden Queen–American slicer, introduced in 1882.
Brandywine–I can’t grow tomatoes without growing Brandywine. It’s just not possible.
Yellow Pear–Ditto what I said above.
Subarctic Plenty–another early season cropper. I grew this last year and liked it well enough. There’s nothing spectacular about the flavor, but it did produce much earlier than the rest of my tomatoes did.
Red Currant–Amy Goldman says that these look like “cabochon rubies dangling from graceful stems.” They’re supposed to taste pretty good, too.
Japanese Black Trifele–Russian heirloom (I know, I know–it’s called Japanese, but it’s not really. Trust me.) Pear shape, mahogany color, and meaty, complex flesh. I hope this one lives up to its reputation.
I got these seeds from a variety of sources. Very few came from catalogs. The majority of them came from collectors via seed exchanges and eBay. I think, all together, I spent less than $20 on all of the tomato seeds for this year, so I’m pretty happy with that.
Have you grown any of these? I’d love it if you’d share your opinions!