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The Taste is Amazing!

Kellogg’s Breakfast tomato

Heirlooms in the Garden

The heirlooms in the garden are growing strong!  With 2 days of gentle rain, the plants are rocketing skyward.  Who said hybrids were the only ones to grow fast?

I mentioned in my post for the last heirloom tomato report that I’d post some photos.  I just walked out to the garden, camera in hand, so here they are!

Brandywine Tomato Growth 4 Days

How Fast Have They Grown?

On this past Sunday (March 15th), I decided that I’d go around with my Sharpie permanent marker and mark how high the plants were.  That way, by Sunday the 22nd, I could tell how fast they had grown.

I decided to wander out with my camera today and Brandywine has declared its intentions to make a run to the top of the 6-foor pole.   See the red arrow?  That’s pointing to where I marked its height on Sunday.  And blossoms?  The photo doesn’t show it, but there are lots and lots on the plant.

But Kellogg’s Breakfast isn’t far behind!  Nor are my Pinapple tomatoes, for The Great Tomato Experiment.

Truth be told, every tomato plant is showing marked growth since Sunday.  The plants that have gained the least height are my Loxahatchee plants.  On the other hand, they have apparently decided that large, dark green leaves and flower buds are more important, and they are truly lovely plants.

Kellogg’s Breakfast and Loxahatchee

Here’s a photo showing Loxahatchee (foreground) and Kellogg’s Breakfast (background).  And speaking of Kellogg’s Breakfast, it’s also gotten a lot wider, as well as a fair amount taller.

(By the way, you can click on the photos to see a larger image.)

Black Sea Man and Druzba have grown, but not quite as spectacularly.  Then again, they are both much younger plants, being in the main garden for not even 2 weeks yet.  Actually, I kind of take that back — Black Sea Man has grown some huge, long leaves, and gotten quite wide.  It’s just only grown an inch taller in height (which isn’t as exciting as Brandywine growing 5 inches).

The others are also doing well; White Bush is blossoming, and I can’t wait to see the ripe tomatoes on it (getting ahead of myself, though).  Eva Purple Ball and Pruden’s Purple are about a week away from being transplanted into their final spots.

Oh, you may be wondering who won the blossom contest (i.e. which heirloom had the first open blossoms).  The winner was…Pineapple, closely followed by White Bush.  Brandywine followed and all the older plants (those that have been in the ground for at least 3 weeks) all have buds.

So that’s it for today.  And if you’re womdering if I grow any hybrids, the answer is yes…and those photos are reports are coming up shortly!

Planting Tomato Seeds Today

Today was a day for tending to my tomatoes.  Between planting tomato seeds, re-potting seedlings and transferring larger seedlings to the garden, it’s been busy.  But a fun kind of busy, because the weather was gorgeous and it was nice being out in the fresh air and sunshine.

Tomato Varieties – Re-Potted

OK, first was transplanting some small tomato plants up.  These were seeds I planted about 3 weeks ago, and they were growing very strongly.  These were Supersweet 100, a hybrid indeterminate red cherry tomato.  Since I had 3 Supersweet 100 plants, I am running an experiment.  One I planted into its final container outside with the rest of the tomato plants.  Another I planted up to the next container size and left outside in a location with bright indirect light.  The final I planted to the next container size up, and I am keeping it inside, on a south-facing windowsill.

My next plant was a surprise.  Some of my 10-year old seeds for White Bush sprouted and one of the seedlings was going for the sky!  White Bush is, I believe, a determinate with ivory-colored skin and flesh; I didn’t save a whole lot of information on it so I am not sure (oops).  It’s an open-pollinated tomato.  So, I planted the strong one by itself the next container side up, and thinned the remaining to the two strongest and placed then together in the next container size up.

Then there was Yellow Cherry, another of the 10-year-old seeds.  It’s an open-pollinated indeterminate yellow cherry tomato (pretty obvious from the name), but seems like it will be a smaller plant than Supersweet 100.  I thinned the seedlings to the three strongest and planted them up to the next container size.

Planting Tomato Seeds – The Varieties

I also planted more tomato seeds today.  Two were for heirlooms, and one for a hybrid I’ve been wanting to try.

The first heirloom seeds planted were Kellogg’s Breakfast, an indeterminate beefsteak tomato with orange skin and flesh.  It’s a late season variety, so I don’t expect to be eating any of these tomatoes until sometime in May or June.  But I sure am looking forward to them!

The next was the heirloom seeds for the tomato variety called Pineapple.  These are the seeds I have planted for The Great Tomato Experiment, so it’s now officially underway!  Pineapple is a personal favorite, with the flesh being sweet and delicious.  Pineapple is a yellow tomato with red stripes on the skin and red marbling of the flesh.

My final tomato variety I planted seeds for today was Tomatoberry.  It’s an indeterminate hybrid tomato whose fruit is roughly the shape and size of a large strawberry.  A mid-season tomato variety, I expect to be nibbling on the first ripe fruits in late April.  Tomatoberry is supposed to be be really sweet and juicy; I guess I will find out in a few months!

Plants I’m Still Waiting On

Brandywine is taking its time at the moment; lots of seeds germinated (to my surprise) from the 10-year-old seeds.  The seedlings are still too tiny to re-pot though.  The same goes for Big Rainbow.  Both will likely be plenty big next week to re-pot to the next size container.

Celebrity Hybrid Tomato

I had planted some Juliet seeds last week, and when I looked this morning, nary a sprout.  I went about my morning chores, then all my garden work.  When I came back in a few hours later, I was surprised to see 4 seedlings!  Juliet is a grape-shaped cherry tomato, which I do so love to plant, seeing as they are practically foolproof to grow.

Before I leave for the day, here’s a photo of one of my first tomatoes in the garden, on the plant called Celebrity. The tomato is teeny-tiny at the moment, and hopefully it will be joined by others in the very near future.

That’s all for today; see you again tomorrow!

Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Heirloom tomato seeds aren’t any more difficult to plant than hybrid tomato seeds. The trick is finding the seeds you want to grow — and there is quite a variety!

But before I talk more about the seeds, let’s talk a little about what makes an heirloom tomato an heirloom.

About Heirloom Tomatoes

So what exactly is an heirloom tomato — what makes it different than “regular” tomatoes?

First of all, heirlooms are produced naturally from seeds. In other words, if you save seeds from an heirloom, the resulting plants will be just like the parent. Not so with a hybrid tomato, because you’ll never know what you’ll get! This is because a hybrid is a cross between two varieties, neither of which may be great on their own (but wonderful together).

So that’s one; an heirloom produces plants like itself. The next is how long the plant has been producing tomatoes; that is, how many generations have been produced with consistent results. I’ve heard quite a few different numbers — 100 and 50 seem to be the two that pop up the most. Some people use the year 1945 as the cutoff; if the tomato variety was growing in 1945 with consistent fruit results, the plant can be considered an heirloom.

One other thing about heirloom tomatoes is their taste! In general, the heirlooms produce fruits with a full, rich tomato taste.  Many of the heirloom varieties produce big fruits — beefsteak or larger. If you love tomato sandwiches, you’ll love these tomatoes.

There is one downside, though. Heirloom tomatoes are pretty strong growers, but they are not necessarily disease-resistant. So especially if you live in a hot and humid climate, you need to keep a closer eye on your heirlooms. (But it is worth it!)

Heirloom Tomato Seeds

There are tons of varieties or heirlooms out there, and I’ve tried many of them in my day. But I keep coming back to a few that are tasty, but that also have fun results! I like red tomatoes for sure, but I also get a big kick out of the purple and the striped tomatoes. That being said, here are a few of my favorite heirloom tomato varieties.

Brandywine Pink:  Whenever I ask my husband what tomatoes he’d like me to grow, Brandywine always tops the list. I love the big fruits and the juicy meat of this heirloom tomato. The seeds germinate fairly quickly and transplant easily. The problem for me, though, is that it just isn’t a prolific producer of tomatoes in hot and humid climates.  I get maybe one fantastic tomato (huge), a couple medium-sized and maybe one or two small ones.  When it gets really hot and humid, no more tomatoes.  But for taste…I don’t think I’ve had another variety beat it (yet).  Brandywine Pink is an indeterminate potato-leaf plant, mid to late season.  And be warned — the plants can get huge.

Cherokee Purple:  This is a fun tomato because it’s purple! OK, it’s not the kind of bright purple you might be imagining; it’s more of a dusky violet. The name comes about because it’s believed to have originated among the Cherokee people, and is over 120 years old. These are big tomatoes, which seem to average between 10 and 12 ounces. Sweet and meaty, they are great for salads and sandwiches. But the purple does take a little getting used to.  Thin-skinned, you will need to eat these soon after picking.  Cherokee Purple is an indeterminate tomato that is mid-season.

Kellogg’s Breakfast:  This is an orange beefsteak tomato.  Now orange tomatoes have the reputation of being milder-tasting, but not so with Kellogg’s Breakfast — it has a full-on tomato taste!  I’ve grown it in the ground and in (big) containers — grew well both ways.  The tomatoes were big and the plants were surprisingly prolific for such a large beefsteak.  Kellogg’s Breakfast is an indeterminate regular-leaf tomato, and the plants can get very large.  There is also a Kellogg’s Breakfast version (KBX) that is potato-leaf plant, but I have never grown it.  Mid-season.

Red PeariconI cannot resist these cute little tomatoes!  Cherry-sized, perfect for salads or garden snacking (the fate of most of mine – few actually make it into the house).  As you may guess, they are pear-shaped.  Not the sweetest, but it is tasty and does tend to be prolific!  The plants I have grown tended to be manageable in size, and grew well in the ground and in a container.  Indeterminate, regular leaf, mid-season.

Big Rainbow:  The last of the heirloom tomato seeds I’ll talk about today is one that bears monster fruits — Big Rainbow. It’s also a striped tomato color, with gold and red, so it’s very pretty to look at. Not to mention great to eat! This heirloom tomato can get fruits up to 2 pounds in size! Naturally that’s with optimum growing conditions, but 1+ pounds tomatoes can be expected on average. This tomato is also exceptional in that it’s one of the more disease-resistant of the heirlooms. (Reason enough to grow it.) Big Rainbow is an indeterminate, requires strong staking (possibly multiple stakes). It bears fruit roughly 90 days out, so only think about growing it if you have a long growing season.

So there you go; some wonderful heirloom tomato seeds for you to consider planting. For additional information on planting, check out the post on planting a tomato garden.