I thought I would share photos of the heirloom tomatoes I grew this year in our garden. If you haven't experienced the difference between supermarket tomatoes and heirloom varieties, you're really missing something. Their colors go from pastels to strong yellows, pinks, reds, purples, "blacks" and even greens (yes, they are green when ripe). They can be striped, spotted or solid color. They might be tiny grape sized or giant 2 pound plus beefsteak types. You can also pick and choose the flavors... some are sweet, some low in acid, some tart, and some just are... well, a taste of Heaven.
I've been growing this 1 - 1/1/2" long egg shaped tomato for about 20 years. It's taste is mild, sweet and very low in acid. They look great in a salad and give a visual pop when tossed with pasta cut in half.
Black Mahogany Plum
This tomato I discovered in a local farm stand in a basket with other varieties simply marked "hierloom". I've been looking on the Internet trying to find out its name but simply call it Black Mahogany Plum. They are very sweet and juicy... perfect in a salad or sliced into a sandwich. I even simply popped and smeared them on crusty toasted bread for a rustic bruschetta. The tops always are blackish. I've grown them for two years now and get great production our of them.
This one I grew for the first time again in about 10 years or more. The 2" globes are actually fuzzy like a very fuzzy peach. The taste is surprisingly tart and low in sugar. Not one of my favorites, but I grew them again this year just to get a new viable batch of seeds (I think I got less than 10% germination from the seeds I used from years ago).
Eva Purple Ball
I'm in LOVE with Eva... my tomato girlfriend. It's by far the best tasting tomato I've ever grown. It's always perfect and blemish free--very disease and pest resistant. I would use these for sauce if I didn't like eating them so much. It's the perfect size for slicing.... about 3" around. The production is always great.
Even though others swear by them, I've never had great results with the Brandywine varieties (there are several). This is the pink one... it blushes pink on the lower part of the fruit. This year, the sizes were pretty good--my largest ones just over one pound.
This is your classic, Italian ribbed beefsteak.... and it doesn't disappoint. I got several over 1 pound and one that would have been over 1-1/2 pounds if the chipmunks didn't eat it first! One slice fits on a sandwich. It's very sweet--almost as sweet as Eva Purple Ball, my benchmark for flavor.
Giant Belgium is a close second to Eva Purple Ball in terms of flavor. Very sweet and great in salads or sandwiches. These can be huge tomatoes if you pinch back the side branching and pull off some of the tiny fruits early on to let the plants put all their energy into only a few tomatoes. My all time record for size was a Giant Belgium... just over THREE POUNDS!
I've been growing these for about 3 years and love them. I've stopped growing typical Roma varieties in favor of this beauty. Obviously the story here is the large pepper shape. The story goes deeper though... it has a very meaty interior that is perfect for building thick sauces. They also grow quite large, some over 5 inches long. I love slicing these into discs for sandwiches. The flavor is very sweet... you pop these off the vine, add salt and eat like a fruit. Heaven.
For me, Regina is in third place for tomato flavor... it's a great sweet beefsteak tomato. It can be fairly ribbed, but not as a rule. It's also a beautiful tomato when sliced... the lower parts of the tomato are striped with red. If I want to have caprese (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) I go to Regina or Belgium first for beautiful, thick slices. Regina can even make a tasty yellow tomato sauce.
Sport: Pink Brandywine x Black Mahogany Plum
This year I got a surprise. It seems that tomatoes market "Pink Brandywine crossed with Black Mahogany Plum and gave me these... a medium sized beefsteak "black" tomato. The tops turn darker mahogany color as they come down to the sides and bottom. The flesh is a bit tart, mildly sweet and dark crimson. I'll save these seeds for sure... now... I've got to decide on a name... How's Crimson Mystery?
If you'd like to start growing and saving seeds from heirloom varieties, ask your neighbors and friends. Perhaps they are already growing some and will give you seeds or seedlings at the beginning of the season. I start seeds under a very bright growing light in my cellar starting the last part of February. (I'm in Zone 6a where I live). If you see heirloom tomatoes this summer in your local markets, try to ask for the name of the variety and save seeds for next year. It's easy:
Imagine the feeling your grandkids will have knowing they are growing the same tomatoes that you did...
Here's a great source for heirloom tomatoes and other veggies:
and on Facebook... https://www.facebook.com/seedsaversexchange?fref=nf
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