Ready to think summer? We’ll be offering the following tomato varieties for sale as plants this spring. It’s a good idea to pre-order. They will be available starting in May.
- Amish Paste: 85 days, indeterminate. Slow Food Ark of Taste variety, with good reason! Oblong with a pointy tip, these have an acid, complex flavor, are dense without the overly dry and mealy texture of many paste types, and even in a bad tomato year make really tasty tomatoes. About 2 – 2.5 times larger than a typical Roma.
- Opalka: 82 days, Indeterminate. Another large (3 x 5 inches), dense, tasty red sauce tomato. 2013 will be our first year trying it. Seed catalogs say it does well in heat, is also good for drying, and has unusual, crinkly foliage.
- Aunt Ruby’s German Green: 88 days. Enormous green slicer, ripe when the color lightens a bit and the blossom end softens. If you wait until the blossom end gets a tiny bit of yellow and pink striping, the fruit will probably have cracked, but what awaits you may be the best tomato ever. Fruit tend to be catfaced and otherwise gnarly in appearance. Your caprese salad will look better than ever with a few of these slices in it!
- Black Krim: 80 days, Indeterminate. The Fedco seeds catalog says: “Krims should be harvested when half green and still firm. They are dead ripe and perfectly delicious at that stage. If you wait till they are fully purple, you will not be able to get them from garden to table intact (to say nothing of market) and they will disintegrate like a hunk of road-kill. Krims are strikingly iridescent purple on the outside, usually with dark green-black shoulders and noticeable catfacing. Interiors are part black, too, with an unusual juicy yet meaty taste and texture, described as having “…a smoky flavor like a good single malt scotch.” Fruits average 12–18 oz. Heirloom Krim hails from Krymsk on the Black Sea in Russia.”
- Cherokee Purple: 80 days, indeterminate. This is what most people think of when they think of an heirloom tomato. Cherokee Purple is round, pinkish-purple, and often has green shoulders when ripe. Fairly dense, when sliced it looks kind of like a steak inside. Not the most productive tomato, but it sure tastes great.
- Rutgers: 75 days, Indeterminate. Two different tomatoes are sold under the name “Rutgers.” One is this one, the other is actually the determinate “Rutgers Improved,” which, in my opinion, is NOT an improvement. Both are round, red, 8 – 12 oz tomatoes, but the original Rutgers has a great old-fashioned tomato flavor and has the ability to still taste pretty good even if picked green and allowed to ripen at room temperature. (All tomatoes have a soft, unappealing texture after this mistreatment and it’s why grocery store tomatoes are usually so unappetizing.) Several years ago, I was selling tomato plants at a garden center and an older gentleman told me, “There aint no tomato worth growin ‘cept for Rutgers.” Compared to all the new hybrids the shop was selling, he was right!
- Paul Robeson: 78 days, indeterminate. 6 – 12 oz rounded brownish-maroon tomatoes, the same color as Black Prince, but larger and tastier. In the heat of 2013, many of our field tomatoes yielded very little and what they did yield was sunburned, cracked, or otherwise unmarketable. While harvesting and culling, I offered one of these to a retired fellow who was helping me out on the farm. At first he didn’t want to eat it because of the odd color, but after a taste he declared it one of the best tomatoes he’d ever eaten, and he enthusiastically consumed any subsequent culls in this variety.
- Cosmonaut Volkov: 65 days, indeterminate. Who needs Early Girl when you’ve got Cosmo? Fruit size and flavor very similar to Rutgers, but in my hoophouse the plants were larger, much earlier, and more continuously productive. Like all the Russian heirlooms, favors cooler weather rather than months of 90+ degree heat.
- German Johnson: 80 days, indeterminate. Known as “The Brandywine of the South,” which is all the endorsement I needed to see before trying it.
- Eva Purple Ball: 78 days, indeterminate. Pink/purple perfect spheres, tasty and productive even in summers like 2012. German heirloom.
- Moskvich: Early pink slicer with round fruits. Good for setting and ripening fruit during cool springs. Like all Russian heirlooms, not good for hot summers like 2012.
- Costoluto Genovese: 85 days, Indeterminate. Red, lobed fruit that varies quite a bit in size depending on soil fertility and weather. Intense flavor, amazing flower-shaped slices, can be an adjustment if you’re not used to a tomato that is not round!
Striped & Yellow Tomatoes
- Copia: 85 days, indeterminate. Large yellow tomatoes with red stripes. A recent cross of Green Zebra and Marvel Stripe, the latest in my quest to find a yellow tomato I like eating.
- Striped Cavern: Red and yellow striped tomato with big lobes for stuffing, it looks almost like a striped bell pepper. Not a shining star in the hot summer of 2012, but normally should produce big, juicy fruits.
- Goldie: Indeterminate, 90 days. A 1977 introduction, this is a huge yellow tomato which is supposed to be really delicious once it gets yellow-orange. In our fields they rarely stay unblemished, but maybe those of you with tomato cages and time to pay closer attention to individual plants will have better luck.
- Black Cherry: 75 days, indeterminate. Dark purplish-black colored cherry tomatoes with all the heirloom deliciousness you’d expect from their color. We grew this tomato in 2011 and not in 2012 due to a germination problem. I got more requests for it than anything else, for good reason!
Tomatoes we are growing, but not offering as plants
These tomatoes get grafted onto special rootstock which makes them crazily vigorous and disease resistant, then we plant them in our hoophouse. We don’t sell them as plants because the seeds, rootstock, and grafting time add up to make them much more costly than regular tomato plants. This extra “oomph” is rarely needed in a backyard tomato. We also like to grow cherry tomatoes in the hoophouse because they don’t have problems with cracking in the rain like cherry tomatoes so often do when grown outdoors.
- Rebelski: European style fresh market tomato with slight ruffling at the top. Large, perfect fruit in great abundance. They taste good enough to sit on the table with the heirlooms and ensure that we’ll have some tomatoes in super hot summers!
- Montesino: Red grape type cherry tomato. Really, really sweet flavor, and when grafted onto a good rootstock they climb to the roof of the greenhouse in no time.
- Toronjina: Orange cherry tomato. So far, the best orange tomato I have ever eaten. Still looking for the full sized orange or yellow tomato that is their equal!