Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deciding What to Plant: Tomatoes

I've finally come to terms with the fact that, until I have at least a 1-acre garden plot, I won't be able to grow enough tomatoes to feed my family for a year. I've decided to just be grateful that I've found a cheap source for organic tomatoes by the bushel, and I'll just have to depend on that great farmer to produce my canning tomatoes, because given the amount of space I have, I'm not gonna be able to.

So that means I get to focus on growing fun tomatoes! Heirloom tomatoes (i.e. "fun tomatoes) are tricky little things. They aren't easy to grow - they're more susceptible to disease, they're pickier about their growing conditions, they are needier than most of the hybrid varieties, and the yields are rarely as high as their cross-bred brothers. But all the difficulties aside, I've never tasted a hybrid tomato that can compare the fantastic, unique tastes of heirloom variety tomatoes.

The Black Krim tastes earthy, with very little acidic content. It's huge and slices beautifully, and one of the most interesting tomatoes I've ever seen with a deep purple outside and a mix between green and purple outside. The Green Zebra is hands-down the best tasting tomato I've ever had, making it abundantly clear why people say things like, "that tomato tastes like candy!" I thought people were crazy. And then I realized they must've been eating Green Zebras.

My husband got me growing lights and a heating mat and thermostat for Christmas this year, which means I can finally try my hand at starting tomato and pepper plants from seed. I'm anxious to give it a go. Seed starting has it's benefits, for sure - for $2, you get a packet of 50 seeds instead of paying $2 for each plant at the nursery. But on the down side, I can't pick just one of ten different plants the way I can at the nursery. Hopefully the seeds I order this year will still be viable next year, so I can start increasing my variety. (Or I could just learn to save tomato seeds.)

So as I'm (finally) forcing myself to sit down with my seed catalogs and make decisions about what tomatoes to grow this year, I'm looking more for the unique heirloom varieties, the ones I won't be able to resist eating right off the plant as I do my evening garden work. I'd love to hear your suggestions, if you have some favorite heirloom varieties that I might need to try!

1 comment: said...

It sure makes me happy to know there are other people who like GREEN ZEBRA tomatoes! I have been eating fruits of this variety for 38 years. Since I am the first person to have EVER eaten one of these tomatoes, you have me to blame for that.

You may like to try some other varieties that are truly candy-like; Flaming Jaune and Green Grape Beyond.

If you are interested in new Green Zebra varieties there are these...
and these are just those that start with the letter G. The group above have the flavor of Green Zebra and Ananas Noir and each is different in color and flavor.

BTW, all of those new lines will be available for the first time this Spring. I will check back later to see if anyone is interested in these.

Tom Wagner