Heirloom Tomatoes Are the Best


A photo of MaryI’m a big fan of tomatoes, not just any tomatoes, I have to have heirloom tomatoes.  The taste and scent has been bred out of the hybrids.  The hybrids just don’t smell like tomatoes.  Google heirloom tomatoes and you’ll find literally hundreds.  Some of the ones I have tried are Black Krim, Brandywine, Black Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Beefsteak, and German and Mennonite Pink, but my most favorite is Cherokee Purple. 

 Cherokee Purple: mature in 80 days, tomatoes are large 10-14 oz. with a very dark red flesh, shows good disease resistance, a problem with the old favorites. It’s a very good producer, and has an excellent flavor. It is said to have originated with the Cherokee Nation.  The skin is a dark maroon color with green shoulders. It has a fantastic flavor.  Last year it was the only tomato that bore heavily during the crazy summer we had, of alternating drought and too much rain.

I grow my heirlooms from seed every year that I saved from the finest large tomato of each variety.  This year I purchased new seeds as my Cherokee Purple seems to have crossed with some of the other varieties.  I’m also trying a yellow brandywine and  a  German Pink. 

Tomato cages for these plants can’t be wimpy.  If you use those little wimpy tomato cages for heirlooms, they won’t support the massive height and weight of heirlooms. Thirteen years ago I bought a 100 foot roll of concrete wire and made cages about 2.5 to 3 feet in diameter.  Some I use for my cucumber vines. They’ve held up all these years and even survived an escaped herd of horses thundering through a stack of them one winter. I don’t see how one didn’t break a leg.  The concrete wire is expensive for a roll, but you figure up the cost of replacing these little rinky dink store bought cages every year or so and they’ll pay for themselves in short time.  Mine still have many more years of life left in them. 

I usually wait until my tomatoes are a foot to foot and half tall before planting in the garden.  I dig a hole to a depth that only an inch of the plant is showing.  You need a strong root system for tomatoes.  I strip all but the top leaves off.  In the planting hole, I’ll sprinkle some 3 month time released fertilizer and a little of Epsom salt.  One thing I’ve tried the last couple of years is putting some of the water retention crystals in the hole.  Cover up the plants leaving just the top few leaves out. After planting I put a layer of newspaper down and about 3 to 4 inches of mulch on top of the papers.  Using this method, I hardily watered my plants, even during a severe drought for the last couple of years.  The newspaper and mulch are tilled in the next fall to add organic matter to the soil. 

My tomato sandwich recipe: I like multi-grain bread spread with honey mustard salad dressing, add one thick slice either of the Cherokee purple or Beefsteak or other large heirloom. Sprinkle with just a little pinch of salt or garlic salt and chow down.  Oh and plenty of napkins are needed. 

Mary Carton
5/26/2011 11:59:36 PM

Dave Zuc bread sounds good. A friend of mine made zucchini chips. They were pretty good. My iris and peonies are finished blooming a few weeks back. The daffodil foliage is already dying back. I've had a Rutgers, but I've settled on the CP primarily, but will try a different heirloom along with it that I hadn't tried before. I did an interview at one of our local stations and had dropped her off some of the beefsteaks. She said she could smell them when she walked in the office and you don't smell them in the grocery store as all the flavor is bred out of them. I use the moisture crystals in all of my potted plants, helps them in the 90 degree weather here. If you have a spot that is on the wet side try the Japanese iris. They don't last longer but are so bright. Mary

Nebraska Dave
5/26/2011 9:41:31 PM

Mary, I have to agree with you on those store bought tomatoes. They don't smell like a tomato, they don't feel like a tomato, and they don't taste like a tomato. I tell folks that the store bought tomato are only to put crunch into your salad. All of the good things about a tomato have been bred out to be able to transport and store better. My favorite brand of tomato to grow in the garden is Rutgers. It's the best to grow in my garden beds. It's juicy and great tasting. They grow a full eight feet up the support and produced a bunch without any disease or bugs to deal with. It's difficult to beat the traditional bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich but yours sounds right tasty. I do love the spring time flowers. They are all so bright and cheerful to look at. The early flowers which were daffodils, tulips, and crocus are done flowering but the Iris are in the peak of blooming. The peonies are close behind the Iris and are in the big bud stage. They usually bloom around Memorial day here so it's not too much longer before the peonies will be blooming. My trellis Begonias and Impatiens are in full bloom and hopefully I can sustain that for the summer. I cheated though. I bought the hanging baskets and the Begonia plants from the nursery.

Nebraska Dave
5/26/2011 9:40:54 PM

I bought one zucchini plant and a package of seeds. I have four containers that will be zucchini. I am planting them in containers this year to see if I can defeat the dreaded vine bore that seems to always kill my zucchini right when they start producing. So now I suppose I'll have an over abundance of zucchini this year. Oh, well, I can always make some bread and casseroles. What do you think? Have a great day in the garden.

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