The purest of love affairs…

I simply cannot decide which one I have to throw out this year… so it looks like the garden is going to be bigger than I can handle- yet again. Shocker, huh? 🙂


They never have an episode of  “Intervention” about tomatoes… maybe there’s some sort of 12 step program for us heirloom vegetable junkies…

Here are my lovelies:

Aunt Ruby’s German Green: Heirloom beefsteak variety from Ruby Arnold of Greeneville, Tennessee who passed away in 1997. Slightly flattened, 1 pound fruit that ripens to a pale greenish-yellow (“lime jello green”) with a slight pink blush that extends to the inside. Superb, fruity sweet and slightly spicy taste. A tomato I cannot live without…. and it’s one of the latest in the garden- so it gives me an opportunity to learn a little more patience…

Black Krim: Originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This rare and outstanding tomato yields 3-4″ slightly flattened dark-red (mahogany-colored) slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. Green gel around seeds. Fantastic, intense, slightly salty taste (which is great for those not wanting to add salt to their tomatoes). Black Krim is one of my favorite tomatoes. Also suitable for container/patio garden. Perfect choice for slicing, salads and cooking. I picked the tomato in the picture on the way to the market last September. Yum.

Amana Orange: Huge heirloom beefsteak tomato named for the Amana Colonies in Iowa. This tomato produces big regular leaf plants that produce above average amounts of beautiful light-orange, irregular shaped (fluted) heirloom tomatoes that can grow to 2 pounds or more, with an average diameter of 5 inches. Excellent sweet, almost  tropical fruit flavors. This tomato variety has been a consistent prize winner.

Super Sweet 100 Cherry: Prolific, indeterminate plant bearing “juicy, sweet” fruit is similar to ‘Sweet 100’ but resists diseases. 65 days.

Green Zebra: Developed in 1985 by tomato breeder Tom Wagner, this is an unusual and exquisite tomato chosen by Alice Waters for her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California. The 2-inch round fruit ripens to a yellow-gold with dark-green zebra-like stripes. The flesh is lime-emerald in color that has an invigorating lemon-lime flavor. A great tomato for brightening up salads and other tomato dishes- Absolutely DIVINE. The tomato that created this whole craziness. I used to buy these for $6 a pound from a vendor… then tore up the yard so I could grow my own. So so good.

Orange Roma: The heavy hitter in my garden. Where all good things come from 🙂 Amazing for salsa, marinara sauce- etc. Spectacular fresh or in anything- just the most fabulous tomato ever… and extremely prolific. Heavy producer- and produces well into fall. Sprawling plants with good yields of 1 x 2 1/2″ 2 oz. plum-shaped orange paste with pointed ends and a good sweet-tart flavor.  An all-purpose plum tomato with good disease resistance.

Speckled Striped Roma: The source of this tomato is John Swenson. A cross between Antique Roman and Banana Legs. The tomato has the distinct end nipple of the latter. Seeds produce compact, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that have a high yield of very intriguingly beautiful, meaty, 4-6-inch long, orange-red paste tomato with good flavors and wavy yellow stripes. Looks like a fat sausage with a pointed end. A great novelty tomato that makes the best tomato sauce, along with other colored paste tomatoes.  There is a heavy fruit production of meaty 4-5 oz. oblong fruits until frost. Some years, this has brought the highest yield of the tomatoes grown. The grower who produced this seed, and who has grown all kinds of tomatoes for years, says this is “exceptional – definitely one to save and pass down”.

Brandywine: Probably the first heirloom to achieve “cult status” within the growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes. A pink, potato-leaf, Amish variety from the 1880’s. Years ago, seed saving was done by individuals who understood that the greatest thing they could pass on to the next generation was some of the treasured food plants that had sustained life and had proven their value. One such pioneer was Ben Quinsenbury, who lived in Vermont. He died at the age of 95, passing on his legacy. The Brandywine was Ben’s favorite tomato. In the past 2 years of holding tomato tastings for chefs and tomato lovers, the Brandywine has always placed as one of the top three favorites. It is legendary for it’s exceptionally rich, succulent tomato flavor. Fruits are reddish-pink, with light, creamy flesh that average 12 ounces but can grow to 2 pounds.

Jaune Flamme: Extremely prolific French heirloom tomato that bears in clusters of 6, beautiful, 1 1/2-inch, round, golf-ball sized tomatoes that are persimmon-orange colored inside and out. A delicious tomato flavor that literally bursts in your mouth.  Very pretty. Makes a great flavored sauce.

Aunt Ginny’s Purple: A productive heirloom beefsteak tomato of German origin that was brought into circulation by Rick Burkhart if Indiana whose family has raised it for 25 years. Big, indeterminate, vigorous, potato-leaf tomato plants that yield abundant crops of 1-pound, deep-pink, juicy tomatoes with little cracking. Considered among the best heirloom tomatoes. Excellent tomato in salads and on sandwiches.  Aunt Ginny’s Purple is an American favorite tomato, and since I’m at least a dozen kids’ Aunt Jenni…. I had to have it.

Purple Calabash: A beautiful, drought tolerant variety producing small to medium (2 1/2 to 3-inch), flat, deeply ruffled, chocolate-brown to deep-purple fruit. Intensely rich, almost wine-like  flavor. Crack resistant and stores well. I’ve waited for 3 years for this seed… I am oh-my-heavenly-stars excited for this tomato. The plant is so beautiful I can pick them out amongst the other 500 in the greenhouse.

Chocolate Stripes: One of the Top 3 tomatoes of the 2007 TomatoFest.  Plants are very large, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that yield a plentiful crop of 3-4 inch, mahogany colored with dark, olive green-striping (similar to black zebra).  Fruits have delicious, complex, rich, sweet, earthy tomato flavors. Chocolate Stripe, another desirable ‘black tomato,”  is an excellent tomato. Produces well into the autumn A great sandwich tomato and salad tomato.

Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter:

Radiator Charlie lived in West Virginia during the 1930’s. He was a radiator repairman by trade, but a tomato breeder extraordinaire by right. He only developed one tomato in his life, but the plants sold so well he used the proceeds to pay off his home mortgage during the tough economic times of The Great Depression. Developed by M.C. Byles in the 1930’s, this heirloom tomato remains very much in demand in the Mid-Atlantic states. Mr. Byles, affectionately known as “Radiator Charlie” earned his nickname from the radiator repair business he opened at the foot of a steep hill on which trucks would often overheat. Radiator Charlie, who had no formal education or plant breeding experience, created this legendary tomato by cross-breeding four of the largest tomatoes he was able to find and developed a stable variety after six years of pollination and selection. He then sold his heirloom tomato plants for one dollar each (in the 1940’s) and paid off the six thousand dollar mortgage on his house in six years. It is said that each spring, gardeners drove as far as 200 miles to buy Charlie’s seedling tomatoes. The large, slightly flattened, pink-red fruits that range from 1 pound to more than 3 pounds, are meaty, very flavorful and have few tomato seeds. I can’t freaking wait! These are 4″ taller than everything else in the greenhouse right now!

Prudens Purple: Developed from the Brandywine. Many people find this variety comparable in every way to the favorite Brandywine. It has even ranked higher at times in taste trials. Great for hot day and cool night climate. Large potato leaf vine produces lots of 1-lb., slightly flattened, pretty, blemish-free, purple-pink fruits with few seeds and excellent flavor.

Big Rainbow: This spectacular heirloom tomato has been in circulation since 1990. originally from Polk County, MN.  Big, sprawling, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that yield moderate to large crops of 1-2 lb. rib-shouldered bi-colored beefsteak tomatoes with gold flesh with beautiful red streaks running throughout. As fruits ripen they have a rainbow appearance: greens on the shoulder, yellow, orange, gold in the middle, and red on the blossom end. Fruit often has dynamic red splotches inside and on bottom. Very juicy and fruity sweet. Good disease resistance. A late producer. Great for slicing thick into sandwiches or salads.

Sunset’s Red Horizon: This outstanding heirloom tomato, named by tomato grower, Gary Ibsen, for Sunset magazine in 2003, is a native to Southern Russia. Huge, red, 4 to 6-inch, meaty, heart-shaped fruits are borne from a big leafy plant with wispy vines. Introduced to the west by Nik Peplenov who immigrated to the US in 1999 and brought with him his favorite heirloom tomato seeds from the Rostov Don region of Russia. They are not only one of the first tomato varieties to produce, but produce fruit well into November (in Oregon and in California). Proven resistant to frost, blossom end rot and cracking. Delicious fruit with huge tomatoey flavors.

Black Cherry: The only truly black cherry tomato. Large, sprawling, indeterminate, regular-leaf, vigorous tomato plants that yield abundant crops in huge clusters of 1″, round, deep purple, mahogany-brown cherry tomatoes. Fruits are irresistibly delicious with sweet, rich, complex, full tomato flavors that burst in your mouth, characteristic of the best flavorful black tomatoes. Beautiful to mix with other colored cherry tomatoes. Unique tomato variety. Disease resistant. Once you try it…you want MORE.

Kellogg’s Beefsteak: 1 lb., pale to deep orange beefsteak tomatoes originally from West Virginia, that are thin-skinned, meaty, have few seeds and a fantastic sweet, tangy flavor. Juice and inside flesh have the same bright orange color as orange juice.

Moneymaker: These round, deep red fruits weigh about 7 to 8 ounces, and arise by the many dozen on extra-vigorous plants. The vines reach 5 feet or so, and are studded with luscious fruit. MoneyMaker’s flavor is a full, meaty, sweet bite — absolutely delicious fresh or cooked!

Jersey Devil: If I could only grow one tomato- this would be it. Don’t get me wrong- I’d cry about missing my favorite black & green tomatoes… but I’d survive. A prolific variety with 4 to 6 inch long, tapered red fruits shaped like banana peppers. The tomatoes are very meaty and sweet with few seeds — great for sauces, salsas, or even eating fresh. Color is a gorgeous bright red and yield is impressive.

San Marzano Redorta: Hooray for free seeds! They threw these in when I ordered my Jersey Devil seeds… Huge plum tomato is an heirloom variety from Tuscany, and named for a mountain in Bergamo. Used for cooking, but flavorful enough to eat fresh. Tomatoes are much larger than a regular San Marzano, with the average size being about 8 ounces.

3 thoughts on “The purest of love affairs…

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