Tomato Tomahto

One of the best things that happens in January is that I get to pick out the seeds for next year’s garden.

I order my seeds from the Fedco catalog, because they’re not genetically modified or irradiated. I am far from a total crazy hippie, but I think a company irradiating seeds so you can’t save the seeds that come out of the fruit or the vegetable that you grew and use them again is shenanigans.

I’m going to grow okra and green beans and some squash and stuff.  However I only really care about the tomatoes.

Last year I started most of my tomatoes from seed.  After they went into the ground I freaked out that I didn’t have enough fun varieties and I went and bought seven plants from a local nursery, and every single one of them developed powdery mildew and spread it all my other plants.  This year I am starting all my plants from scratch.

I usually have a lot of extra tomato starters.  I am a good person to know in March.

The tomatoes I picked out for this year are as follows:

Glacier.  This is my fast growing tomato.  Some tomatoes have a shorter time from seed to tomato, but in general the early ones are not as good tasting. You trade time for taste.  Last year I was not impressed by my Early Girls, so I am trying this one instead.

Pruden’s Purple.  People claim this is comparable in taste to the Brandywine. We shall see.

Black Prince.  Last year I read over on Sacramento Vegetable Gardening that if you don’t have a black tomato you’re not playing in the big leagues, so I am planting a black tomato this year. Obviously.

Also, last year I discovered one of the best recipes I’ve ever made, and it looks cooler if you make it with many different colored tomatoes. Yes, this recipe is so great that I am planting tomatoes just so I can make it.

Cosmonaut Volkov How can you not want to plant a tomato named after a famous Russian cosmonaut?

Cherokee Purple.  This was my favorite new discovery from last year. I never thought anything would challenge my love for my beloved Brandywines, but these were utterly amazing.

Paul Robeson. The seed catalog described this as a “great tomato named for a great man” and that was pretty much all it took for me to add it to the list.

German Johnson.  This is in case my brandywines don’t do much, which is what happened last year. So far though I think we’re looking at a hot spring, which is good news for tomato growers.

Brandywine.  My tomato true love.  Growing heirloom tomatoes from seeds is where it starts to really make sense.  They can’t be transported well, they’re not good when you buy them in the store, and they are often $4 a pound at the farmer’s market, and they’re still not as good as if you’d grown them yourself.  You’ll never taste anything better than a brandywine you picked straight out of your garden.

Aunt Ruby’s Green. I have a secret theory that green tomatoes don’t taste that great, but they look cool in a salad.  Maybe this one will surprise me?  The green zebras from last year were uninspiring, imho.

Goldie.  This looks like a promising orange/yellow tomato.

I think I need one more orange or yellow tomato, actually. I like the sounds of the Azoychka.  Prolific is my kind of tomato. I feel tense if I am not surrounded by so many tomatoes that I have to start leaving them in strangers cars.

I am also planting two cherry tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan, actually, but my kids love them.  Last year little Dubsie spent the whole summer with her cheeks stuffed full of all the cherry tomatoes she’d pluck of the vines whenever we weren’t looking. I think it’s kind of cool to have something the kids can pick and eat growing right in our backyard.

So I’ll probably start these some time mid February and then plant them sometime in April.  Which means it’s still a long long time until I will be standing in my garden picking tomatoes, but somehow ordering the seeds makes it seem like it’s just around the corner somehow.  We haven’t had a bad winter at all this year and still, summer can’t come too soon for me.




10 Responses

  1. My mouth is watering after reading this, as those look beyond amazing.

    Our growing season is far shorter up here, and my yard is so very, very shady. Last year, we grew cherry tomatoes and beefsteak guys in pots, so I could move them around and get them as much sun as possible. Ha! I got 2 tiny tomatoes and maybe 30 cherries. I will not give up, though, laughable as the harvest was. But I will be reading about your gardening exploits with rapt fascination.

  2. Oh, I am jealous. Our best tomatoes are grown in winter, and I’ve never had good luck with them here. (Strawberries and citrus, however, I have in SPADES.)

  3. I’m so jealous of all your tomatos! I don’t have the patience/interest for a garden. My husband grew one tomato plant last year and the few tomatoes we got from it were amazing.

  4. I am jealous, too. I want to eat your heirloom tomatoes!! I not-so-secretly want a garden, but I guess that’s not going to happen if we move every twelve months.

    Also, I have super fabulous memories of picking blueberries and raspberries while visiting my grandparents and just stuffing them in my mouth when no one was looking. You’re doing good things for those kiddos!

  5. Last year was our first year with a vegetable garden, and we did it all for the tomatoes. The Cherokee Purples were absolutely awesome, the Glaciers were prolific and ripened early, and the Early Girls sucked. The Prudens Purples didn’t do much, but I think they didn’t get much sun. We had good luck with Sungold cherry tomatoes (orange and super-sweet). I got seedlings at the farmer’s market and the nursery. This year I’d love to try starting our own plants indoors–if you ever felt like posting a tutorial I would be psyched 🙂

  6. Could one plant tomatoes in Southern California in April, or has one missed the growing season?

  7. I love this bit: “I feel tense if I am not surrounded by so many tomatoes that I have to start leaving them in strangers cars.”

    While I don’t PERSONALLY eat tomatoes, my husband does. And it seems like a garden NEEDS tomatoes. So… I am going to plant some.

    Sounds like, if you were going to pick just one, it would be the Brandywines?

    Any other tips for first time tomato growers? Any books you found really helpful?

  8. Paul Robesons are AWESOME. Seriously delicious. We had some last year (courtesy of my dad, who also starts his plants from seed, which we are too lazy to do) and they were definitely our favorite. They seem to grow well here too. (We are in the Sac area also).

  9. OMG–Black tomatoes=big leagues. I love it!

  10. Oh hi, see you in March, then.

    (But really before then, please and thank you.)

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