Today I thought I’d show a picture of some of the tomatoes growing in my garden. Most of these are heirlooms except for one paste tomato. Not pictured, but growing in the garden are a couple of extra early tomatoes (mentioned here) that aren’t producing anymore, some Early Girls and grapes/cherry tomatoes.
I didn’t put them in the picture, but Early Girl tomatoes are the one hybrid I grow every year for their reliability and volume of tomatoes. Their firmness makes them great for canning, too.
This is the first time I’ve grown this heirloom called Green Zebra after reading about it’s great flavor for a number of years.
After some trial and error on discovering when it’s ripe (when it’s yellowish and green, not just green) the verdict is:
1. Yes, it’s flavorful, but we didn’t find it anymore flavorful than a regular tomato. It was just odd that is tasted good when you were expecting bitter.
2. It looks really interesting on a plate of tomatoes and has been fun to share with people.
3. They’re pretty small.
4. I’ve added them to sauces I’ve made, but they’re not the best for that. I’m thinking of making a green salsa with them (fool you into thinking it’s made with tomatillos!), but probably not to can. By the time they seem ripe, they are a pretty smooshy tomato and being so small I’d have to have a lot of them at once and I only have one plant.
5. I don’t think I’ll grow them again just because I need a more versatile tomato for the space.
These are my Brandywines. Most who visit the garden are just amazed by the size of these tomatoes, and they are HUGE. But I grow them for their outstanding flavor.
A thick slice of one of these on a piece of homemade bread, maybe with melted cheese, maybe in a BLT, or maybe all alone…mmm. So good you can’t even believe it is related to the things you get from the store.
I’ve grown these for more than 10 years and my garden will never be without them.
They used to be my absolute favorite, until I started growing…
Cherokee Purple heirlooms.
Wow, the flavor is just superb and see how the flesh is a different color? They really are rather purple and they usually have the green shoulders even when ripe.
I use to be really torn up about which was my favorite between these two (OK, not really torn up- that would be silly, wouldn’t it?) until I realized that the Cherokees start producing a good 2-3 weeks earlier than the Brandywines, making it the perfect combination.
I eat my fill of the Cherokees, and as the plants are starting to produce less (and smaller like these pictured- some earlier ones were the size of the Brandywines), the Brandywines start and right now they are producing like gangbusters.
Whew, glad I don’t have to make any decisions between these.
Lastly are the paste tomatoes I’m growing.
Every year I have such a problem with pastes. I’ve yet to find one I like that can be my staple to grow every year. Some are too small, some are too smooshy, some have too many seeds, and for some reason every year I will have a paste tomato that suffers from a little blossom end rot while living right next to plants that have nary a spot on them (leading me to believe its not calcium deficiency or irregular watering on the whole).
So this year I attempted to try four different kinds that I grew from seed. Two failed to sprout and when I tried again and finally got them to sprout, they were weak and pale. I hardened them off and planted them anyway thinking they might survive.
I bought a couple plants to replace them that never grew very much. I’ve only gotten a handful from the both of them.
These pictured are Super Marzano (the big one, a hybrid), and Heinz 2653 (the smaller, an heirloom).
The Marzanos had a time at the beginning of the season where most of the fruits were smaller and had blossom end rot, so they obviously didn’t get the water they needed. Now they are fine and are big (well, huge really, for a paste), and are very firm and have made some good sauces.
The Heinzs are smaller than I expected, but have been producing well (never any blossom end rot) though they have a different shape than other pastes I have grown. They are very dry, though, so are good for sauces.
I’m not sure if I’ll grow these again, but if I did I’d probably only grow the Heinz.
I’d love to hear about any paste varieties that have worked well for you that I could try next year and what your favorite tomato varieties are!