|Henderson Pink (left) and Moonglow tomatoes grow with a companion |
planting of nasturtiums (in front).
Do Americans love any vegetable more than the tomato?
Oh, probably, but it is the one vegetable that most gardeners or would be gardeners yearn to grow. Even those without garden space grow tomatoes in large containers, all so they can get that fresh-picked flavor that you just can't find in the grocery store.
|A basket of Brandywines.|
Since the tomato gained favor in American gardens a mere 150 or so years ago, it has been selected and hybridized to the current point where we have hundreds, perhaps thousands of varieties of Solanum lycopersicum (aka Lycopersicum esculentum). Although the list of tomato varieties I have tried seems rather long, I have barely scratched the surface.
|Henderson's Pink and Moonglow tomatoes mixed in with long beans.|
Brandywine produces a moderate number of large-medium to large bright pink tomatoes. They are prone to being misshapen and to crack, but are the best-tasting slicing tomatoes.
Henderson's Pink, which I tried last year because a friend gave me a couple of her starts, was similar in size and color, without as much cracking and misshapeness. The flavor was good, as well.
|Black Krims are green on top when ripe (right) the top and |
bottom ones on the left show the deep coloring of the Krim.
The middle one is probably a Brandywine.
Black Krim is another variety that I first tried in 1997. It's deep, rich flavor and color make me keep growing it, although it does not produce that well. The last two years in particular I have had trouble getting much from Black Krim. I am not sure why. Still, I will have a few in the garden again this year. Maybe a little more compost will help. Black Krim is an early season variety, producing well before the Brandywine.
|A basket of Sun Golds and another yellow tomato.|
|Furry Yellow Hog. Don't know why it's called that.|
|This Amish Paste tomato got a little horny.|
In 2009 a friend gave me a plant that produced very small little pear-shaped tomatoes that were a deep brown-red with purple or "black" overtones. It was a nice tasting, productive tomato that dried well. But he can't remember its name, so if I grow it again it will be by accident.
|Unripe Amish Paste on the vine.|
Striped German is a large, red and yellow striped tomato with a nice flavor, but it suffers from some of the same issues as Brandywine.
The currant tomato -- red and yellow -- is a different species from these other large tomatoes. It grows well and has such a short season that you can direct sow seed in late April and still have a crop by the end of the summer. The marble-sized fruit have a fresh tomato flavor and make a wonderful snack food.
|Leaf of Furry Yellow Hog.|
I am sure that I have planted other tomato varieties, including common hybrids, such as Better Boy, Early Girl and such, but I don't remember anything about them and didn't take notes. I prefer growing heirlooms, even though their production is less than the hybrids, as a rule. I favor the flavor of most heirlooms. And isn't it really the flavor we are after? Besides, heirlooms are usually open pollinated, so that you can save your own seed. Not so with hybrids.
This year I will get to know two other heirloom varieties, Abraham Lincon and Box Car Willie. Will either one win a permanent spot in my garden?