Let’s Talk Tomatoes

As with my long pumpkin post, I thought a description of my tomatoes might be in order. Tomatoes are hit and miss with me, especially since this is only the second time I have ever grown them. This year, lots of varieties were chosen from seed. A bunch were started in March in my laundry room, but one warm day they were moved outside and promptly died. That was sad. Luckily all the seed was not used and more were started. It seems that it was early May because the girl who was taking care of the animals when we went to New Jersey that month also watered the plants.

All of this year’s selections came from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, my absolute favorite place to buy seed, especially heirloom varieties. As with the pumpkins, titles with German and saints caught my attention. Also, red varieties were preferred, but one purple also made the cut on the recommendation of a cyber friend over on my Catholic Gardening list. On to this year’s selections…

The first is called “Granny Cantrell German Red.” The only way to tell you about this is to quote from Baker Creek, “This meaty beefsteak type tomato is named after Lettie Cantrell, who received seeds from a soldier returning from Germany during World War II, and has been growing this tomato in the hills of eastern Kentucky ever since. This is her favorite tomato and the only one she grows. Each year she saves seeds from the largest tomatoes, some of which reach 2 1/2 lbs. Our growers find it to be quite productive and of a fine flavor. Ahh! What a flavor! This variety was named best-tasting tomato of the year at the 2006 Heirloom Garden show in our taste testing contest.” Need I say more? Germany, WWII, flavor, etc…

Next for a cherry variety Fox Cherry was chosen. Although I am not much of a cherry tomato person, having these growing would be good for neighbors and the children. Wouldn’t you know they are and have been growing the best yet. The catalogs (only heirloom seed catalogs, by the way) say these are larger cherry tomatoes that have wonderful “full-bodied” flavor, and do well even in years when vine rot is a problem for others. They say these are very reliable, and so far, that seems pretty true in our garden.

The next variety is the “German Red Strawberry” tomato. These are said to have a fine flavor (have you ever seen a catalog that tells you they have no flavor or bad flavor?) and few seeds. These plants are easy to tell once the fruit start growing because they have a strawberry shape to them, pointy on the bottom. They claim the fruit reach about 1 pound and they are good for canning and wonderful for sandwiches. In our garden right now, they are the second best grower, beaten only by the Fox Cherries.

Next is our purple variety, the “Cherokee Purple.” Somewhere down the line (and I am determined to find out just where it is) we have Cherokee Indian in our family tree on my Dad’s side. Rumor has it that Grandma McCann had a blanket with an Indian on it and so she always called it “Isaac Shute.” Isaac was our Civil war great-great grandfather, so one wonders if he was the indian. Anyway, back to the tomato. This tomato is said to be a native of Tennessee. These are not as productive as others, but said to be well worth the taste with their smoky-sweetness. I sure hope some ripen soon! They are said to grow about 8 – 10 ounces. Baker creek temps you by saying, “Try this one for real old-time flavor.”

A tomato garden would not be complete without a paste tomato. Our choice this year was the Amish Paste. This seed is said to come from the Wisconsin Amish community, but originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch area. These fruit are large Roma type and are said to be tasty with a nice balance of sweet and acid.

The next variety was strictly for the name, St. Pierre. We always like to have some saints looking out for us and our gardens. These are said to be popular in Europe and are a French Heirloom variety. These tomatoes are good for fresh eating and canning. They are said to do well even in bad conditions, but I have to admit that we don’t have too many and they are probably the least likely to make it at this point. But, we shall see.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Brandy Wine Pink tomato. Why this variety? Because it was a free gift with our Baker Creek Seed order. What I am finding interesting about this variety is the leaves. They call it “potato-leafed.” You know there is something different about this variety just from that. This variety is said to be over 10 years old. It is also said that they produce better in colder weather, so perhaps we’ll see more this fall. We are having a mighty hot summer so far.

I was out in the garden today playing with the camera. Here are some pictures from the tomato section…

tomato1.jpg      tomato2.jpg

tomato3.jpg      tomato4.jpg

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One Response to “Let’s Talk Tomatoes”

  1. tmt Says:

    I realize this post is somewhat dated but I figured I’d share my 2 cents on the topic of planting tomatoes. While I mostly grew up living in the suburbs and have always been a “city boy”, my grandparents have a rather large farm that wasn’t very far from where my family lived while growing up; which we visited somewhat rather often up until I was in my middle teens. So needless to say, there were often times where I willingly or unwillingly have had to help out doing anything from cutting firewood, feeding cattle, planting, tilling, weeding, and pick’n veggies from their very large garden, as well as shuck corn, pick strawberries, or hunt for mushrooms, etc. So I do have a bit of the “farm life experience”, however in all that time I don’t ever recall hearing what my barber said about planting tomatoes earlier this year. Which is a catchy little mnemonic device that unfortunately I cannot remember. (which is kinda like trying to tell a joke and forgetting the punchline). Anyhow, it basically states that you’re supposed to plant your tomatoes on Mother’s Day and never before. I really wish I could recall how the jingle goes, because it’s a catchy way to remember when to put your tomato starters in the ground. But will remain a mystery for the time being. (I do realize how anticlimactic all this is, and I apologize for that but,….???) Regardless, I enjoyed looking at the pics you have shared along with reading thru some of the entries that are posted too. thanx -tmt-

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