Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tomatoes.......Heirloom Tomatoes

Michele K. Koskinen
Jaune Flamme

A small 4x10 raised bed vegetable garden can handle a diverse grouping of vegetables if you want to plant them. I prefer tomatoes.... Heirloom Tomatoes. Why plant what I can buy at the store or at a vegetable market. I prefer Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby German Green and to my dismay too many again in my small plot. Another Master Gardener has a small business and I have gotten two different varieties from her this year, Pink Brandywine and Jaune Flamme. Along with my regulars I also grew from seed Russian Purple and Black Cherry.
 Photo by wise geek

Russian Purple
My obsession began several years ago at a farmers market when I saw Cherokee Purples. The taste was different. It was a dark, acidic, richer, fresher flavor than your normal store bought tomato.
Some of the varieties of heirlooms are less acidic and have a softer taste. Each has its own identity. Cobbling together a tomato salad of beautiful colors and a multitude of taste with basil and watermelon is a summer fantasy for those of us that love tomatoes......Heirloom Tomatoes. Watermelon tomato salad link

Black Cherry
They do not always have a high fruiting production and are more delicate and not able to ship long distances. When growing heirlooms, you should bury the plant deeply into the ground to allow the roots to develope along the stem. This makes for a stronger plant and provides for faster top growth.
Mulching is important to help keep the soil moist and at an even temperature throughout the growing season.

Some of the heirloom varieties grow to great heights, so they will need strong support systems. Keeping a record of the variety you plant and how it performs is useful in planning for next years crops. Year to year production is not always the same so planting a hybrid or two is a good idea.

More and more small family and urban farmers are growing these varieties for the public. You can often find them at local farmer's markets or roadside stands. Some supermarkets offer them but they are hard to find and often expensive. However, once you get the taste of a Cherokee Purple or a Black Cherry you will find a way to plant at least one Heirloom Tomato.
Aunt Ruby's German Green

Yellow Pear
Cherokee Purple

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