Let’s Talk Tomatoes

Tomato, tomato…

By any other name is not the same—-so many varieties

Let’s talk tomatoes.
Seasoned tomato growers have their favorite.

Mr. Moore formerly of Moores Roses in Visalia grew Ace tomatoes—and gave a plant away for each rose purchased, encouraging all to grow and eat Ace tomatoes.

Some gardeners are partial to big Beefsteak tomatoes, we lean toward tomatoes with a bit more acid, plus none of us want to wait that long to eat, and so many times the big tomato gets just right for picking….and a bird beat us to it…

Through the many years of growing tomatoes our choices are clear and unanimous—well almost, my husband still has a prejudice towards cherry tomatoes, but he is coming around.

Our favorites and highly recommended tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

I don’t really have a name of a favorite, as long as they are round…an inch to two inches in size and red. No mini, oval, or grape shaped, or any other color than red.

These are great to pop in your mouth in the garden, or carry in a plastic sack for travel snacks, and take to the movies (although my husband will vehemently disagree with this movie snack).

You have to pop the whole tomato in your mouth, or it will squirt juice and seeds—-kids think this is funny, and be sure if you have them for a movie snack to pop the whole tomato in you mouth, or just imagine where the seeds will end up. Mother Judith does not especially like it when the seeds end up on ceiling.

Cherry Tomato Lore at Gray’s Farms can continue for pages, but time to move on.

VF Hybrid Tomatoes from Burpee.

Early producers, large crop, perfect meat and acid balance, medium size. Sentimental at Gray’s Farms, the first tomato my husband & I grew together decades ago. For years we could not find seeds, since they are hybrids seeds cannot be saved, but this year, well I keep checking the mail for a fresh packet.

Health Kicks from Burpee

A wonderful plum-like shaped tomato with a good balance —for both cooked sauces and eating fresh. According to Burpee, these are healthier for you, packed with 50% more lycopene—we like them because they are delicious. Small growing bush with lots of production— some years the company runs out of these seeds, while we can have a huge bounty of other tomatoes and my husband will lament how he misses Health Kicks…..I understand his pain, never, ever having a tomato season without cherry tomatoes, it would be a great loss for me, but for sure not a great loss for my husband.

Brandy Wine Heirloom (widely available)

We could easily get on the heirloom garden wagon with this variety. The best fresh and canned tomato we have ever grown. I do not have the talent to describe how a canned Brandy Wine Tomato not only tastes , but reminiscent of summer gardens.

But lets not discount the pure pleasure of eating a fresh Brandy Wine tomato, the flavor, the texture, the aroma is an entire experience it is like eating a slice of summer.

As many heirlooms, be advised they do not have constancy of as modern hybrid tomatoes. One year we will have a bumper crop and the next pickings can be very slim. Shapes will vary, we think this is part of the character of the Brandy Wine—-part of the fun of growing them—–even with the gliches that can occur, Brandy Wine tomatoes are always on our tomato planning list.

Theses are our top four tomatoes, but each year one of us usually will try something new, usually an Early Girl due to the early harvest, maybe a Beef Steak or Ace—-but that is the fun of gardens each year, enjoying the old standard must haves, and trying something new.

The most important part of any harvest at our house is our family working together, aside from my husbands unnatural adversity to Cherry Tomatoes. We have fun prepping the ground, confirming we have the correct varieties, planning the planting, weed control and water—–watching the plants grow, checking for production and problems, the traditional first tomato of the year (after the cherries, again he does not count these), eating produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner—-using our annual recipes, I can go on and on how our garden cultivates family activity….not to mention a great opportunity to just Praise and Thank God for the bounties of this Planet.

Mother Judith

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