Thursday, January 25, 2007

Heirloom Tomatoes - Brandywine, Prudens Purple & More!

Last year, I grew a lot of wonderful tomatoes!

As I told you before, my favorite was the Amish heirloom variety "Brandywine".The look of the plant and the fruit was quite different from the hybrid tomatoes that I was used to, and the taste was magnificent! Because of the success from last season's Brandywine plants, I have decided to experiment with growing many more heirloom tomatoes this year!

The ones on my A-list that I have ordered so far are more Brandywine, Prudens Purple, Kelloggs Breakfast and Aunt Ruby's German Green.

These pictures are taken from the Pinetree Seeds website, which is where I'm ordering them from. I'm also ordering Dixie Golden Giant, Black from Tula, Big Rainbow, and Cherokee Purple - all heirlooms.

I never used to grow heirlooms because I believed that it was too hard and I was unaware that there were so many different varieties. They are more difficult because they do not have any disease resistance bred into them. They have not been altered at all in fact. Heirlooms are true open-pollinated seed plants. You can actually save the seeds from heirlooms and grow them again year after year (which I do not do because I worry about cross-pollination). If you try to save the seeds of hybrids, they will not reproduce true to the parent plant, but hybrids are usually very resistant to diseases. The other draw back with heirlooms is that not as many tomatos grow on each plant as do the hybrids. Usually the heirloom plants are much larger even hence taking up more room. Last year I had a bit of a problem here because I did not stake or cage my Brandywine plants. I grew over 40 tomato plants and didn't get around to supporting all of them. I tried many different kinds of support as I discussed in "Tomato Cage Alternatives". (This was the post that had the most comments on, but unfortunately I lost them all when I had to re-do my blogs)

I plan to use the Florida "Stake and Weave" method this year to support the heirlooms. I will discuss that in greater detail later. As for now, I have to decide if I will try any other heirloom tomatoes this year. I welcome any suggestions or comments about heirloom varieties that anyone likes or dislikes. Last year I grew 20 different tomato varieties. This year I may top that mark with at least a third of them being heirlooms. I am very excited to find out what each one is like. Of course I will report back to you each step of the way!



I also love green zebras for their tart flavor, beautiful stripes,bountiful productivity and the fact that the birds don't eat them.

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