Monday, February 25, 2008

More Heirloom Tomato Discussion

Tomatoes are fantastic! They are always worth writing about. They are always worth discussing, especially if you are discussing heirloom tomatoes.

If you have visited this site before, you know that I am overly excited about trying new heirloom tomato varieties this year.

Last year I wrote about my observations on growing heirloom tomatoes. I listed the pros and the cons as I see them. You can read it here, but the quick version is that compared to hybrids, heirloom tomatoes can be more flavorful, more interesting and have a sense of heritage or history behind them. Unfortunately for many gardeners, they also are more susceptible to disease and pests and can have lower yields.

Well it seems that Patrick from Bifurcated Carrots disagrees with me. He wrote an interesting post refuting my observations. I have to say however, that he was very polite in his disagreement. Patrick is a gentleman. He is also very knowledgeable about vegetable gardening, so if Patrick writes that you're wrong about something, then it should be carefully read and considered. If you are interested in heirloom tomatoes, you should read Patrick's post.

He brings up some interesting points. One of which that I had not thought of before is that heirloom varieties by the same name sold by different companies are not equal. He explains how a variety needs to be "grown out" to perpetuate the desirable qualities of a variety. This means that as we gardeners read about which varieties work for others and which ones don't, it never means that we can expect the same results in our garden.

It is fun to find out what varieties others like, but maybe we should be focusing more on where they got the seed that worked well for them (and where the seed came from that didn't work).

So am I right or wrong about the pros and cons of heirloom tomatoes? I would have to say yes. The point is that gardening is a great activity. Writing about it is also great. We garden bloggers should continue to report on our observations about our gardening but beware over-generalizing - about tomatoes or anything else.

Most of all though, we should continue to experiment in our gardens and document things. We should continue to read from good sites like Bifurcated Carrots, and we should continue discussing things that we are interested in. Most of all, we should continue discussing heirloom tomatoes!

3 comments:

Curtis

Your right Narc. What works and doesn't in our gardens should be looked at and discussed. I am planning on growing three heirloom tomato varieties this summer(providing I can get off my duff and find the time to order the seed).

Patrick

Marc,

Thanks for such a nice post!

I did leave that comment on your heirloom pros/cons post, but there was much more behind my post. I also made a similar comment on a post Colleen made on In the Garden Online when she linked to a Mother Earth News article on heirloom tomatoes. Even Melinda commented on the post that it seemed like everyone was emphasizing disease resistance lately. Perhaps just as importantly, I had the cartoon and I was trying to put together a post that went along with it. Mostly it just seemed like a good topic for a post.

Whatever the reasons behind it I agree, heirloom tomatoes in general do have some problems and often have lower yields when you first start growing any particular variety. Everyone thinking about growing these tomatoes should plan on that. And of course you are right we should always keep on talking, that's what we bloggers are good at after all!

I'm going to answer your very good question about tomato seed saving in a comment on my post.

vonlafin

Interesting...I have tried a few heirlooms, but really like to stick with red tomatoes. I know it's silly, but there is something about a black tomato that just isn't appealing to be.

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