Favorite Edibles: Tomatoes

Let Them Eat Tomatoes!

By Debra Knapke

I’ve seen reports that we are losing selections of our heirloom vegetables, but I can’t imagine trying to sort through more tomato options than we have right now. With thoughts of downsizing and focusing on tomatoes we have grown and enjoyed, I choose seven cultivars of tasty tomatoes. I ordered seeds and sat back to wait for them to arrive.

Then I was on Ron Wilson’s Saturday morning radio show, and he just had to introduce me to several tomato cultivars and a new catalog. There are now 12 cultivars of tomatoes – six seeds for each – sitting in the greenhouse taking advantage of this sunny day. If they all germinate there will be 72 plants… who wants tomato plants?

Here is my list with some comments.


  • ‘Blue Berries’ from Wild Boar Farms – Brad Gates is offering this tomato that is packed with anthocyanins; can’t wait to try this purple cherry.
  • ‘Black Vernissage’ – a gift package from Baker Creek Heirlooms; another dark tomato from the Ukraine… we are going to be so healthy.
  • ‘Litt’l Bites’ – a determinate container cherry from Renee’s Garden that will please my granddaughters



  • ‘Gold Medal’ – an old standby for us; big and juicy, more sweet than tart.



  • ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ – Ron insisted that this is one of the best tomatoes ever; not sure I will eat it for breakfast.
  • ‘Mandarin Cross’ – this is a hybrid that just said: try me.



  • ‘Moneymaker’ – Botanical Interests (and other seed companies) offers this red slicer tomato that is an old English heirloom. I like heirlooms…
  • ‘Crimson Carmello’ – I jumped across the Channel to try this French hybrid heirloom. Our tomato choices are quite international.
  • ‘Red Brandywine’ – one of our favorites; need I say more?



  • ‘Black Krim’ – another favorite that we plant year after year.
  • ‘Cherokee Purple’ – not planting this just might be grounds for divorce (just kidding; I think)
  • ‘Indigo Apple’ – another Wild Boar Farms introduction that beckoned from the pages of the Baker Creek catalog.


Last note: this isn’t our longest list of tomatoes. One year I started 16 kinds of tomatoes including a white cultivar and a green cultivar. Please observe that neither of those colors are represented in the above list.


Favorite Flora: Heirloom Tomatoes

When is a green tomato ripe?

Image from Tomatogrowers.com

Image from Tomatogrowers.com

By Teresa Woodard

Thanks to Master Gardener intern and nutritionist Shirley Kindrick I now know when to pick a Green Giant and other non-red heirloom tomatoes.  She says to start by knowing if the tomato plants are early, mid-season or later ripeners.  Another clue is to check the “days to maturity”. For example, on the back of the seed packet for the classic Brandywine – a late-season heirloom tomato, the “days to maturity” is 90 days.  So, if the tomato plant is planted on May 15, the harvest date would likely be August 15.tomato tasting

Shirley also advises to know the tomato’s color when ripe.  Finally, she says to feel the tomatoes, and pick them when they are a little soft to the touch.  They ripen from the inside out.

Shirley closed her presentation with a tasting of several heirloom varieties.  Our favorites included Anna’s Noire, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Green Giant and Valencia.

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