Okay, I’ll admit it…I’m tired of the cold weather; damp, icky cold weather that makes your bones ache. We’re about halfway through our second face cord of wood, and I’m daydreaming about the spring garden. I pulled out my leftover seeds and started sorting through what I want to plant. Some of the packets are a few years old, but the seeds still sprout–don’t be fooled by the “expiration date” they print on the package. I gathered together some seed starting mix and small Styrofoam cups, and I soon had some planted. The Italian Ice and Yellow Pear went in first since they’re the ones I literally got hundreds of tomatoes off of last year. Super Sauce was next–it wasn’t exactly prolific last year, but it had competition from a huge Brandy Boy, so it might not have been its fault.
The ones I passed on this year were Brandy Boy, Brandywine and Cherokee Purple. They all have fabulous flavor, produce HUGE tomatoes, but at only two or so per bush, there’s not enough return on the investment. I read they do better further north as far as production goes, so I’ll just leave them for my northern neighbors.
I wanted something different this year, not the standard Better Boy or Early Girl they stock the shelves with down here. I wanted flavor, good production, as well as history, so I did some research and found rareseeds.com which is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They have really good prices and a huge selection of vegetable and flower seeds, herbs, etc. I ended up with seven varieties of tomato seeds in my basket.
(The following is from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds website)
“One of the best-known historic tomatoes, the medium-sized fruit are early. Productive plants and great flavor made this one of the most popular Midwestern tomatoes in the late 1940’s. In 1947, Oscar H. Will & Co. stated, “It out-yielded all other varieties in South Dakota trials.” Per Henderson & Co., in 1951, “Two weeks earlier than Marglobe or Rutgers.” This tomato was one of our most requested, as people love the smooth, beautiful fruit and heavy yields. Introduced in 1944 by the University of Nebraska.”
Yoder’s German Yellow Tomato
“This regular-leafed variety produces large yellow/pale orange beefsteak type fruit. Fairly crack resistant and can grow as large as 1 pound. Good flavor. From Amish lady Mrs. Yoder, whose family grew this tomato for over half a century in Tennessee and Kentucky.” The reviews stated that the plants produced so many tomatoes they could hardly keep up with using and canning, and there were so many huge tomatoes the limbs would break if not properly supported.
A Grappoli D’Inverno Tomato
“This is the “Winter Grape” tomato of old Italy, where farmers would hang the fruit-covered vines and the fruit would stay fresh well into the winter. They also dry perfectly and resemble little “Roma” tomatoes. The flavorful fruit are delicious and great for snacking, fresh or dried.” The reviews described the tomatoes as ‘tasty, meaty, stores a long time and produces even in half day sun. It is a bit slow to take off, but that is OK since it is a great fall/ winter storage tomato. I tried pulling them up before frost like they say and it worked. I hung it up outside in a covered porch and had tomatoes for months.’
Rose De Berne Tomato
“Beautiful, nicely-shaped 4-to 8-oz fruit are a rose-pink color and have an excellent sweet flavor that has made it a hit with many growers. The vines set good yields of this lovely variety from Historic Switzerland.” The fact that it’s from Switzerland had me adding it to my basket since my grandmother’s ancestors were from Switzerland.
Bonny Best Tomato
“The famous old canning tomato that was selected out of Chalk’s Early Jewel by one George W. Middleton and introduced in 1908 by Walter P. Stokes seed house. It became one of the most respected canning varieties in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Medium-sized fruit are round, red, meaty and loaded with flavor. A good producer that makes a fine slicer too.” A review stated ‘Super reliable producer and an easy keeper. This was the first tomato to produce in our garden and it kept producing all summer long – into October (Zone 9). My two plants produced nearly 50 lbs. of canning tomatoes. A definite keeper!’
Costoluto Genovese Tomato
“The fluted, old Italian favorite that has been around since the early 19th century. Fruit are rather flattened and quite attractive with their deep ribbing. This variety is a standard in Italy for both fresh eating and preserving; known for its intensely flavorful, deep red flesh.” One review stated a few plants gave enough tomatoes to can over 100 quarts and reduce wonderfully for a thick, rich sauce.
Dad’s Sunset Tomato
“The perfect orange tomato! Large 10 oz. fruit are very smooth, uniform, and a beautiful, glowing orange in color. It keeps very well. One of the best flavored tomatoes we have tried.”
With an eye towards all the tomatoes I’ll (hopefully) be harvesting, I have an early birthday present coming tomorrow- -an All American Pressure Canner/Cooker. Been wanting one of those for a LONG time. Yes, this kitchen geek will be doing a happy dance when FedEx pulls up tomorrow, lol!
When the seeds arrive, I’ll get them started in cups. Hopefully the weather will warm up a little so hubby and I can construct one or two more raised beds, as well as add some compost to the raised beds we made last year and fluff the soil up. By the time the seedlings are big enough, everything should be ready for planting.
Now, if it’ll only warm up…