Heirloom Tomatoes For the Home Garden

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What is an heirloom tomato? These tomatoes are often the most anticipated of tomato varieties grown in home gardens each summer. But how do they get the name heirloom, you might ask? Heirloom tomatoes have been passed down from generation to generation. But unlike antique cars, it's not necessary for cultivars to have been grown 100, 50, or even 25 years ago to earn an heirloom designation. Instead, all heirlooms are open-pollinated cultivars, not hybrids. This means the seed can be saved and replanted each year. In fact, this is how heirloom tomatoes are kept in production.

Noted for Taste. Heirloom tomatoes are known to be some of the best tasting tomatoes. That is why they are so highly anticipated each summer. These tomatoes were bred for taste, not for long-distance transport. So, many are quite fragile once ripe.

But heirlooms are not only tasty, they are beautiful as well. Heirlooms come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Ripe fruit can be pink, red, yellow, orange, purple, green, or combinations of colors.

Heirloom tomatoes should be available in grocery stores and farmer's markets in August and September. Try several different cultivars, maybe you will find one or two that you want to grow in your garden next year. Then you will become one of the many gardeners that prefer these flavorful reminders of the past.

 

Some popular Heirloom Tomato Cultivars

Cultivar

Fruit Color

Type

Comments

Amana Orange

Orange

Indeterminate

Late

Amish Paste

Red

Indeterminate

Big Rainbow

Yellow and Red

Indeterminate

Late, large fruit

Black Krim

Purple/Black

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Brandywine

Pink-red

Indeterminate

Black & yellow fruit available

Costoluto Genovese

Red

Indeterminate

Irregular shape, paste/juice type

Cherokee Purple

Purple-red

Indeterminate

Druzba

Red

Indeterminate

German Pink

Pink

Indeterminate

Green Grape

Green

Determinate

Small fruit

Green Zebra

Green

Indeterminate

Striped fruit

Hungarian Heart

Pink

Indeterminate

Kellogg's Breakfast

Orange

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Martino's Roma

Red

Determinate

Oval fruit

Mortgage Lifter

Pink-red

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Oxheart

Red, pink, or orange

Indeterminate

Large, heart-shaped fruit

Persimmon

Yellow/gold

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Pineapple

Orange and yellow

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Ponderosa Red

Red

Indeterminate

Large fruit

Red Fig

Red

Indeterminate

Small pear-shaped fruit

Speckled Roman

Red with orange/yellow

Indeterminate

Speckled oval fruit

Silvery Fir Tree

Red

Determinate

Compact plants, early

Valencia

Orange-red

Indeterminate

Wapsipinicon Peach

Yellow/gold

Indeterminate

Slightly fuzzy fruit

Wyche's

Yellow/gold

Indeterminate

Yellow Pear

Yellow

Indeterminate

Small pear-shaped fruit


Green zebra heirloom tomato (immature fruit).  Photo by Cindy Haynes

Green zebra heirloom tomato (immature fruit). Photo by Cindy Haynes

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