Thursday, April 26, 2012


I now have my garden all planted.  One of my three raised beds is devoted to heirloom tomatoes, also known as "heritage tomatoes".

What makes a tomato heirloom?

According to Wikipedia: "An heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heirloom cultivar of tomato. Heirloom tomatoes have become increasingly popular and more readily available in recent years. They are grown for historical interest, access to wider varieties, and by people who wish to save seeds from year to year."

However, like the term "organic", it can mean somewhat different things to different people.  Since heirloom tomatoes have become the fashionable, more companies have pushed the envelope of what they label that way.

From Gary Isben's TomatoFest

Where did the term "Heirloom" plants begin?

"The term "Heirloom" applied to plants was apparently first used by Kent Whealy of Seed Savers Exchange, who first used "heirloom" in relation to plants in a speech he gave in Tucson in 1981. He had asked permission to use the term "heirloom" from John Withee, who had used the term on the cover of his bean catalog. John said sure, that he had taken it from Prof. William Hepler at the University of New Hampshire, who first used the term "heirloom" to describe some beans that friends had given him back in the 1940s."

Here is a link to a list of heirloom tomato varieties offered up by Teresa O'Conner - garden blogger extraordinaire over at Seasonal Wisdom.

I was introduced to heirloom tomatoes last year when I was given several plants by a neighbor who grew them from seed in her garage under grow lights.  We had several varieties I don't remember, but one favorite that I do recall is the    brandywine .  I've long known home grown tomatoes taste far superior to anything you can buy in the store, but these were especially spectacular.

This year we are trying a few different things.  I've included links to other blogs and websites that are good resources for info about and/or ordering heirloom tomatoes.  There's some great information worth exploring.

We've planted

German Queen    (photo by Gary Ibsen's TomatoFest)
German Queen

Mr. Stripey  (photo by Veggie Gardener)

Red Beefsteak (photo by Gary Ibsen's TomatoFest)
Beefsteak heirloom Tomato

Cherokee Purple  (photo by Vegetable Gardening
Cherokee Purple tomato

Marglobe (photo by Bonnieplants)
Marglobe Heirloom Tomato

plus some sort of cherry tomato, not sure of the variety.

I can't wait for my first garden grown BLT followed up with some yummy homemade salsa!

As the song says, there's only two things that money can't buy - that's true love and home grown tomatoes!   Guy Clark singing "Home Grown Tomatoes".

Lyrics from Guy Clark's 1997 Keepers album:

Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin' out in the garden
Get you a ripe one don't get a hard one.

Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer
All winter with out `em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' & diggin'
Every time I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes

You can go out to eat & that's for sure
But it's nothin' a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice

Eat `em with egss, eat `em with gravy
Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy
Put `em on the side put `em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I's to change this life I lead
I'd be Johnny Tomato Seed
`Cause I know what this country needs
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see

When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes.

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