I recently mentioned that there was a tomato or two that I have been hearing such good things about. Well truth be told , me being so new to starting my own seeds instead of buying plants from Garden Shops is opening a whole world of varieties for me. So although I have gotten my feet wet with a few Open Pollinated/Heirloom types that I absolutely adored,we are going to discover many wonderful varieties here together!
I admit I am new to OP/Heirlooms, but I am not totally new to vegetable gardening. I helped my parents in their garden as a child and as a teenager I worked at a large greenhouse and learned a great deal about vegetables as well as Annual and Perennial flowers and herbs.I have been growing in my own garden for over 16 seasons now. At first I limited myself to a few tried and true varieties of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Then a few years back I received an e-mail from one of the seed companies and it was offering for the first time a cherry tomato called "Black Cherry" ...I had to have those seeds. Never before had I seen tomatoes in shades other than red and gold, and I was so excited about a dark , dusky , almost black tomato in my garden. It was a bit confusing when it came down to deciding if they were ripe or not. The ripe ones were not nearly as black as the ones in the picture I had received, but once the ripeness issue was cleared up, it was pretty amazing. These little cherries had such a wonderful smoky , salty , tomato-y taste to them, that hooked me. It became clear that growing tomatoes would never be the same for me again.
Fast forward a few years to the 2007 growing season, and here you find the start of our journey of hopefully many tomato seasons of new tastes and wonderful discoveries. The 2008 season is slowly making its way towards us, and has so much promise. The seed catalogues are finding their way to my mailbox, and ,my list of wants is growing by the day. I already have a seed box stuffed to the gills with seeds, but could a few more varieties hurt??
One of the varieties I am looking at is called 'Opalka' it is a paste variety that I have heard some folks say is better that the 'San Marzanos' that I had to have, and which are considered the ultimate paste/sauce tomato by some. Now after hearing how good these guys are right out of the garden, and how they make a sauce that is so totally mouth watering, I am going to be reserving a bit of my seed money to buy a few seeds. I wont be planting them in the 2008 garden , as the spot for my paste varieties has been promised to 'Principe Borghese' and 'San Marzano' but they will definitely get a place in the 2009 garden.
Another variety I have been hearing about is 'Big Zac'. Now this is a hybrid type, and I am trying to stay away from hybrids, not because I don't like them, only because I am trying to save my own seeds. This one however sounds like fun, it is supposed to have the potential for bearing huge tomatoes...and when I say huge, I mean 4 to 5 pounders. There is a method for getting those humongous fruits that I probably wouldn't apply, but some folks have said they are getting 2-3 pounders off of this guy without even trying. Hey, I would be happy with a 1 and a 1/2 pounder myself.There are a few alternative heirlooms with the potential to bear 2-3 pounders out there, but I will hold off on talking about them until after I get a few more catalogues in and do a bit of web searching on them, One of them might be the one for me instead of 'Big Zac'....who knows, there is still 6 weeks until I start my seeds.
Next Time...a few of those Huge fruit bearing Heirlooms