Friday, April 29, 2011

A Tomato Top 6

Today I’m taking a break from everything and focusing on my baby tomato plants. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a tomato addiction. So, today’s top 5 is all about the tomatoes. Realistically, most plants come in 6 packs, so we’re going to do Ginnie's Top 6 Tomatoes to grow in Albany.

  1. Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. I have to start with my shame. This tomato is not an heirloom, but is so delicious and such a wonderful plant, it’s worth compromising your tomato values for. These giant plants are covered with orange cherry tomatoes that are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Try one warmed from the sun and you may also become a tomato addict.
  2. Bloody Butcher: Really, worth it for the name, but this tomato is the best early tomato I’ve found. I’ve had vibrant red Bloody Butcher tomatoes from at the end of June and it has a wonderful garden tomato flavor that is often lacking in early tomatoes. What I usually do with these plants is tandem plant them with a late tomato and either actually pull the plant or cut it back so there’s no space wasted.
    1. Kellogg’s Breakfast or KBX: Cheating? Yes, I’m sneaking in another tomato. But, my favorite plant to tandem plant with Bloody Butcher is Kellogg’s Breakfast. This is a late, large, orange tomato. When the other tomato plants have stopped producing so much you have these delicious giants as a gift, and when you tandem plant it with the Bloody Butcher, you aren’t wasting any space.
  3. Mortgage Lifter: The history of this tomato is here and is well worth reading. Large, pink, prolific tomatoes that come surprisingly early for such a big tomato. They are hearty and produce all summer.
  4. Cherokee Purple: Delicious, prolific, 12 oz. purple tomatoes with green shoulders. My favorite tomato because of its ease for growing and delicious flavor. Sprinkle a little salt on a Cherokee Purple and all of the effort for growing these plants is paid off.
  5. Green Zebra: This golf ball sized green stripped tomato makes the list purely on flavor and the color. It’s a late tomato despite its small size so I wouldn’t grow a bunch of them, but it’s amazing for novelty and it has a real tomato flavor in a green tomato. It’s pure victory to have a color blind tomato eater (what I call those who only will eat red tomatoes) try one of these and expand their tomato horizons.
  6. Owens Purple: Okay, so this isn’t totally fair because Owens Purple isn’t commercially available, but I love it. It’s a cross between Mortgage Lifter and Paul Robeson and each year it’s been an amazing meld of the prolific quality of Mortgage Lifter with the smoky taste and color of the delicious Paul Robeson.

I grow about 30 varieties of tomatoes in my garden each year. If you want to jump off the Burpee’s Big Boy Express into the land of heirloom tomatoes, there are sites you can order tomato plants from on the internet, you can also keep your eye out for heirlooms at farmers markets and the co-op. If I ever get my ducks in a row, at some point in the distant future, you might even catch me selling plants! Once you get the taste, you'll be tempted to take the plunge of trying to start your own plants, which is well worth the adventure.

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