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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 2/13/2013

Calling for your favorite tomatoes

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
BLADE COLUMNIST

Do you have visions of a lush green garden dancing in your head?

I do. My friend has a greenhouse and we are crafting a planting plan for a tomato adventure this summer. The first step is a little research. I want to know your favorite tomato varieties. Which are the toughest? Which are the sweetest? Easiest to grow? Ones to avoid?

We have a lot of die-hard tomato growers out there and I want to grow some of your favorites. To get the ball rolling, I found a few favorites I would like to toss into the ring.

The favorites

How about Brandywine? My friend says this is a favorite because it has that old world flavor and tastes like a good old-fashioned tomato.

Brandywines are easy to grow and are perfect for slicers on the dinner table and will hold up if they are tossed into a salsa or a sauce.

Another good slicer is Rutgers. Longtime tomato growers say they are really easy to grow in almost any soil type and don't need a lot of extra TLC.

If you are looking for some of the biggies, you can always stick with Beefsteak.

Brandywine is also popular in this category as well as Big Boy. How about trying Mortgage Lifter, if for no other reason than its fun and unusual name!

More families are adding to their tomato patch so they can make salsa or sauce. Not all tomatoes work well for this. Romas are one of the popular tomatoes grown for canning. Amish Paste and San Marzano are also prolific growers with a good track record when they cook down.

What about the snackable cherry tomatoes? This is a category that has expanded in the last few years. We've gone from cherry tomatoes, to pear, to grape sizes.

All of them are smaller versions of the big boys and some are sweeter than others. Some can get out of control quickly, and some end up with more foliage than fruit. So it is important to do some research before you start planting these too.

Some of the popular varieties grown are Super Sweet 100, Sungold, Snow White, Sweet Million, and Yellow Pear.

One Web site, TomatoFest.com, puts the Black Cherry tomatoes on top. They are native to Southern Ukraine, according to Gary Ibsen, Founder of TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds. He said "Black" tomatoes are not really black. They cover a range of dark colors, including deep purple, dusky deep brown, smoky mahogany with dark green shoulders, and bluish-brown."

So, what are you going to plant? I want to know. Send me an email and give me your top three favorites and tell me why. All of your tomato growing pals just might try growing them too.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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