Heirloom tomatoes are an absolute must for hardiness, flavor and maximum nutrition. In fact, heirloom varieties of most any vegetable are my first choice to grow. For me, I want hardy plants that are easy to grown and produce consistent, juicy flavor. While many heirloom vegetables need a long growing season of 90-120 days, there are many tomatoes that are very successful in our USDA zone 5 climate at about 80 days.
Somehow, the general public has become enamored with all the newer hybrid tomato varieties, but the old standbys are the best. They contain the highest levels of antioxidants because they grow slowly and have time to develop a strong cellular structure and rich flavor. And they are dependable!
I have several all-time favorite tomatoes that I grow every year, and then add other varieties that sound interesting.
My first choice is the beautiful and interesting crinkly shaped Constoluto fiortino, or its sister variety Constoluto genovese. In fact, as I painter, I am fascinated with the shape of the fruits. As the name indicates its an old-time, Italian heirloom that has interesting fabulous flavor. Its very dense and meaty, perfect for cooking or sliced for sandwiches.
Because I plant my tomatoes among my perennial flowers, Heirloom Goldie is a beautiful, golden yellow tomato that I love for the color. It looks gorgeous on a plate, sprinkled with Cyprus Black Lava Salt and the flavor is rich and warm. Golden tomatoes typically are less acidic than red tomatoes and so easier on your lips and in your tummy, if you are sensitive.
Bull’s Heart is a big beautiful, heart-shaped tomato that you can caress between your two hands. It is consistently meaty and succulent and my absolute favorite for a rich bacon and tomato sandwich on sheepherder bread. Or plated with bufala mozzarella, fresh basil and sweet onions drenched with olive oil and aged balsamic.
And, we always have to have cherry tomatoes, just because they are so easy to pick and pop in your mouth while collecting them from the garden. I generally pick my tomatoes in the evening after dinner so I can enjoy the cool grass on my bare feet, a little quiet time and the beautiful light of the late summer sun.
In order to successfully grow big, healthy plants, always start with well-composted, organic soil. As you know, good organic soil is my mantra. Remove the bottom two branches and plant deeply to the joint where the second branch was. Tomatoes develop roots all the way up the stem that is covered with soil allowing them to absorb every bit of nutrition the soil can provide. In each hole before planting, back fill with my secret recipe–a handful of alfalfa pellets and superphosphate (0-25-0). Keep evenly watered throughout the season to avoid cracked skins and blossom end-rot. Then, smack your lips and enjoy the best tomatoes ever!
In sync with nature,
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