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Cultivating Heirloom Tomatoes


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dcarch, I love your greenhouse! what a great idea and a great use of space, too. Did you build it yourself?

Please tell me those tomato plants are from last summer--I'd be too jealous if you already have plants that size in NY.

Yes I built the green house. I have been using it for many years now. It went thru many snow and wind storms. Looks like it will be good for many more years. After the removal, it does not take up much room for storing.

The video is an old video. I will be planting my seedlings in it in a day or so. By the time I remove it come 5/1 or 5/10, my tomato plant will be fruiting already.


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Tomatoes 2011 Only two plants of each this year. We cut back.

Black elephant


Cow’s tit


Black crimson

Belgian heart

Japanese black trifele

Zorica’s Croatian bull’s eye

Japanese oxheart

Crnkovic Yugoslavian

Wisconsin 55 gold

Cour de bue

Black star

Crimson cushion beefsteak

Stupice ipb

Cuore de toro

Giant oxheart

Italian giant beefsteak


Black plum

Purple Russian

Power’s heirloom

Omar’s Lebanese

Watermelon beefsteak

Martino’s roma


Bulgarian triumph


Caspian pink

German red strawberry

Kelogg’s breakfast

Giant Belgium

Orange strawberry

Orange oxheart

Early girl

Mt. Hood cherry


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You cut back! So when the season gets going we will be eager to learn how you use and also preserve all the goodness.

Hopefully, this will be a good year. We moved from CA a few years ago and after 20+ years of growing tomatoes in vastly different conditions we may have some tricks down. We have added huge amounts of custom compost from the dairy down the road to already beautiful Iowa soil. We tilled it yesterday and it is by far the finest soil I've ever had. (In Santa Monica I brought in two truckloads of potting soil for my raised beds.)

I've got several Amish friends that don't put up as much out of the garden as we do. (they buy from WalMart) We do plain, sauce, soup, marmalade, salsa, BBQ sauces, chutneys, Bloody Mary mix & V8.

Our garden is pretty much open to our neighbors so they stop by and pick what they need. My favorite is the perfect BLT. We are trying to get the local circle down to less than a mile. I may put in a 1/4 acre of wheat in the next few years to accomplish that goal. Some of the best tomatoes we grew last year, for slicing onto BLTs, were Polish, Soldacki, and Aussie. You want the really big 1-2 lb beefsteaks for that.

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Wow - as I said I hope you share your techniques and recipes as the season progresses. I wish more people felt comfortable about the exchange and sharing. I have been able to start the process with neighbors. They are amazingly grateful to have someone appreciate their produce that could go to waste yet are hesitant to become those midnight zucchini gifters

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  • 4 weeks later...

The unidentified heirlooms that we've planted are 2feet tall. I think theY are yellow. Just not sure, but it lwas interesting that about 25 plants, very vigerous, are thriveing. They all have flowers, I'll attempt to send pics if I figure out how to get pictures onto the ipad. Anyone who can help with that?

Maybe I can send them to myself from my cell. You know computer literacy is a lot easier if you were raised with it...and my kids are like "you want me to do what?"

Edit: regarding creoles, they are an ugly, crusty looking thing, and what they sell in the roadside stands here. I only use them if I peel them first, but the shoulders are always nasty looking. Taste is ok, but I'dprefer the cherokee purples I can buy for a short period here are beautiful and tasty.

Edited by highchef (log)
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I put out 44 plants yesterday--my favorite varieties are Ananas Noir, a green/purple/yellow streaked variety that is ugly on the outside but very pretty (and tasty) on the inside, and Golden Sunray, a yellow orange.

I also planted Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Riesentraube, Great White, Moonglow (all new to me this year) and a small red that I grew last year and saved the seeds from. I don't remember the variety, but it produces zillions of ping-pong ball sized red tomatoes that taste great. It also produces all the way up til frost, long after the other tomatoes have hung it up for the year.

I cage my tomatoes with cattle panels, which are 16 feet long and 4.5 feet tall, made of heavy wire. I hang them on T posts, and put them in pairs, about a foot or so apart. The tomatoes go in the middle, and all I have to do is walk the row every couple of days and poke errant branches back in. The spaces between the wires are large, so picking is easy.

I mulch with cardboard and straw, so no weeds, and I can walk on the cardboard without getting my feet muddy. By the end of the season, the cardboard is pretty much gone, and I can till it into the soil.

I usually plant some hybrids, because the older varieties generally don't have the hybrids high yields, but this year, I forgot to buy some. Too late now--my tomato row is all planted.

I can salsa and roasted tomato sauce and I freeze some whole. But mostly I eat them fresh--every day.

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