Tuesday, March 20, 2012

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES--Gardening as therapy, Week 7

 I can't believe it's March in Pennsylvania and so many flowers are blooming!  Above is a picture of our gnarled weeping cherry tree which has just blossomed. Hyacinths, wood hyacinths, daffodils, pansies and creeping phlox are also brightening our yard.

I'm starting to plant tomato seeds this week.  The petunia plants are growing stronger as you can see below.  The geraniums are starting to pop out of the soil.  The "apple blossom" variety is springing up first.

The first year I grew tomatoes, I began with a basic beefsteak variety and paste tomatoes.  I watch cooking shows and was intrigues by the chefs using "heirloom" tomatoes which were supposed to have a richer more vibrant flavor.  In our area there wasn't a market where I could find heirloom tomatoes.

What are heirloom tomatoes?  To me the term means tomatoes with a history and possibly a story behind them.  They are open pollinated and are true tomatoes without genetic engineering.  When I decided to grow them, I understood that they might be more prone to disease and cracking.  But that wasn't my experience last year.  To my surprise almost all of them grew and the result was over ninety healthy palnts.  Maybe this was the result of the varieties I chose.  Or maybe my good crop was the result of where I bought my seeds.  I found an organic farm on-line (TomatoFest) that is California based.  I'll insert a link below.

Now let me give you an example of the history of an heirloom tomato.  My favorite variety is "Marianna's Peace."  This tomato is an indeterminate that produces a 1 - 2 pound beautiful fruit.  It's officially a "pink" tomato.  It has a bountiful, not too acid taste, wonderful for eating and also for sauce.  The seeds date back to the early 1900's when they were smuggled out of Czechoslovakia by a seventeen-year-old named Marianna.

Another favorite of mine is Anna Russian which has a heart-shaped red fruit.  The seeds came from a Russian immigrant.  Here's a photo of last year's fruit. That's a Purple Calabash in the center.

This year I'm trying some new varieties along with Marianna and Anna Russian.  I'll let you know which ones pop up first and grow the best.

Until next week...


MaureenT said...

I loved the flavor of heirloom tomatoes...been planting them for the past 7 years. You can't beat them!

Cora said...

You've inspired me to try heirloom tomatoes this year. I saw some at the University Farm market a few weeks ago but didn't get them, I think I will go back and hope they still have some. Thanks for your post.

KRS said...

Maureen--I tried some different ones this year. One is white! We'll see if they grow.

KRS said...

Cora--Compare the flavor and see what you think. Come back and tell me.