Part One: Heirlooms For Everyone! A Guide to Choosing Tomato Seeds
By Kira Hamman
As much as we all love seed catalogs, they can be a touch overwhelming at times.
Seventy-four varieties of heirloom tomatoes? Really? How can anyone ever choose?
Here’s help, in the form of an annotated guide to six fantastic varieties. Grow one, grow them all, ignore this list completely — the choice is up to you. But place your seed order quick, because it’s time to get started!
1. Brandywine: The Platonic ideal of tomato.
Brandywine tomatoes are huge, juicy, delicious, pest-resistant… basically perfect. If you grow only one variety, this should be it.
2. Yellow Brandywine:
All the class of red Brandywine in a hip new color.
OK, true, it’s not really a new color in the sense of being, you know, actually new. It’s probably almost as old as the red, actually. For the person who wants something different that’s still recognizable as a tomato.
3. Moonglow: Not just a pretty face.
The most beautiful tomato in the world, but, unlike the hybrids, it hasn’t sold its soul for its beauty. A rich, deep, reddish-orange that perfectly complements reds and yellows.
4. Green Zebra: It’s not easy… well, you know.
Green Zebras stay green when they’re ripe, and taste almost just like reds, yellows, and oranges. A little more acidic, maybe. For the person who wants to grow a complete tomato rainbow.
5. Purple Cherokee: Dare to be different.
A flavor that screams summer. They look kind of weird, it’s true – they’re not really purple, but they’re not exactly red, either. But, oh, take a bite and all is forgiven!
6. Black Krim: The black sheep of heirlooms.
This Russian heirloom is not for the faint of heart. If you like opera and/or motorcycles, this might be the tomato for you.
Seeds for all these varieties (and many, many more, but don’t let that scare you) are available from Seed Savers Exchange, an organization “committed to collecting, conserving, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.” You don’t have to be a member to order seeds, but you might consider joining this fabulous organization anyway.