Posted on 14 April 2008 by

Tomatoes in the White House

Abraham Lincoln TomatoBy Michael Nolan

You know you’ve accomplished something when you have a tomato named after you.

Okay, so maybe that wouldn’t be such a big deal to anyone other than the tomato centric, but the Abraham Lincoln heirloom tomato would be just as impressive by any name.

The original variety was first introduced in 1923 by W.H. Buckbee who is responsible for naming it after Illinois’ favorite son, good ol’ Honest Abe.

This hearty heirloom plant produces tremendous crops of extra large fruit that is ideal for organic gardeners thanks to its natural disease resistant properties.

Here are a few more interesting facts about the Abraham Lincoln original heirloom tomato, most based on my own experience with it:

  • The fruit is deep dark red with bronze-green leaves.
  • The average fruit size is about 10 ounces, quite a far cry from the original Buckbee claims of a one pound average size.
  • The more tomatoes on a cluster, the smaller the average size. To increase the size of each fruit, pull off the smaller tomatoes in each cluster early on.
  • Late season producer. The Abraham Lincoln will generally produce in three months and continue to produce at high volume until the first frost.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: There was a second strain (commonly called ‘Abe Lincoln’ in order to distinguish the two) introduced in the mid ‘70s that matures about two to three weeks earlier. The easiest way to tell the two strains apart is that the younger strain does not carry the original Abraham Lincoln’s trademark bronze-green leaves.

If you are growing Abraham Lincolns, I cannot stress enough how much fruit these plants produce.

They require quite a bit more support than other varieties. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

6 Responses to “Tomatoes in the White House”

  1. Nancy Bond Says:

    They sound beautiful, and delicious. 🙂

  2. our friend Ben Says:

    Hooray! Another great heirloom post! I haven’t tried Mr. Lincoln, but sounds like I’d better keep an eye out for him!

  3. Michael Nolan Says:

    If Mother Nature agrees, I’ll have plenty of them to photograph in a few weeks. Of course as I type this it is 45 degrees outside at 10am, with temperatures going freezing or below again tonight.

    And of course, I turned my furnace’s pilot light off two weeks ago…

  4. bethany Says:

    I’m new to your site but just wanted to say “hey y’all” from Memphis and love the content here — also, do you have any experience with the Lemon Boy variety? If so, have you ever heard of a variety similar to the Lemon Boy that can be grown in containers? Thanks!

  5. Michael Nolan Says:

    Bathany – I’ve had the Lemon Boys before, but I’m not a fan of hybrids, so I lean toward the heirloom varieties, most of which will do well in containers.

    The Yellow Brandywine is an heirloom type that is about as close to the Lemon Boy in both flavor and color as I think you can get, plus unlike the hybrids you can store seeds and grow them again next year. The Yellow Brandywine is a late producer (usually between 80-95 days), but your patience will be well rewarded as they produce a lot of fruit!

    I use 5-gallon buckets for some of my tomatoes (including the Yellow Brandywine) every year. When you grow them in containers, make sure the soil is getting plenty of oxygen – you can accomplish this by drilling extra holes around the bucket or other container. Also, make sure to support your container-grown tomato plants very well as their root system will not be as widespread or as strong as it would have been if grown in the ground.

    Thanks for the “hey ya’ll”! I’m sending you a “how-do” from Alabama!


  6. deb Says:

    This sounds like a great variety. The season sounds a little long for those of us in N. Tx. I need them to set fruit early because we get to 100 so early. I will try it anyway.


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