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tomatoes, hybrid or heirloom?

 
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 04:39 pm
Basically I plant hybrid tomatoes, Early Girl, Better Boy, Sweet 100's and sometimes Italian Plum. I usually get very good fruit, continuous fruiting and good disease resistance.
Some others I know prefer Heirloom tomatoes (although I think that title is misleading as most all cultivars cross-pollinate). Anyway what's the big deal with heirloom tomatoes? (aside from the price)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 9 • Views: 3,597 • Replies: 21
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 04:50 pm
@dyslexia,
Deliciousness, variations in taste, when I used to grow them. Haven't grown them here.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:14 pm
I planted Mr. Stripeys once and hated them -- both the texture and flavor.

I typically stick with roma and cherry since I like a meaty tomato.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:16 pm
I've grown both. The heirlooms definitely had more taste. Plant more to compensate for the fact that they're not as disease-resistant.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:19 pm
@Eva,
recommended spacing for heirlooms is 5 ft. that's a lot or space.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:33 pm
@dyslexia,
Back when I planted them, I had space and built some reasonable, if temporary, trellising. Plus there are many heirlooms out there now and I bet spacing can vary.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:53 pm
Tomatoes last year were a disaster here in Virginia. Plants, mostly from deeper in the south, had some kind of fungus. It affected them but also spread to nearby gardens planted by seed.
The season before was awesome. We gave them away at my shop (with the suggestion of a donation to the food banks).
This year will, I hope, be bountiful.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:32 pm
@dyslexia,
That's because they spread out more. Modern hybrids are bred to be as compact as possible. People don't have as much garden space as they used to.

There's a lot of variety in tastes...some sweet, some acidic (my faves)...so I'd plant several types if you're not familiar with them.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:48 pm
@Eva,
In my tomato heyday, I had eight kinds. Hmmm, cherokee, green zebra, dona, I'll have to go check out the names to jar my memory, to remember my favorites.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:52 pm
@Eva,
I'm getting ready to put in some tomatoes, and have no space issues at all this year. (i'm using an old farm and it comes with a big tiller)

but i can't do acidity much.

anybody know which red tomatoes are lower acid?

Ima do yellows, but want some reds, and gram will want red.

thanks...
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:53 pm
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:
Anyway what's the big deal with heirloom tomatoes?


flavour and texture

if there is a good farmer's market around, try a couple of the heirlooms this year - find some you like, grow 'em and then the cost won't matter quite as much

I really don't like the texture of the hybrids now that I've been treating myself to the occasional heirloom tomato from the farmer's markets.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:55 pm
@realjohnboy,
Quote:
Plants, mostly from deeper in the south, had some kind of fungus.


The fungus was Late Blight. It started because of all the rain, but was made worse by the fact that the largest supplier to Big Box stores didn't monitor their plant stock and shipped infected plants up and down the east coast. This mass distribution of plants spread the fungus all the way up to Maine from way down south. We usually we don't see much of it in my area, but last year it was a total crop failure for home growers and farmers. Even sprayed crops suffered.

Heirlooms do have a wide variety of tastes and textures to chose from. I also like that they are open-pollinated and are not owned by Monsanto (yet). The more commercial varieties do have their place in the home garden. I think some of the popular beefsteak varieties are just as good flavor wise as many heirlooms. Sungold is not considered heirloom, but it's a great cherry tomato and I couldn't imagine summer without it. I also a variety called Rutgers (aka The Jersey Tomato) for it's ability to put up a fight with any tomato disease and still produce great fruit. The best sauce tomato is the disease prone San Marzano, beats Roma in every taste test no matter how it's cooked. I only eat Early Girls because they better than anything in the supermarket, but I pull them out as soon better tomato varieties kick in and replace them with a late crop of cabbage or beans.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:02 pm
@Green Witch,
Yeh, if I were trying them again, I'd do San Marzano as the prize, assuming it grows ok here.

This may be a good site, as it goes on about tomato zones -
http://store.tomatofest.com/SearchResults.asp

I remembered a couple of more varieties I liked, Brandywine and Carmello. An Early Girl as a starter, and a roma with a name I don't remember, plus a cherry and pear tomatoes I don't remember.

One I remember not liking at all was a yellow pear tomato..

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:26 pm
@ossobuco,
Oh, here's that growing zone map..
http://www.tomatofest.com/tomato-growing-zone-map.html
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:39 pm
@ossobuco,
I should add, to figure out the sunset map, hover your cursor over your zone number and a wee window will show up will give a small clue re tomato planting.

I'm glad to see this map - I know sunset mapping pretty well re the west, but haven't seen it before re the eastern u.s.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:40 pm
I ordered these tomato collections from Burpee's catalog this year:

http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetables/tomatoes/tomato+plants/burpee%27s+tomato+hall+of+fame.do

http://www.burpee.com/images/en_US//local/products/detail/b70171.jpg

You get one plant each of:

Big Boy The legend.
Big Mama The ultimate paste tomato.
Fourth of July The earliest tomato.
Brandy Boy The greatest tomato in 50 years.
Burpee's Burger Perfect slices for hamburgers and sandwiches.
Health Kick 50% richer in antioxidants.
Sweet Tangerine Bright orange, firm, super sweet favorite.
Sweet Baby Girl The best cherry yet.
Sun Gold Tangy and sweet.

http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetables/tomatoes/tomato+plants/tomato+best+of+show+collection+-+1+packet+each+of+5+varieties%2C+a+%2423.85+value.do

http://www.burpee.com/images/en_US/local/products/viewlarger/b68008_lg.jpg

This collection includes one plant each of:
‘Razzle Dazzle Hybrid’, a unique deep raspberry slicer with exceptional texture and flavor
‘Tangerine Mama Hybrid’, the new bright orange counterpart to ‘Golden Mama Hybrid’, the first yellow paste tomato to keep its bright hue when cooked
‘Italian Ice Hybrid’, the sweet and extra mild cherry tomato,
‘HoneyBunch’, the honey-sweet miniature currant tomato.


I have a good-sized space this year for gardening...am going to try my hand with the square-foot gardening method with a lot of trellises so the plants grow upright rather than sprawl.


This is one of Burpee's heirloom collections, if you decide to give heirlooms a try:

http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetables/tomatoes/tomato+plants/heirloom+tomato+collection+-+%28one+seed+packet+of+each+variety%29.do

http://www.burpee.com/images/en_US//local/products/detail/b70173.jpg

You get one plant each of:
Black Krim- gorgeous dark color, tangy flavor.
Burpee's Supersteak- the original "giant" with beefsteak flavor.
Big Rainbow- yellow and red streaked flesh. Mild and sweet.
Brandywine- one of the best tasting tomatoes of all time.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:52 pm
@Butrflynet,
I'll be interested to see if you like Brandywine - I did - and if you like those yellows. I don't yet understand their use for being but am willing to learn.

The person on that link I gave a bit ago talked about planting his heirlooms three feet apart, given a generalization of four foot total sideways growth. Me, I had three raised planting beds, using one of them for other plants, and two for tomatoes - thus I had four within ten feet x 2 (the beds being 4' x 10') = 8 plants.. Two close to the ends, so, from the end - 2 -3 - 3 - 2, or something like that, with the plant burgeoning a bit over the raised bed on either side while well supported.

I used to follow heritage catalogs (they've multiplied since then) but buy my plants at a good local nursery, so not a chain (waves to marina del rey garden center). They were good but I hope more nurseries like them are proliferating.

I haven't ordered from Burpee's since I was ten and they had the contest to find the/a white marigold. I'll be interested to see how the plants work out.

Me, I need to set up a system of big pots by the back door, which means either determinates or not so vigorous indeterminates.

dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:56 pm
@Butrflynet,
wow, that's a lot of tomatoes.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:59 pm
@ossobuco,
I do have some pals who live in Larkspur, north of San Francisco, who have a garden to plotz over. I had eight tomato plants... they probably had forty or more. That's all a long story, but the guy that handled the garden was very good. I'm trying to visualize the distance between his tomato plants, it being a while since I saw the garden. I'd say four feet, maybe 4.5. Walking through their garden was like a visit to nirvana.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:29 am
well, at the request of Lady Diane I added one so-called heirloom with the dubious name of "Brandywine" to my reg assortment of hybrid tomatoes. I guess the proof will be in the growing and eating.
 

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