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Brandywine.  Cherokee Purple.  Arkansas Traveler.  Anna Russian.  Mortgage Lifter.

Those are the five heirlooms I will delve into here.  If you have a favorite that isn't among them, take heart, my sauce stained friend...You can vote below for your favorite heirloom, and we will continue the stories.

Heirloom tomatoes are all the rage...and for good reason.  They taste so much better than the hybrids you get at the supers.  At the Farmers' Markets, they command quite a price, but gardeners who have the space and the desire have been growing them for decades.

What exactly is an heirloom tomato, you might ask.  That's a good starting point before jumping into the stories behind some specific varieties.  An heirloom tomato, basically, has to meet two criteria before it can be referred to as such.  It must be open pollinated, and not a hybrid.  That is to say, if you save the seeds from the tomatoes which the plant bears, and plant them, they will grow into identical plants.  Hybrid tomatoes, like Better Boy, Early Girl, Celebrity, Big Beef and others you'll find in the Burpee or Parks Seed catalogs won't do that.

Secondly, they must be at least 40 years old.  Some...many, in fact, are much older than that.  Others, like Arkansas Traveler, just make the cut.

I've been growing heirlooms for a number of years now.  But I also grow a few hybrids.  There's nothing wrong with a Celebrity tomato, and some hybrids that mature much earlier than the traditional heirlooms are a welcome first taste of tomato.  If yoy live in northern climes where the growing season is short and unpredictable, some locally bred hybrids are almost must have insurance for the tomato lover...just to make sure you get something to put in between that toasted bread with mayo, crispy bacon and fresh lettuce.

I have a Willamette tomato in my garden...a hybrid developed by Oregon State University, it is a dependable tomato here in what is often a tricky place to grow tomatoes.  

It's not my favorite though.  That would be the Cherokee Purple.

Craig LeHoullier was a PHD chemist living in Westchester, PA.  Chemistry was his profession, but gardening was his passion.  In the mid 80's he had devoted much of his gardening to growing hard to find "heirloom" tomatoes, and had joined the Seed Savers Exchange as a listed member and active contributor.  In gardening circles, he had established a reputation as a serious collector and grower of these old, open pollinated varieties, contributing articles to magazines such as Rodale Press' "Organic Gardening & Farming."

One day in 1990 he went out to his mailbox and found a letter posted by a stranger by the name of John Green, of Sevierville, TN.  Inside was a short note and a small packet of tomato seeds.  Mr Green explained that he obtained the seeds from a neighbor, who had told him that their family had been growing these tomatoes going back over 100 years.  The family lore was that the seeds had been given to the family by Cherokee Indians in the area, who had developed the strain over the preceding decades.  Mr Green didn't indicate in his note whether the tomato variety had a name...only that the fruit was purple, and that he wanted to share the seeds with someone who knew what to do with them.

Craig planted the seeds in his garden, and was impressed by the tomatoes the plants bore.  Sure enough, they were purplish pink, though the purple hue was marked...and the flavor was superb.  He collected and dried several of the seeds, and forwarded some to Jeff McCormack, founder of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  A few years later he also sent samples to the founder of Johnny's Seeds of Maine.  Both entities began growing the plant and building up enough seed stock to offer them for sale commercially.

Next to Brandywine, Cherokee Purples are what put heirloom tomatoes on the map for many home gardeners who wanted to grow tomatoes that really tasted like the tomatoes of bygone days.  There was a growing demand among home gardeners for old fashioned tomatoes in the 80's, which took off in the 90's, and now you can find delicious heirloom tomatoes in virtually every farmer's market in the country.

Cherokee Purples are prolific producers, bearing large, purplish fruit in the 16 oz range with greenish shoulders when ripe.  They are sweet, a bit on the watery side, and the seed/gel pockets inside contribute as much, if not more, to their flavor than the flesh of the fruit.  At 80 days to maturity, these are late season tomatoes, but I've had success with them in the PNW, where summer gets off to a late start.  The vines are vigorous, and with tall cages can reach up to 9 ft under good growing conditions.  Not suitable, really, for making sauce or canning...but as a slicing tomato eaten fresh they are unsurpassed IMHO.  The perfect tomato for a good BLT or simple tomato sandwich.

Brandywine tomatoes were one of the first heirlooms to make a big splash with home gardeners.  When I was living in Ohio, virtually everyone who had a garden worthy of being called such grew at least one, if not more, Brandywines.  That makes sense, in a way, because this variety was first "discovered" in the Buckeye State.  (It likely comes from Pennsylvania, but the provenance is hard to establish)

From an article on Victory Seeds, written by Craig LeHuillier:

This (regarding its history) is fairly certain, Brandywine is a tomato that found its way into the Seed Savers Exchange collection in 1982. It got there via an elderly (now deceased) Ohio gardener named Ben Quisenberry, who received the variety from a woman named Doris Sudduth Hill.  She stated that they had been in her family for over 80 years.  I do not know where the Doris came from – hence, where the tomato originated.  [This tomato is differentiated in the trade as Brandywine, Sudduth Strain.]
Mr Quisenberry was more than just a gardener from Syracuse (southeastern), Ohio.  He, too, devoted his life to preserving heirloom tomatoes, and operated his own, small mail order seed company from his home.  He printed his own labels on an old printing press.  Born in 1887, he passed away in 1986.  Fortunately for tomato lovers, he helped rescue and introduce a number of great heirlooms over the course of his 99 years  (Mortgage Lifter was another Quisenberry contribution).  He was already 95 years old when he introduced Brandywine to Seed Savers Exchange.  Like the Mr Green who sent Cherokee Purple seeds to Mr LeHuillier, Doris was from Tennessee.  Gardeners from the Volunteer State obviously take their tomatoes seriously.

I've had mixed results, myself, with Brandywines.  Perhaps you have, too.  Part of the problem was the variety's initial success.  It has been tampered with over the years since its initial commercial introduction.  The old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is oft repeated, but seldom followed.  There are now Yellow Brandywines, Red Brandywines...even "Chocolate Brandywines."  If you but your starts at a big box store nursery, there's no guarantee what you are actually getting these days.

If you've tried this heirloom in the past and found your reaction to be "meh", I suggest you go to the effort of obtaining seed from a reputable source such as Johnny's, Victory, or Seed Savers Exchange.  Make sure it is labelled "Sudduth Strain", and give it another try.  The vines have distinctive "potato leafs", and the fruits are large (up to 1 1/2 lbs), maturing at about 80 days.  Great for slicing and eating fresh, you can also can them.

Arkansas Traveler takes its name from from an old heirloom that went extinct sometime in the early 1900's.  In the early 70's the Univ. of Arkansas developed two open pollinated strains which they named "Traveler" and "Traveler 76".  They are widely marketed as "Arkansas Traveler" because that name sounds older, more quaint and colorful.  Yes...seed companies like to sell seeds, and nurseries like to sell plants.

Their is a back story to the name, however.  The term "Arkansas Traveler" comes from a story written the the 1850's, and a subsequent painting depicting the tale:

A wealthy traveler is lost and comes across the cabin of the squatter. The traveler requests directions and also food and shelter from the squatter.  A witty exchange follows in which the squatter is reluctant to offer help. Despite his humble circumstances, it is the squatter who holds the power in this exchange.  The traveler is dependent upon him for assistance. The squatter is playing the same tune over and over on his fiddle. When it is revealed that he does not know the end of the tune, the traveler takes the fiddle and completes the tune. The fiddler is so happy to hear the rest of the tune that he extends his hospitality to the traveler, inviting him to stay and
to enjoy food and drink.
The painting, , came to encapsulate the worst stereotypes of the early inhabitants of the state.  The caricature of Arkansas by the late 1880's was that it was a state populated by "shiftless squatters, robbers, and cutthroats, who make the bowie-knife and the pistol the law of the land."  (This is from a website hosted by the Univ. of Arkansas' History Department)

As for the tomato...I've had great luck with this variety.  It has pink, 6-8 oz, perfectly round dark pink fruit, which are resistant to cracking. It matures in 75 days, making it more dependable here in the PNW, but it also thrives in hotter climates.  Not as delicious as some others, but still a fine tasting tomato.  It also has a bit more disease resistance than many other heirlooms whose origins go back further in time.  If you garden in the South, give this one a try next Spring.

Mortgage Lifter has one of the most widely told stories behind it.  I have one in my garden this year, but I've grown them many times over the past 2 decades.  Also known as Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifters", these tomatoes were developed by MC Byles, an auto mechanic from Logan County, West Virginia, back in the 30's.  He bred the tomato by crossing 4 different varieties that each bore extremely large fruit.  The strain he ended up with easily grows fruit that can weigh from 2 to even 4 lbs each, with great taste to boot.  He bagan selling his tomato starts to gardeners in the area for $1 apiece (not cheap in the early 40's, and in rural WV), and as the story goes he was able to pay off the mortgage on his house within just a few years.  Said Charlie, in a taped interview:

I didn’t pay but six thousand dollars for my home, and paid most of it off with tomato plants.
Ben Quisenberry got his hands on some of the seed, and forwarded them on to Jeff McCormack of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, who further planted the variety and increased the seed stock.  Notice what a small community the heirloom seed collectors are, or at least were back in the 80's?  "Radiator Charley" died at the ripe age of 97.  Mr Quisenberry was 99, and Doris Suddith Hill was 93 when they passed.  Is it the gardening that blessed them which such long lives, or the tomatoes?

Mortgage Lifter is another tomato that takes a good 80 days to mature, but the fruits, as I said, are huge and meaty, with few seeds.  They are heavy producers, on vigorous vines that will continue to bear fruit until the first frost.  They are fairly disease resistant, as well.  You have to grow these, if for no other reason than to see if you can coax a 4 lb tomato from your plant.  It's not a's a meal.

Switching to the West Coast, we finally come to Anna Russian.  One Brenda Hellenius of Corvalis, OR.  She sent a packet of seeds to, who else?, Craig LeHuillier, along with a note explaining that her grandfather had obtained them several years earlier from a Russian immigrant in the area who family back home sent them to him in the mail.  Craig listed the variety to SSE in 1989.

Anna Russian is a mid-season tomato that can mature in as little as 65 days under ideal conditions, or take as long as 80.  It bears heart shaped, dark pink fruit that are resistant to cracking.  (Tomatoes of this shape are also called "oxheart" tomatoes)   These heirlooms are heavy producers of extremely tasty tomatoes that are beautiful as well.  The fruit are about 14 oz.  The foliage is very distinctive, and can throw some people off, however.  Some describe it as wispy, others as delicate, but due to a wilt gene that the tomato carries the leaves will often look droopy and can be mistaken as being diseased.  They are not...that's just the way they grow.  There have been more than one first time Anna Russian Russian gardener who has pulled up their vines for fear that they were diseased and might infect the other tomatoes.  Don't make that mistake.  

I love to grow heirloom tomatoes.  But I love to eat them even more.  These are just a few I picked out to highlight.  I'll do another diary on heirlooms soon, so if there's one whose praise you wish to sing, or whose background you are curious about...mention it in the comments below.  I'll get to it in the next Tomato Diaries, Part II...

7:25 PM PT: By the way, folks...Seed Savers Exchange operates a 690 acre farm about 6 miles out of Decorah, Iowa, called Heritage Farm.  It is open to the public for much of the year, and they grow thousands of heirloom plants there.  If you are a gardening geek like me, and happen to be driving through the state, it would be worth a visit.  Here's a link to SSE's website:

Originally posted to Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 02:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Appalachian Journal, Practical Survivalism and Sustainable Living, Three Star Kossacks, Environmental Foodies, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (133+ / 0-)

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 02:55:50 PM PDT

  •  Neato - and guess what variety Ann at (13+ / 0-)

    Ann's Purple Produce grows and sells here around Rochester, NY?  Her plants are up and starting to flower.  

    Thanks for the background, looking forward to more.

  •  MC "Radiator Charlie" Byles had no (30+ / 0-)

    training at all in plant breeding.  He was just a gardener from the hills of West Virginia.  He planted his tomatoes in a ring of ten plants, with a single "German Johnson" plant in the center.  He use a baby syringe to collect pollen from the plants to artificially fertilize the plant in the middle.  It took him almost 5 years to get a stable variety that he was pleased with, and which produced stable seeds that would result in a plant identical to the parent tomato.

    Now that's backyard science!

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:18:52 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, from an avid gardener and tomato (10+ / 0-)


    It's your victories that give you your confidence but it's your setbacks that give you your character. -Van Jones

    by Oke on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:36:24 PM PDT

  •  I an despondent (16+ / 0-)

    because this year I decided NOT to grow tomatoes.

    You see...I have 3 smallish (4x12) raised beds in a community garden, and this year I joined a CSA.  So I reasoned that I will get my tomatoes from the CSA, and did not plant tomatoes.

    At first this seemed like a good idea.  But right about now I am feeling empty when I am in the garden because I am lacking tomatoes :-(

    I will not make the same mistake next year.

    Awesome diary on heirlooms, BTW!

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:40:29 PM PDT

    •  Damselle, I didn't plant any this year either... (10+ / 0-)

      AND I GOT THEM ANYWAY.  Suckers grew themselves.  I am inundated with cherry tomatoes that started from seeds leftover in the ground from last season, all of them Camp Joy, I suspect.  I've just stayed out of the way and watched -- no spraying, no fertilizing, no pruning, no watering.  NO watering -- that's the part that gets me.  I'm like, "Okay you tomatoes, you think you can just grow yourselves?  You think you're all so smart, well, go ahead and show me..." and they did.

      I think I learned a lesson from this about overloving my tomatoes.  By under-watering them (not watering them all, actually), it seems they have grown deeper root systems.  There's less of the alternating wilting-then-perking-up I used to get in seasons when I watered every other day.

  •  So Mortgage Lifters have decent taste? (10+ / 0-)

    I always thought of them as reliable producers but not heirloom-quality taste-wise.

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:46:17 PM PDT

  •  I've only done Brandywine (9+ / 0-)

    of those you mention.

    I've also done Rutgers and Homestead.  None of them seem very heat tolerant, and that's an issue where I am in Texas.

    Porter is consistently prolific for me, but the fruit is small.  LOTS of trouble for canning, but wonderful for eating fresh.  Not sure if it is a true heirloom, but I've saved seeds and so far they seem to produce the same (unlike the hybrids).

  •  My Crop This Year (11+ / 0-)

    Brandywine, Black Krim, Black from Tula and Carbon.  The dark purple "black" varieties tend to sell better at the Farmers Market.  Of the black varieties, my favorite is the Carbon.  It bears early, is prolific, putting out lots of big fruit, and it stands up the the fall rains better than any other tomato I've grown.

    Brandywine is the best eating of these tomatoes and that's what I use in the various sauces, salsas and soups that I can.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:41:35 PM PDT

    •  what neck of the woods are you from? (4+ / 0-)

      And how would you describe the demographics of your customers?  Just curious.  The Black Krims are a lovely tomato, and I can see where they would get snapped up in an urban market.

      I've never tried the Green Zebras...though I've heard from word of mouth that they are very good.  I planted a German Stripe this year...and know nothing about it, so it'll be a surprise.  I wouldn't think that green tomatoes would be a big seller for the uninitiated, but like depends upon who your shoppers and clients are.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:48:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm in Humboldt County, California (7+ / 0-)

        In the heart of the Emerald Triangle.  The Farmers Market is in Arcata, a college town with foody pretentions.  I also grow white nectar peaches and heirloom peppers.

        The trick with farmers markets is to find something new to come up with.  This year I have Corono di Torro (Bull's Horn) peppers from Caramagnola, Italy.  These and the Carbons are my attempt to keep ahead of the crowd.

        I wind up giving away lots of unsold tomatoes and peppers to food banks and rescue missions.  That feels good to do.  But I would rather sell them.

        This aggression will not stand, man.

        by kaleidescope on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:43:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm in Humboldt County, California (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, Temmoku

        In the heart of California's marijuana country.  The Farmers Market is in Arcata, a college town with foody pretentions.  I also grow white nectar peaches, Thompson and Flame seedless grapes, heirloom peppers and various musk melons (including the incredible local heirloom the Crane Melon).

        The trick with farmers markets is to find something new to come up with.  This year I have Corono di Torro (Bull's Horn) peppers from Caramagnola, Italy.  These and the Carbons are my attempt to keep ahead of the crowd.

        Signs explaining where the heirloom comes from and what is particularly "local" or "heriloomy" about it also help sell.

        I wind up giving away lots of unsold tomatoes and peppers to food banks and rescue missions.  That feels good to do.  But I would rather sell them.

        This aggression will not stand, man.

        by kaleidescope on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:47:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've got 11 plants this year, mostly heirloom (11+ / 0-)

    We have a wonderful local vendor at our Ashland, OR Grower's Market. Abbie Lane Farms have dozens of great heirloom tomato, pepper, eggplant and squash starts in the spring. I always grow several big roma types for sauce, canning and roasting. They are Opalka and Polish Linguisa, both of which produce big squarish fruits that are dense and delicious. For a beefsteak type, I gave up on Brandywine but I may give the Sudduth strain a try, and my currant fave is Earl's Faux, a great producer of big, juicy, luscious tomatoes. I've got a Pineapple in this year too. I ALWAYS grow Sungold, my only cherry type, because they are simply the best cherry tomato. First timers for me are Black from Tula, Indigo Rose (a purple tomato that has purplish foliage) Cassady's folly (a yellow striped paste type) and a long lost local tomato called "Talent". A packet of seeds was found in the files of the extension service and this is the first time in 20 years it is available to the public. I'll diary once we get some actual fruit!

    Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

    by madame damnable on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:45:38 PM PDT

    •  Forgot to say thanks (7+ / 0-)

      Thank you Keith930. What a great diary and history for us. I didn't know any of it!

      Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

      by madame damnable on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:51:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How long of a growing season can you (6+ / 0-)

      depend upon on average down there?  I'm in Portland, and I always try to get my tomatoes in the ground by May 10.  Hardly anyone else up here seems to push it that early, but so far it has worked for me.  I get at least 3, sometimes 4 more works of growing time than many people I know, and it makes a difference.  Still...I've seen Augusts that start to get cloudy and overcast, if not cool, by middle of the month, and many tomatoes here will just shut down and not ripen.

      It was a whole heckuva lot easier growing them in the Midwest, that's for sure.  Except for the groundhogs.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:55:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mine went in on May 16 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, koosah, Temmoku

        I lost a bunch of starts when we had a freeze on May 9. We usually plant around mid-May and get our first frost in October. Last year we had a very cool summer and I didn't get any tomatoes (except cherry) until September. I actually picked ripe blackberries before ripe tomatoes. This week is our first week of really hot weather and all of the garden made a big jump in size and vigor. Hope it's a good year for all of our gardens.

        Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

        by madame damnable on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:32:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hey Keith, great diary! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Keith930, GDbot, Temmoku, llywrch

        Years and years ago, my grandfather was an avid gardener forever down here in the southern end of the Willamette Valley.  He always said to plant tomatoes (and everything else, except maybe peas) right after Mother's Day.  Any earlier and you run the risk of a late frost.  That's about the date you started yours, so he would say you're right on track!  

        We almost always have a very warm September and even October, so our season can run pretty late.  I've canned tomatoes in October before.  Plus, my grandfather would pull his tomato vines out of the garden just before the first frost in late October and hang them upside down in his attic.  He had vine-ripened tomatoes at Thanksgiving that way.  My mother-in-law just picks all the tomatoes off the vines before the first frost and lays them in a single layer in flat boxes in her greenhouse.  She also will have better-than-store-bought tomatoes in late November that way.          

        "When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." Dom Helder Camara

        by koosah on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:08:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I tried growing Opalka this year (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Temmoku

      But they succumbed to some sort of wilt.  I don't have great luck with heirlooms.

      "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

      by Nespolo on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:29:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Earl's Faux is on my list of big pinks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku, llywrch

      to try.  I know Brandywine gets all the good press, but it's so damned unproductive compared to other tomatoes.  It's frustrating to hover over it all year for just three or four big tomatoes.  That's real estate wasted I could use on something else.

      Stump of the World is another big Ben Quisenberry pink with a good reputation.  I grew that last year.  It was very good, very Brandywine-ish in flavor, but not that much more productive.

  •  Big Rainbow and Red Currant (9+ / 0-)

    Oh let me rave about Big Rainbow!  Beautiful for the eye and the mouth!  These are large,long season tomatos, usually over 16 oz.  They are lumpy looking and far from the perfectly globe shaped tasteless red things in the store.  They are also, on the outside, green at the shoulders and then  kind of red and yellowish.  Once you slice them open, oh my!  Such a splendor of red and yellow swirls!  And the taste!  Not too acid, rather mild and sweet and tomatolike.

    Red Currant is possibly not the same species as our lovely garden tomato.  It produces hundreds and thousands of teensy tiny fruit the size of the tip of your little finger.  And WOW do those tiny things have flavor!  THE PLANT IS EXTREMELY VIGOROUS AND A VERY HEAVY PRODUCER!  I AM NOT JOKING!  When we grew it it Illinois, it rapidly jumped the fence and GALLOPED into the neighbor's yard.  We never had to replant it as it readily resprouted the next season from fallen fruit of the previous season.  The plant itself has extremely brittle branches, so tying it up is a delicate process.  You will break branches off.  No matter.  It WILL grow back!

  •  Mine, at least this year, (8+ / 0-)

    are Rutgers, Legend (like you said a few reliable main-seasoners), Brandywine (Sudduth), 2 Cherokee Purples, and Mr. Stripey.  Mr. Stripey goes under many names.  It's a beautiful red-and-yellow blend with wonderful flavor.  

    If only one would ripen!

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:23:23 PM PDT

  •  looking forward to part 2! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, ExStr8, Aunt Pat, GDbot, Temmoku

    i'm one block from the beach where it gets foggy and cold in the middle of summer

    black krim does fine here. for the balance this year, i went with two hybrids, momotaro and sungold.

    then i have an experiment: pineapple, the seeds from a tomato i bought from the farmers market.  the first two years, i got skinny mildewy spindly plants with tomatoes that never ripened. this year, i started the seeds a month and gave them super duper tlc.

    i've finally got gorgeous tomatoes. they will be late summer tomatoes so we'll see how they taste in late august, september.

  •  Heritage Tomato Growing Rule (14+ / 0-)

    The most important rule to follow in growing heritage tomatoes is to never plant these tomatoes where tomatoes were grown last year and don't plant tomatoes next year where you grew them this year.   No consecutive annual rotations.

    These tomatoes are not resistant to soil-borne bacteria that cause wilting conditions and 100% losses of crops.

    •  Thanks fo this advice (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, BlackSheep1, Temmoku, llywrch

      it explains why my heirlooms wilted this year

      "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

      by Nespolo on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:30:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  rotation helps, but most gardeners don't have (6+ / 0-)

      a large enough growing space to rotate on a multi-year basis.  The fungal spores can live in the soil for several years, and even if you don't grow tomatoes in the same spot next year, there are other plants in the same family that are subject to these diseases...eggplant, peppers, potatoes

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:56:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some Ag Recommendations I read say.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....that soil lime application also tends to reduce the soil-borne plant pathogen affecting heritage varieties.

        I'd suggest using lime as calcium oxide (a powder) rather than using pelletized limestone (calcium carbonate...probably derived from cement kiln dust) for greater anti-pathogen effect.

    •  This is probably what is hitting my Krim. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GDbot, Temmoku, Amayi

      Just bad luck in placement.  I planted 8 tomatoes in an area that was all squash & greens last year, with plenty of compost & manure tea this year.   The other 7 tomatoes are doing great; the Krim is yellow & curled.  I figure that one spot must have some soil-borne pest Krim can't handle.

      Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

      by Leftcandid on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:09:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My BK did the same (0+ / 0-)

        and I think it is Verticillium wilt. I had 12 varieties, 11 heirloom/OP, and all but two are dead now. Two seem resistant (and grow well in heat)-- Matt's Wild Cherry and JD's Special C-Tex.

        If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat. -SC/MT . -9.4, -7.0

        by Amayi on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:39:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The gardener in the family (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, GDbot, marykk, Temmoku

    is my partner, and he loves to grow heirloom tomatoes--or did, before the blight.  Three or four years ago, there was a bad outbreak of late blight, and all the tomato plants died--with the ripening fruit still on them--in the space of a day.  Every year since then, the same thing has happened.  And, no, the tomatoes were not planted in the same place as they were the previous year.  This year, my partner did not plant any tomatoes whatsoever.  I'm sure he will again, but I don't know how long he's going to wait.

    So, among our favorite heirlooms are Green Zebra, Yellow Stuffers, Fourth of July, Yellow Pear, Black Russian, and others that are not coming to mind at the moment.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:51:29 PM PDT

  •  Check this out (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, Temmoku, riverlover

    "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

    by Timbuk3 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:46:59 PM PDT

  •  My favorites: (9+ / 0-)

    In order:

    1. Black Cherry
    2. Indian Stripe
    3. Burgundy Traveler.

    Black Cherry is probably an accidental cross of purple cherokee with some cherry tomato.  The result, though, is a cherry tomato that has a UNIQUE flavor.  It's a tangier, fruitier flavor.  If I could only have one, that's it.  And it is a prolific bastard.

    2.  Indian Stripe has a very interesting story as well.  Indian Stripe isn't as easy to get as Cherokee Purple as of yet.  A few years ago, you could only get it through the online mailing lists.  It is SIMILAR enough to Cherokee Purple that there is suspicion that it might have been carried to Arkansas, where it was found, by Cherokee Indians kicked out of Tennessee during the Trail of Tears -- Tennessee being where Cherokee Purple originates.  It is somewhat similar in apparance, but it is more prolific, healthier, and the resulting tomatoes are rounder and don't look as strangely deformed and tumorous as Purple Cherokee.  I thought mine tasted better.

    3. Burgundy Traveler -- the rumors have it this came about as an accidental cross of Purple Cherokee or Black Cherry with Arkansas Traveler.  The result, though, is a tomato that's a little smaller than Arkansas Traveler, EXTREMELY prolific, and the best tasting medium-sized tomato I've ever had.  I'm very picky.

    Here's a pic I took of some heirloom and OP cherry tomatoes I grew one year.  I put them all on the same plate so I could compare and contrast.

    Clockwise from the gold ones at the top: Galina's, Brown Berry, Snow White, Black Cherry, and Sungold (which is a hybrid, but a very good one).  In the center is Gardener's Choice.

    About five years ago, this guy popped up in my garden from my own harvested and saved seeds.

    I codenamed it Gay Marriage F1.  (It seemed like a radical thing to do at the time.)  It should have been a black cherry, that being the tomato I had saved seeds from the prior year, but instead, I got a small, vertically flattened and very tasty red tomato.  I'm guessing that the father plant was the Brandywine Sudduth that grew next to my Black Cherry.

    Another pic of them green that shows the flattened shape.  

    My original plan was to grow it out and segregate it for a few generations to see what interesting OP results I could get.  Never did.  I still have the saved seeds from it.

    •  That Burgundy Traveler sounds like (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GDbot, Temmoku

      a winner.  Are the seeds easy to find?

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:18:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A quick google shows many places selling the seeds (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Keith930, GDbot, Temmoku

        I think I originally got mine from  I don't see them on their current catalog, so you'll have to try one of the other dealers.  

        A quick caveat here: heirlooms that aren't massively popular, like BT, could be different from one vendor to the next.  Your mileage may vary.  

        But, yes, I would recommend it.  smallish to medium but prolific and very tasty.  It's categorized as a pink tomato (as cherokee purple is) but it's more of a brick color because of darker flesh.

  •  I have Cherokee Purples this year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Temmoku, RichM

    And they are so tasty! Ate one tonight with tacos.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:03:29 PM PDT

  •  Green Zebra (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, chidmf, Temmoku

    is hard to beat for taste. I cleared out the, um, grow room, and started them in April. We harvested the first one yesterday. Yum!

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:53:27 PM PDT

  •  Great diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, GDbot, Temmoku

    I have 3 tomato plants on my porch. I don't have a yard. So far so good. They all have little green tomatoes on them. I think they are all hybrids-Roma, Ace and Early Girl. Next year I'll have a hybrid or two.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:06:51 AM PDT

  •  Decorah would be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Temmoku

    a nice day trip for me.  I've sent the link to my sister who loves (and brings me the fruits of) heirlooms.  Maybe we'll take a spin up there....


    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 03:59:32 AM PDT

  •  I just had my first taste of a Cherokee Purple (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Leftcandid, Temmoku, fayea

    I can't imagine putting it anywhere but sliced on a plate, alone, maybe with a side of some good bread to soak up the juice. But I just turned the plate up and slurped it down.

    Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

    by Burned on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:08:23 AM PDT

  •  'Boxcar Willie' - Great name, even better tomato! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Four more years!" (Obama Unencumbered - The Sequel)

    by jwinIL14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:32:42 AM PDT

  •  My hands-down favorite tomato is one (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, GDbot, Temmoku, fayea, RichM

    I've been calling "Orange Oxheart."  I wonder now if it isn't a variety of Anna Russian.  It's a funny grower, just like you described, with rambling wispy vines and curly, limp-looking foliage. It can outgrow a tomato cage easily and produces a lot more plant than fruit compared to other varieties, but man! each of those fruits is worth a basket of ordinary tomatoes!

    The Orange Oxhearts I plant every year (I get them from my mother-in-law, who starts hundreds of tomatoes of all sorts for everybody in our area) produce a bright yellow-orange, heart-shaped fruit with almost no seeds or goo.  The flesh is sooooo sweet, you could eat them for dessert.  They don't produce avidly, so I usually plant twice as many of them as other kinds.  

    Living in Oregon, you learn to wait patiently for the whole year until late August and September when tomatoes really start coming on.  It's worth waiting for.  

    "When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." Dom Helder Camara

    by koosah on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:25:41 AM PDT

  •  I've been growing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, Temmoku, RichM

    Black Prince and Gold Medal, both heirlooms. I started growing them because I had been having problems with blossom end rot and these were said to be resistant to that. Both are wonderful so I don't look around for others much. I have considered growing the green zebra though.

    I grow my tomatoes hydroponically in 4 inch PVC pipes. Righ now I have lots and lots of green tomatoes almost ready to turn red or yellow.

  •  My grower was out of Cherokee Purple; he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, RichM

    recommended Carbon instead, to join Mortgage Lifter, Green Zebra, & Black Krim.  Sadly, Krim must recover from a Mystery Ailment to join in, & I fear it won't.

    Brandywine doesn't seem to do great in CO yieldwise but I will probably give it a shot next year, in addition to Stupice, & that Purple.

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:12:57 AM PDT

    •  Stupice is pretty reliable, and tastes good (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku, RichM, Leftcandid

      From Czechoslovakia originally, most people pronounce it STOO-pis.  It's actually pronounced stew-PEACH-ka.

      But chances are most nurseries will give you a blank stare if you ask for them using the proper pronunciation.

      A lot of the foreign heirlooms have some tricky pronunciations.  I'll touch on that in the next diary.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:55:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If your Krim is yellowing from the bottom (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku, Leftcandid

      and the blight is moving up the's likely Fusarium Wilt.  It's a "dead tomato walking."

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:57:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are the Carbon doing better than... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Cherokee Purple?  Love that tomato, but doesn't seem to be very prolific in CO.

      'Osama Bin Ladien is still dead and GM is still alive' - Joe Biden "Dems kill terrorist. The GOP keeps them around as a boogeyman - so they can continue to steal."

      by RichM on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 11:48:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've had great luck saving seed for years (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Temmoku, RichM

    and rotating space in the garden goes a long way toward discouraging blight.

    Cherokee Purple is by far my favorite, with its smoky, subtly salty flavor.

    Next is Brandywine, which has always behaved great for me and produces a sweet delectable flavor.

    Also rans in my garden: Black Krim, Amish Paste, Boxcar Willie, German Johnson, Mr. Stripey and a few others I can't quite recall just now. Mr. Stripey is probably on the bottom of my list because the bottoms (opposite the scar side) get mushy almost immediately after picking, sometimes before.

    A few years ago I had a wonderful canning heirloom that was called, alternately, Big Mama or Shifflett.  It combined the robustness of a Roma with the taste of a Brandywine, and a size roughly twice that of Roma.  I neglected to save the seed (actually I was careless and the seeds got moldy).  If you come across that cultivar, grab it--it makes great sauce.  I'm making do with Amish Paste, but it's sugary, and makes a sauce that's almost too sweet for my taste.

    Trivia of the day: if you store your picked tomatoes scar-side down, they hold much better, whether in or out of the refrigerator.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:38:35 AM PDT

  •  Heirloom tomatoes may get a boost from grafting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch, MusicFarmer

    Last year I bought two grafted tomato plants from Territorial Seed Company (Cottage Grove, OR).  They truly outperformed in every way compared to the same varieties without grafting.  This year, I tried grafting some tomatoes myself.  I watched a video on Johnny's Selected Seeds website.  It didn't look too hard.  I was pleasantly surprised that 10 out of 12 grafts survived.  They are all now growing abundantly.  Last year the grafted Brandywine had a lot more tomatoes, a lot larger tomatoes, less cracking when the fall rains came.  Grafting is supposed to send more nutrients, water and disease resistance up into your favorite tomato.  Since one of the issues with some open pollinated tomatoes is not great disease resistance, this could be a way of getting the best of both worlds.  

    I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

    by fayea on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:18:56 AM PDT

  •  I'll play... (0+ / 0-)

    I live in Colorado, and these are my Tomato stories:


    - Brandywine.  Great tomato, but not that prolific.  I love the 'potato' leaves - very nice looking vine.  Fruit ripens in early August.  I usually go for the red variety.

    - Cherokee Purple.  In my opinion, the best tasting tomato to grow.  But, extremely stingy in fruit.  I get maybe 5 or six good tomatoes from a vine.  Love this tomato, but I simply don't have the room to plant enough to get a good crop.

    - Mortgage Lifter.  This is our 'compromise' tomato.  Great flavor, although not quite as good as the ones above.  However, this plant seems to be very prolific.  And the tomatoes are huge.  One thick slice can cover the whole sandwich.  Juicy, red and delicious.

    I have planted other tomatoes over the years, but I keep coming back to these three.

    Early Tomatoes:

    - Early Cascade.  I was able to get these tomatoes one year (after doing the whole seed thing for several years, I now get my plants at the farmer's market).  Great flavor, early producers and very prolific.  LOVED these tomatoes.  But, I could not get them again.  I see the seeds online.  May be worth starting these early again.

    Paste Tomatoes:

    - San Marzano.  Traditional paste tomatoes with good flavor.  Prolific.  Easy to grow and can be used as slicing tomatoes if desired.

    - Amish Paste:  Excellent meaty tomatoes with very little seeds.  Vines are UGLY - scraggly looking sickly vines.  But the tomatoes make excellent sauce.  Prolific.  The tomatoes themselves are ugly too, misshapen and heart-shaped.

    'Osama Bin Ladien is still dead and GM is still alive' - Joe Biden "Dems kill terrorist. The GOP keeps them around as a boogeyman - so they can continue to steal."

    by RichM on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:43:33 AM PDT

  •  Heirloom yellow pear tomatoes are growing in a big (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    pot on my patio.  I can't eat the red ones because of the acid.  The plant is indeterminate and is growing much two tall.  The pot upended twice in the bad storms more than a week ago, but it's still producing.  The double cage around it seemed to protect it; I'm trying to encourage it to put up more shoots from the bottom.  Purchased the plant because I don't have a good set up for growing from seed.

  •  See this on tomato wilt diseases (0+ / 0-)

    NY/Cornell Extension document on tomato wilting disease

  •  Brandywine on my deck...problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I put mine in later this year than usual (SF BAY area)....I buy the plant and transplant them out on my deck.    The cherry tomatoes and the Early Girls are doing usual.  The Brandywine: georgeous plant, oodles of blossoms...oodles of blossoms that drop off and nary a little green nub.    Read that this can happen with Brandywine more than many others. something to do with temperature when blossoming.  

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:58:57 AM PDT

  •  Just had a BLT with a Black Prince. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, Keith930

    Also love Black Krim and Cheokee Purple, but we quit growing the Black Krim because as good as they taste, they did not do as well as the Cherokee Purple. We also love and grow Black Cherry and Sungold. We grow San Marzanos for sauces. We have Big Rainbow, deanna's Gold, Tigerella, and Green Zebra also this year. and we plant a few Better Boys, just in case everything else gets the blight, and because for a hybrid, they are pretty good.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 10:56:07 AM PDT

    •  A BLT on the 9th of July? (0+ / 0-)

      You shameless braggart, you.  Go ahead...just rub it in our faces.

      Actually...I find that thought strangely exciting.  But mostly, because I love BLT's.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:00:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I posted a diary once about cornbread, which (0+ / 0-)

        generated a surprising number of comments...almost a pie fight about how to make the perfect "pone."

        I suspect the perfect BLT would engender a similar response.

        The tomato is essential...but so, too, is the bacon.  I prefer the thick "ends and pieces" packs that can be found in the supermarket, as opposed to thin sliced bacon.  Salty, thick, meaty...the perfect foil for a juicy, thick slice of 'mater.   On Texas toast.

        Damn....does it get any better than that?

        Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

        by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:07:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gotta have thick bacon. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          One reason my husband loves me is that I put lots of bacon on a BLT. Growing up in a family of 5 boys on an Episcopal priest's salary, he was lucky if he got 2 whole pieces, usually 1 and 1/2 and the thin kind at that.

          That and my cornbread. Sorry I missed the comment about cornbread because I make the best. ;-) Usually I make hot water hoe cokes. YUM!!!

          You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

          by sewaneepat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:15:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was only when I moved out of my parents' (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sewaneepat, MusicFarmer

            house that I discovered that the "bacon rule" was flexible, and open to rewriting.

            Growing up, my Dad was the breakfast meister.  If you asked for one egg, you got one slice of bacon.  If you asked for two eggs, you got two slices.

            Only when I moved out in college did the epiphany hit me..."I'm paying for the groceries, so I get to make the rules."

            I always had 4 slices of bacon with each breakfast afterwards.  (And sometimes I would splurge, as the paycheck afforded, for real butter.)  

            My wife is Jewish, so I don't get to roll around in a lot of bacon these days...but you are right.  The bacon should be thick.  

            Talking about bacon to a man who is married to a Jew is like wearing a blazer jacket with nothing on is unforgiveably suggestive, leaves one wishing for more, and it only stokes a fire that cannot catch flame, without unforeseen results.

   I miss my bacon.

            Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

            by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:37:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  We usually get tomatoes by the 4th. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This year it was the 7th so I've had tomatoes three times now. Another thing that's wonderful about a Black Prince is that it is an early one.

        The amazing thing here is that we still had lettuce to go with it. Granted it was picked a week ago, but lettuce in July is a rarity in Tennessee. So we usually just have BT sandwiches.

        You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

        by sewaneepat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:10:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  st. louis, missouri here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I was so proud....I had my first ripe tomato on June 17th this year.  Earliest ever.  But that was due to the unusual weather patterns this year putting everything, and I mean everything about 3 weeks early this year.

          •  Everything is very early this year here too. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            we were late getting our tomatoes out this year. But we stopped by the farmer's market Sat. and there were lots and lots of local red tomatoes. And eggplant and peppers. Usually just mostly squash, corn, potatoes, and green beans this early.

            The strangest thing was the wild blueberries and huckleberries which were done a week or more before they usually start.

            You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

            by sewaneepat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 03:48:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Got any photos n/t? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Rapture will be cancelled due to budget cuts. -- Bill in Portland

    by brooklynliberal on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:56:50 PM PDT

    •  you had to ask... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alicia, DawnN

      No...I don't...because I am a lazy, tech phobic, internet semi-savvy, learning disabled, Luddite, hopeless, frustrated, embarrassed 56 year old who should, but nonetheless doesn't, know how to embed a Goddamned photo in what would otherwise be a great diary.

      I make myself want to vomit.  

      Why is this simple act like a rubic's cube for me?  I have no idea.  I need a personal trainer.  A home therapist.  An internet doctor who makes house calls.  Mostly, I need someone to bend me over their lap and just spank me for not having learned and mastered a simple task that everyone else finds as easy as scratching their elbow.

      I hate myself for saying this, but I don't know how to embed a photo.  I've mentioned this before in other diaries, and received advice.

      Is their a youtube video that shows, step by step, how to do it?  Because I learn visually.

      I feel so fucking 19th people have no idea.

      Throw this dog a bone...I need someone to take me under their wings and guide me through it.

      I promise you all...if someone is willing to hold my hand through the process, I will bless you with some fantastic diaries.  I can write...and I have a fairly good sense of what piques the interest of at least a measurable minority here...were but that I could include pics...

      I am a miserable failure in that respect, and it shames me.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:16:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The new image tool is coming (0+ / 0-)

        and there will be a video tutorial, too.

        Best of all, it will make it easy to share images with other Kossacks.

        We're going to release it to subscribers first, but everyone will be able to use it once it's fully rolled out.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:31:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  By the way...I hate you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alicia, DawnN

      No, really I don't...You asked a perfectly valid question...

      But seriously...I can't explain why this simple feat has proven to be so challenging to me.  You were correct to ask the question you did.

      I wouldn't, for a moment, worry about how small and incompetent you made me feel.  At least you didn't send threatening emails to my facebook account asking me to GBCW until I can post pics.

      But perhaps someone should...maybe I need a fire set under my ass.

      (That's NOT, BTW, intended to make light of the recent diaries on this subject...just my own, black sense of humor and sense of self-deprecation)

      I'm not an unintelligent person...which makes this shortcoming all the more hard to figure out.  It is more of a block than it is an inability to comprehend, if that makes any sense.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:24:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      • are not alone!!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I can't post pics either....actually had a Cheers and Jeers buddy of mine post a picture for me the other day of my beloved dog, Frank....she got it from my FB account, with permission, of course!  :-)  She has offered countless times to teach me how but I never find the time to take her up on her gracious offer.  Never fear, Keith930...there are many of us out here.  Hey, at least you write diaries!!!  I haven't even done that!  BTW.....I absolutely love this diary....I have about a dozen Mortgage Lifters growing right now....first time, so after reading the history I'm extra excited to see what comes!  Pics or no pics....thanks for a great diary!

        We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.-Anne Lamott

        by alicia on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:10:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cosmonaut Volkov, Momotaro, Cherokee Purple (0+ / 0-)

    I'm in Davis, CA which is pretty damn close to tomato heaven for growing conditions.

    I'm trying these three(no fruit yet)varieties for the first time and Sun Gold cherry as well.  Four decades of well composted dairy cow manure mixed with a nice sandy loam  is making them huge and bushy...should I prune back all the branches or just leave them?

     Lots of flowers and fruit are setting so I'm not too worried about the plants being "unhappy,"  just wondering if it would make them more prolific.

    If Liberals Hated America, We'd Vote Republican

    by QuarterHorseDem on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:02:07 PM PDT

    •  look up suckering your tomatoes (0+ / 0-)

      if they are of an indeterminate variety.  Determinate varieties (most heirlooms are not these) gain no benefit from suckering.

      Pruning (suckering) is an artform, but done properly it will increase your yields by quite a bit - as it puts more energy into the plant where it will yield fruit, instead of the bushy parts of the plant.

      I have not been suckering my plants to date, but its due to the fact that my stakes are only 5 ft high (suckering will increase the main plant length considerably), and with open field tomatoes, having a few more leaves can help keep your tomatoes from getting sunburned (hot midwest sun can definitely do this sometimes!)

      •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I will look up suckering to see if this would be a good idea. Most of the plants are approaching 5 ft.

        Haven't seen any signs of sunburn:  our sun is hot, and we have no cloud cover, nor humidity, during the summer as you would have in the Midwest(I've lived in Indiana, Michigan and IL so know what you mean about "hot!").  We do have very cool nights because of our delta breeze which seems to make the tomatoes very happy.

        If Liberals Hated America, We'd Vote Republican

        by QuarterHorseDem on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:11:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I love sungolds (0+ / 0-)

      I can eat them all day.

      I like my tomatoes little.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:35:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One quibble, Keith . . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alicia, Keith930

    putting lettuce on a dern sandwich only makes everything more likely to slide off . . . so I have jettisoned the lettuce and just cut the tomatoa mite thicker . . . OK, OK , kill me for making the BLT into the BT sammich . . .

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:40:32 PM PDT

    •  Lose the bacon and you have my favorite.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      lol...the T sandwich....plain tomato sandwich on whole wheat with mayo, salt and pepper.'s all good!

      We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.-Anne Lamott

      by alicia on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:21:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Minimalist albeit yummy . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but - on the orders of my cardiologist and my wife, I refrain from eating any bacon whatsoever EXCEPT for that all-too-brief period when i can grab a sun-warmed tomato off the vine and have it on a sandwich about 30 seconds later . . . with, as you pointed out:  mayo, salt and pepper.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by bobdevo on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:22:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        • is yummy... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I love bacon, too and you're right, the period for BLTs is all too brief...gotta make hay! :-)  Good for you for listening to your doctor!

          We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.-Anne Lamott

          by alicia on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 09:03:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I logged in after months because of this diary.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alicia, madame damnable, Keith930, DawnN

    You guys are talking about a very sweet subject for me, that's very close and dear to my heart!

    I went small this year - 54 plants, only lost 2 so far.

    We had 400 last year, but with a new house we're renovating, and a new baby that arrived this spring (in addition to a day job, and everything else to be done around the farm, including the wheat harvest we just did)- we're skipping the farmer's market this year.  I just put in a smaller test plot of tomatoes (for us and the family), with some different production methods I'm trying out - before scaling up larger next year.

    We put in:  Cherokee Purples, Brandywines, Old Germans, Black Princes, Mortgage Lifters, and Mountain Golds (hybrid).

    >I made tighter spaced, single plant rows (I did twin plant rows last year - 100 ft long each with enough space for the tractor to fit between- may do the twin rows again next year, but will keep the spacing between each much smaller like this year).
    >Experimenting with the florida stake and weave method this year to cut down on stakes, and I have lots of biodegradable baling twine - its working pretty well.
     >Better weed management (still manual, but much more frequent - don't be afraid to carefully bust out the weed whacker in between rows, and mulch liberally)  this year is helping a lot.  
    >Side dressing plants after flowering and  main growth with Milorganite (they shot up a foot in a week, the stems are thicker than my thumbs now).
    >Manually watering this year (mistake - hauling 100 gallons of water 2-3x's a week by hand takes too long, even for me) Next year with a bigger scaled garden, I'll improve last year's configuration and put the gravity fed dripline irrigation system back in.
    >Stay on top of the organic "Plantskydd" predator spray to keep the deer from gorging themselves, this stuff works well.  Found it last year by recommendation of my grandpa after the deer came in and whittled my tomatoes down to sticks as soon as they were getting ripe.  Took a over a month to nurse my plants back.  Have to keep on the new growth with this, but its keeping the deer away.

    1st tomato this year was a Black Prince - June 17th.

    From my notes for sure: June 24th, 2012 - I pulled 5 black princes, 3 cherokee purples, and 1 mortgage lifter from the garden.

    I know I've pulled 2 other mortgage lifters, 1 brandywine, a mess more of the black princes, and about 7 mountain golds so far - until the 100+ temps shut us down the last 10 days.

    Did you know that above 95 degrees, tomato plants shut down.  Green ones on the vine almost never ripen, and the pollen starts to melt - it literally clumps up and it can't pollinate anything till the temp comes back down.  The leaves will also curl up in order to protect the plant, but if you see this still early in the morning - they definitely need water!  Never fertilize when its that hot, cause the plant will produce itself to death.  Just keep them watered (an inch a week per plant is a good rule of thumb - deep waterings are better) and wait for the weather to break.

    Btw, I have oodles and oodles of green ones, and the heat spell just broke.  We've had 10+ days of 100+ degree heat - and pretty much no rain since the very beginning of June.  We only had about an inch back then, and almost no rain in May.  Its been a very dry year so far!  But we just had 1 1/2 inches over the last two days - nice and gentle, and the temps will be under 90 all week, my tomatoes should ramp up by the end of the week!  You have no idea how excited I am!

    Notable varieties that worked very well last year, and were extremely tasty!

    Violet Jaspers
    Sungold Select II

    Next year I hope to scale back up and put in 1000+ tomato plants, most of them various heirlooms.  

  •  Paul Robeson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The tomato.

    Also love the folks and products at Johnny's.

    Thx for the diary.

    "Life is a bitch, and then you die. And then you come back." Old Buddhist proverb

    by RubDMC on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:49:42 PM PDT

  •  Salt Spring Sunrise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madame damnable

    Is my favorite. From Salt Spring Insland BC. It can  even be planted from seed outside here in the Pacific Northwest and set a hefty crop.

    I am always looking for old varities of tomato that will mature well here. I am on my first year of an heirloom Italian Paste Tomato I call Orchards after the town it was grown in for well over 80 years. The plants are currently 6 feet tall and have a huge fruit set already.

    Variety is everything when it comes to growing Tomatos in the Northwest.

    It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

    by PSWaterspirit on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:59:51 PM PDT

  •  Cherokee Purple (0+ / 0-)

    is also my favorite.
    This year I'm also growing Costolutto Genovese, an Italian tomato with an interesting scalloped shape. When sliced it looks like a big flower.

    "Idiocracy. It's not a comedy, it's a prophecy."

    by wv voice of reason on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:01:26 PM PDT

  •  So forwarding this diary to my gardening friends! (0+ / 0-)
shari, Ed in Montana, MadRuth, Joan McCarter, BigOkie, PeterHug, alicia, elfling, varro, Matilda, hnichols, Dumbo, RubDMC, Gustogirl, opinionated, kayebee, afox, BlackSheep1, whenwego, slouching, Boxers, oceanview, Oke, hoolia, Calidrissp, Timbuk3, riverlover, BlogDog, Noisy Democrat, ybruti, Josiah Bartlett, rmx2630, babaloo, vcmvo2, la motocycliste, ExStr8, maybeeso in michigan, radarlady, escapee, ichibon, LakeSuperior, revbludge, chimene, demimondian, llywrch, fixxit, Burned, markdd, kaliope, Blu Gal in DE, JanL, Land of Enchantment, terjeanderson, third Party please, BachFan, katynka, erratic, myrealname, CA Nana, shaharazade, Statusquomustgo, Temmoku, AntKat, Habitat Vic, rchipevans, verso2, VClib, Wino, FishOutofWater, terabytes, mommyof3, Kentucky Kid, MI Sooner, uciguy30, Chico David RN, crystalboy, gizmo59, jwinIL14, Mr SeeMore, maizenblue, wayoutinthestix, Youffraita, Rich in PA, lineatus, monkeybrainpolitics, madame damnable, Hanging Up My Tusks, envwq, sewaneepat, luckylizard, Karl Rover, Mayfly, watercarrier4diogenes, shortgirl, fayea, Nebraskablue, Calfacon, MKSinSA, bfitzinAR, COwoman, citisven, Leftcandid, GreenDog, CS11, praying manatheist, ozsea1, jardin32, kirbybruno, hooktool, gmats, marleycat, worldlotus, wide eyed lib, SteelerGrrl, Regina in a Sears Kit House, bassinduo, DawnN, OldDragon, effervescent, Horace Boothroyd III, DrCoyle65, BRog, doroma, Brown Thrasher, 43north, GDbot, Noddy, MusicFarmer, AZ Sphinx Moth, Robynhood too, BobTheHappyDinosaur, nuclear winter solstice, DamselleFly, koosah, Jerry J, weck, VegLane, PHScott, nasheval, suka

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