Heirloom tomatoes—here they come!
The following varieties are RIPE AND READY now!
“Black Cherry” (Russia)
“Cherry Falls” (hybrid)
“Gardener’s Sweetheart” (U.S.)
“Green Grape” (U.S.)
“Principe Borghese” (Italy)
“Jaune Flamme” (France)
“King Aramis” (U.S.)
“Pink Brandywine” (U.S.)
“Weisnicht’s Ukrainian” (Ukraine)
“Wherokowhai” (New Zealand)
MANY MORE yet to come in colours of the rainbow! In multiple sizes and shapes! In a smorgasbord of tastes and textures!
I’m VERY EXCITED to introduce heirloom tomatoes to Trent Hills and surrounding area!
Heirloom tomatoes are like wine. They are connoisseur tomatoes. If you haven’t tried any before, then it’s like you’ve only ever tasted water, not wine. Water is good, vital. Wine is special, not vital—but ever so fantastically, gastronomically varied! And, just as wines undergo rigorous tests, samples, and competitions, so do heirloom tomatoes.
Something else: Heirloom tomatoes don’t produce profitably for commerce. They don’t make ideal supermarket sales because, unlike hybrids tomatoes, they are not genetically bred to look “perfect”; that is, uniform in size, shape, and colour (usually, only red). In fact, heirlooms commonly come with “imperfections” like scars and odd shapes. But, they TASTE oh so supremely finer with significantly more flavour! Their skin is typically thinner, too. After all, heirlooms don’t have far to travel. They aren't bred with thicker skin so as to ward off bruising during border-crossing treks, and they aren’t picked prematurely to make up for travel time. In fact, mine are local! I can walk to the market! Mine come fresh off the vine, non- refrigerated (which alters flavour), and highly diverse (with varieties from around the world).
Granted, heirlooms cost more. Why? First of all, these tomatoes come with a past; a long-held, favorable past. They were prized by our predecessors, who’d painstakingly kept the precious seeds from these fruits to pass down to us. So, they’ve got lineage and character, much like heirlooms of any sort! Indeed, fans of these tomatoes often request them by name for their distinctive tastes. For example: “sweet”, “smoky”, “complex”, “meaty”, “bright”, “wine-like”, “low acid”, “few seeds”, “creamy”, “citrusy”, etc . So, like other specialty produce, heirloom tomatoes tend to be pricier. They also have a short harvest season.
There’s also the fact that heirlooms are harder to grow. Already, they tend to produce less than hybrids. But, since they’re original—that is, free of genetic tampering—they have less resistance to pests and diseases. Moreover, many heirloom varieties require sophisticated staking systems to hold up their height (8’+) and width (3’). The typical retail tomato cage just doesn’t cut it. Most of these plants outgrow them by three to four times the size!
Lastly, heirloom tomatoes take longer to mature. That’s why those who specialize in growing them are not the average farmer, just like the average farmer doesn’t grow grapes for wineries, flowers for florists, or beans for chocolatiers. Heirloom growers, like me, produce for specialty markets and restaurants, including for home chefs like you!
Now, to seed savers: Please note that all the seeds are open-pollinated. You know what that means. If you buy from me, you can “have the fruit and eat it, too”! So, drop your catalogues, and come for a taste! Sampling is much simpler than reading!
Note that my fruits will come from now till frost. Therefore, feel free to purchase them at the Warkworth Market at the Mews (Fridays 12-3 until Sept. 17) or directly from me at my home in Warkworth. But, remember: This season is short! It’s now or next summer.
And, by the way, I’m certainly NOT the only one who grows heirloom tomatoes. But, I’m probably among a minority who grows over 30 varieties per season!
Stay tuned to my Facebook page (Grace's Garden Goods) to follow the timing of each variety’s harvest.
PRICE: Fill a quart basket for $5, or a take-out container for $6.50.