Tomato Page

Tomato Seedlings, Tomatoes, and Tomatoes in Jars!

Heirloom Tomato Seedlings You Can’t Find Elsewhere:

Available Now through Gilmanton’s Own Market

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There is such a huge variety of tomatoes … as growers who love them, it’s hard to know where to stop. We specialize in growing tomatoes you cannot get in supermarkets, and that large commercial growers mostly can’t do. Ours are selected for the variety of tastes, colors, sizes, textures …. all of them wonderful to eat.

Commercial growers pick their tomatoes for consistency of size, color and shape and for the ability to ship them and hold them in the market. Those are really different qualities. They have to do that, first of all because they do ship and hold them, but also because Americans who usually shop in supermarkets have grown to expect a certain size, color, and shape. And especially, we have learned to see any tomato that is not shaped or colored “perfectly,” or that has “blemishes” as not good. No matter how wonderful they are, most people won’t buy them. It’s too bad, but true.

Almost all of our tomatoes (unless noted) are heirloom tomatoes. Calling a tomato “heirloom” doesn’t really tell you anything about the taste. It just tells you that the variety has been “stabilized” over generations — that means that if we plant a seed from a tomato we grew this year, next year the seed will create the same kind of tomato. What’s good about that? It is very important for making sure we have biodiversity, and benefit from the rich culture of tomatoes people have raised in different places for the past few centuries. It also means that if we like a particular kind of tomato, we can grow it again next year, and some get great reputations for their qualities.

When you think about the diversity of heirloom tomatoes we have, it’s pretty amazing. We think that tomatoes were first cultivated by the Aztecs, maybe 1300 years ago. Europeans encountered the tomato around 1600 and fell in love. Except those who at first thought it was poisonous, which the leaves are. (The plant is a nightshade, like the “deadly” kind, and its leaves are poisonous. But we eat a lot of nightshades …. like peppers, potatoes, and eggplants).

We have been thrilled to hear from folks who bought our seedlings that they found them healthier and more productive than others they bought. That’s what we want to hear!

So many shapes, sizes, and colors, originally from all over the world! Email vsapiro@gmail.com to reserve particular kinds or to ask questions.

THESE VARIETIES ARE AVAILABLE AS SEEDLINGS AT GILMANTON’S OWN MARKET. They should not go into the ground outside until all danger of frost is past. Seedlings are $5 each. They are $4.50 each if you order 3 or more. Contact us at vsapiro@gmail.com to order 3 or more at the reduced price.

Red

  • Carol Chyko’s Big Paste: From Pennsylvania introduced in 1988. 1-3 pounds.
  • Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red: very round classic tomato look. Medium sized.
  • Giganteqsue: Origins in Ukraine. Big 1-2 lb tomatoes.
  • Greek Domata: From a monastery in Athos, Greece. 8-12 oz.
  • Gypsy: Garnet purple with a little green. Originally from Russia and named there for the Romani. About 4 oz.
  • Holland: Juicy round red fruits, 5-8 oz.
  • Kennington’s Big Red: 12-16 oz. tomato from Oregon.
  • Large Red: A popular big tomato from before the Civil War. 1-2 lbs., ribbed.
  • Neves Azorian Red: From, yes, the Azores. Huge 1-3 lb. tomatoes.
  • Red Pear:  Large red beefsteak type, 8-18oz. Old northern Italian variety.
  • Stupice: Very early small tomatoes originally from Czechoslovakia.

Orange

  • Dixie Orange: Grew in my garden some years ago where a Dixie Golden was supposed to be. It’s regularized after a couple of generations.

Black (not “true black,” but very dark, often dark purple)

  • Black Krim: Originally from Crimea, found in 1990. 8-16 oz with purple to black skin, green shoulders, reddish-black flesh. Hotter the climate, darker the fruit. Rich, earthy, true tomato taste.
  • Black Ethiopian:  Mahogany red from Ukraine, 5 oz. Delicious.
  • Black Vernissage:  Very flavorful 2 oz beauty.

Yellow

  • Wapsipinicon Peach: Lovely small yellow tomatoes with peach fuzz all over them. Very sweet and juicy. We love them.
  • Yellow Furry Boar: 2-4 oz yellow tomato with gold stripes, slightly fuzzy.

Pink (and sometimes more purple)

  • Aunt Ginny’s Purple: Originally German. Deep pink 1 lb tomatoes
  • Marianna’s Peace: Originally from Czechoslovakia. Big 1-2 lb tomatoes. Romantically saved by a young woman about to be deported to Siberia in 1945, but jumped out of the truck and saved herself and these tomatoes.
  • Mortgage Lifter: Popular tomato developed in the 1940s in West Virginia. 1 lb fruit.
  • Pearly Pink: A little bigger than a cherry tomato; probably from Louisiana.
  • Pink Ponderosa: Huge 2 lb or more introduced in 1891.

Multi

  • Carbon: 8-12 oz round fruits with deep brown with black stripes, green and red inside. New for us; supposed to be delicious.
  • Hillbilly Tomato Leaf: Large 1-2 lb bright yellow fruits with red marbling.
  • Indigo Apple: Black shoulders on a red tomato, 2-4 oz. Very distinctive.
  • Lucky Cross: Beautiful yellow and pink tomato introduced in the 1990s.
  • Red Furry Boar: 2-4 oz red with gold stripes. Slightly fuzzy.
  • Solar Flare: Red with gold stripes. 10 oz beauty.

Cherry Tomatoes

  • Black Cherry: These are so good. Deep red and round.
  • Blush: Oval-shaped large cherry tomato, mostly golden shot with pink. Juicy and delicious. Originally from Artisan Tomatoes.
  • Haley’s Purple Comet:  Derived from Cherokee Purple.  Deep color.
  • Pearly Pink: introduced around 1980s. Produces and produces.
  • Salisaw Cafe: Cute red cherry tomato
  • Yellow Pear Cherry. Keeps going until the summer light is gone.

Why grow so many?  Why not?

We will sell tomatoes from these wonderful heirloom plants from July on at Gilmanton’s Own Market as they become ripe.

More Notes on Our Tomato Seedlings

How do you grow tomatoes and prepare them for Market? They start in the house on heat mats, under lights in early March. When they are ready we transplant them to 4” pots. By the end of April we put them in our unheated glass greenhouse. Most tomato seedling sellers encourage them to flower and fruit so they attract customers. In contrast, we aim for stem and root strength and health: we pinch off the lowest leaves and any flowers. This allows you to plant the stems very deep so the stems turn into roots. Your plants will be very productive and healthy after transplant. Many customers have told us our tomato plants were their best producers.

Are they all heirlooms? There are many myths about what “heirloom” means. It just means that the plants have been stabilized and tested for enough generations to know that if you save the seeds and replants them, you will get the same kind of tomato. Hybrids, in contrast, are the result of genetic mixing (as most heirlooms were in earlier generations), but they are not stabilized, so if you plant the seeds from these fruits next year, the new plants could resemble any of their ancestors, or a mix of them. Because all of ours are heirlooms, we know what they will look like and taste like, and we know where they came from – where their ancestors lived and often, how they got here.

Why so many? Which are best?  We grow only what we like to eat. And we love variety. What you get in the supermarket are hybrids selected to travel by truck for long distances without getting damages, and to appear round, red, and “blemish” free.  In fact, tomatoes in real life come in many different colors, shapes, sizes, amount of juice, amount of sweetness/acidity and other taste elements. The “best” tomatoes are the ones you like best for different purposes – sandwiches, salads, on their own, snacking.  Try some different ones.

What are the health benefits of tomatoes?  They are great sources of Vitamin C, A, and K and potassium. They are major sources of lycopene, an antioxidant with many health benefits. The darker the tomato, the more lycopene.

How do I care for them? By the time you take one of these home, they are very eager to get out of their pots and wiggle their toes. They want a good sunny place (in the ground or a large pot). Almost all of my tomatoes are indeterminate, which means they can easily grow 5-6 ft tall by the end of the summer. They need staking.  When you plant, plant them very deep – leave only a couple of leaf branches above ground. The stems will turn into roots. (Good for the tomatoes.) Keep them nicely watered but not soaking. Do not allow wet soil to splash up on the leaves: Mulch to avoid this. Leaves below the bottom-most flower are not useful to the plant. Pinch them off. Flowers/fruit grow from the bottom up.  It takes about 30 days for a flower to become fruit you want to pick. By late August the sun is too low to let the plant produce good fruit. Clip the very top of the plant. That will tell the plant it is time to put energy into its fruiting before the season is over.