Monday, May 15, 2006

Heirlooms: not your 6-pack of Celebrities

Usually I get whatever looks the healthiest at the nursery, but there's nothing except Celebrities, Early Girls, Beefsteak...the usual. We don't have a real nursery in this town---the kind that germinates and grows their own starts. However I always have an overbundance of really good tomatoes, so I don't complain.

But yesterday someone gave me 5 heirloom tomatoes!.....over flow from their community garden I think. It makes me feel like I've 'graduated'to a whole new level of gardening.

Being a gift also made it more special; and I think it's so cool to have a tomato with a name like 'Marianna's Peace'. You just know that this plant has a neat history. The little plant stick says it's from Bohemia Czechoslovakia and came over after WWII.

Another one called "Dixie Golden Giant" has been grown by an Amish family since 1930. It has lemon-yellow beefsteak type tomatoes, few seeds and pink blossoms!

Knowing just a little bit of the origin of these plants makes me feel connected to another time and place....and real people who tended these plants and passed them on. Not a feeling I get with a 6 pack of Celebrities.

There's a Reisentraub which apparently translates as "Giant Bunch of Grapes" and its a cherry tomato plant.

Then there's something called Big Rainbow which has large yellow and/or golden orange and/or ruby red fruit. That's pretty awesome all coming from one plant.

And finally, a sad little transplant called a Black Pear Beautiful which I don't know will make it. It was being transported for several days in a 5th wheeler and looks pretty bedraggled. It doesn't look like other tomato plants. I'm trying to protect it from my intense afternoon sun. I should have put this one in a pot for a few days. If it survives, it's supposed to have brown/black fruits with intense flavor.

Anyone else grow heirlooms? Anyone familiar with these varieties?

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