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Thu Aug 20, 2015, 05:18 PM

First foray into heirloom tomatoes

I planted four varieties of heirloom tomatoes in my garden this year - Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, German Queen and Black Prince. I also planted some Romas and Better Boys.

All the heirloom plants are around 4-1/2 to 5 feet tall (about doubling the height of the Romas and Better Boys) and are producing like crazy. They're starting to ripen (I planted late this year - my garden plot has really heavy soil and doesn't drain real well so if I plant too soon the late May and early June rains drown a lot of plants).

One of the Cherokee Purples was ripe enough to pick today. Now, I have to preface this by saying that growing up I was not a big tomato fan - I don't think I really started liking them until I was around 25 or so. Even then, my tasted buds usually went "meh!" at the taste of tomatoes. Where were the Cherokee Purples when I was growing up!? They're absolutely delicious! Firm and meaty with a hint of sweetness. I can't wait for the others to ripen so I can taste them.

I want to finish with a "shout-out" to NRaleighLiberal. I probably would not have considered growing heirloom tomatoes if not for your posts. Thanks!

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Reply First foray into heirloom tomatoes (Original post)
SnowCritter Aug 2015 OP
applegrove Aug 2015 #1
NRaleighLiberal Aug 2015 #2
Cracklin Charlie Aug 2015 #3
Erich Bloodaxe BSN Aug 2015 #4
SnowCritter Aug 2015 #5

Response to SnowCritter (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2015, 05:29 PM

1. Try heirloom tomatoes with green goddess dressing

sometime. My favourite at my favourite restaurant.

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Response to SnowCritter (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2015, 05:34 PM

2. So first - thanks! Second - you demonstrated why I like to do what I do.

Growing good gardens is one thing - growing new gardeners is quite another. My main goal each year is to inspire and identify those who will follow on from my generation of seed savers - ensure it isn't just a fad, but something of a foundation in our gardens. The Seed Savers Exchange (40 years old this year) is really the starting point for the preservation and dissemination of so many great varieties that probably existed only on farms or communities sprinkled around the country - indeed, the world.

Imagine my surprise when I tasted my first Cherokee Purple, back before it had a name, in 1990 - my first inclination, after "this is a really unique color...and is absolutely delicious" - was to give it a name and ensure it was shared as widely as possible. I was just lucky to choose someone in Jeff McCormack of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange that also loved it, and was the first to sell it in his catalog.

The rest is...history!

two thousand varieties of tomatoes later, my quest and passion continues unabated!

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Response to SnowCritter (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2015, 06:02 PM

3. The Cherokee purples...

Were at my Uncle Sonny's produce stand when I was growing up. He sold fireworks at Fourth of July.

I loved going to Uncle Sonny's!

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Response to SnowCritter (Original post)

Fri Aug 21, 2015, 06:42 AM

4. There has to be something seriously wrong with my soil.

No matter what tomatoes I try, I get weedy, thin plants with low productivity.

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Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 22, 2015, 07:16 AM

5. Here in Minnesota the U of M offers soil testing

through their Agricultural Extension service (if I remember correctly, there's an Extension office in each county - usually in the county seat). You might check with the county you live in to see if there's a similar service where you live.

Over the years I've had to "loosen-up" the soil in my garden. I've tilled in compost and, believe it or not, old potting soil from various planters. It's help a lot in the areas where it has been mixed in - water absorbs into the soil now rather than making a big, muddy, non-productive mess. I'll be tilling the old mulch in this year after harvest.

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