A Few of Laurel's Favorites
People often ask, " Laurel, let's say you are about to be stranded on a deserted island, your canoe is sinking, and you have to swim to shore. You have 1 minute to grab your swim fins, snorkel, some garden tools, sun hat, a few CD's and 20 tomato seed varieties from among the hundreds you always have in your pockets. Which ones would you choose?"
"How about 30 ?", I always reply.
A Guide to the Symbols
(H) Hybrid. The few hybrids we list were developed with great flavor as the main criterion. These are delicious varieties which we have grown and taste-tested to ensure superior flavor.
(D) Determinate. Also known as 'bush' varieties, these plants are great for container growing or for your small garden. They reach a certain predetermined height and then stop growing. Most of the fruit is borne over a 4 to 6 week period.
Our Sunshine Symbol means this variety grows beautifully in all climates, and does especially well in sustained high heat but not hotter than 95º. Pollen normally becomes sterile above 95º
Extra heat tolerant.
A specialty plant, developed to produce consistently in very hot weather, up to 97º- 98º.
Our Penguin Symbol means this variety grows beautifully in all climates, and does especially well in cooler temperatures and produces late into the cool season.
Grows beautifully in most climates and is extra cold tolerant. However, this does not mean North Dakota in winter. Your tomato plants need night temperatures consistently above 50º F.
(E) Early ripening variety, with 78 days or less to ripe tomatoes.
(VE) Very early varieties, usually less than 68 days from plant-out to ripe fruit.
(EE) Extremely early ripening varieties, ready to pick in only 45-60 days from planting.
A good choice for growing in pots, and a variety which Laurel has already grown successfully in containers. Any heirloom tomato plant will grow well in a large 18 - 30 gallon container with proper growing techniques and the dwarf varieties can be grown in 5 -10 gallon containers.
See detailed container-growing info: Growing Tips
(Ch) A cherry tomato. These little fruits can be red, black, orange, pink, purple, green, yellow, ivory, white or bicolor and in varying shapes: round, pear, grape, ping pong, pea-sized and plum-shaped.
(B) A big tomato of at least 1 or 2 pounds.
(BB) A really big tomato. These 'super braggers' can reach 3 to 4 pounds.
(BBB) A ridiculously huge tomato, these prize winning giants can reach more than 5 lbs.
(SM) A small plant, great for containers or smaller garden spaces.
(VSM) A very small, dwarf type plant for small containers and tiny gardens.
(P-S) Paste or sauce type, especially popular for sauces. These tomatoes are richly flavored, ideal for cooking because flavors increase exponentially during the cooking process, and are also marvelous for fresh eating.
(HG) For your Historical or Heritage Garden. These are storied tomatoes with a fascinating history, including well-known historic varieties, some of them named after persons of high renown, or an historical event. Some are tomatoes with tall tales and legends attached to their names. Many have simply stood the test of time.
Days: Approximate time from planting the seedling to harvesting the ripe fruit. Can vary from climate to climate.
New for 2012! This means we are offering these varieties this year for the first time.Not necessarily a 'new' variety.
'Stranded On A Deserted Island' Favorites
Paul Robeson ($5.50) (VE) (HG)
This is my all-time favorite tomato and one of our top sellers. It is a gorgeous, dark and dusky-hued fruit with intensely sweet earthy taste with a hint of tanginess, a luscious velvety smooth texture, beautiful skin, rich with juice. The seed was made available by Marina Danilenko, a Moscow seedswoman.
This luxurious tomato is named for Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the elegant, renowned and charismatic operatic singer, law school graduate, champion athlete, film star, stage actor, and boundlessly brave champion of civil and personal rights throughout the world. This marvelous plant will give you its perfect 3"- 4" fruit in only 65 days from planting. Incredible; a symphony. I do believe this is the finest tomato in existence.
Amy's Sugar Gem ($5.50) (VE) 65 days. This huge, sprawling plant produces heavy clusters of golf ball sized, incredibly delicious, deep red ambrosial fruit with tiny golden jewel-like sparkles within the red skin. Very sweet! It was one of my absolute favorite tomatoes at TomatoFest in September--just knocked me out. Candy-on-the-vine, not to be missed.
Developed by Jeff McCormack, it is a cross of Red Cherry and Tappy's Finest. Named for Amy Boor Hereford whose Grandma Tappy introduced Jeff to heirloom tomatoes more than 20 years ago.
Anna Russian ($5.50) (VE) 65 days. This was the very first heirloom tomato I ever tasted.
Years ago my mom brought me some perfect heart-shaped Anna Russians from her garden. She had gotten the seeds from a friend. I tasted; I swooned. From 8 to 16 ounces, the fruits she brought had grown in beautiful clusters of 2 or 3.
Still in my top 5 favorites after all these years, Anna Russian is always among the first few plants I set out in my home garden every spring in a little Tomato Love ceremony.
Anna Russian seeds came to Craig Lehoullier from Brenda Hillenius of Oregon, who got the seeds from her grandfather, Kenneth Wilcox. Years earlier he had been given the original seeds from a Russian immigrant friend--a genuine example of the intriguing history these grand old tomatoes carry with them.
This plant has very delicate, wistful foliage as do many of the Russian varieties. Don't let that fool you! Anna is easy to grow and bear heavily during hot and cool weather.
I wouldn't be without it.
NEW FOR 2013
Bear Claw ($6.25) 75 days
I've been hearing about this extremely rare fruit lately in heirloom tomato circles--everyone wants it! We've got it! From Lisa VonSaunder, "A fabulous tomato in every way you can measure. A huge tomato with some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever known. I never saw tomato plants grow so large so fast. Huge plant with stems like tree trunks. The first tomatoes of the season were one pound, then the fruit started coming in larger and larger and larger until they were the largest of all my tomatoes this season. Fabulous deep, rich, pink fruit that beat all the others in taste.
They grew so large the branches were drooping even with one fruit on them. So, if you want to win first place for size but you treasure flavor above all else, this is the tomato to grow! Do you want to have the most tomatoes ever grown on a vine? Then this is the plant for you!"
Photograph by Lisa VonSaunder of Amishland Seeds, used here with her kind permission.
Berkeley Tie Dye ($6.95) 80 days.
This rare and exotic fruit with big, bold, luscious flavors looks just like its name implies with spectacular showy streaks and swirls of green and yellow, red and orange, with green and red patterning inside and out. From 8 to 12 ounces, chefs nationwide are ordering these plants for their restaurant gardens -- tomato lovers are clamoring for this fabulous variety.
Berkeley Tie Dye is another fabulous variety from talented tomato breeder Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms here in California.
Photograph used here with the kind permission of Brad Gates.
A portion of the proceeds of Berkeley Tie Dye will be donated to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, in the names of two very handsome, winsome young fellows. www.talkaboutcuringautism.org
Aunt Ruby's German Green ($5.50) (B) (E)75-78 days. You're going to love this beautiful Tennessee tomato. Big, sweet beefsteaks, bursting with a fragrant, complex, spicy-sweetness with a touch of tang. A gorgeous green-when-ripe color, this much sought after variety is a real treat to have in your garden, and is said to be the very best tasting green. Reaching an average of 1 lb, Aunt Ruby's German Green grows in clusters of 2 or 3.
With its intricate, earthy, unforgettable flavor, this one will broaden your tomato horizons. Very adaptable, and easy to grow with good disease resistance. From Ruby Arnold of Greeneville, Tennessee who passed away in 1997.
NEW FOR 2013 Black From Tula ($5.50) 75 days. The largest of the irresistably luscious black tomatoes, this big old-time Russian beauty produces a heavy crop of 4 inch,12 to 14 ounce, deep garnet-mahogany with all the promise of the smoky rich flavor for which the blacks are renown. Sweet and earthy, its mouth-watering flavor will make your eyes roll back in your head. One of Laurel's all-time favorites.
Black Plum ($5.50) 75 days.
This marvelous plant offers a very heavy production of rich, sweet, fruity, elongated, mahogany plum-shaped 3" fruits that fall into your hands by the dozens as you pick them. This one is outstanding eaten fresh, or sliced in a salad, with a rich smoky sweetness and a delicate touch of tartness to its creamy flesh, it makes a fabulous and perfectly balanced sauce or paste and is becoming a great favorite for canning. I like it fresh off the vine for straight-up garden snackin'. First place winner at the TomatoMania tasting of 2002.
Black Krim ($5.50) 75 days (E) This much sought after Russian variety is unique and unforgettable, originally from Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union, Black Krim has a superb smoky sweetness with a delicate lingering touch of tang in a 4-6" slightly flattened, mahogany-colored fruit with lovely, deep green shoulders. Just superb and very easy to grow. (It is not the same variety as Noir de Crimeé).
Brandywine Yellow, Platfoot Strain ($5.50) 85 days.
(B)From Gary Platfoot of Ohio, this magnificent big 1 to 2 pound brightly-colored smooth-shaped yellow tomato with marvelous complex taste is a special strain of Yellow Brandywine which has a higher yield than regular Yellow Brandywine and offers the same elaborate, delicious tomato flavor. Gardeners who try this variety continue to grow it in their gardens. Disease resistant and very easy to grow. It's a classic. I love it.
Brown Derby (
($6.95) 75 to 80 days.
My absolute favorite discovery of 2007, no contest. Combining the sweet succulence of the black tomatoes and the tangy spiciness of the greens, this is a spectacular cross of my all-time favorite, Paul Robeson, and the legendary Aunt Ruby's German Green. Reaching up to 2 lbs.,
It arose about 5 years ago in the garden of Elser's Country Farm in Yucaipa, California and they have been selling it to adoring customers at their Southern California heirloom tomato farm stands for several years. The flavor is tantalizing--tart and sweet, a perfect combination of tang to sweetness with plenty of juice and a rapturous brown and green color. When Amazing Terry and I first tasted it in August, our eyes got wide, we grinned and stared at each other with the 'Oh-my-God-this-is-incredible' look. I could barely believe my mouth.
Elser's Brown Derby has become a much sought after favorite at Maria and Darrell's Farmer's Market stands where customers arrive early to get their hands on one of these treasures. I had to scramble to get this one. True story. I picked it up, another customer begged me for it; I did not budge, wouldn't give it up. I wanted it for the photograph because it was so beautiful. Then we ate it.
A Laurel's exclusive.
(This fruit is not related to Tom Wagner's Brown Derby line, arose independently from that line and was named without knowledge of it.)
Black Zebra ($5.50) 85 days. This stunning, perfectly round 1½" to 2" fruits with tender, deep dark red to caramel colored skin beneath vertical dark green and mahogany streaks is the favorite tomato of Amazing Terry.
Black Zebra has opulent, rich flavor with hints of smoke and sweetness, a big favorite around here which somehow disappear mysteriously from the plants as soon as they ripen.
Brandywine OTV($5.50) (B) (E) 72 days. A truly marvelous stand-out member of the great family of Brandywines, this one arose in Craig LeHoullier's garden years ago. Big one-pound red fruits with orange shoulders and complex rich flavors. An outstanding tomato for your garden; it also sets fruit very well during high temperatures and bears all season. A reliable producer, very disease resistant, and easy to grow; OTV stands for Off The Vine, which was a wonderful online tomato newsletter published by Carolyn Male and Craig LeHoullier. They describe this tomato as "the best strain of Brandywine set apart from others by its smooth, creamy, almost buttery texture, and harmonious sweet flavor." It originated from a natural cross-pollination of Yellow Brandywine and an unknown red parent, and was further developed and stabilized by Carolyn Male.
($5.50)75 days. An extremely popular French tomato. This one is highly sought after and has become a great favorite among my customers. A very reliable and bountiful producer of heavy, juicy, 8 oz. red fruits with immense flavor, this plant is among the most prolific ever bred, and produces so many fruits, you will be giving them away by the basketful. The Carmello plant in my garden proved to be disease resistant, and produced through late December with night temperatures about 42 degrees. The flavor alone puts it in my top 10. Wait 'til you see all the tomatoes on this plant; bring the big harvest basket. (E) 75 days.
NEW FOR 2013 Caspian Pink ($5.50) 80 days. (B) Often called the Queen of the Big Pinks, Caspian Pink has been requested by so many customers, I've added it for 2013. A big winner in tomato tastings and ranked in the top 10 of almost everyone's 'best' tomato lists, Caspian pink is easy to grow and very productive.
With flavor rivaling the best of the Brandywines, along with its handsome shape, beautiful hue and high production, this old time Russian variety offers huge pink fruits, from 1 to 2 lbs, which grow well everywhere and are a perfect choice for cooler climates.
Cherokee Purple ($5.50) (HG) (E) 75 days. A legendary and beautiful tomato, at least 100 years old and said to be grown by the Cherokee People. 12 oz. deep dark dusky rose-purple, deep red inside, with sweet, rich and smoky, luscious flavor. Cherokee Purple is a garden staple, in everyone's favorite list for a good reason-- disease resistant, reliable and easy to grow, and great one for your heirloom or heritage garden. Seeds were sent to Craig Lehoullier by JD Green of Tennessee who got them from a neighbor whose family had grown them for more than 100 years. In 1990 Craig named it Cherokee Purple.
Chocolate Amazon aka Amazon Chocolate($5.95)
80 days. This exceedingly rare, beautiful and incredibly delicious variety is the first tomato that I can say rivals
my all-time favorite,Paul Robeson. Everyone who tastes it goes mad with tomato love and says it is the best tasting tomato they have ever tried, bar none. The flavor of this deep chocolate-brown tomato, as described by Lisa of Amishland Heirloom Seeds, " a distinctive, winey, smoky, rich taste and fabulous color." Lisa was the first to offer seeds of Chocolate Amazon which were sent to her by her Ukrainian friend, Sergey. Double the size of most other black tomatoes, reaching 1 lb. or more, extremely prolific and pumping out sweet, luscious, juicy tomatoes right into the cooler weather, Chocolate Amazon is in our top three discoveries for your 2009 garden.
Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red
($5.50)Released by Gary Ibsen, owner of Carmel TomatoFest, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red is a deep-red, round, beefsteak type fruit with a robust unruly tomatoey flavor and firm, juicy flesh that invites tomato feasting and seed-saving. The tall, indeterminate plant produces loads of 3", 10-12 oz. fruits. Gary says, "This is one of those big, bold tasting tomatoes that is not for sissies," said Ibsen. "Although it has some of the highest sugar levels I've ever seen from a tomato, the sweetness is in the background and its fruity flavors are balanced beautifully with plenty of acidity, earthy nuances and flavor complexity. It's a perfect tomato for eating fresh, cooking or canning and shows excellent disease resistance." (HG)(E)
85 days. Big, hearty, prolific plant, with huge red beautiful beefsteak tomatoes, up to 4 lbs. I have to use both hands to pick them. Gigantic fruits have a superb, classic tomato flavor. Very easy to grow, disease resistant and a reliable producer, in my top 10 favorites. Another hot weather favorite which will grow easily and wonderfully in all gardens.
Don't worry; nobody knows how to pronounce it, but it's so good, you won't care. :)
Druzba (DROOSH-Bah) ($5.50) 80 days.
This is a very special favorite of mine which I've grown for my personal stash for a long time.
Because it's such an extraordinary variety,I have sent plants of Druzba as an alternate for Goose Creek when Goose Creek plants were too small to ship.
Soon I began getting calls from customers who liked it even better than Goose Creek and begged me to send them another Druzba! So, I've decided to include it for 2012. I think you will agree that it has a very robust, rich, concentrated tomato flavor borne in smooth, perfectly round, deep-red, blemish-free 10 ounce fruits with good disease resistance and high production. The name Druzba means friendship in Bulgarian.
Eva Purple Ball ($5.50) 68 days
(E) A beautiful, adaptable, and reliable choice for your garden. Easy to grow, virtually problem free, and often called the most beautiful tomato of all. Eva Purple Ball produces perfectly round, deep pink, 6-8 oz, juicy, sweet luscious globes with an outstanding rich and refreshing flavor. At first bite, the tanginess dominates, giving way a moment later to an enduring sweetness with overtones of tropical fruit and spice. Growing very well in high heat and humidity, its very high-yield and disease resistance makes this prolific garden staple an outstanding choice for novice gardeners and experts alike. Originally from the Black Forest of Germany in the late 1800's. This plant out produced all others in my 2005 summer garden.
dy($6.95) (E) (HG)
(70 to 75 days). This rapturous little cousin of Purple Haze is the newest addition to our heirloom tomato selection.
My seeds for this exquisite 1” deep purple cherry tomato come from Dana Ferrin of Seattle, who grew out the Original Purple Haze for four generations to see if it would grow true-to-variety. He sent me some seeds to grow out and to our delight, the resulting fruit is a half-sized, full flavored, sweet and sassy little 1 oz. cousin to Purple Haze which I’ve named Foxy Lady. The flavor, very much like Purple Haze, is energizing, elaborate and dazzling with a sweet, seductive background of earthy nuance and lingering flavors. I was mesmerized by the flavors of these little cute little heartbreakers in my garden.
Early ripening and growing in mass abundance on big plants in clusters of 5 to 7 fruits, Foxy Lady ripens in only 70-72 days from plant out. Unlike the regular-leafed Purple Haze, Foxy Lady has some of the biggest potato type leaves I’ve ever seen. T
hey'll make you wanna get up and scream...and just like the Original Purple Haze, which is also available for 2012, (see below), Foxy Lady has a muted, subtle saltiness along with a tiny touch of tang to balance its big full-bodied sugar.
You’ve got to be all mine, all mine….
Dana has donated seeds so we can grow and offer this very rare plant to our customers and donate part of the proceeds to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism. www.talkaboutcuringautism.org. Thank you, Dana!
Supply is rather limited, please order early. A Laurel's exclusive.
NOTE: A portion of the proceeds from Foxy Lady are donated to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, to assist families of autistic children. Donations will be made in the names of a couple of very fine and winsome young fellows, Caleb and Ethan. www.talkaboutcuringautism.org.
Gary'O Sena (Gary 0h SEE nah) (Yes, that's where the apostrophe goes.) ($6.95)
68 - 75 days.These incredibly flavored, 1 lb. fruits,
a pink-purple variety from a Brandywine crossed with Cherokee Purple,have the characteristics and qualities of Cherokee Purple on hearty, vigorous, indeterminate disease resistant, potato leafed plants. Combining the excellent fruit and unmatched flavors of the Brandywine and Cherokee Purple parents, you get the higher production of Cherokee Purple with plants that set more fruit and produce earlier! First fruits have been recorded as early as 68 days.
From Keith Mueller, my tomato mentor, friend and rock 'n' roller from Kansas City MO. Named after his beloved Irish Grandma.
Great flavor, production and disease resistance.
NOTE: A portion of the proceeds from Gary'O Sena are donated to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, to assist families of autistic children. Donations will be made in the names of a couple of very fine and winsome young fellows, Caleb and Ethan. www.talkaboutcuringautism.org.
Photograph by Keith Mueller, used here with his kind permission.
I am madly in love with this tomato; it has been a big favorite of mine for years.
($5.50) 78 days.
With a stunning luminous orange hue and brilliant, citrusy sweet flavor--its perfectly balanced and delicious. First grown in Canada by T. McIntee's Gramma, it is easy to grow, a very reliable producer of 6 to 10 ounce meaty fruits, about 3" across, perfectly round and -- truly memorable tomato. Give this Gramma a try!
Green Giant ($5.50) (E)
60-70 days. Occasionally a tomato comes along which deserves very special attention. This big, up to 2 lb., green when ripe tomato resoundingly stole the show August 27th at
Cincinnati's famous CHOPTAG Tomato Taste Fest last year taking Best Of Show. We had the immense pleasure of tasting it at TomatoFest in Carmel, California where it captured the hearts of tasters and garnered a great deal of attention. I have not been this impressed by a tomato since discovering Goose Creek in the summer of 2004. On a flavor scale of 1 to 100, Green Giant is a resounding 100. Incredible. Unforgettable.
It arose originally in the garden of Reinhard Kraft of Germany in 2000 when he planted 30 seeds called 'Green Giant' from a friend in Canada. 29 of them grew out regular leafed except for one which had big potato leafed foliage. Reinhard cultivated that one, selecting the best fruit for several seasons, and continued to save seeds. Yay, Reinhard. Seeds are not available commercially but I have managed to secure some for the 2006 season from my buddy Cynthia Geske, owner of Love Apple Farm in
Ben Lomond, CA. Cynthia grew the magnificent Green Giant fruits we tasted at TomatoFest and graciously let me use her photograph here.
How to tell if a green tomato is ripe and not just an unripe fruit? Close your eyes and feel it; if it's soft, it's ripe.
Green Zebra ($5.50) (E)
72 days. Visually enchanting, abundantly productive, this 2-inch round fruit ripens to a beautiful amber gold with dark green zebra-like stripes over the amber background. Inside, the flesh is beautiful, sparkling green. Another wonderful variety from Tom Wagner, it is gorgeous to behold, tangy and deeply sweet with lingering flavors, like fine wine. This exquisite tomato was chosen by chef extraordinaire, Alice Waters, for her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. In my top 5.
Hawaiian Currant ($5.50) (Ch) 80 days. This magnificent miniature morsel of a tomato amazed me and the other tasters at TomatoFest in September of 2003. Festival guests were going back for more, causing a traffic jam in the joyous meandering line of tomato fans. It grows in abundant grape-like clusters, each cluster holding onto its little red pea-sized fruits, until all are perfectly ripe. Be sure to pick the entire cluster as you would with grapes, rather than trying to get these teeny little guys off one at a time.
The flavor of Hawaiian Currant is unbelievably deep, rich, sweet, and lingering on the palette, a tiny terrific dream of a
Hawaiian Pineapple ($5.50) (B) 90 days. A huge, breathtaking and much sought after golden-orange beefsteak with fruit that grows up to 1-1/2 lbs. When fruit is ripe it has a luscious, very rich, sweet pineapple-melon like flavor and heady tropical fragrance. Add the unusually high production of this plant, and it makes my top 10 list. A real knock-out and a top-seller.
Isis Candy ($5.50) (Ch) (VE) 60 days. These precious little 1½" morsels of red and gold garden candy have a dazzling starburst pattern on the blossom end when ripe. Sweet and fruity, Isis Candy has become a top 10 winner at tomato tastings, rivaling Sun Gold's flavor as a best-of-show cherry. Crack-resistant, a spectacular top seller.
Japanese Black Trifele ($5.50)
80 days. Japanese Black Trifele, which translates to truffle, is a big juicy 8-10 ounce pear-shaped, deep purple-black tomato with pretty green shoulders. In Russia the Trifele varieties of tomatoes--of which there are several colors--are highly prized and command high prices. Growing on a short potato-leafed plant, it's the size and shape of a Bartlett pear and among the darkest hued and finest flavored of the black tomatoes. The skin is smooth and crack resistant and production is huge. Flavor is deep, chocolaty, smoky and rich, just wonderful.
Kellogg's Breakfast ($5.50) (E) 78 days. Wow whatta tomato! These big 1 to 2 lb. bright orange beefsteak beauties from West Virginia are exactly the color of orange juice. This terrific fruit with its sweet, buttery, ambrosial flavor with a perfect balance of bright tanginess is a favorite of gourmets and gourmands everywhere. Sliced open, it reveals a rich creamy bright-orange flesh, just bursting with juice. A top seller year after year.
Marianna's Peace ($5.95) 80 days. (B) (HG)
One of our top 3 sellers. The sugary nectar of this huge 5 inch tomato's creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance and sublime, complex flavors reminiscent of the finest of the "old-fashioned" tomato flavors. This big, beautiful irresistible 1-2 lb. deep red fruit is the talk of the tomato world and has found its way into Top 10 favorite tomato lists of gourmands worldwide. It is perfection. Supply is limited, please order early. It is said that Marianna's Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes in existence.
Marianna was from a family of farmers in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. During World War II, in May of 1945 when she was 17, Russian soldiers came to her school and forced Marianna and all her schoolmates into a truck to be taken to Siberia. During the journey, she and a few others escaped by jumping from the moving truck, but Marianna was shot in the leg just as she crossed the Czech border. With the help of her friends, she was able to continue on to the town of Weiden, Bavaria. She lost all contact with her parents and brothers for the next ten years, but after a long and diligent search with the aid of The Red Cross, she finally found them in 1955.
Before he died, her father gave her a little bundle of the seeds.
Marianna married, and in 1957 moved to Washington State with her husband where they raised four children.
The legacy of these seeds reaches back to the early 1900's and year after year the tomatoes borne from this marvelous heirloom continue to be treasured for their outstanding taste and beauty. Incredibly sweet, creamy, with dense red flesh, rich and luscious, reminiscent of the finest of those "old-fashioned" tomato flavors, the memories of which are the stuff of dreams for all tomato lovers.
Oaxacan Jewel ( Wah - hah - kun) ($5.50)
85 days. Wonderfully rich, sweet flavors make this stunning jewel-like tomato a huge favorite at tasting parties and in fine restaurants. These beautiful 1 to 2 lb. brilliant yellow beefsteak tomatoes with red streaks throughout the flesh make this one a
chef's favorite for flavor and presentation.
Oaxacan Jewel is gaining fans world wide and is among my best finds for the 2011 season.
Omar's Lebanese ($5.50) (BBB)
80 days. The big tomato from Lebanon! Omar's Lebanese has a passionately sweet and complex flavor. These immense fruits--deep dark pink and juicy--grow to 3-4 lbs, with excellent disease resistance. A spectacular tomato. Really easy to grow, out of this world. Takes 2 hands to pick it. In my top 5. Many of the Eastern European tomatoes have gigantic flavors. This one is especially fabulous.
Peacevine Cherry ($5.50) 50 days. (EE) The tiny tomato with the gigantic taste. Developed from Sweet 100 by Alan Kapular of Oregon, the little Peacevine currant type tomatoes grow in clusters of 18 to 20 fruits on long vines growing up to 18 feet and ripen in only 50 days from plant out. When ripe, these marble-sized tomatoes can range from deep dark red to orange and yellow. The elaborate sparkling flavor of Peacevine literally changes from rich and sweet to tart and tangy and back again as you munch them--the Everlasting Gobstopper of tomatoes.
The Peacevine name was chosen because of the high amino acid content which has a calming effect on the body. This indeterminate variety had the highest vitamin C content in a cherry tomato among 30 varieties analyzed by Rutgers University.
NEW FOR 2013
Purple Smudge AKA Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge. ($5.95)
This 2 to 4 ounce, brilliant orange fruit has a fascinating purple thumbprint or smudge on the shoulder of the fruit as it ripens. One of the first tomatoes to exhibit this true purple color trait, the unusual pattern becomes more prominent in hot weather.
The part of the skin that's exposed to sunlight turns that deep dark color, while the shaded part stays red. Wait for it to ripen and you'll be rewarded with a mouthful of sweet yummy tomato, bright and tangy at first bite, then the sugar kicks in and the sweetness lingers in your mouth.
My seeds come from fruits I bought at the Torrance CA Farmers Market from Elser's Country Farm Stand. The tomatoes were delicious and selling like crazy, having 2 large gel cavities inside where lots of the flavor was prominent. Be sure not to overwater! Many of these rare, unusual varieties need very moderate watering or they become mealy or watery. Hold back the watering as they begin to change color for a real taste treat and a big harvest. In fact, that goes for all of the heirlooms: too much water makes them crack and end up watery.
Photograph of Purple Smudge the property of
Baker Creek Seeds and used here with
their gracious permission.
Super Snow White ($5.50) 70 days. (E)
A gourmet's delight. I can't say enough about this exquisite, ping pong ball sized, white cherry tomato which ripens from white to ivory to palest yellow with a bright, rich and sweet juicy flavor. Very prolific, easy to grow, pretty as starlight and a top seller.
Sunset's Red Horizon ($5.50) (B) (E) 72 days. This outstanding big, red, ambrosial and glorious fruit is, along with Purple Haze, Marianna's Peace, Vintage Wine, Green Giant, Goose Creek, and Earl's Faux, the talk of the tomato world this season and being described as the best tasting tomato in existence. Producing like a champ in cool weather, resistant to frost, it is a splendid producer of big red, round and heart shaped, 5"- 6" fruits with great old-time intense tomato flavors and a juicy silken texture. Very heavy in the hand, weighing from 10 to about 16 ounces. One of the first varieties to produce, and continue bearing fruit well into November and December in the cooler coastal regions of Washington, Oregon and California, Sunset's Red Horizon will also produce beautifully and reliably in all climates and has proven resistant to frost, blossom end rot and cracking.
Introduced to the west by Nik Peplenov who immigrated to the US in 1999 and brought with him his favorite heirloom seeds from the Rostov Don region of
Russia, it was named by tomato grower Gary Ibsen in 2003 after Sunset Magazine. Sunset's Red Horizon is a spectacular, all-around champion tomato. The fruit in the photograph was picked in our garden on January 27th, 2007.Photograph by Gary Ibsen.
Stupice ($5.50) (EE) (Stoo-PEETS) 52 days. A great tomato! For me, this is the absolute very best tasting super-early cold-or-hot weather variety and among the first I plant each season. Huge flavor, sweet and luscious. Not a cherry tomato, it's a bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a handball, a 3 to 4 oz. red round fruit, first to ripen and very high yielding. Produces quickly, heavily, reliably early and continuously throughout the season. Even when fruits are smaller as the season wanes, they maintain their marvelous flavor becoming even sweeter with colder weather. A garden staple.
NEW FOR 2013
Todd County Amish ($5.50) 82 days.
NEW FOR 2013
(One of Laurel's new Favorites!) A genuine Amish family heirloom tomato.
Last season I had a chat with my sweet friend Lisa Von Saunder of Amishland Seeds. I asked, "So, Lisa, what's the very best big Amish tomato? The most awesome flavored one -- I mean the one that makes your eyes roll into the back of your head?" She said, "Laurel, you have got to try Todd County Amish, it is incredible!" So I did. Lisa's right. Oh. My. Gog. We went crazy for them! Huge, beautiful, luscious, deep pink, 1 to 2 pound slightly fluted beefsteaks on potato leafed plants. Delicious, elaborate, sweet, rich, old time tomatoey flavors. Todd County Amish produces scads of fruit all season right up to frost. U
nforgettable.When you bite into one of these you won't want to share it--but go ahead, it produces huge harvests. Lisa knows what she's talkin' about when it comes to things Amish.
Yellow Submarine ($5.50) 70 days. (Ch) (E) Similar in appearance to Yellow Pear but with a deep, rich flavor and excellent texture, Yellow Submarine is replacing Yellow Pear for many gardeners who long for this beguiling shape and color but with big yummy tomatoey taste. Now the cutest little tomato also has great big flavor!
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Our Tomato Varieties
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"You need more tomatoes."©...Laurel
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