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WHITE FLOWER FARM'S EARLY SPRING TOMATO FAVORITES
The early forecasts are for a hot, dry summer, which is ideal for home gardeners who want to grow tomatoes. So even if some parts of the country experienced tomato blight in last year's rainy weather, it likely won't be repeated in the summer of 2010.
*In preparation for a fine tomato season, White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) has gone out on a limb (make that a vine!) to name their top 15 favorites. Of course, things could change during the season -- White Flower Farm grows more than 130 tomato varieties in their 32 greenhouses and trial gardens -- but we'll keep you updated.
1) Sungold -- The #1 staff pick for taste and productivity. Enjoy an abundance of glowing orange cherries with rich flavor! This variety is indeterminate, meaning it grows and produces fruit all season. It is tall, vigorous and needs staking -- or put it up against a fence. Ripens 65 days from transplant.
2) Taxi -- Here’s a great low acid tomato that serves so many purposes. Cut it into wedges, slice or cube it, or add fresh mozzarella and basil to dress it up. The low acidity and mellow yellow color make a beautiful addition to any recipe. 'Taxi' is good for containers due to its determinate growth. Determinate means the plant stops growing at a certain height rather than continuing to grow all summer. Ripens in 65-70 days.
3) Carmello -- This is a customer favorite for its round, red, crack-resistant fruit, with high weight to size ratio and a perfect balance of sweet and acid flavor. An indeterminate hybrid that's disease resistant and productive. Ripens 70 days from transplant.
4) Jaune Flammee -- A French heirloom with clusters of apricot-size fruit. This extremely prolific, tender sweet salad tomato is fruitier than other small tomatoes. Indeterminate. Ripens 80 days from transplant.
5) Orange Strawberry Oxheart -- Give this one some space! It's a full-bodied, large mid- to late-season variety with a rich, sweet taste. Good for fresh eating, salsas, canning and sauces. For a beautiful and delicious platter, slice up 'Orange Strawberry' and combine with red tomatoes! A vigorous indeterminate grower, ripens 80 days from transplant.
6) Cherokee Purple – Many rate this beefsteak as their top tomato for flavor. Its rich, sweet taste just aches for a burger! Large 12 oz. to 1 lb. fruits are rosy purple in color and were the very first known as “black.” An indeterminate heirloom once grown by the Cherokee tribe, it ripens 80–90 days from transplant.
7) Brandywine Red -- Big and meaty, this variety helped popularize heirlooms due to its mild, sweet flavor and low acidity. The flavor is so good that gardeners began saving the seeds over 100 years ago and passing them from generation to generation. It does tend to develop some cracking. There are other Brandywine varieties, too, some with leaves shaped like those of potato plants and others with pink fruit. Indeterminate. Fruit ripens 80-100 days from transplant.
8) Black Prince -- An heirloom developed centuries ago in Siberia. Juicy 2.5-inch, round fruits look like garnets on the vine. Dark colored flesh and a fruity taste. Indeterminate. Fruit ripens about 70 days from transplant.
9) Green Zebra -- There is some debate as to whether this is truly an heirloom or not, but White Flower Farm likes the unique deliciously tangy emerald flesh. The color ripens from light green to golden amber overlaid with deep green stripes. Sweet and tart at the same time. Tall, indeterminate vines; fruit ripens in 80 days.
10) Riesentraube -- In German it translates into “giant bunch of grapes,” and the fruit's shape is distinctive also -- a rounded pear ending in a sharp point. This heirloom produces tons of flowers then tons of 3/4-oz. tomatoes. Just the right size for salads and eating fresh from the garden. Indeterminate. Fruit ripens 75–80 days from transplant.
11) Mortgage Lifter -- Heirloom with an interesting name and classic beefsteak flavor. The story goes that Radiator Charlie was losing his home and needed to find a way to supplement his auto repair job. He noticed some tomato plants that had produced very large fruits and collected seed from them. He began producing plants and selling them and was able to pay off his mortgage over time from the profits. Indeterminate vines with fruit maturing in 85 days.
12) Celebrity -- This determinate hybrid is justly famous for its large, 8-12 oz. tasty red tomatoes. Compact, vigorous and disease resistant, it's widely adapted to various growing conditions around the country. An All-America Selections winner. Fruit ripens about 70 days from transplant.
13) Amish Paste -- Large for a paste tomato (about 8 oz.), this exceptionally flavorful heirloom traces its origin to Pennsylvania. The oblong to oval, mildly sweet fruit grows in clusters and is great for sauces and canning. Indeterminate. Ripens 80–85 days from transplant.
14) Nebraska Wedding -- Great Plains heirloom beefsteak that stands out for its juicy, rich taste. Known for good yields of 8-16 oz., globe-shaped fruits that are dense and almost crack-free. It has the added allure of smooth apricot-orange skin and yellow flesh. Harvested for late summer and early fall weddings, with the seeds passed on to the bride and groom. Ripens 90 days from transplant.
15) Principe Borghese – The traditional choice for sun-dried tomatoes. In Sicily at harvest time, farmhouses are decorated with the long bunches of these red, egg-shaped beauties drying in the sun. Determinate. Ripens 75 days from transplant.
If you don't have room for a garden, the simplest way to grow tomatoes is on a sunny deck or patio. No digging, no rototilling, no weeding, but you'll enjoy convenient watering and harvesting. It’s just the best! For tips and videos about growing tomatoes, visit http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/tips-for-growing-tomatoes.html
Save the Date – From May 21-23, White Flower Farm will once again host Tomatomania™ and its originator, author and tomato enthusiast Scott Daigre. Don't miss the biggest tomato seedling sale on the East Coast and the chance to have all your questions about growing tomatoes answered by the experts. Shop for vegetable and herb plants, fertilizers, potting mix, supports, and everything else you need for your home garden.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
Please contact: Deborah Broide,
Deborah Broide Publicity,
White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.