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WHITE FLOWER FARM PICKS FAVORITE TOMATOES FOR 2011
The White Flower Farm's (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) tomato offering boasts more than 100 varieties of the best heirlooms and modern hybrids -- all carefully selected and tested by the gardeners at White Flower Farm. They start preparing their list of tomatoes a year in advance by growing new varieties from seed each spring and then trialing plants at the nursery and in home gardens during the summer.
Every year around this time White Flower Farm announces their staff's favorite tomato plants. This year, they've chosen their top ten. There are repeats from last year (marked as such), and some new entries as well. Of course, things could change during the season, but we'll keep you updated.
1) Sungold -- Still 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) Cherokee Purple (#6 last year) -- Many rate this beefsteak as their top tomato for flavor. Its rich, sweet slices just ache 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.
3) San Marzano (new to the list!) -- A large plum variety that has been grown for centuries in the Campania region of Italy. The fruits' deliciously balanced acidic/sweet flavor and meaty flesh are at their best in sauce, which explains why 'San Marzano' has also been designated the official Tomato for Neapolitan pizza. Interdeterminate. Fruit ripens 78-80 days from transplant.
4) Matt's Wild Cherry (new to the list!) -- For a long season of tiny (5/8 in. to 3/4 in.), red cherries with full, sweet flavor, try this early maturing (60 days) variety. It is so-named because the seeds originally came from Hidalgo in Eastern Mexico, where the plants grow wild.
5) Bloody Butcher (new to the list!) -- This early-season heirloom, deep red inside and out, produces clusters of 2 in., 4 oz. fruits in only eight weeks. Enjoy the rich flavor picked from the vine and can or freeze the surplus. Indeterminate, ripening 55 days from transplant.
6) Mortgage Lifter (#11 last year) – An 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.
7) Taxi (#2 last year) – 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.
8) Brandywine Red (#7 last year) -- 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.
9) Costoluto Genovese (new to the list!) -- Cooks rate this large-fruited Italian heirloom tomato one of the best in taste tests. Outside it has beautiful scalloped edges but inside it has an intense and acidic flavor that is ideal for sandwiches, salads, sauces and pastes. Ripens on indeterminate vines that do well in hot weather while continuing into cooler temperatures late in the season. Matures 78 days from transplant.
10) Carmello (#3 last year) -- 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.
White Flower Farm makes shopping for tomatoes easy by creating collections including: tomato sampler, staff favorites, heirlooms, hybrids, teeny, tiny tomatoes, small-fruited and large-fruited tomatoes and more. They also have tomatoes that are early pickers, colorful fruits and cherry tomatoes. Even 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 these dates for upcoming White Flower Farm events:
Plan a trip to the 6th annual Tomatomania! event at White Flower Farm on Friday through Sunday, May 20-22, 2011.
More than 125 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, other vegetables and herbs will be available. Talk to expert growers, tour the display gardens, and shop for your garden. See details at: http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/tomatomania-event.html.
May 22, 2011 -- White Flower Farm presents the First Annual Tomatomania! at Elm Bank in Boston. In cooperation with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, White Flower Farm will offer over 75 varieties of Tomatoes from heirlooms to hybrids. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For directions: http://www.masshort.org/Directions.
White Flower Farm's annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 2011. Staff and family will welcome old and new friends and serve iced tea and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn, starting at 2:30 p.m. It's also the occasion for our annual Best Garden Chapeau contest, which is judged by family members on an entirely subjective basis. The prize is a $100 White Flower Farm gift certificate plus local bragging rights and an appearance on their Web site, value beyond measure. For directions: http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/store-directions.html.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
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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.