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Heirloom Tomatoes

Absolutely nothing compares to eating a sun-warmed, homegrown Tomato straight off the vine. This garden mainstay is easily grown and most rewarding. Start seed in a warm, bright, well-ventilated area six to eight weeks before setting out. Transplant out after the last spring frost date. To encourage stockiness, sink seedlings deeper into the well-enriched soil than you grew them - soil should cover the lowest layer of leaves. Position stakes, cages or supports at that time to avoid disturbing the plants later on. Keep soil evenly moist and well-fertilized. Once harvested, store Tomatoes at room temperature, as anything below 50°F destroys the enzyme that gives Tomatoes their flavor. When a variety is said to have determinate vines, it means that the vines top out and all of the fruit ripens at once. When a variety is said to have indeterminate vines, it means that the vines keep growing and bearing fruit until a killing frost. Deer resistant.

Average seed life: 2 years.

Black Russian Tomato

Black Russian Tomato Black Russian Tomato Black Russian Tomato
75 days. No, this incredibly delicious heirloom Tomato hasn't been struck by blight! Okay, it's purplish-red, almost black, with greenish-black flesh, and folks react strongly to its dramatic appearance. We adore them, as do chefs in the Napa Valley, where we enjoyed our first taste of Black Russian: in the garden of a famous market grower. Now, he harvests his biggest and best fruit for seed grown exclusively for us. This results in fruits which are almost beefsteak-size, growing on semi-determinate vines. Honestly, the skin is thin and prone to cracking and sunburn, but the uniquely sweet flavor is out-of-this-world. (Special thanks to PROnociveglia on Flickr for the use of their photo.) (OP.)

One packet of about 25 seeds
Catalog #4240
$3.95
  • Buy 10 for $3.55 each and save 11%
  • Buy 50 for $2.95 each and save 26%

Availability: In stock

$3.95

Gardening Tips

Tomatoes With Character
Some Tomatoes are glamorous like Elizabeth Taylor--lush, perfect, refined. Brandywines are glamorous like Melina Mercouri or Anna Magnani. Though their flavor is extraordinary, they do not always form perfect circles when sliced. Sometimes the fruits are lumpy, contorted, or deeply cleft, and you end up cutting them into free form chunks. They are perfect tossed with bread in an Italian panzanella salad, where flavor is more important than form. Or in salsa. Or in sandwiches with lots of mayo. Or try this one: toss some chunks of brie in hot, drained pasta, then add oddly shaped pieces of Brandywine Tomatoes. Ah, summer.

Tomato Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4”
Row Spacing:36”
Plant Spacing:24”-30”
Days to Germination: 6-15 days
Germination Temperature:70°-85°F

It’s best to raise Tomatoes as transplants. Sow Tomato seeds in sterile seed mix 6 to 8 weeks before the danger of frost has passed, water lightly and provide bottom heat. Grow seedlings at 60° to 75°F in a brightly lit, well-ventilated area. (Windowsills are not bright enough; the plant will get leggy and flop over.) Fertilize lightly as needed, increasing the pot size as needed. After the last spring frost, place outdoors for a week to harden off and to introduce to stronger sunlight. Prepare fertile Tomato beds in full sun with lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure. Transplant, burying seedlings deeper than initially grown, incorporating organic fertilizer under each transplant. Support with Tomato cages or tie plants loosely to rough wooden stakes, using soft cloth. Feed occasionally as needed. Keep Tomatoes well-watered by soaking the soil and not the leaves. Harvest when ripe!

Green Means Go
If you're wondering if your Tomato plants (or any annual crops) are getting the soil fertility they need, keep an eye on the "seed leaves". This is the first pair of leaves to emerge when a seed sprouts. They remain at the base of the stem as the plant grows. If the seed leaves stay healthy and green, you're doing something right with the soil in that row. If they are pale, yellow or withered, you need to prepare the soil more carefully next time you plant.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Delicious, Voluptuous Heirloom Tomatoes

Not-So-Strange Bedfellows
According to the theory of companion planting, Tomatoes and Basil benefit one another when grown in the same plot. Certainly, they cause each other no harm, for we have often interplanted the two in a row, especially when we're training Tomatoes vertically on strings. There's plenty of space in between them for bushy Basil plants. After all, they keep excellent company in the kitchen, whether you're serving fresh Tomatoes strewn with the pungent green Basil leaves or cooking both up into a luscious sauce for pasta. It's handy to be able to pick the two together. And who knows? Perhaps the Basil's strong scent repels insect pests that might otherwise prey on the Tomatoes.

Juicy Fruits
The more water a vegetable contains, the more water you need to give it in dry, hot weather. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Celery are especially thirsty. If you can, group them together and run a soaker hose through the patch.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Cooking Tip: Variations on a Theme
At the height of Tomato season, platters appear on the table regularly, and we never seem to get tired of them. But it’s nice to vary the dressing. Sometimes it’s just a simple vinaigrette. Sometimes its a heavier balsamic vinegar dressing with olive oil and honey. Sliced red Onions are often part of the mix. Basil, either with the leaves whole or cut into ribbons, is a frequent player. And sometimes we make a pesto with our Lemon Basil and some good olive oil--maybe a little extra lemon as well, and some parmigiano cheese. It stays a brighter green than other pestos, and is wonderful spooned over the Tomato.