More Heirloom Tomatoes

May 13, 2007

My recent trek to the Landis Valley Herb & Garden Faire rewarded me with a half dozen heirloom tomato seedlings to add to the collection of tomato transplants that I grew from seed.

The biggest surprise was that many of the heirlooms purchased were varieties that I had never even heard of.

Tomato Growing Entrepreneurs

Tomato Plants for saleMost of the new tomato additions were obtained courtesy of the Manheim Central High School Agriculture Education Program. These enterprising youngsters raise hundreds of healthy heirloom tomato transplants each spring and sell them at the Garden Faire.

I’m always happy to see the interest in heirlooms and appreciative of the opportunity to discover and enjoy another rare tomato. Here are the six tomato varieties that I purchased from the Manheim Central Agriculture Education Program:

  • Copia – A cross between Green Zebra and Marvel Stripe, produces large striped gold and red skinned tomatoes with a swirled red and yellow interior.
  • The Dutchman – Another tomato that I had never heard of, this is an extremely old variety reputed to produce fruits up to three pounds.
  • German Johnson Pink – I actually grew a beefsteak style German Johnson tomato of my own but decided to see if there was any variation between the plants.
  • Giant Belgium – Get ready to contact the Guinness Book of World Records; this variety produces two to five pound dark pink beefsteak tomatoes.
  • Japanese Black Trifele – I’m still not clear whether this one has Russian or Japanese origins. The shape and size of a Bartlett pear, purplish-red color, and richly flavored, maybe I should have grabbed two.
  • Riesentraube – This extremely productive cherry tomato brings me up to a total of four cherry-sized tomato varieties that will be growing in my garden this summer.

More Heirloom TomatoesHere’s the entire listing of heirloom tomato varieties offered by Manheim Central along with full descriptions.

Mystery Heirloom Tomato

One other heirloom tomato to note was purchased from Happy Cat Organics. This one was described as an old heirloom that was handed down from a gardener in Ohio. I’m not positive of the official name for this one and the label was marked simply “Yellow and Red In” and the vendor may have referred to it as an Inside Out Tomato.

Regardless of the name, the grower seemed pretty excited about this mysterious heirloom tomato and indicated that it produces fruits that are yellow on the outside with a completely red interior. Well that was just the kind of strange and unusual combination needed to raise my curiosity enough to add yet another heirloom tomato to the collection!

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  • Giant Belgium is a very nice tomato. The plants are not very prolific and you may only get 1 or 2 tomatoes. It is very sweet. I read somewhere that it used to be used for making wine.

    Riesentraube is also a nice tomato.

    I don’t know much about the others. I’ve grown one or two of them, but they didn’t stand out as good or bad.

  • I’m intriguted by your inside-out tomato.

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  • Heirloom tomatoes are what got me really interested in vegetable gardening. I received a collection as a gift and it was life altering. Up until the moment I tasted an heirloom tomato from my own garden I hated tomatoes and would actually gag on the store bought variety. This year I have some volunteers (probably yellow pears), a lot of Amish paste and a couple Black Krims. One that stands out from Manheim’s full list is the Bloody Butcher which is one of the best heirlooms I’ve ever grown as far as flavor.

  • Thanks for tip of the hat to our Manheim Agriculture program. We will be ordering our seeds soon for next year’s plant sale. We must cut back on our varities this year. We grew over 24 varities of heirloms totaling more than 4,000 plants last year. Special thanks to Landis Valley Museum for the teacher inservice progam that taught me about growing heirlooms via their heirloom seed project. Our Ag-ed program heirloon plant project was just recognized by our National Association of Agriculture Educators for this student run project. Let us know if you have heirloom toamto variety requests for next year. We got over 50 request from our sale at Landis Valley last year.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Deb, thanks for stopping by. I always stop by the Manheim exhibit and pick up a few heirloom tomato seedlings.

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