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Heirloom Tomatoes

Featured Recipes: 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.

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 and remains 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.

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

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.

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 I make a pesto with my lemon basil and some good olive oil--maybe a little extra lemon as well, and some parmiggiano cheese. It stays a brighter green than other pestos, and is wonderful spooned over the 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 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 which 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.

Average seed life: 2 years

#4227 Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes: 75-85 days
The best tasting yellow-orange heirloom on earth, Yellow Brandywine weighs in at a hefty 1 to 2 pounds. Borne on vigorous, indeterminate vines with robust potato-leaf foliage, the 6”, ribbed, oblate fruits have yellow-orange skin and a meaty orange interior. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.45

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#4230 Brandywine Tomatoes: 90 days
The flesh of this extraordinary variety is the color of a ripe, red watermelon. Exceptionally rich-tasting with just a hint of spice, the slightly flattened fruits grow to 6” to 7” in diameter. Brandywine is borne on large, indeterminate plants with strongly aromatic leaves resembling foliage - it is, in fact, a ‘potato-leaf’ type. The sturdy vines require support, as each tomato can grow to one pound in size - not a good variety for containers! Brandywine is an authentic Amish heirloom variety and we know you’ll be astonished by the taste: like sweet ambrosia, fit for the gods. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.45

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#4232 Giant Syrian Tomatoes: 80 days
Giant Syrian knocked us over when we taste-tested it. It has the perfect sunny tomato sweetness that epitomizes the lazy days of summer. Indeterminate Giant Syrian is a big, meaty, heart-shaped heirloom with pinkish-red skin and flesh and few seeds, often weighing in at more than a pound. It is a terrific sauce tomato but similarly excels as a fabulous slicer. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.45

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#4235 Big Rainbow Striped Tomatoes: 80-90 days
A spectacular beefsteak-type heirloom, Big Rainbow has an orange- and red-striped exterior with green shoulders and brilliant, red-striped, golden-orange flesh. Weighing in at up to 2 pounds, slices of this low-acid, firm, meaty beauty are truly works of art. Packing big old-fashioned tomato taste, it has indeterminate, vigorous vines and good disease-resistance.(OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.45

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#4240 Black Russian Tomatoes: 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. (OP.)

Packet of 25 Seeds / $3.65

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#4247 Black Pineapple Heirloom Tomatoes: 80-85 days
“Ananas Noir” is a beautiful, incredibly delicious and rare variety that was discovered growing amidst regular Pineapple Tomatoes in a Belgian garden. Ranging in skin color from black-purple to hazy green with red streaks, red-pink blotches or yellow splotches, these kaleidoscopic orbs will delight you with bright green flesh emboldened by deep red-pink striations. Growing on regular leaf-type, indeterminate vines, this heavy producer yields large beefsteak-type tomatoes weighing in at 1 to 1½ pounds with a sweet, fruity, smoky, rich flavor. It is unadorned perfection. It will elevate summer sandwiches and salads to palate-blowing, festive party fare. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.65

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#4265 Persimmon Tomatoes: 80-90 days
The strong, indeterminate vines of this heirloom bear huge, beefsteak-type, slicing tomatoes that ripen toward the end of summer. The lovely, peachy-orange colors of the Persimmon Tomato deepen from its softly dented, light green shoulders to the bottom of its plump, globe-shaped fruit. A dependable variety even in cool summers, Persimmon’s vigorous plants produce one to two crack-resistant fruits per cluster. It is the perfect slicing tomato because it has a small seed cavity and is solid and meaty with a wonderful, rich, fruity flavor. For colorful platters of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato salad, layer these persimmon-colored slices with purplish-red Black Russian and watermelon-red Brandywine and drizzle with herbed vinaigrette. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.35

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#4270 Green Zebra Tomatoes: 75-80 days
A unique tomato, Green Zebra features yellowish-green skin with obvious dark green vertical stripes and astounding emerald-green flesh. Our grower friends in the Napa Valley hand-pick the biggest. Green Zebra grows on determinate vines, so allow it to have its way except for the occasional removal of suckers. Stake it, but don’t pinch back the top! Lovers of tart-sweet tomatoes will love Green Zebra: its flavor is mild with a hint of lemony tartness. Enjoy this American original in all its green splendor, sliced in salads and sandwiches or in salsas. (OP.)

Packet of 25 Seeds / $3.65

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#4272 Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomatoes: 80 days
This cherished Tennessee heirloom produces plump one-pound beefsteak tomatoes with apple-green blushed pink skin on indeterminate plants. Its juicy, spicy-sweet apple-green flesh inspires that swoon-over-the-first-mouthful experience for which we all long. It is the perfect slicer for unforgettable BLTs, salads or for Fried Green Tomatoes with your girlfriends. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.55

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#4275 German Pink Tomatoes: 85 days
A Bavarian heirloom from our friends at Seed Savers, German Pink produces large, deep pink fruits weighing in at one to two pounds each with a big, sweet-tart tomato flavor and a meaty texture. Borne on potato-leafed, indeterminate vines, it yields an abundant crop of crack-resistant, blemish-free, picture-perfect fruits. Caging is a must for these big beefsteak beauties. (OP.)

Packet of 25 Seeds / $3.55

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#4280 Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes: 80-85 days
This elegant heirloom has been nurtured for generations by Italian gardeners. Genovese features uniquely lobed, carmine red fruits with vertical ridges etched deeply into the skin. When sliced, these tomatoes look like flowers - and the flavor is indescribably delicious. Large fruit are borne on indeterminate vines which will require staking. This splendid variety is easy to find in Italy, but not so in North America. We’re just delighted to offer this Italian import to you. Genovese’s appearance and deep, rich flavor requires no gilding: slice thick and drizzle with fine olive oil, garnish with basil. Or, alternate with slices of fresh baby mozarella called bocconcini. What a treat for a warm summer evening. (OP.)

Packet of 25 Seeds / $3.35

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#4282 Canestrino Tomatoes: 70-75 days
New! Meaning “little basket”, Canestrino is a tasty Italian heirloom from Tuscany with a plump red body and slender green-yellow shoulders. This perfect little dumpling of a Tomato is borne on vigorous, indeterminate vines. Its slightly ribbed, pear-shaped fruits weigh in at just 8 ounces and are best picked when slightly green for the most flavorful gourmet taste. Beautifully scalloped and delicious freshly sliced, meaty Canestrino is also a top pick for tomato paste. (OP.)

Packet of 50 Seeds / $3.55

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#9105 The Heirloom Tomato Garden
It is very popular these days to plant heirloom varieties. We have created this special Heirloom Tomato Garden with varieties that are truely heirlooms but that are also terrific from both gardening and cooking perspectives. Two important points! These vigorous, beautiful and delicious varieties are all good for slicing and salads where you can really show them off. This Collection includes one packet of each variety at about 10% off regular prices:
  • Black Russian Tomatoes (about 25 seeds)
  • Brandywine Tomatoes (about 50 seeds)
  • Green Zebra Tomatoes (about 25 seeds)
  • Persimmon Tomatoes (about 50 seeds)
  • Big Rainbow Striped Tomatoes (about 50 seeds)
  • Banana Legs Tomatoes (about 50 seeds)
  • Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes (about 25 seeds)

    Packet of 275 Seeds / $21.75

    # of Packets:

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