Each year, we try a variety of new heirloom vegetables and compare them to those we’ve grown previously, always trying to select those that produce and taste the best from our garden for growing in future years.
It’s no different with tomatoes and this year, we grew five different red tomatoes – 4 heirlooms and one F1 hybrid. Particularly with tomatoes, we find that the heirlooms taste so much better than the hybrids, but I still throw in a hybrid each year – mostly to reinforce how much better the heirlooms taste, and that the hybrids really don’t out-produce them significantly.
This year, we grew Marglobe Supreme, Homestead, Red Tall Vine New Girl (the F1 hybrid), Mortgage Lifter, and Roma. And for our Labor Day picnic, our friends gathered to evaluate the taste of each variety, and then eat BLT’s! Here are the results of our trials:
Marglobe is an old favorite in Northeast Ohio (if you go to a local seed supply, they invariably have Marglobe – which is a good indicator of a variety that does well in our area), and I’ve grown these for several years now because it consistently produces a nice crop of medium to large size tomatoes. Of the varieties we grew, the size of these tomatoes varied the most, ranging from 3-oz. all the way to 13-oz.
The Baker Creek Seed write-up on Marglobe described it like this: “Determinate. 73 – 77 days. Medium-sized, red fruit make excellent canning tomatoes. Good size and uniform deep scarlet color. Great for humid climates.”
I don’t generally see much cracking around the stems on this variety, it tends to be one of the earliest tomatoes to ripen in the garden (and continue producing), and we don’t lose many tomatoes due to rotting, etc. In the taste test, Marglobe was the favorite of several.
This is a tomato that we’ll grow again, because it’s dependable, early, tasty, and productive.
Homestead is a variety that was new for us this year, I received as a “Seeds of the Month” (see sidebar) club selection. The package says that “This vigorous growing variety bears delicious fruit. Plants require little space and effort and produce a big crop. Excellent for salads, juice, canning, and relish.”
Looking a little further on-line, I found it described as “Good yields of eight-ounce fruits that are meaty and have a good flavor. Excellent for fresh eating as well as canning. Produces well in hot, humid environments, also can be grown with success throughout more temperate regions. Determinate vines, 80 days to maturity.”
This variety is producing very uniform size (eight-ounce) tomatoes that started ripening just a bit later than the Marglobe. These don’t exhibit much cracking, and we’re not losing many due to rotting, etc. This was a favorite of several in the taste test.
This is another tomato that I would grow again, it seems to be relatively trouble-free, produces well, and is tasty.
This is the second year that we’ve tried Mortgage Lifter, and it’s an indeterminate variety that the Baker Creek Seed catalog describes as “85 days. Large, smooth, 1-lb. pink fruit have a delicious, rich, sweet taste. This variety has become very popular in recent years, and was developed by M.C. Byles of Logan, West Virginia. After crossing varieties for 6 years and selecting the best, he introduced this beauty that he named Mortgage Lifter in the 1940s, after he sold plants for $1 each and paid off the $6000 mortgage on his house.”
This began ripening after Marglobe and Homestead, and produces the largest tomatoes, about ten to twelve-ounce in our garden, rather than 1-lb. described above. The fruits do exhibit quite a bit of cracking at the shoulders, are oddly formed on the blossom end, and often rot on the vines starting at these locations. I was very surprised when none of the tasters chose it as a favorite.
This is also a new tomato in our garden – I can’t remember what caused me to select it for growing and also haven’t been able to locate much about it on-line other than, “this early ripening tomato has a bright taste.”
It’s an indeterminate plant that does have very tall vines, and is advertised at 62 days maturity. It didn’t start ripening until after Marglobe (so a bit longer than 62 days in our garden), and is producing good quantities of 5 to 6-ounce fruits. They are the most uniform-looking of the slicing tomatoes, and there’s very little (if any) cracking or rotting on the vine. Shockingly, in the taste test, a couple of folks picked this hybrid! Normally, the hybrids don’t get picked over the heirlooms.
I’ll be looking for more information on this tomato, and will be evaluating it more closely.
Roma is a paste tomato that we’ve grown in the past, and that the Baker Creek Seed catalog describes as: “76 days. Determinate. A quality paste variety, very thick flesh. A popular old favorite, good yields.”
This variety starts ripening in our garden about the same time as Marglobe, and produces good yields of trouble-free, three-ounce paste tomatoes. I didn’t really expect it to compete in taste with the 4 slicing tomatoes above, and no one chose it as their favorite for taste. Everyone did agree that it was great for sauce and it’s our preferred tomato for making sun-dried (oven-dried really) tomatoes.
We’ll grow this variety again next year – it produces well, and makes great sun-dried tomatoes. So, those are the results for the tomatoes from our garden this year, do you have a really great tomato that we’re missing and should try?