The Unconventional Tomato

May 4th Update: Transplants In, More on the Way

Raised beds have been built and cardboard placed under the trucked-in soil to smother the weeds. Of course Sebastian helped! Fence and gate have been built and installed (which Sebastian did not appreciate). I started my tomato seeds in February but found out my seed starting soil/mix had major problems and so had to throw the lot away and start again in March, so I’m way behind.

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I purchased some tomato plants and those went in the ground on Wednesday April 27th. After one week, they have doubled in size which tells me I made a good choice on buying the Garden Mix “The Works” soil from Yard Works.

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I wouldn’t mind buying all my tomato plants, but every nursery in the Carolinas seems to have the same 15-20 varieties of tomatoes they have at the big box stores. I don’t understand why when there are over 6,000 recognized tomato varieties. I even stopped at the best nursery in Charleston ( Abide-A-While Garden Center ) and they had less choices than Walmart. I wonder if there’s a market for heirloom tomato transplants in this area and where I would sell them.

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Anyway, I transplanted my seedlings into 4″ pots yesterday and they are looking good. They’ll be ready to plant in about three weeks and should provide an extended harvest.


Varieties I bought:

  • Atkinson — a medium red that appears unremarkable but has received many positive reviews in the past
  • Big Beef — super productive tasty red globe (I like it more than the NC/SC standard Better Boy)
  • Brandywine — finicky but mind-blowingly delicious sweet pink beefsteak, from the 1890’s
  • Cherokee Purple — this dark purple beefsteak is the reason I grow tomatoes, from the 1890’s
  • Pink Berkeley Tie Dye — crazy coloring and zippy citrus taste, developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms
  • Oxheart — super meaty heart shaped tomato has few seeds, great for sauce
  • Sungold — #1 cherry tomato in Japan, phosphorescent orange cherry is super fruity and has two stages of ripeness
  • Italian Wine — variety sold to me by a fellow at Charlotte Farmer’s Market. We’ll see if it lives up to the praise he heaped upon it!

Varieties I started seeds for:

  • Earl’s Faux — my favorite pink beefsteak by far — productive and even tastier than Brandywine
  • Indian Stripe — a cousin to Cherokee Purple
  • Kalman’s Hungarian Pink — super productive elongated Roma type for sauce
  • Lucky Cross — yellow/orange zippy bicolor beefsteak
  • Neves Azorean Red — supposed to be a very tasty red
  • Stump of the World — 1 1/2 lb lumpy pink beefsteak with tremendous flavor
  • Wes — massive heart shaped tomatoes with few seeds, perfect for sauce
  • Arkansas Traveler — reliable pink globe with gold speckles used widely for canning in Arkansas in the 70’s.

A few photos of varieties I’m growing this year:

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Stump of the World (left), Brandywine (top right), and Earl’s Faux (bottom right)

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Lucky Cross (left) and Sarnowski Polish Plum (right)