I gave an old John Denver album a listen a few nights ago on the turntable and heard “Home Grown Tomatoes” for the first time in years. Any gardener worth their salt and pepper has to enjoy this ode to the fruit we call a vegetable.
“Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love & homegrown tomatoes”
That’s the chorus, but the best lyrics are “Plant ‘em in the spring, eat ‘em in the summer, all winter without ‘em’s a culinary bummer.” Put your hands up in the air if you agree. Store-bought winter tomatoes are better than they used to be, but still tasteless compared to a juicy, sweet, tart, acidic, sun-kissed, fresh-off-the-vine tomato from your own garden. Are you drooling yet? Got hunger pangs?
Then take a look at some of these varieties recommended by the National Garden Bureau:
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“Get Stuffed!” – No, it’s not an insult. It’s a new tomato offered by Totally Tomatoes. These boldly striped fruits are shaped like bell peppers but completely hollow and custom-made for stuffing. Fruits weigh 5 to 7 ounces each and are described as having a “delicious, classic tomato flavor. “Get Stuffed” is tolerant to powdery mildew.
“Oh Happy Day” – Yes, it will be when you harvest one of these Burpee beauties. The 5- to 6-ounce beefsteak tomatoes form in clusters of 3 to 7 fruits and have top-notch flavor. Burpee describes the indeterminate variety as “a new concept in tomatoes with an incredible disease-resistance package.
“Ox Heart” – Introduced several years ago, Ox Heart is a gorgeous heirloom tomato popular in Italy and France for its dense, deeply lobed fruit with few seeds. It is also known as “cuore di bue” (Italian for ox heart), this tomato is a star on salad greens, paired with mozzarella and basil and cooked down to a thick, robust sauce. Native to the Andes, cuore di bue fruit is orange-red and weighs 6 to 12 ounces.
“Roadster” – Having a mid-life crisis? Planting this candy-apple red roadster is a lot cheaper than the real thing! Plus, the globe-shaped, glossy tomato combines flavor, early maturity and extra-smooth shoulders. It is gaining a reputation for exceptional taste and rich red color inside and out. The medium-sized tomato is disease-resistant, determinate and container friendly from transplant.
“Indigo Cherry Drops PVPAF” – This cocktail cherry tomato was introduced three years ago and bred at Oregon State University. One-inch fruits are purple/black with rosy undersides and deep red flesh. The color is drawn from wild tomatoes found in the Galapagos Islands and Peru. The flavor is described as excellent and sweet, with huge yields possible under ideal growing conditions for this indeterminate variety.
“Chef’s Choice Black” — An All America Selections edible winner for 2019, this variety is the sixth color variation in the “Chef’s Choice” tomato series. The meaty beefsteak tomato has a dark green/grown/black hue with uniform fruits that are early to set. The hybrid produces a prolific yield of 8-ounce fruits on 5-foot-long indeterminate vines. Gardeners may harvest 30 or more fruits in a season from each disease-resistant plant.