Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tomato Categories, a summary
I have been asked quite regularly about the way I categorize the Tomatoes we grow. "What d'ya mean Hertitage?" Well this is a summary...
Heirloom. Technically refers to plants not bred for commercial production. These varieties were bred or selected by enthusiasts mostly for there own use or shared amongst friends. Because of their breeding they can be a bit variable in the way they grow and they definitely have a magnificent range of flavours. Heirloom Tomato varieties we grow at Scotsburn include Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter; Cherokee Purple; Stupice (Czechoslovakia); Principe Borghese; Riesentraube (Germany); Black Russian; Tommy Toe and Green Zebra (Green Zebra doesn't quite fit any of the categories, follow the link to see why).
Heritage. Older commercial varieties with freely available genetics. When we couldn't buy Tomato KY1 any more we collected some seed. Many of these varieties were developed from simple crosses of existing favourites Grosse Lisse & Rouge de Marmande. These varieties look and taste like Tomatoes! Heritage varieties we grow include: College Challenger, Burnley Surecrop; Heinz's ES58; Roma and Colonial.
Hybrid. Many of the latest vegetable hybrids are far too expensive to grow in punnets or small pots, I have heard Kumato costs around $1.00/seed! Just the seed! It is grown under license only so you will not see it in back gardens for a long time yet. Modern breeding has produced much more prolific and disease resistant plants but some people believe this is at the cost of flavour. I believe the loss of flavour is more related to the cultural practice of picking the fruit very early. Our Hybrid varieties include Mighty Red (aka Carmelo); Apollo; Health Kick; Patio Roma; Mr Ugly and Tumblin' Tom.