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Vegetable Small Garden Design – The Heirloom Tomatoes


Vegetable Garden Design - Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

Black Krim Tomato

At my local university Ag Field day recently, I looked to purchase a local breed of tomato seedling for my vegetable garden design.  Unfortunately, the variety I wanted was already sold out by the time I arrived.   One of the vegetable specialists convinced me into purchasing a Black Krim seedling.

I didn’t notice, until after I purchased the seedling, that the Black Krim is an heirloom variety.  Not knowing much about heirloom tomatoes, I decided to do some research.  Here’s what I found out…

My first question…what is an heirloom tomato?  Heirloom varieties are defined as being open-pollinated cultivars.  The draw to heirloom varieties is that they have lots of flavor, look beautiful, and are easy to grow.  Heirloom seeds have been passed down through several generations.  Heirloom varieties are genetically unique, and have evolved resistance to pests and disease, while adapting to specific growing conditions and climates.  They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors, and sizes.

Heirloom tomatoes can be described in different ways –

Commercial heirlooms – open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940 or are more than 50 years old

Family heirlooms- varieties whose seeds have been saved and passed down from generation to generation

Mystery heirlooms – these arise accidently from natural cross-pollination or mutation

Heirloom tomatoes are not commercially available.  They are not shippable over long distances, do not ripen perfectly and do not have a uniform shape.  These imperfections are what make them appealing to gardeners.

What is open-pollination?  This is when a cultivar or plant can be grown from seeds and will come back “true to type”, meaning the next generation comes back looking identical to its parent.

How do heirlooms compare to F-1 hybrid breeds of tomatoes?  These are the ones we consider “supermarket tomatoes”.  Seeds collected from F-1 hybrid tomatoes typically don’t germinate when planed the next season and may be sterile.  If they do sprout, they will not have the same characteristics as their parents.

The attractiveness of hybrids for commercial growers is their ability to produce more transportable fruit, with minimal spoilage.  They also have a more consistent color and shelf appeal.  While hybrids have outstanding characteristics, the ability to reproduce is not one of them.

There are many varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Here are some popular varieties:

Vegetable Garden Design - Big Rainbow Heirloom Tomato


Big Rainbow – large yellow tomatoes with red swirls and mild, sweet flavor



Vegetable Garden Design - Black Krim Heirloom Tomato


Black Krim – dark red to brown, can be grown in containers with rich flavor and considered to hail from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea



Vegetable Garden Design - Brandywine Heirloom Tomato


Brandywine – one of the most popular heirlooms with large pink fruit and a slightly tart taste



Vegetable Garden Design - Green Zebra Heirloom Tomato



Green Zebra – light-green stripes against an amber background, with a tarter flavor


Vegetable Garden Design - Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato



Cherokee Purple – deep, dusky pink purple, beefsteak in style with a dense, juicy texture

  1. Marion Said,

    Exactly where is the facebook like link ?

  2. admin Said,

    Here is a direct link to the Facebook page, where you can Like.

  3. Timothy Said,

    hi there, fine weblog, and a decent understand! one for my favorites.