HEIRLOOM and OPEN-POLLINATED TOMATOES
Not all heirlooms do well in Colorado, especially at higher elevations! We’ve selected the ones that we think are most delicious, productive, and tolerant of our conditions. We have heat tolerant varieties for our Pueblo and Arkansas Valley customers, and short season varieties that our mountain customers can grow. If you are in Pueblo, you can grow any of the varieties listed below. If you are in the foothills and the mountains, you need to look for ones listed at 65 days or under, or plant in a cold frame or wall-of-water.
Amish Paste: Large for a sauce tomato,with excellent flavor. These meaty tomatoes are good in salads and great for canning or drying . Indeterminate. 80 days.
Anna Russian: A big pink heirloom tomato with an early maturity date. Delicious. (Pink tomatoes have red flesh but a clear skin so they look pinker than the common red ones.) This is a great slicing tomato. A tomato this big, this early? It’s a no-brainer! Fine, wispy foliage; oxheart-shaped tomato; 70 days.
Black Cherry: Plant this and Sungold for excellent grazing in the garden. Nibble while you weed–it’s as good as whistling while you work! 65 days.
Fireworks: A big red tomato that ripens early and has great flavor! You might not harvest it in time for 4th of July fireworks, but it will ripen before many others. 60 days. Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Save the seeds, they’ll come true!
Flint Red: This seed came from Bill Flint, via Michael Boyd. The Flints were an old Colorado pioneer family, homesteading west of Denver. Bill Flint gave this seed to Michael’s father, who gave them to Michael, who shared them with us. This Victorian era Colorado heirloom tomato is sweet and meaty. Delicious sliced. Not sure about maturity date, because last year was our first year with them. I’m guessing it’s close to 80 days. Indeterminate.
Flint Yellow: A yellow pear, passed down through the same lineage as Flint Red, this was my favorite tomato last summer. Wow, what great taste, what great productivity. It gave my little darling Sungold a run for its money. Indeterminate. 75 days?
Taxi: yellow; this early determinate tomato is one of the best; 2-3 oz.; 64 days.
Tigerella: Thanks to our friends at Desert Canyon Farm, we finally have the true Tigerella. I love this salad sized tomato. Early. Tasty. Red and yellow tiger stripes. No disease problems. We used to grow this back in the 90s and then I lost my seed source for it. Many seed companies sell the icky Mr. Stripey (a big tasteless thing) as Tigerella. So glad to have the real one back. Finally! Indeterminate. 65 days.
Tommy Toe: A friend in Pueblo grew this last year and I was astonished at how many tomatoes this plant produced. A big cherry, an inch or more in diameter, it came on strong in late July and lasted into October! Good for munching in the garden, or tossing in salads or chopping in half and lightly stir frying with peppers and onions. Very good flavor. Very disease resistant. Indeterminate. 70 days.
WILD BOAR Pink Berkeley Tie Dye: This tomato beat out a lot of heirloom tomatoes in taste tests! This large (a half a pound or more) deep wine-red tomato has metallic green stripes–gorgeous and delicious. 70 days.
White Queen: This heirloom is sweet, mild, delicious and big! Though called white, it’s a pale yellow when ripe. Early for such a large tomato. Indeterminate. 70 days.
Hybrid tomatoes have been selected for disease resistance, so if you’ve had problems with tomato diseases in the past, they might be your best option. The capital letters after the name indicate disease resistance. V means resistant to verticillium wilt; F means resistant to fusarium wilt; TSW means resistant to spotted wilt virus; LB means resistant to late blight; N means resistant to nematodes; A means resistant to early blight; T means resistant to tobacco mosaic virus.) You can’t save seeds of hybrid tomatoes and expect to get the same tomato–they don’t come true! If you want to save your own seeds, please go back to the heirloom-open-pollinated section above.
Early Girl (VFF): A long time favorite, some say the best for Colorado’s short growing season. 60 days.
Sungold: Everyone who lives in Colorado and wants to grow tomatoes should grow at least one Sungold tomato plant every summer. They produce early and long, the flavor is outstanding, they don’t have disease problems–can you tell it’s my favorite? It’s a cherry tomato, and I know that isn’t for everyone, but if you like the sweet tomatoey flavor that winter tomatoes only dream about, give Sungold a try. 57 days.
Note to Tomato Growers: Determinate, in tomato speak, means the plant grows to a certain size, usually not too tall, and then stops. Indeterminate means it keeps growing. If you want to grow tomatoes in pots, try some of each, but know that indeterminate varieties won’t be easy to control. Determinate tomatoes have a tendency to set all their fruit at once–good if you want to can or freeze a big batch. Days to maturity means how many days to your first ripe tomato after you transplant it into the garden, not from when you start the seeds. These maturity dates are estimates. Anything over 75 days probably won’t ripen in the open garden in Rye or higher elevations. If you live at high elevation and want to grow long season tomatoes, you need a cold frame or greenhouse.
We’re going to have a good selection of peppers (both sweet and hot) and plenty of cucumber and squash plants this year, too. As spring draws near, and seeds germinate, I’ll be posting more about the veggies on our blog.