I’m a big fan of tomatoes, not just any tomatoes, I have to have heirloom tomatoes. The taste and scent has been bred out of the hybrids. The hybrids just don’t smell like tomatoes. Google heirloom tomatoes and you’ll find literally hundreds. Some of the ones I have tried are Black Krim, Brandywine, Black Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Beefsteak, and German and Mennonite Pink, but my most favorite is Cherokee Purple.
Cherokee Purple mature in 80 Days- Tomatoes are large 10-14 oz. with a very dark red flesh shows good disease resistance, a problem with the old favorites.. It’s a very good producer, and has an excellent flavor. It is said to have originated with the Cherokee Nation. The skin is a dark maroon color with green shoulders. It has a fantastic flavor. Last year it was the only tomato that bore heavily during the crazy summer we had last year, of alternating drought and too much rain,
I grow my heirlooms from seed every year that I saved from the finest large tomato of each variety. I already have my Cherokee Purple seeds started. This weekend I’ll plant a couple of the German pinks, but the CP will be my predominant plant this year.
Tomato cages for these plants can’t be wimpy. Twelve years ago I bought a 100 foot roll of concrete wire and made cages about 2.5 to 3 feet in diameter. Some I use for my cucumber vines. They’ve held up all these years and even survived an escaped herd of horses thundering through a stack of them one winter. I don’t see how one didn’t break a leg. The concrete wire is expensive for a roll, but you figure up the cost of replacing these little rinky dink store bought cages every year or so and they’ll pay for themselves in short time. Mine have many more years of life left in them.
I usually wait until my tomatoes are a foot to foot and half tall before planting in the garden. I dig a hole to a depth that only an inch of the plant is showing. You need a strong root system for tomatoes. I strip all but the top leaves off. In the planting hole, I’ll sprinkle some 3 month time released fertilizer and a little of Epsom salt. One thing I’ve tried the last couple of years is putting some of the water retention crystals in the hole. Cover up the plants leaving just the top few leaves out. After planting I put a layer of newspaper down and about 3 to 4 inches of mulch on top of the papers. Using this method, I hardily watered my plants, even during a severe drought two years ago. The newspaper and mulch are tilled in the next fall to add organic matter to the soil.
My tomato sandwich recipe: I like multi-grain bread spread with honey mustard salad dressing, add one thick slice either of the Cherokee purple or Beefsteak, sprinkle with just a little pinch of salt and chow down. Oh and plenty of napkins are needed.
A few words of warning: don’t use those little wimpy tomato cages for heirlooms, they won’t support the massive height and weight of heirlooms.