Buying tomato seeds

I had good intentions, really I did. The only new tomato I was going to try was ‘Legend’ just in case the blight came back (likely with the warm winter). Unfortunately, I have a stack of catalogs I just can’t seem to stop paging through, dreaming of summer tomatoes this balmy February. Fortunately I have a birthday in March and a few family members have asked me what I’d like.

Catalogs are advertising pure and simple. Some are fabulous at marketing, some are less so, but all want to sell their products. On paper it seems like every tomato is “sweet, juicy, and bursting with tomato flavor!” Certainly somebody liked these tomatoes enough to name them, but not all tomatoes are created equal. How does a person, in the middle of winter, choose the tastiest tomato when we can’t take a bite until July or August? Nothing beats experience. If there’s one in your area, go to an heirloom tomato tasting. Sadly those are only available in season. Your local garden club likely has a few avid tomato buffs who’d be only too happy to share their experiences with their favorite, and a few frustrating tomatoes. The Internet can help, people blog about their personal favorites and can point you in the right direction, but remember, not everyone’s tastes are the same. Some like it meaty, some juicy, some like it sweet, some want “true tomato flavor.” I like ‘Gold Medal,’ but ‘Gold Medal’ doesn’t like me.

When I get a fruit of ‘Gold Medal’ it is large and luscious, but few. ‘Better Boy,’ ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Jet Star,’ and ‘Early Girl’ all get thumbs up from me for good flavor and great productivity, but having tasted ‘Gold Medal,’ I’m now in search of another just as “to-die-for.,” only not as stingy. A few years ago I tried “Japanese Trifele Black,” but while more generous with it’s smaller fruit, it wasn’t the tomato of my fantasies. Seed Savers Exchange is seed packets of their taste test winners from the past six years. It includes ‘Gold Medal,’ so I know I’m on the right track. Now if I can just give a hint to my family….

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2 Responses to “Buying tomato seeds”

  1. If your family were to get you some, which specifically do you think you’d want?

    • Yes, well, that’s where my plant hoarding makes things difficult. I want many more varieties than I can really use. Besides wanting the ‘Dester’ tomato included in the SSE heirloom collection (mostly because it’s new and supposedly delicious), I’m looking for a more productive version of ‘Gold Medal’ and am willing to try many different varieties to find “the one.” I’d like some other heirloom varieties such as ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ and ‘Pineapple.’ I like a large slab of juicy tomato to slap on a BLT. To me the tomato makes the sandwich. One thing I notice in the SSE heirloom collection is that most of the varieties are on the small side. I love a delicious cherry tomato, but I’m the only one in my family that does. In fact, most of my family members actively dislike tomatoes, and while a few like a nice fresh tomato in the summer they aren’t as passionate about finding the definitive tomato. My problem is, even when I find a variety that I love, such as the ‘Sungold’ cherry tomato, I’m still always on the lookout for something even more superlative.

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