Growing heirloom tomatoes puts you in touch with your heritage and allows you to create some of your own. Some varieties go back hundreds of years and have traveled thousands of miles. Heirloom tomatoes by their very nature are open pollinated allowing you to save the seeds and keep your favorites in your garden as long as you choose. Having the ability to share your seeds and heritage with your friends and family can bring great joy for all involved.
The Varieties below are all German heirlooms and only three of hundreds of seeds saved by immigrants and people still living in Germany today.
Eastern European Heirlooms
Below are three more eastern European varieties to show you just how diversified the shapes, colors, and sizes can be.
Many of the famous Italian sauces regionalized and nationalized in the United States and around the world get their unique and distinguished flavors, textures, and tastes from heirloom tomatoes passed down through families for many centuries. A few examples can be seen below.
Native American Heirlooms
Native Americans have saved and passed on many varieties of tomatoes sometimes from tribe to tribe and some just developed naturally. Many Hispanic recipes like salsa were developed because they had heirloom native and Spanish tomatoes and peppers. Find below some Native American heirlooms.
Some varieties have a sweet flavor reminiscent of a fruit thus the argument of fruit or vegetable. Others have bite reminding you of their many uses in varied meat and vegetable dishes.
Grandpa tips suggests raised beds and organic gardening to make your make your heirloom tomato experience a true heritage for yourself and to pass on to your friends and family.
Work some well rotted horse manure into your garden or bed a couple weeks before planting.
Add one tablespoon of Epsom salts to a gallon of water and water in your transplants for a natural magnesium boost.
Plant your tomatoes deep removing the bottom leaves that would have been below ground.
Plant at least 24 inches apart (stager if in a bed) ( if in an open garden rows should be 24 to 30 inches apart).
Stake and or cage at the time of planting being careful not to damage roots.
Grandpa suggests drip irrigation with a timer to insure adequate and steady water supply. Tomatoes are sensitive to over and under watering.
Plant some early varieties to get that first of summer tomato sandwich. Plant some late varieties for those big ones to brag about.
Try different types until you have found your favorites.
Try a new variety every just for the experience.
Good luck and enjoy building your own family heirloom heritage.