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Heirloom Tomatoes: A Rainbow Of Flavor And Color

Domesticat/Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re thinking of trying something new in the veggie garden this season, try something old. Heirloom tomatoes will add different colors and shapes to your garden. They grow as easily as other tomato varieties and have surprising flavors for a tomato.

Heirlooms are open pollinated varieties, meaning their seeds can be saved from year to year and generation to generation. Some were bred over 100 years ago to exhibit certain flavors and characteristics. They continue on with the same traits today.

The common red tomato that you often see at the supermarket is probably not an heirloom. Heirlooms can be yellow, pink or bi-colored. Bi-colored varieties like Big Orange Stripe need a long, hot growing season.

There is also a group of dark purple heirloom tomatoes that were developed in the Ukraine and Germany that immediately catch the eye. To top it off, they are supposed to be some of the most flavorful tomatoes.

The flavors are just as diverse as the shapes and colors, ranging from the unusually shaped Black Krim which has an intense, smoky taste to Black Sea Man with its complex, savory flavor.

We all know tomatoes are healthy, but if you want an extra dose of antioxidants give the bite-sized Purple Haze a try. Its purple flesh is supposed to have more antioxidants than other varieties.

If you decide to go with a green heirloom variety make sure to feel them for ripeness. They’re ready when they are soft to the touch and bruise easily. One such variety is the Green Giant. According to one seed catalog, this heirloom is arguably one of the best tasting green varieties with sweet-melon undertones.

For something unusual, try the Green Sausage. This novelty tomato has yellow and green striped sausage shaped fruit.

The internet has a wealth of information about heirloom tomatoes, and many catalogs have a section devoted to their favorite old timers. Visit your local garden center to browse through some truly unique varieties.

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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