August 29, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Candy Stripe Heirloom Tomato

Since discovering heirloom vegetables, I have learned so much about obtaining, growing and saving these precious seeds.  One learns about the history of each heirloom and where they have come from, and that many of them have been passed down for centuries.  They have been handed down, through generations of farmers and gardeners, from one
member of the family to another. Many of these tomato varieties are known to have thrived since the 1800s. These seeds come from our ancestors that brought them over from the "Old World".  The "Old World" can mean that they came over with our treasured Amish communities as they traveled to Pennsylvania at the beckoning of William Penn; or it could mean that they were brought over from Italy in the early 1800's.  Each variety has a story and a beautiful history behind it.  Heirlooms are open-pollinated, which grow true to type plants like the plants they came from.  Hybrids will not do that and you will be extremely disappointed to save seed from a hybrid. In fact, I don't know any gardener that will waste their time and hard work on saving seed from a hybrid, it just isn't done.  

We won't find these heirloom produce treasures in today's grocery stores, only hybrids that have been bred to be picked green and shipped across the country or seas to end up in your grocery cart as a "fresh" item.  These have no taste in comparison to an heirloom.  If you are striving to return to the healthy eating ways of the generations that came before the pesticides and other chemicals, this is the way to go.  I have grown many heirlooms and I learn each year which ones I like better regarding growing habits and taste.  While I continue to grow my favorites each year from seed I have saved, I also try new varieties as the room in my garden allows.  This year, I received some plants from my neighboring Amish community of the Candy Stripe Heirloom Tomato, and this has quickly climbed to the top of my list of MUST HAVES for my garden.  These plants grow and produce steadily all season.  The fruits begin green, turning yellow and then obtaining a beautiful pink blush.  They are very large and can reach up to 2 pounds each.  When slicing into one of these beauties, you will discover that the pink blush carries into the inner flesh creating a marbling appearance.  Not only are these fruits beautiful, they are so sweet, juicy and flavorful.  The other plus is that they aren't likely to split like a few species.  If you are interested in any seed, they will soon be available at our website  

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