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Heirloom Tomatoes

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March 3, 2015

Dr. Gary Bachman: The tomatoes currently in the grocery store make us think about picking fresh garden tomatoes in 2013, today on Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Dr. Gary Bachman: Traditionally, many home gardeners consider waiting until Easter to even think about planting tomatoes. I want you to start thinking now about heirloom tomatoes, which are not your typical grocery fare. They come in every shape, size, and color imaginable. The fruits are treasured as having more flavor, increased nutritive value, and greater natural beauty. But what makes an heirloom tomato different? Well, in a word, tradition. Heirloom tomatoes were commonly passed down within families, much like furniture or dishes.

Dr. Gary Bachman: A great example is the Nebraska Wedding tomato. The seeds of this love apple are given to brides as part of their trousseaus, keeping alive the tradition of giving part of the farm to the newlywed couples. Heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated, which means they will produce true from collected seed. From the gardening standpoint, once you find an heirloom tomato you really like, saving seed each year can ensure continued enjoyment for the future. Mother Earth News released the results of the Best Tomatoes to Grow Where You Live Poll in the spring of 2010.

Dr. Gary Bachman: Gulf coast favorites included Brandywine, Arkansas Traveler, and Cherokee Purple. We continued the evaluation of heirloom tomatoes in the Bachman garden in 2012. Good producers this year included Cherokee Purple, Red Zebra, Vintage Wine, and my dog's favorite Angora Super Sweet. Many gardeners I speak with are amazed when I confess I really don't like fresh tomatoes. I grow them because my wife likes them. Check your local garden centers for available varieties. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


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