The mandatory three

Alpine, CA

I love threads about people's "grow lists". I am also aware that most posters like to experiment with new varieties (Carolyn being the
extreme) I would, however, love to see a list of your "mandatory three". The three varieties that you must grow/repeat each year if
you have such a list. I guess they might be considered the family favorites. So far, my list would be:

Box Car Willie
Brandywine Pink
Abe Lincoln

This year my grow list is far more extensive and as a new heirloom junkie, I suspect my "mandatory three" might get altered. But, I
would love to hear from those of you that have been in the heirloom cult for some years and now what is your list.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

What are your "reasons" for your pick? A list is no good without your reasons. chuckle. Cam

Alpine, CA

A panel of experts (my wife and I) rated our initial attempt at growing 7 heirlooms and those three won the taste test
of the expert judges. This year, I think I have some fabulous choices including Cherokee Purple, Cowlicks, Suddath,
Stump of the World, Earl's Faux, Omar's Lebanese, Virginia Sweet, Sungold, Black Krim, Kosovo, Watermelon
Beefsteak, Pineapple, Brandywine, Giant Belgium and Black Cherry. I am already compiling next years' list and
hope this thread helps.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I want to know what people like about the taste of a particular tomato. Can you describe what you liked about the taste?

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

I tend to experiment with different varieties, but there are 3 types I always grow:

Black or Purple variety (for the deep complex taste): Cherokee Purple recurs the most, but this year I am concentrating on the Blacks (Krim, Ethiopian, SeaMan).

Red Heart Shape (for fresh taste, and meaty fruit that goes well in sandwiches). I tend to alternate between Reif Red Man and German Red Strawberry.

Cherry: (Sweet taste for salads) I have grown Sungold for the last five years, this year I am trying Big Sungold select. Maybe Mountain Magic next year.

Alpine, CA

Steady....to answer your question, "No." My rookie status doesn't make me a good judge of sweet, acid, smokey,
etc. I can only judge "great", "not so great" and that type of not-so professional judging. But the gist of the thread was
not to give my naive opinions based on a one year history, but to learn from you experienced folks. Where is your
list?

Don, I liked your choices in that some are on my "this year" list and others on my "next year list".

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

My three are:

Moneymaker - The tomato I grew up with in England. It had to be grown in a greenhouse there, but should do well here in NC summers.
Early Girl - because, if I'm lucky, they will be ripe the first week of July, and I like the taste.
Viva Italia - a plum type for hubby's favorite chili. It doesn't suffer from Blossom End Rot when given lots of Chitin from crab shells.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitin

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

My must grow three has two hybrids and one OP. I other open-pollinated and some heirlooms--but there are so many of those that I'm trying different ones every year. I grow Big Beef, Sweet 100 (or Supersweet 100), and Rutgers pretty much every year. I like the productivity and flavor of both Big Beef and Rutgers. I also love lots of sweet red cherries. I share tomatoes with friends and neighbors, so I need to be sure that I have varieties that produce well...I've had a few heirlooms that only produce 3 or 4 tomatoes. I spend too much time and effort for that small of a return to be acceptable.

I also try to grow a black, at least one pink, a bi-color, and a yellow/gold variety every year. I haven't hit on permanent choices for any of those, yet.

David

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

When I say why, I want to know if you grow it because it produces a lot of fruit, it resists disease well, is more tolerant to heat, (or cold), or it just tastess so good you would grow it if it only produced one fruit. Im a newbie too and with sooooo many choices, I wanted to know which ones to try. Right now Ive planted out, 4th of July, Kellogs Breakfast, Large red cherry, Black Krim and Beef steak because they are what I got in trades. Those are not preferences, they are just what I had on hand. I just dont want to spend my time on something that is tasteless like those in the grocery store. It would take me years to try them all so I was looking for a short cut to finding the best ones. Cam

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Most any vine-ripened tomato you grow will have a much better flavor than supermarket tomatoes. Most tomatoes in the markets are picked green then artificially ripened, and that may make them look good but it sure doesn't make them taste good.

It's already been mentioned above, but you can't go wrong with Big Beef. Seedlings are widely available, the flavor is very good, the tomatoes are large, and the plants are very productive and bear all season. This year I'm relying on five plants of Big Beef as my "mainstream" variety while growing only one or two plants each of several other varieties.

That way I can try some interesting tomatoes that are new to me, backed up by a "tried and true" variety that I know is a heavy producer with flavor we like.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks Ozark. I really appreciate info such as you have given. I know others will too. Good luck with your crop. Be sure to come back and let us know the results of your "trials". I will do the same. Cam

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Do Yellow, orange, pink or purple tomatoes have a different taste? If so could someone take a shot at describing some of the differences you've noticed?

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Don, that would be Reif Red Heart not Red Man. (smile)

And as said above it's true that I try to grow varieties new to all or most ever since I fell in 2004 which put me in this walker b'c I can no longer can grow the hundreds of plants and varieties each summer that I used to grow.

I'm working madly on my list right now and it's difficult to organize b'c I have to send seeds to Craig LeHoullier in NC who raises my plants for me now, and then there are three others who do the major seed production for me, 2 in NC and 1 in IL.

And if fruits are ripe when Freda is here she'll bring them in so I can set up some fermentations myself but I'm dependent on her for helping with that.

I don't want to share seeds with anyone unless I've tasted a specific variety myself, so sometimes that means that someone doing seed production for me with a variety I don't have here at home actually sends me fruits to taste.

How long I can keep this up I don't know but I've had a great tomato career, as it were, with those several thousand varieties I've already grown, so no regrets.

Carolyn

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Carolyn:
Would you believe I deliberately wrote 'man' instead of 'heart' just so you could correct me? ... Would you believe my spell checker went wild? ... No? Ok, it was just a case of the fingers typing faster than the mind could think. Thanks for the correction!

And we are all hoping you can keep this up for many more years. Your help is invaluable.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

My can of Red Man is in my hip pocket. I live in the Ozarks - you've seen the movie "Deliverance"?

As Confucius famously said, "Many man smoke, but fu manchu!". LOL

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

So you knew Confucious too?

How would you characterize him?

I thought he thought too much. LOL

Carolyn, who also was disappointed to find out he didn't grow tomatoes.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Carolyn, I just like teasing Yankees - so when I see NY and CT talking ......

But you've lived all over the country, and I don't think a little Red Man, Virginia twist, or Farmer's Brown Mule would surprise you. :>)

Nicotine is an effective insecticide, and years ago I used it a few times. I quit when ToMV started getting all the publicity, but lately I've started to suspect the danger of that is exaggerated.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Do Yellow, orange, pink or purple tomatoes have a different taste? If so could someone take a shot at describing some of the differences you've noticed?

******

There's a huge range of tastes to be found within each color category so I for one, can't make any conclusions re taste/color, but I will say that most so called whites are very bland, with few exceptions.

And there are no purple varieties, per se, b'c starting back in the late 1800's the word purple was used to mean pink. So Eva Purple Ball, Prudens Purple, Aunt Ginny's Purple and on and on are all pink.

The only two varieties that I know of that do have a touch of purple are Purple Calabash and Noire des Cosebeauf, and while the latter is one of the most beautiful varieties I've ever grown I can't recommend either one re taste.

Then there's Purple Smudge and Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge that are just plain oddities that arose via mutation and taste is not memorable.

Carolyn

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

I have grown out in the neighborhood of 20 different varieties each year for the past three years including the plants I am setting out now. I have seeded these three each year because they set fruit over a decent range of temperatures, they are productive, they seem to not be bothered with disease, and I enjoy their flavor.

1. Black Krim
2. Black Zebra
3. JD's Special

JD's Special is always one of the first to set fruit. The JD I set out Feb 26 under a Kozy Coat already has a nice cluster of blooms forming. These were seeded Jan 19.

These are thin skin tomatoes so if you are not careful with water they will crack. Later in the season when they crack they will sour fast.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I love all this good information!! What color are the ones named black something or other? Are they purple or what?

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

No, the dark colored ones, aka blacks, are not purple in color, even Cherokee Purple.

Some blacks such as CP and Indian Stripe and Black from Tula have a clear epidermis so I call them pink/blacks and some have a yellow epidermis such as Carbon and Black krim and friends and I call them red/blacks.

The color of the epidermis, that thin layer that one can peel off on the exterior, plus the color of the flesh helps determine what the color of a fruit will be.

The only difference between a red and pink tomato, color-wise, is that pink fruits have a clear epidermis and red fruits have a yellow epidermis.

Carolyn

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Carolyn, I'm growing Cherokee Chocolate this year. I understand it's the same tomato, production and flavor-wise, as Cherokee Purple, but from the pictures it appears kinda - brown.

Is it a different colored epidermis that makes Cherokee Chocolate a different color from Cherokee Purple?

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Once in a restaurant in San Antonio I ordered fresh sliced tomatoes as my salad. The plate came with 3 large slices of tomato...one red, one yellow and one bluish-purple one. I asked the variety but the restaurant did not know.

Carolyn, are you saying that all tomatoes are red but the epidermis makes them appear otherwise or did I misunderstand you?

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

The only difference between a red and pink tomato, color-wise, is that pink fruits have a clear epidermis and red fruits have a yellow epidermis.

Steady, I compared the exterior of red AND pink tomatoes as above.

(Is it a different colored epidermis that makes Cherokee Chocolate a different color from Cherokee Purple?)

Yes Ozark. In Craig's garden there appeared to be a mutation of the epidermis of Cherokee Purple from clear to yellow, which is why CC is a darker color than is CP.

Carolyn

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

My three "must haves" are: Sungold F1, Brandywine Sudduth's or Cowlick's, and Amazon Chocolate.

Could we make that a "four must haves"? I'd have to add Aker's West Virginia PL aka Linda's Faux. Great flavor and production together in an heirloom.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Mortgage lifter pink or yellow (radiator Charlie strain)
Black krim
Limmony
I picked these because they are large tomatoes that are consistently productive all summer long,with great flavor, I think.
I never get many tomatoes because my 13 yr old eats them before I ever get a chance to.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Im probably getting on everyone's nerves with all my questions but what does the name Black mean in a tomato name? Ive never seen a black tomato.

Goodman, MO

Go to Tatiana's Tomato Base and look up Black Cherry, Black Prince, Carbon etc. and you will see pictures of black tomatoes.
http://t.tatianastomatobase.com:88/wiki/Black_from_Tula

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks Beau's Mom. That is what I thought was a purple tomato served on my plate in the restaurant. Then Carolyn said that purple means pink so I was having a hard time figuring it out. I planted black Krim but had no idea what the tomatoes were going to look like once it produces.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Steady, you've been linked to Black From Tula, which is a pink/black and in addition to Tania's wonderful site you can go to any good seed source that shows pictures to see additional pictures of various so called black varieties, ones such as Tomato Growers Supply and GlecklerSeedmen, for instance.

Aside from the fact that there are blacks that have either clear or yellow epidemises, the depth of the coloration is quite dependent on a specific variety ( the genes it has), the degree of foliage cover as well as the degree of UV where a person grows their tomatoes.

So here in the north it's not uncommon for some varieties to have less dark coloredness, if I can, as compared with folks in the south in terms of the UV variable.

Carolyn

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

The Amazon Chocolate I mentioned is considered a "black" tomato. I gave a plant to one of my friends who said it tasted rotten. I couldn't imagine that. With further questioning, she was waiting for it to turn red on the top. It never does that. It is always green on top which is referred to as having green shoulders. So---by the time she finally picked one, it probably was rotten. You have to pinch the bottom a little to see when it softens.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

LOL, Linda. Reminds me of the time we took a friend of ours to eat crawfish for the first time. Everyone was busy with their own diving in to notice her. When we looked up and asked what she thought about crawfish, she said they were OK. That's when we noticed she ate the whole thing, head, gills and all.

Dearborn, MI

This thread is making me laugh out loud. First of all, as long as I can grow tomatoes, I probably won't be able to cut it down to three. We just returned from 2 months in Florida and I made a cutting on a black cherry (color of epidermis unknown) to grow out on the patio there, so I guess that would be No 1. Forever my husband thought yellow pear was the greatest thing ever, until he tasted one black cherry and his love affair with yellow pear was over. It is sweet and tangy and prolific and beautiful.
I can't imagine a season without Kelloggs Breakfast. It is so juicy and sweet and flavorful and gorgeous. Many complain that it isn't so productive, but I have always gotten a bunch.
Then I'd have to have a good red, and I think I would go with Granny Cantrell's German Red. It has nice sized beautiful red fruit with fantastic flavor and it doesn't take the whole season to get a ripe tomato.
Of course, I am always searching for a new TDF tomato, so I am trying 40 new ones this year, in addition to the regulars.

Alpine, CA

Nancy....the thread is strictly a hypothetical. Most have similar emotions as yours. Just for the sake of maybe some
self-examination of long lists, the question is what if you were, for some strange reason, suddenly restricted to
only 3 varieties that you had previously grown. I just thought it would be interesting to see what, if any, duplication
there was from the die-hard heirloom folks. Such a compilation might also serve as a starting line for newbies
that want to get their feet wet in the heirloom arena and are overwhelmed by the lengthy grow lists of most
veteranos. I doubt many start with 50-60 varieties, but soon get there. I am already up to 23 in my 2nd yr. My wife
censors the mail and throws any seed catalogs before I get to see the mail. She hasn't resolved the internet
problem yet. She claims it would be cheaper if I were addicted to alcohol.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

When the same question was posted elsewhere and I think it was about what ONE variety would you take with you if you were banished to an island, or something like that and all sorts of folks were trying to come up with one known OP.

But the best answer, I thought, was the person who said he'd take with him a recent cross he'd done between two OP's b'c he knew that from growing out the saved F2 seeds from the initial hybrid cross that he'd have plenty more wonderful plants, and I agree with that completely.

I don't even know if I posted in this thread, I didn't go back to look, but I think I'd answer the same as he did and I'd select three crosses to work with.

But I do understand that the intent was to be more pointed about long grow lists, so maybe his answer doesn't fit here, but I thought it was a good one that I'd pass along.

Carolyn

Goodman, MO

I like Pale Perfect Purple or Eva Purple Ball for a pink globe, Cherokee Purple for a dark tomato, and I'd have to have a beef steak, Granny Cantrell is good but there are many others.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

I'm not sure I could narrow it down to only three, as we have about a 10 that are standards from a total of 28-30.

I adore blacks, I understand many don't understand the fuss but it's a personal preference so mine lean heavily towards the black/purple varieties.

Must have's include:

Black Cherry: Great production, holds up well in the heat and taste yummy with cilantro

Black Krim: Again, great production, does well in the heat and has wonderful flavor without being as smoky as some of the other blacks.

Paul Robeson: Horrible production, hates the heat and I've tasted better...needless I'm not the reason it's on the list...blame that on the DH.

Neves Azorean Red: middle of the road production, seems to tolerate the heat has a great full tomato flavor.

Black From Tula: One of my favorite tomatoes, great flavor, average production and handles the heat pretty well. It is prone to cracking and doesn't handle large amounts of rain well...but I luvs it!

The other standards are Aker's West Virgina, Carbon, Chapman, Black, Nyagous

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

OK, so far Ive learned this........Could someone please save me some black cherry seeds? Too many of you have raved about it. I'd really like to try it. Too late for Spring crop. My tomatoes are already blooming but if someone has 5 seeds to spare, I could start the end of July for my fall crop. I'll trade or send postage. Your choice. Cam

Dearborn, MI

I have extra. Send me a dmail.
What are you doing thinking about tomatoes at 3:37 am

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

Steadycam3 if you'd like I can drop some in the mail today, you should have it tomorrow or if you aren't in a hurry I can just drop them off the next time I'm in the Heights..

They really do well in our area, although like most cherry's the lill buggers do tend to like to take over.

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