Your top choice

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

If you had to choose just ONE tomato to grow, what would it be? Your absolute, most very favorite-

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

I couldn't even give you a top 20, LOL, too many to chose from.

But answering your question directly I would make a cross between two different OP fave heirlooms to get F1 hybrid seed, that's called a wide cross. And its the F1 seeds I'm after.

Because growing out several plants from the saved F1 seed, now called the F2 saved seed, I know I'd get all sorts of plants and fruits depending on what the original parents were.

So, limit me to one tomato, not a variety, and I'd use that one F1 to give me lots and lots of great tasting and performing selections for the future.

And I could make selections at the F2, F3, F4 and then go with each of them and when the individual selections were completely genetically stable, then I could name them myself.

I know, an unorthodox answer, but I simply cannot make a list of faves, let alone chose one variety. ( smile)


(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

For me, it's Sweet Million. Years ago on the east end of Long Island, NY it was always the earliest and sweetest and most prolific of all, never any problems. For the last 6 years I've been in NW Connecticut, 1 1/2 zones cooler, and it's still the winner.

Last year, which was cool-ish, Sungold was a day or two earlier, and also very good. This year we had record heat, and Sungold kept cracking for some reason, but the Sweet Million stayed firm. My vines are finished for the season, but a friend I gave some late plants to is still getting a good yield. Even though it is significantly cooler now, the tomatoes are still delicious. Live and learn: Next year I'll plant a later crop for fall harvest.


Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks Pam. I was going to try Sweet Million this year, but chose something else instead. Now I wish I had-the other one, an heirloom grape, didn't make it. Sungold is good-I did it last year. I'm trying to plan next year's garden and don't have a lot of space, so just trying to get some ideas.

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

My all time favorite cherry is Galina. A gold sweet tart intense little snack that I love. However, we live in cool summer conditions here and i have read that she is not so good in hot climates. I grew nearly only Russian heirlooms this year. The non Russian is Stump of the World that is just now coming on. Huge thing and very tasty. However, that said, I think I may go back to growing Early Girl next summer and not many others. Early girl is a great all around tomato. I like to preserve tomatos in lots of ways and I think Early Girls all around and prolific set is best for that. I didn't grow her this year and kind of miss her now.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

I also love Galiana's Yellow which has deep gold cherries is indet but compact, and has PL foliage. The fact that it originated in Siberia is no reason to think it won't do well in the south b'c the summer temps in Siberia are almost as hot as as most of the southern states and many in the south grow it and love it.

I'm not getting that 9b gardening zone for you in OR. Is that that other gardening zone rating called Sunset, b'c I know many who grow tomatoes in OR and none of them live in a zone 9b.

I love a lot of Russian varieties as well, and we can no longer refer just to Russia since the name of all of what we knew as the USSR has now been changed to the CIS, which stands for the Commonwealth of Independent states.

So I grow varieties sent to me from Russia, yes, but also Belarus, the Ukraine, Kazachstan and other of the states within the CIS.

Early Girl F1? Initially bred in France, one parent was PL, rights bought out by Burpee when it first appeared in the US for a 3 year period of time, the current improved version often gives PL plants harkening back to the original parentage....... and,

I wouldn't pay you a dollar for a seed. LOL

A few years back I was doing a dog and pony show about heirloom tomatoes at the Hortus Nursery in Pasadena, CA, and that's where I found out that EG is almost the state tomato and most of the time they dry farm them.

So I'm glad they work for you for that's all that matters, but not me. ( smile)

Carolyn, who also loves Stump of the World which was a Ben Quisenberry one along with Gold Medal and the Sudduth strain of Brandywine and so many more. No, he didn't breed them, he acquired them.

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

Hi Carolyn...The state of Oregon is very diverse, climate wise. The eastern part is mostly desert. Really hot and dry in the summer and cold in the winter. Tomatoes there lots of times freeze before they get going or freeze before they ripen. Not my kind of climate. The Willamette Valley, the western side of the Cascade Mts. is our garden of Eden. It's hot and humid in the summer and grows nearly everything well. Oregon wineries are flourishing and tomatoes are fantastic. Soils there have lots of clay but amended they are nearly perfect. Then, west of the Coast Range, where I live, along the Pacific Ocean, we get lots of wind, fog, grey nothing days, and our soils are very sandy. This is where many Oregonians come to escape the heat of summer. Fortunately, I garden a bit inland and can grow tomatoes, some years better than others, depending on El Nino and the wind conditions. Our summer really begins in the fall. Right now we are having near perfect weather, but earlier, in mid summer it was extra cool this year while the rest of the state was hot, hot, hot. We probably won't see freezing until Thanksgiving or beyond. But, soon, it will cool down.
Maybe you can tell me....I once read that you can save seed from EG, but I was always afraid to try it. And, for the life of me, I don't remember PL Early Girls. If you Had to grow her, Carolyn, where would you get the seed?
My Stump is just now starting to ripen, ever so slowly. The Brandywine I have saved seeds from for years, gave me a couple of really early ones and now the rest of them are still quite green. Azochorka, right beside it, is the same way. At least, Azochorka doesn't mind cold nights and goes on and on in the fall.
Galiana...Thanks for the correct spelling...I will always grow and wait and wait for that fantastic burst of flavor.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Maybe you can tell me...I once read that you can save seed from EG, but I was always afraid to try it. And, for the life of me, I don't remember PL Early Girls. If you Had to grow her, Carolyn, where would you get the seed?


If I HAD to grow Early Girl, which I don't and won't, LOL, I'd probably get the F1 offered by TGS which is VFF, but since I don't have Verticillium or the two races of Fusarium, that wouldn't make a difference.

I think I said that ONE of the original parents of Early girl in France was a PL variety, but the first Early Girl's sold here in the US were RL.

I'm going to link you to a thread from Tville where I think the history of this variety is very well discussed and please take the time to look at the various links within certain posts.

Yes, I was offering PSR-7, the OP Early Girl developed by Peters and yes, you could save seeds from that one and they would mostly come true since it's OP, but those who have grown it also see some PL plants.

Saving seeds from Early Girl F1 itself, improved or not, will not give you the same fruits and tastes with those saved F2 seeds, and you'd probably even get some PL plants as well.

And thanks for the OR geography lesson b'c it really helped. As I said above most of my OR friends don't live anywhere's near a zone 9 as indicated by the gardening zone on their icons at various message sites.


Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

This past season we tried out several new-to-us tomato varieties. DH and I both have different tastes when it comes to tomatoes, but we both did like Livingston's Favorite and will grow it again and again. I have a really hard time selecting one and only one favorite. I don't think I can. I love various tomatoes for various reasons. But DH could care less about any of that and wants Livingston's Favorite in the line-up from now on. He said it made the best 'mater sandwich he's ever had. I liked it because it did taste good and it was and "easy keeper" in the garden.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

I've been sick, and away for a while, so I'm catching up on some threads that I missed. If I could only have one tomato variety, I would start with Jet Star. It has good flavor and reasonable productivity...also, since it is a hybrid, I could grow out the F2, F3, etc. generations as Carolyn suggests. I don't think that I would want only a cherry tomato, since the number of tomatoes necessary for making sauce or canning tomatoes would be prohibitive.

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

If I HAD to choose just one, I would grow Cowlick's Brandywine-----but I'd have to have my nextdoor neighbor grow Sungold that would come up over the fence!

A couple of years ago I said that if I had to choose one it would be Pink Potato Top. That was the "kiss of death"! It hasn't done well ever since. Oh please don't let that happen to my Brandywine.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

We grow tomatoes to eat off the vine, to roast, make fresh salsas and to can. No one tomatoes can meet the ideal of all those needs. IMO, the best sauces are made with several varieties and include oxhearts and maybe one paste, like Sherrill's Watermelon. We roast lots of cherry/grape types for fresh use and freeze extra. I like a mix that might include Yellow Pear, Sugar Sweetie, Black Cherry and Sungold. I love blacks and pinks best for slicers and salads. Cherokee Black and Black Krim are my favorites and any of the pink Brandywines. I have tried a number of far reaching names but keep going back to those mentioned. They are reliable producers in my garden.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Maypop, to my knowledge as well as several other folks there is no variety called Cherokee Black.

In the thread above nctomatoman is Craig L, who was given seeds for what he named Cherokee Purple and he's quite up to date on all the many Cherokee derivatives.

The person who started the above linked to thread also said that Cherokee Black was grown, thus the long thread about it.

I hope this helps


Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Carolyn, thanks for the correction. Brain burp on my part. I meant Cherokee Purple (which to me is so like a black).

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Well my 2 cents is old news to some,, Marglobe without any hesitation at all , it did not do well for me this year for the first time ever ,I have grown it since the 70's and will continue.

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

If I had to pick just one it would be Cherokee Purple. My new best friend, though, in the cherry world is Sun Sugar. Out-produced Sun Gold this year and was wonderful in our garden. I picked the last 2 dozen or so on Sunday, which is amazing even in our zone. A few were still greenish but I was pulling up all the plants in advance of 30-degree temps.

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks to all for the suggestions. I just discovered that I'm going to have even less room than I thought for tomatoes next year unless I make some HUGE changes (taking out a tree or starting a bed in a side yard-which I've avoided doing). There's a chance that two of my beds had Fusarium Wilt. The extension agency/university tested two of my plants and found "evidence" below the ground but not above it on one of one of them of Fusarium Wilt. I think they BOTH had it and thus am scared to death to plant tomatoes in either of those raised beds. I raised most of the tomatoes and peppers in one of the beds from seed, and nursed them and checked them every day. I watched in horror as each tomato plant yellowed, wilted and died. The peppers just croaked immediately! By the time I took the plants in to be tested, a lot of the evidence was gone. All the tomatoes in that bed were heirlooms. The one they said didn't have it was a Big Beef-hybrid and resistant, but its neighbor in the same bed was a Big Rainbow HL, and it did the same as the others. Then the Big Beef started yellowing and the fruit was stunted. It survived, but I think only because it was resistant.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Peggy ~ Maybe you can put your tomatoes in containers or raised beds. There are many different methods that people use that do not have good soil. My best tomatoes grew in a bed with only peat, perlite, vermiculite and organic compost. This one had none of my "dirt" and did not suffer one bit.

This year the most productive was the Pink Pink Pong, but I cannot say it was the tastiest. I liked Kellog's Breakfast for BLT's. They were a very nice slicing tomato with few small seeds. The Romas did ever so well and were just perfect, with only a few BER, but only in the beginning of the season.

So far, the dwarf tomatoes were all a disappointment, as there were only a couple of tomatoes the whole season. I am saving the seeds for the project, but if they do not do well next year, I will just turn in all my seeds back to the project. I think that I will try something different for them as well. Maybe large pots in a sunnier area, though it gets quite hot during July and August. That is the only thing I can think of to correct the growing environment.

I will also have new soil for them like the new square foot garden that grew the Pink Ping Pong so well. The Kellogg's Breakfast was in a large pot, as I ran out of planting room. Maybe I will dig out all the raised beds (SFG's) and put new soil in them as well since all the others seem to decline. They were not diseased, but just were not vigorous. Maybe Carolyn has an answer. I know in the past she said that tomatoes can be grown in the same soil year after year, if there are no diseases. But maybe that only applies to in the ground. I did grow some in the ground and the gophers ate most of them.

So all of you that have grown a lot of tomatoes, none of you can say that there is ONE tomato. (IMHO, there never is.) And sometimes, one will grow perfectly one season, and then, poop out the next, and then have another be a better grower, but not have all the flavor you want. I think that Carolyn is the expert in this group and even she cannot say that there is ONE favorite above there??

Thumbnail by evelyn_inthegarden
Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I could not ever pick just one, and my fav's change from year to year as well. The reason I defer to DH is that he doesn't grow the tomatoes and engages in minimal upkeep in the garden. So if he asked for one particular tomato for the next year, I just go with that one as that year's favorite. Although he does not weed, plant, water or anything other than run the tractor/rototiller each spring and fall, he has been known to sit out in the garden on a lawn chair and watch tomatoes ripen. He has also been know to call me at work, while watching a tomato ripen, to tell me how it is doing. And if I'm too busy we will ask to be transfered to my boss to tell her.........This happened way back when I was working at the college =8~).

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Peggy ~ Maybe you can put your tomatoes in containers or raised beds. There are many different methods that people use that do not have good soil. My best tomatoes grew in a bed with only peat, perlite, vermiculite and organic compost. This one had none of my "dirt" and did not suffer one bit.

Evelyn-One of these was in a raised bed, and the other in a horse trough (with lots of drainage holes drilled though) both of them with new ProMix. I'm wondering now if maybe I goofed up by not mixing in the soil beneath the raised bed one. I read somewhere that you can create a plateau where you don't get good drainage if you just put your new soil on top like I did. I'm fairly new to this, so I'm learning a lot of things the hard way. Actually, I'd be awfully happy if that was the case-that'd be WAY better than having Fusarium Wilt.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Mine are all in Earth Boxes, raised up on cinder blocks to make it easier to tend them, and keep them from being contaminated with nematodes and other soil-borne joys we have down here in Florida. Very productive and easy care, and much less trouble with pests and disease.

I can't grow the heirlooms even in my Earth Boxes, though. Too many diseases floating around here, too. Tried and tried the various Brandywines for several years, finally gave up and bought resistant hybrids and have had good success since then.

This fall I started 'Momotaro' from seed. I started some too late last spring, and sent the seedlings to my daughter in Utah (First Class on Delta in her dad's carry-on). She said they were absolutely the best tasting tomato she had ever had, and also clean and beautiful.

Last spring my star performer was Black Cherry, which were yummy but although the transplants I bought had lots of letters and numbers after the name, they still got slammed by some blight or other in April. To my great surprise, the plants survived, and as I was cutting them up to throw away, I noticed new shoots starting! Disease resistant? Well . . . sort of.

'Momotaro''s are nearly 3ft. tall now and flowering. Hoping it stays warm this winter so I can keep them producing!

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

That was a lot of good info, dyzzy, my experience was just the opposite. The tomatoes I planted in the ground were disease-free and perfect! I had a luscious German Pink-heirloom and a Mountain Pride-hybrid that were both out of this world. The ones I grew in raised beds-Brandwine Pink, Rose and Big Rainbow-heirlooms-and Big Beef and Yellow Pear, hybrids-all got something that looked like Fusarium Wilt. But like I said, it may have been the way I planted them-without mixing in the soil beneath. Overwatering can mimic Fusarium Wilt, according to the extension agents, and my creating a shelf plateau of soil without good drainage could have led to that-I think.....

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Tomatoes do send their roots down deep, so it's good to dig and mix in your fert quite far down - plus better for drainage as you said. My raised bed is 18in. deep and I still go nearly to the bottom of it when I'm planting new tomatoes. Earth Boxes are about a foot deep if you count the water reservoir in the bottom.

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Dyzzy-18" deep?! You're serious? Mine's nowhere NEAR that deep! Maybe that's part of my problem!

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Just go that deep with the digging fork to loosen things up, and mix in the fert. Not a big effort, since our soil is sandy and light.

Yes, if your raised bed plants were hitting a plateau of hard ground they were most likely stressed by the time they got big enough to bear fruit, and that would make them much more susceptible to disease, whatever it was.

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