Sources for Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom tomatoes can’t be beat for their intense flavor. They are wonderful to look at, too, and have great names like Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Red Pear, Mortgage Lifter and White Wonder. Finally they have wonderful stories to tell. For example, a West Virginian home gardener named Charlie fell on hard times during the depression. He owned a radiator repair shop, but people were so broke that they weren’t repairing their cars. Charlie took his four largest-fruited tomato plants and crossed them repeatedly to create a plant that produced two-pound fruit. He sold the plants claiming that each plant would feed a family of six. Within four years, he made enough to pay off his mortgage.
While not all tomato plants have such an interested history, they all have a “tasty” tale to tell. Below are some Web sites that offer heirloom tomato seeds and plants..
- Baker Creek Seeds
- Forgotten Heirlooms
- Appalachian Seeds
- Heirloom Tomato Seeds
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Tomato Bob’s Heirloom Tomatoes
- Gourmet Seed International
- Tomato Fest
- Victory Seeds
Further Reading: Books
The Gardener’s A — Z Guide to Growing Organic Food, by Tanya L.K. Denckla
Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower’s Guide to Using Less Pesticide by Mary Louise Flint
Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce
Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally by R. Kourik.
Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden by Sally Jean Cunningham
Heirloom: Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, White Wonder, Nebraska Wedding, Black Prince, Persimmon Yellow, Pixie Peach, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Old German.
Paste tomatoes: Roma, Sauce and Slice, Plum Dandy or Super Marzano.
Here’s a partial list of special needs and the varieties that can adapt to them:
Cooler climates: Oregon Spring, Northern Exposure, Manitoba and Stokesalaska
Hot climates: Heatwave, Sunleaper, Equinox, Sunmaster
Early starters: Early Girl, Sunstart, Burpee’s Early Pick, New Yorker, Wayahead, Moreton Hybrid, Jet Star, Pik-Red, Pilgrim.
Early cherry tomato: Red Robin.
Mid-season: Heinz 1350, Better Boy, Burpee, Roma, Floramerica, Celebrity, Red Star, Market Pride, Mountain Delight.
Late starters: Supersonic B, Ramapo, Supersteak, Mountain Pride, Beefmaster
Yellow and orange fruits: Jubilee, Sunray, Lemon Boy
Cherry tomatoes: Red Cherry, Sweet 100, Sweet Million, Small Fry, Chadwick
Pear tomatoes (small fruit): Red Pear, Yellow Pear
Dwarf cherries (great in containers): Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Presto, Baxter’s Bush Cherry
Dwarf vines with medium fruit: Patio, Pixie.