The Letter of Day is O: “O” is for Orange Russian and Opalka Tomatoes

Orange Russian

Love, love, love this one! Pretty and yummy! I am not exaggerating when I say this is one the finest looking tomatoes I’ve ever had the pleasure to grow. Of course I love anything striped or with splashes of color. 

This is a first bicolor oxheart tomato and it exhibits the best qualities of both types. Tomatoes weigh 8 ozs. or more and are heart-shaped with smooth golden flesh, blushed with rose on the outside, marbled inside with streaks of red. As with most heirlooms, size and shape vary as you can see in the photo.

They are delicious and sweet, somewhat fruity in flavor, and, because it is typical of an oxheart, they are meaty with very few seeds. 

Indeterminate

85 days

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Opalka

Fruits are far richer and more flavorful than most paste tomatoes. A pepper-shaped type with fruits that grow to 4 to 6″ long. Sweet and refreshing, it can be eaten straight off the vine, but is prized for sauces and canning. As with quite a few heirloom paste tomatoes, the foliage is wispy but it produces heavy crops. I’ve had people ask me if there is something wrong but that is the way they grow. Heirloom variety from Poland. 

Indeterminate

75 days

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The Letter of the Day is K: “K” is for the Tomatos, Kellogg’s Breakfast and Kosovo

Kellogg’s Breakfast

this is one of my daughter’s favorite tomatoes. Lovely, pale-orange fruits are solid and meaty throughout, packed with mild, superb-tasting flesh. A long-season producer of large, beefsteak-type fruits, up to 16 oz., with solid centers that have just a few seeds at the edges. We had 2 pounders one year. This is great tomato for both cooking and eating fresh. Indeterminate, 80-85 days

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Kosovo

This is another one that I love. Big oxheart shaped red tomatoes. Good flavor. This wonderful variety came from a former U.N. worker in Kosovo, who passed it down to Carolyn Male. Huge, deep pink heart-shaped fruit that has a sweet rich flavor and is very meaty while still being juicy. Production is excellent and the tomatoes are simply beautiful, but it is the delectable and intense tomato flavor that really makes this one special. Tomatoes can grow up to 1 pound, with ranges from 10 to 18 ozs. Indeterminate, 75-80 days

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for more information about these tomatoes, go to www.thetomatolady.com

The A to Z Blog Challenge

I just signed both of my blogs up for the A-Z Challenge. Coming up with topics will be harder for my Flowerchild Designs blog than my Tomato Lady blog.

If you are at all interested in learning about different varieties of tomatoes I would suggest you follow my Tomato Lady blog. I have plenty of material for that one. I will showcase 26 tomatoes, possibly more for each letter of the alphabet. You will be amazed how many varieties there are.

Of course, i am convinced that some heirloom tomatoes are called different names while still being the same tomato. For instance, Hillbilly from Georgia may be the same as Old Flame from Iowa. Just called a different name. It depends on what region you live in. Families have been saving seeds of their favorites for many, many years. Color, markings, maturity date, taste and texture all contribute to identify the variety.

On the opposite side, I’ve grown Hillbilly for several years and each year, they are different. It depends on whether the seeds came from Tennessee or Arkansas. Brandywine is another that has different characteristics depending on the region it comes from and who grew it. Sudduth, Landis, Platfoot, Quiesenberry are all words used to describe the various strains. If you are intereseted in learning more about the Brandywine, here is a link to a site detailing the history written by Craig LeHoullier.

http://www.webgrower.com/information/craig_brandywine.html

I hope that makes sense. Hope to see you reading me!

Tomato Terms: What Does it Mean When I Say . . . Heirloom?

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Many gardeners agree that heirloom tomato varieties boast greater flavor than the hybrids. After all, there is a reason they’ve been around for so long. In general I agree although I’ve had some tasty hybrids such as the cherry tomato, “Sungold” and “Sweet Treats” a larger pink cherry tomato, which is fabulous. 

While hybrid plants typically yield a crop that is uniform in both appearance and timing, heirlooms produce a “mixed bag” harvest. The harvest may come in less predictably, and produce size can vary greatly even on the same plant but it is still worth the real estate that they take up. Heirlooms, especially the larger ones, can be prone to cracking and cat facing which is not their most endearing quality but beauty is skin deep in my book. I have never found a beauty queen tomato, perfectly round, consistently red that can compare with a fat, juicy, sweet slice of, say, “Aussie” or “Rose” on my BLT!

Heirlooms typically come with a story that is as wonderful as the flavor. The Amish heirloom tomato Brandywine yields fruit with an unbeatable flavor in shades reminiscent of a glass of Cabernet. Mortgage Lifters paid off a man’s house in the depression years. Nebraska Wedding is an old Great Plains heirloom whose seeds were given to newly married couples to help them start their lives and start their farms together. Amana Orange takes its name from Amana, Iowa. Paul Robeson, a Russian heirloom tomato was named after the operatic artist who won acclaim as an advocate of equal rights for Blacks. His artistry was admired world-wide, especially in the Soviet Union. 

Tomato Terms: What Does it Mean When I Say . . .Heirloom

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Tomatoes in picture: Black Prince, White Queen, Aussie, Gold Medal, Black Truffle, Costoluto Fiorentino and others.

Whether you call them “Heritage” or “Heirloom”, these are still the varieites you will want to grow for taste. Heirlooms come from seed that has been handed down for generations in a particular region or area, and hand-selected by gardeners for a special trait. 

Heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated, which means they’re non-hybrid and pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention. How experts define heirlooms can vary, but typically they are at least 50 years old, and often are pre-WWII varieties. 

In addition, they tend to remain stable in their characteristics from one year to the next. What that means to you is that you can can save the seeds and if they don’t cross pollinate they will come true. Your “Aunt Ruby’s German Green” tomato seed will produce an “Aunt Ruby’s German Green” next year. Tomatoes are self pollinating and if you want to be relatively sure they haven’t “crossed the road” bag the flowers after you hand pollinate them or plant them away from other tomatoes. Remember that wind, bees and other things can pollinate the flowers. too

Many gardeners …to be continued