Beyond Beefsteak Tomatoes: In Search of the Unusual

comments (2) April 15th, 2009

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Ruth Ruth Dobsevage, Web producer
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Wapsipinicon Peach. Yes, its a tomato, and Im trying it this year for the first time.
Speckled Roman, a paste tomato. Im hoping it will taste as great as it looks.
Wapsipinicon Peach. Yes, its a tomato, and Im trying it this year for the first time.Click To Enlarge

Wapsipinicon Peach. Yes, it's a tomato, and I'm trying it this year for the first time.

Photo: Seed Savers Exchange

Tomatoes are the crown jewel of the garden. They are easy to grow, and the taste is just fantastic. Everyone loves beefsteaks, but they don't do all that well for me, so I usually opt for small and midsize offerings. And there's always the urge to branch out and try ones I've never grown before.

Small tomatoes are nice because they mature quickly and they make great snacks. Sun Gold (I love this orange cherry tomato!)  is usually the first to produce, followed closely by Juliet (a red grape type) and Principe Borghese (good for drying). This year, as I pored through the seed catalogs, Wapsipinicon Peach captured my fancy. I was intrigued by the name, of course, and also the unusual color. Who wouldn't go for a "heavy producer of 2-inch peach-shaped fuzzy yellow fruits" with "sweet excellent flavor," as Seed Savers Exchange puts it. The heirloon variety takes its name from the Wapsipinicon River, which flows through northeastern Iowa into the Mississippi.

Paste tomatoes are something of an anchor crop for me; it's a wonderful thing to stock the freezer with stewed tomatoes for winter sauces and soups. Lately I've relied on Amish Paste, Opalka, and Linguisa; this year I'm adding Speckled Roman to the mix. Seed Savers Exchange says Speckled Roman produces "gorgeous 3-inch-wide by 5-inch-long fruits with jagged orange and yellow stripes."

If you are tempted to try something new this year, check out the colorful heirloom offerings on the Seed Savers Exchange tomato page. Fortunately, no special expertise is needed for growing these beauties. Just do what you do for "ordinary" tomatoes, and you should be fine.

Are you growing any unusual tomato varieties this year? Please post a comment below. We're always on the lookout for new and interesting seeds to try.


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Comments (2)

Ruth writes: Nice. I'm already making my list for next year. This year, I managed to squeeze in the following: Amish paste, linguisa, principe borghese, red pear, black krim, purple russian, black from tula, celebrity, carmelo, sun gold, juliet, jaune flammee, tigerella, raad red, and jetsonic. I mostly plant Noah's Ark style (two of each variety), and in light of this year's weather, that seens appropriate. Wet, wet, wet.
Posted: 10:10 am on June 15th
pdaoust writes: I think almost all of my tomatoes this year are wacky varieties. Here's the list:

Chiapas, a wild tomato (the plants are very robust looking, but apparently the tomatoes are very small -- about 1/2". Tasty though.

Tlacalula and Zapotec, two pink ribbed tomatoes from Mexico with hollow insides.

Black Krim, a huge purple-and-green beefsteak from Russia

Ghost, a fuzzy white cherry tomato

Schimmeig Stoo, a red, hollow stuffer with orange stripes. Kinda bland flavour, but since you stuff it with tasty things, it doesn't matter.

The last two are pretty normal: Gardener's Delight cherry tomato and Stupice slicer, which both have a fantastic flavour.

I have about four varieties that I didn't plant this year; I just don't have enough room!

They're all open-pollinated and planted close to each other, but apparently one only gets about 5% cross-pollination with tomatoes, so plants stay relatively true to parent.
Posted: 1:35 pm on June 12th
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