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So Many Choices!

 

How Can I Choose the Best Tomatoes for Me?

How do you decide which tomato variety to buy with 78 one-of-a-kind heirloom and hybrid tomatoes to choose from? First, you need to decide which variety will grow well where you live. Do you live in a cooler location in West Contra Costa? Or in hot, dry East County? Do you have limited space and want tomatoes that grow well in containers? Are you intrigued by some of our more exotic varieties? Or, are you a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist and just want those large, juicy beefsteaks? Or, maybe you’re a pasta fan and want a freezer-full of homemade pasta sauce next winter.

This year, Master Gardeners of Contra Costa are offering nearly 78 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. Where to start? For a successful tomato plant that will produce lots of wonderful fruits throughout the season, you need to think first about where you are planting it. Choose a variety that fits with your micro-climate and space requirements.

Then, think about what you want out of your tomato plant. Do you want a rich pasta sauce or a slicer for delicious BLTs or a ton of small cherries for the grandkids? To make your job a bit easier, we’ve made up a few shopping lists for different kinds of buyers: cooler climes, small spaces, traditionalist, the avant-garde and the hot and dry buyers. Here they are:

For our Cooler Climes Buyers:

  • Bloody Butcher—with a name like that, you better be sensational—high-yielding, dark red and delicious!
  • Legend—blight-resistant, adapted to cooler climes, it will be the earliest-maturing slicer in your garden.
  • Gold Nugget—developed at OSU – where else for cooler climes? These ¾” golden fruits will mature in only 60 days, continue from early season ‘til frost and have a rich, sweet flavor.
  • Black Sea Man—a hardy Russian heirloom that grows particularly well in cooler climes.
  • Stupice—a very cold-tolerant, disease-resistant and early tomato with delicious, 3-4 oz. fruits in clusters.
  • Sun Gold—positively luscious, apricot-orange cherries borne on beautiful, 15”-long trusses. Eye-candy that you can actually eat in your garden!

For our Buyers with postage-stamp size yards:

  • Bush Champion—a beefsteak developed by the Ball Seed Company for small spaces.
  • Camaro—early maturing hybrid, produces heavy sets of 10-12-ounce fruits on compact plants.
  • Lizzano—ideal for hanging baskets and containers, a cherry with a non-stop harvest of 1” fruits, perfect for snacks and salads.
  • Italian Roma Bush—the best small-space paste tomato around, producing enormous yields.
  • Super Bush—bred specifically for small spaces, this beefsteak tomato still has a big, old-fashioned tomato flavor.

For Traditional Buyers, some of our trusted and much-loved stand-bys

  • Bloody Butcher—with a name like that, you better be sensational—high-yielding, dark red and delicious!
  • Brandywine Pink—an Amish Classic, some consider the best tasting tomato ever.
  • Cherokee Purple—Pre-1890s’ heirloom with a delicious, old-timey flavor.
  • Mortgage Lifter— the legendary large (1-2 pounds!), tasty beefsteak on very productive, disease-resistant plants.
  • Sun Gold—positively luscious, apricot-orange cherries borne on beautiful, 15”-long trusses. Eye-candy that you can actually eat in your garden!

For Avant-Garde Buyers, some of our unusual varieties

  • Chef’s Choice Orange—All American Selections Winner, low in acid with good flavor.
  • Orange Paruche—superb flavor, disease- and crack-resistant and early, early to boot!
  • Pink Boar—bred by Brad Gates, a gorgeous tomato with deep wine color and metallic striping. Pomodoro Canestrino di Lucca—direct from Italy, a classic pasta tomato that is also great in salads.
  • Pomodoro Piramide—rare Italian paste tomato filled with almost seedless, richly flavored meat. Only available at our sale!
  • Sun Sugar—fruity-tasting orange cherry tomatoes that produce in beautiful clusters on vigorous vines.

For Hot and Dry Climate Buyers, here are some varieties that need lots of heat

  • Boxcar Willie—10-to-16 oz. tomatoes with a rich, sweet flavor with just a touch of acid for tanginess.
  • Hawaiian Pineapple—the name says it all, these large, yellow, 1-pound tomatoes are sweet and fruity.
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast—a classic beefsteak with large orange tomatoes weighing up to one pound.
  • San Marzano Gigante—a prolific, classic pasta tomato with a long season with enormous, meaty fruits.

So many choices! For your convenience, we have a Shopping List for you to mark up.