Heirloom Tomato Notes

A variety of colorful heirloom tomatoes, 2013.

A variety of colorful heirloom tomatoes, 2013.

Almost every plant that grows at Heart & Sole Gardens begins life as an heirloom seed.  Most people recognize the delicious difference of a “home grown” tomato, but seldom do I encounter individuals who realize that almost every heirloom plant has the same depth of flavor when compared to hybrid, genetically modified or industrially grown foods.  This page is dedicated to celebrating THE HEIRLOOM DIFFERENCE.  It only took a few generations for commercial growers to teach us that carrots are always orange, okra is always green, eggplants are always purple and tomatoes are always red, but gardeners who grow heirloom plants rejoice in the colorful, palate-pleasing choices available.  I encourage everyone to grow an heirloom plant from seed, harvest its ripe fruit and savor the delicious flavor.
I plan to add to this page in the future with notes about other heirloom plants, but for gardeners who are interested in tomatoes, I hope you find the following information to be helpful.  Rather than divide tomato varieties by type, such as Paste, Cherry or Slicing, I chose to separate them by color.   Keep in mind, my garden is located in Western North Carolina and some plants do not adapt as well to growing conditions in my area as others.  Consistently, the best producers are heirloom plants that grow from seeds saved, sometimes for generations, by gardeners who live and grow in the same geographic location.  For that reason, seeds gathered from distant lands and diverse climate conditions sometimes fail to perform very well.  Heirloom plants are “smart.”  If allowed to grow for several seasons in the same geographic area, these plants will adapt to various growing conditions and the resulting seed will grow stronger plants that produce higher yields. 

Happy Gardening!


A Grappoli D’Iverno

This tomato requires my tallest wire cages and the abundant yield of fruit is deep red.  Small rounded tomatoes have a little beak at the blossom end.  Perfect for drying, I usually keep my dehydrator loaded with slices of these tomatoes during harvest season.  Slightly tangy flavor sweetens when fruit is dried.  Seed catalog states this tomato is known as a “Winter Grape” because it stays fresh for a long period of time, but I have not found this variety to have an extended shelf life, compared to other cherry or grape types, although the skin is a bit thicker than others.


This compact plant has distinctive “bushy” leaves and is a perfect container plant.  Smooth, unblemished dark red skin covers fruit that matures when slightly larger than golf-ball size.  Similar in size, color and taste (true tomato, neither sweet nor tart) to Snow Fairy, this plant produces earlier than most.

Amish Paste

According to my seed catalog source, this tomato’s seeds come from an Amish community in Wisconsin.  Bright red fruit is larger than traditional Romas and is easy to skin and can whole.  Rich tomato flavor is delicious in sauces, soups and salsas.  Plants benefit from medium-sized cages and stakes help support vines when heavy fruit is developing.


I purchased seeds for this variety after reading that it produces well in hot, dry conditions.  Since 2013 was cool and wet in my area, it is no surprise I did not harvest a single ripe Atkinson.  With other varieties that produce well, I will not attempt to grow Atkinson in 2014.


A nice, large red slicing tomato, this variety has not been as resistant to blight as others at my farm, but the taste and texture are desirable.  Tall plants need to be caged for best results, but yield is not as high from Beefsteak as other types.


I grew this variety in 2011 and 2012, but was not impressed.  Touted as a dwarf plant that requires no staking and produces quickly, I ended up with vines that would have benefited from caging and the fruit was more susceptible to blight than other varieties.  Fruit is the size of a typical salad tomato and did not mature as quickly as promised.  The taste was palatable, but not outstanding; therefore, Bison will not be a tomato variety I grow in the future.

Burpee Long Keeper

I harvested my first BLKs in 2010, but I had mislabeled the plant as a “Lemon Oxheart.”  Since the ripe fruit’s skin was greenish yellow, I did not catch my mistake until the following year when I correctly labeled and produced fruit from both varieties.  Long Keepers earn their name and it is best to pick the fruit before it turns from the pale green color to more of an orange.  Tomatoes continue to ripen for a few weeks and the deep pink flesh is slightly drier than most tomatoes, but has an excellent flavor for eating fresh.  Skin remains unblemished and this variety is more resistant to blight than others I grow.  I often freeze these tomatoes whole in bags.  Slightly thawed, the skin slips off and the fruit makes a nice soup or sauce.  Tall plants should be staked and ripe fruit is typically a little larger than a baseball.

Chadwick Cherry

Chadwick Cherry is an excellent choice for backyard gardeners.  Tall plants benefit from cages and long vines produce an abundant crop of small red tomatoes.  Sweet fruit is pretty in salads and delicious popped into a mouth just after picking.

Cour di Bue

A pinkish red oxheart, this medium sized slicing tomato has a nice fresh taste, slightly sweet, and the plant benefits from staking or caging.  I love the heart shapes and the flesh is usually unblemished.


Although I did have a few plants that germinated well, Floradade did not survive the cool wet summer of 2013.  I noticed this tomato is not included in the 2014 seed catalog I used to purchase 2013 seeds.  I will not include Floradade in my 2014 tomato garden.

Fox Cherry

Fox Cherry and Chadwick Cherry are almost exactly alike in plant and fruit size and flavor.  Both produce well and have a sweet flavor.  Excellent in salads.


Of all the cherry tomatoes, this tiny one with a sharp beak at the blossom end, is the sweetest.  Aptly named, children and adults find these treats to be satisfying to a sweet tooth.  Very tall plants benefit with caging and the yield is impressive.  Although I have only grown Jujube tomatoes for two years, I can not imagine not including them in my tomato garden.


I first grew Koralik in 2013, a wet, cool summer that devastated most tomato varieties.  Koralik was a pleasant surprise and produced well, despite the rain.  Tiny red orbs ripened abundantly on medium tall vines and their tangy taste was delicious when eaten just after picking.  I hope my 2014 tomato harvest will include many Koraliks.

Mountain Princess

My seed source states this variety is from West Virginia mountains and is an early, heavy producer.  At my farm, MP has neither produced earlier or more abundantly than other varieties and the fruit is a medium sized slicing tomato that has fresh flavor, but is not outstanding in either taste or texture.  Since other types are more productive, more resistant to blight and more flavorful, MP is not a tomato I will continue to plant.

North Dakota Earliana

Touted as a large salad tomato that is productive in cool, wet weather or hot, dry conditions, this plant should have been one of my best in 2012, when the summer growing season was hot and dry, or in 2013, the “summer that never was” in my area, when most days were cool and wet.  Since neither proved to be the case and this plant did not thrive or produce well, NDE is not a tomato I will likely grow in future gardens..

Pa Bruce’s Tommy Toes

In 2010, my father, Bruce, shared plants he started from seeds, hence the name.  Strong plants produced hundreds of tiny red cherry tomatoes, which we called “Tommy Toes” when I was a child.  Delicious sweet taste.

Pantano Romanesco

Although my seed catalog sells this plant as a red Roman heirloom tomato, its fruit is a deep pink color.  PR has been in my garden since 2009 and produced well, even in 2013, when most plants were affected with blight and failed to thrive in the wet, cool summer.  Large fruit is perfect for slicing, the texture is juicy and the flavor is rich.  PR will definitely have a place of honor at my farm in the future.  Tall plants are vigorous and need to be caged.

Principe Borghese

Very tall plants benefit from large cages and always outgrow my tallest (8 ft) ones.  The fruit is bright red and looks like a miniature Roma.  Prolific clusters are slightly tangy, but the flavor sweetens when the fruit is dried.  Have buckets and baskets ready when this determinate fruit ripens.

Red Grape

Even though Red Grape is not the prolific producer that Koralik is, the fruit has a sweet flavor and desirable shape.  Plants are very tall and need strong cages.  Red Grape will be included in my 2014 tomato garden.

Red Pear

Although its fruit is exactly the same shape and size as its cousin, Yellow Pear, Red Pear is more susceptible to blight and does not produce as well as YP at my farm.  I love to combine RB with YP and Ivory Pear, but am seldom able to harvest many Red Pears that are unblemished.  The taste is slightly tangy and the plants are very tall and benefit from strong cages.  Despite its shortcomings, I will plan to grow one or two Red Pears in 2014.


I have grown this tomato since 2011 and it is an edible conversation piece.  Small clusters of red cherry tomatoes are conjoined into a large fruit.  Individual pieces easily pull apart from the whole and the flavor is tangy and sour.  My seed catalog source states this tomato originated in Central America and is known as the “Traveler Tomato” because native people would carry it on journeys since it requires no knife to separate its components.  Children love this novelty plant. I purchased seeds from the same company in 2013, but the plants that grew were very different from my earlier hardy tall ones and the fruit was a small yellow variety, not at all what was described.  Fortunately, this tomato also reseeded and a “volunteer” plant grew in my 2013 garden, so we could enjoy the “Traveler Tomato” and save seeds.


Romas are plants that benefit from staking or short cages and produce an abundant amount of fruit.  Excellent for canning, the red fruit makes delicious sauces, soups and salsas.  These tomatoes are not as large as Amish Paste, Striped Roman or Japanese Plums, but produce an extraordinary yield and are slightly more blight resistant that the other paste varieties.


Although Rutgers is a common heirloom tomato in my local gardens, this plant has not produced very well for me.  Tall plants seem to be more susceptible to blight and while the red slicing tomato has good flavor, I find other large red slicing varieties are easier to grow and produce more yield.  Rutgers will not be included in my 2014 garden.

San Marzano

After purchasing these canned tomatoes at the supermarket, I was impressed with the taste and texture and, noticing the more expensive cost, I decided to grow my own.  I purchased seed from a catalog source and grew a few plants in 2012 that produced adequate yield.  A thin-skinned, elongated paste variety, San Marzano tomatoes have a short shelf life, but are excellent for canning or drying.  Medium in height, the plants benefit from short cages or stakes.  2013 was disastrous for San Marzano at my farm, due to a cool wet growing season, but I plan to try them again for 2014.

Snow Fairy

I purchased Snow Fairy seed for the first time in 2013 and was disappointed to note it was almost exactly the same plant as Al Kuffa.  Not only did the plants look alike, but the fruit was identical in size and flavor.  Either Snow Fairy or Al Kuffa may grow in my 2014 tomato garden, but not both.

Sub Arctic Plenty

I purchased seeds for Sub Arctic Plenty from a catalog source after reading that this plant produces very early tomatoes in cool weather conditions.  Although the plant did grow, despite a rainy 2013, it failed to produce fruit any earlier than other types and without outstanding taste or yield, I will not grow SAP for 2014.


Emerald Evergreen

A nice, large slicing tomato, but other than a slightly lighter skin, this tomato is almost identical to Green Velvet.  Since GV produces much better than this type, I will no longer make space for Emerald Evergreen in my tomato garden.

Green Doctors

Lime green cherry tomatoes that are juicy and beautiful additions to dishes that use a variety of colorful tomatoes, Green Doctors will definitely have a place of honor in my tomato gardens.  Medium sized plants benefit from caging and produce an abundant yield.  When other cherry varieties suffered during wet cool growing conditions of 2013, GD was a consistent producer.

Green Grape

One of the few heirloom tomato varieties that disappointed me in almost every aspect.  Blightly plants produced few cherry tomatoes and when ripe, the taste was an unpleasant sour, almost bitter flavor.  After ripening much later than other cherry tomatoes, Green Grape ceased blooming long before frost.  Not a variety I will plant again.

Green Velvet

2013 was a difficult growing season for tomatoes in my area.  Cool, wet conditions brought blight, low yield and plants that failed to thrive.  Green Velvet was one of the few large slicing tomatoes that produced good yield, unblemished skin and delicious flavor.  With a dark green skin, the brilliant bright green flesh is juicy and perfect for sandwiches or fresh slices.  Tall plants benefit from cages and fruit can be heavy.

Green Zebra

Although Green Zebra plants can be susceptible to blight and sometimes have low yield, I will always include them in my tomato garden.  The flavor, with its high salt content, is delicious.  For individuals who wish to limit salt intake, fresh Green Zebras satisfy salt cravings without added sodium.  I suggest tasting GZ before adding any salt.  Plants benefit from staking or caging and produce ripe fruit that is about baseball size and bright green with stripes.  Overripe fruit will turn yellow, so be sure to pick as soon as yellowing begins.  Note: GZ is not ideal for canning, drying or freezing.  I add this variety to soups or sauces, along with other tomatoes, but GZ is best to savor when fresh.

Green Sausage

Since the white paste tomato, Cream Sausage, is one of my favorites, I was excited to try this “green” cousin, but the plant and the fruit were disappointing additions to my tomato garden.  The plants showed early signs of blight and the skin of the fruit was blemished as soon as it began to produce.  The few ripe fruits I harvested did not have a desirable flavor and were very dry.  I will no longer grow GS.

Green Pineapple

In 2012, one Green Pineapple tomato plant was a great producer at my farm.  Although I have planted several others, that year and others, only one successful plant makes this variety a doubtful one for my future plantings.  Tall plants require strong cages and the fruit is large and heavy.  Unblemished green skin and yellow, sweet flesh made this a beautiful tomato, but because it has not been a consistent success, I will not grow GP in 2014.


This heirloom is almost identical to Green Velvet in taste, texture and size.  Since Green Velvet produced better than Kiwi in adverse 2013 growing conditions, I will choose to grow GV over Kiwi.



I ordered this tomato from a seed catalog source when I read it produced orange salad-sized fruit that would store for months.  Giraffe plants grew at my farm in 2011, 2012, and 2013, but never produced very well, suffered from blight and yielded red fruit that did not keep any longer than other salad varieties.  I will no longer attempt to grow Giraffe at my farm.

Golden Sunray

I first attempted to grow Golden Sunray in 2013 and the summer growing conditions were poor for tomatoes.  Since Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge tomatoes are almost the same size as these and they produced well in adverse conditions, I will choose them over GS.

Mini Orange

The size of a large salad tomato, Mini Orange has a beautiful bright orange color and smooth, slightly thick, skin, which makes it a great choice for canning.  Glass quart jars of these whole orbs are beautiful on the pantry shelf and maintain their bright color.  Delicious, with a sweet flavor, Mini Orange is one of the few good producers for 2013, a cool, wet growing season at my farm.  Medium in height, short cages or stakes help hold the abundantly productive vines.  I look forward to harvesting Mini Orange in 2014.

Orange Banana

This paste style tomato is another example of how heirloom tomatoes can have different names, but be very similar to other plants.  Orange Icicle is almost identical to OB in every aspect.  Since Orange Icicle was a good producer in 2013’s wet, cool growing conditions, I will choose to grow OI over OB.

Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge

For beauty, consistent production, resistance to blight and delicious flavor, Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge tomatoes will always have a place of honor in my garden.  Plants benefit from caging or staking and produce bright orange fruit that tends to develop more purple “smudging” on its shoulders as the season progresses.  One of the earliest tomatoes to ripen, OFPS is also one of the latest tomatoes, often producing until frost.  Equally delicious eaten fresh as a slicing tomato or added to soups or sauces, this tomato is one of my favorites.

Orange Icicle

One of the few good producers during 2013, a wet, cool summer, Orange Icicle is a tomato I will invite to grow at my farm for 2014.  Not as hardy as Pink Icicle, but this plant is medium tall and benefits from caging or staking.  Excellent when canned or cooked in sauces or soups, Orange Icicle is less susceptible to blight than other icicles.


My son bought Sungold plants from an heirloom tomato grower in the D.C. area in 2011 and these tiny, bright yellow/orange, delicious cherry tomatoes were an instant favorite of my family.  Very tall plants benefit from caging and the productive yield is incredible.



Amerikanskiy Sladkiy

2013 was a dismal tomato growing season in my area and not a single AS plant I started from seed lived to maturity.  Even though this variety may prove to be productive for 2014, there are too many other enticing plants I would like to grow, therefore, I do not plan to start AS seeds.



Although this variety is a popular heirloom to grow in my area and I love the large, broad leaves, Brandywine has failed to produce a successful crop for me and it is a tomato that I will not attempt to cultivate in 2014.  Note: For two seasons, I purchased several plants from a local grower and did not start Brandywine seeds.


I love this slightly-larger-than-cherry sized tomato, but am not sure if the seed packet I purchased was labeled correctly.  According to the source, the fruit is supposed to have a thick skin and “blood red flesh,” but my plants produce an abundant amount of light to dark pink fleshed fruit and the skin is not notably thicker than other small varieties.  Strong vines benefit from staking and/or caging with medium sized cages.  Regardless of its “real” name, I love this tomato.


Ferris Wheel

I love to see slices of this juicy fruit and the pinwheel pattern makes it easy to see where this tomato got its name.  The medium sized plant benefits from staking or caging and is more difficult to grow than Pantano Romanesco, but the fruit is comparable in size, taste and color.

German Johnson

Although other tomato growers in my area love this tomato, it has not been a successful crop for my garden.  Susceptible to blight, the plants are not as hardy as Pantano Romanesco and since there is no discernible difference in fruit taste, I will focus on PR, rather than attempting future plantings of GJ.

Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa

After three unsuccessful seasons for Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa at my farm, I will not attempt to grow this variety for 2014.  Blighty, with a low yield, HPP is a poor comparison to Pantano Romanesco at my farm.

Japanese Plum

Strong vines grow medium tall plants that benefit from caging or staking.  Ripe fruit is heavy, meaty and juicy and this paste tomato is excellent for canning or freezing.  Delicious in sauces, soups or salsas, the color is deep pink and, unlike other paste tomatoes, Japanese Plum is excellent for eating freshly sliced.  Large enough for sandwiches, JP has a good yield, not as impressive as Romas, but I plan to include this tomato at my farm for 2014.


A large slicing tomato that has a smooth skin, Millionaire produced abundantly during 2013, even with wet cool summer weather.  A rich pink color adds visual interest to a platter of tomato slices that include other large varieties and Millionaire has a pleasant sweet taste, meaty and juicy flesh.  I look forward to growing Millionaire in 2014.

Mortgage Lifter

I love the story behind this heirloom tomato.  M.C. Byles, known as “Radiator Charlie,” with no plant breeding experience or training, developed this tomato variety in the 1930s and sold plants for $1 each.  Plant sales generated enough income to pay off his $6000 mortgage in 6 years.  Despite my love of the story behind Mortgage Lifter, the fruit is more ribbed than Millionaire or Pantano Romanesco and is more likely to crack when ripe; therefore, I will not include Mortgage Lifter in my 2014 tomato garden.

Pearly Pink

Although the ripe fruit of Pearly Pink is almost identical to Egg, I will grow plants from each because they are prolific producers and the tomatoes are equally delicious and pretty.  Pearly Pink produced well in 2012 and in 2013, despite the cool wet season and the sweet taste made this salad size tomato a delicious ingredient in salads and other dishes.

Pink Icicle

Pink Icicle won a spot in my heart and my tomato garden when this plant produced a good yield in 2013, despite unfavorable growing conditions.  A medium sized plant that benefits from caging or staking, PI produces light to dark pink fruit that is juicier than other icicle varieties.  Excellent for canning or drying, Pink Icicle will be a welcome addition to the 2014 Heart & Sole Gardens tomato patch.

Pink Oxheart

Since there is no discernible difference in plants, yield, color, taste or texture between this variety and Cour di Bue, it is not necessary to grow both types.

Pink Vermissage

I purchased seeds for this variety, along with other colors of the same type, for my 2013 garden.  Low germination rate and the few plants that made it to the farm failed to thrive or produce a single tomato on any of the Vermissage varieties; therefore, I will not include any of the Vermissage tomatoes in my 2014 garden.


Black Cherry

This tall plant produces an abundance of dark fruit.  Although 2013’s crop showed signs of blight, it was a difficult growing season and I will continue to grow Black Cherry tomatoes.  The fruit does not have outstanding flavor, but the appearance is reason enough to grow BC.  Cherry tomatoes look like miniature Cherokee Purples and are perfect to pair with the larger fruit for interesting visual appeal.

Black Icicle

Not as hardy as either Orange or Pink Icicle, BI proved to be more susceptible to blight and did not produce well in either 2012 or 2013.  The ripe fruit has a beautiful dark color, but Black Plum is a superior, yet similar, tomato, so it will be my choice for 2014, rather than BI.

Black Mauri

Black Mauri has quickly become a favorite tomato in my family.  Somewhat resistant to blight, medium sized plants benefit from caging or staking and produce an abundant yield of small paste tomatoes that have a rich flavor and excellent texture for drying or canning.  Although I have only grown Black Mauri for three seasons, this plant will definitely have a place in my tomato garden for many years.

Black Plum

I first attempted to grow Black Plum tomatoes in 2013, but with a long, cool, wet growing season, this variety did not thrive.  I did harvest a few ripe fruit that escaped blight and found the taste to be sweet, the color dark, the skin smooth and the flesh meaty and juicy.  For 2014, I will include Black Plum in my tomato garden.

Black Prince

I ordered Black Prince seeds the same year I purchased the cherry tomato, Snow White.  In 2012, Black Prince produced an abundant crop of baseball sized dark purple fruit that was delicious and juicy.  2013 was not a successful year for BP, but weather conditions were unusual.

Black from Tula

After Black from Tula proved to be a difficult tomato to grow in 2010 and 2011, I no longer start seeds for this variety.

Black Krim

Along with Sungold cherry tomatoes, my son purchased Black Krim plants from a Washington, DC, area grower.  Although the fruit was visually appealing, with a dark color, it was not a favorite of our family for taste or texture.  The plants were slightly blighty and did not yield as productively as other black varieties.  I will not plant Black Krim at Heart & Sole Gardens in 2014.


Although Carbon has not been one of the more successful producers at Heart & Sole Gardens, I love the beautiful, deep purple color and the taste and texture of this fruit is incredible, so I will plan to include Carbon in the 2014 tomato garden.

Cherokee Purple

Almost everyone who knows anything about heirloom tomatoes recognizes a Cherokee Purple and I have met a few people who think CP is the ONLY heirloom tomato variety.  Medium-tall plants benefit from caging or staking and produce a good yield of dark purple fruit that is perfect for slicing.  I also grow Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans and those, combined with these tomatoes, make a delicious soup.

Indigo Rose

I purchased Indigo Rose salad tomatoes from a farmer’s market vendor in 2013 and saved seeds.  Excellent germination for 2014 and I hope these plants produce an abundant crop of dark purple fruit with rich flavor.

Purple Russian

Although I have harvest a few Purple Russian tomatoes, this plant proves to be more susceptible to blight than most and the flavor is just not outstanding enough to continue to devote garden space to a variety that is not one of my best producers; therefore, I will not plant PR at my farm in 2014.  A similar variety that is much easier to grow is Black Mauri.

Tsungshigo Chinese

This dark purple cherry tomato variety was not a success for my 2013 garden and I will grow Black Cherrys for 2014, which are consistently good producers at my farm.

Tutt’s Purple

A friend shared these seeds with me a few years ago and I stored them in my freezer.  2013 was not a good growing year for tomatoes in my area, but I did start a few of Tutt’s Purple plants and was impressed with the germination rate.  After incessant rain, Tutt’s Purple developed blight and most of the fruit rotted on the vine.  Although I only harvested a few ripe tomatoes, I will give Tutt’s Purple another try for 2014.

Violet Jasper

Violet Jasper did not have a successful growing year in 2013 at my farm, but it was a long, cool, wet summer.  In previous years, this tomato has been a prolific producer of salad sized fruit.  With dark green skin and lovely rose colored stripes, VJ is visually appealing and the taste and texture are delightful.  Medium tall plants benefit from staking or caging and I hope for an abundant crop of VJ for 2014.


Ananas Noire

An inconsistent producer for our farm, Ananas Noire is almost identical to Green Pineapple in color, taste, texture and yield.  Plants benefit from staking or caging and withstand blight better in some years than others.  Since AN produced better than other varieties in 2013, a difficult growing year, I plan to make space in the 2014 garden.

Big Zebra

Larger than Green Zebra fruit, Big Zebra does not have the flavor of its cousin.  After attempting to grow Big Zebra for two years, I noted the plant is more susceptible than others to blight and the yield is low; therefore, I will not include Big Zebra in my 2014 garden.

Chocolate Stripes

With a dark purple skin and deep green stripes, this tomato is one of the most beautiful large slicing ones I have ever grown.  The taste is rich and reminiscent of Cherokee Purple and the plant is about the same size as CP, medium tall.  Ripe fruit are large and heavy and the smooth skin seldom cracks.  I look forward to harvesting CS in 2014.

Casady’s Folly

Casady’s Folly is very similar to Striped Roman and since there is little discernible difference in taste, texture or plant, it is not necessary to grow both varieties.  A tiny “beak” at the blossom end of Casady’s Folly is not always present in Striped Roman, but both varieties bear a phallic-shaped fruit that can inspire conversation among dinner guests.

Csikos Botermo

In 2009, Csikos Botermo was the first heirloom tomato variety to ripen at my farm.  I fell in love with the “first love” apple, but subsequent growing seasons have forced me to face the fact that this tomato variety does not produce a desirable fruit.  Too thick-skinned to be a nice slicing tomato, CB bears a large salad sized that is seedy, neither sweet nor tangy, and tends to have blemished skin.  CB does not dry well, is not good for canning or freezing and yields little juice for its size.  In short, Csikos Botermo, like other “first loves,” is one that is better to avoid in the future.

Hillbilly or Flame

I grow this tomato because when I told a friend about it, she mistakenly thought I said it was a “Flaming Hillbilly.”  Although I will make space for a plant or two in 2014, this variety is almost identical to Green Pineapple and Ananas Noire, so it is not necessary to grow more than one of those types.

Isis Candy

These red-to-orange cherry tomatoes have a beautiful star shape on the blossom end and remind me of a marble I owned as a child.  Thin skins mean they have a brief shelf life and are easily bruised, but combined with other cherry tomatoes, they are a stunning addition to salads.  Tall plants benefit from cages.  I hope 2014 proves to be a productive year for Isis Candy at Heart & Sole Gardens.

Orange & Green Zebra

Neither especially outstanding in taste or texture, this tomato is susceptible to blight and the skin is almost always blemished.  Slightly larger than a salad tomato, the medium tall vines produce abundantly, but ripe fruit seldom lasts longer than a day or so and yields very little useable product.  Orange and Green Zebra will not grow at my farm in 2014.


This tomato, although it is more yellow-skinned than Green Pineapple, is almost identical in every other aspect to GP.  Also, Hillbilly or Flame and Ananas Noire are varieties that are too close to note much difference; therefore, it is not necessary to grow more than one of these varieties.

Ralph’s Huge Tomato

In 2010, a friend shared seeds for his family’s heirloom tomato and I was impressed with the strong plants and huge, red striped fruit.  Delicious taste.

Red Zebra

I ordered seed for this tomato variety after I read in the catalog that it is supposed to be a red version of Green Zebra.  After growing Red Zebra for two years, it will no longer be a welcome plant at my farm.  Nothing like the smooth skinned, salty flavored GZ, this tomato is often blemished and the flavor is slightly sweet, but is not especially palate-pleasing.

Striped Roman

For an edible conversation starter, it is hard to beat Striped Roman.  Long, paste tomatoes are deep red, but have wavy yellow stripes that run vertically along the fruit.  Excellent for canning, drying or eating fresh, SR are sweet and meaty.  Medium tall plants benefit from caging or staking and produce a good yield.


Cream Sausage

If I had to choose only one tomato variety to grow, I am afraid it would be impossible to make that choice, but Cream Sausage would certainly be near the top of my list.  At first glance, it is not an impressive plant; short enough to grow without cages or stakes, the plant is milky green in color and often appears to be wilted.  A prolific producer of creamy paste tomatoes, Cream Sausage plants are a favorite of tomato worms and growers should keep a sharp eye out for those pests since they can devastate a plant within hours.  Ripe fruit is dry, slightly mealy and does not have an outstanding fresh taste and flavor does not improve when dried or frozen.  What makes this tomato special is adding heat; cooked or canned Cream Sausage tomatoes are out-of-this-world delicious.  Blind taste-tested, compared to Amish Paste and Japanese Plum varieties, Cream Sausage soups and sauces are superior.  I first grew Cream Sausage in 2009 and each year, I increase the number of plants in my tomato garden.

Great White

Aptly named, Great White tomato plants are very tall and require strong cages.  Ripe fruit can often weigh two pounds and windy conditions can send these plants to the ground, so I usually stake and cage this variety.  Unlike Cream Sausage tomatoes that require cooking to release a delicious flavor, Great Whites are excellent for eating fresh.  One slice can easily dwarf most sandwiches and the meaty, juicy flesh is creamy white, lemony yellow and has rose-colored streaks in the center.  The slightly garlicky flavor is unusual and when I serve a platter of colorful sliced tomatoes, Great White is always the favorite.  With a smooth skin that rarely blemishes, Great White is not as susceptible to blight as other large slicing varieties and will always be a welcome addition to my tomato garden.  Note: Excessive rain can cause cracks in Great White fruit.

Ivory Pear

Unlike other white cherry tomatoes, Ivory Pear has a rich sweet flavor.  A bit larger than either Red or Yellow Pear, Ivory Pear’s shorter neck makes its shape slightly different from other pear tomatoes.  An excellent tomato for sauces and soups, Ivory Pear is also a delicious salad ingredient.  Tall plants benefit from caging, though Ivory Pear is not as tall as other cherry tomato plants.  I will include space at Heart & Sole Gardens for Ivory Pear in 2014.

Peach Tomato

My son purchased Peach Tomato plants from a grower in the D.C. area and brought them to my 2011 garden.  Small creamy fruit had a somewhat fuzzy skin, hence the Peach name.  Seedy and mealy, with a short shelf life, this was not a favorite tomato and I did not save seeds for future plantings.  Note: See “Transparent” for the rest of the story!


Tall vines make Snowberry a good plant to cage and the prolific yield is impressive.  Creamy white-to-yellow fruit is neither sweet nor tangy, but this tomato adds visual appeal when added to other colorful cherry tomato dishes.  Pair with Black Cherry tomatoes for interesting eye candy, but add other tomatoes for flavor.

Snow White

Snow White and Snowberry are impossible to distinguish from each other.  Both have tall plants, abundant yield, the fruit is identical in taste, texture and color and neither has exceptional flavor.  Not necessary to grow both.


With many successful and delicious white tomatoes growing in my garden, in 2012, I purchased seeds for Transparent after reading that this tomato boasted high yield and sweet taste.  To my surprise, Transparent was exactly the same plant/fruit as the Peach Tomato my son purchased for my 2011 garden.  Needless to say, neither Peach nor Transparent will grow in my 2014 garden and I hope none of the “new” varieties I grow prove to be this same tomato with a different name!

White Oxheart

Although White Oxheart plants tend to be more susceptible to blight than other slicing tomatoes, I grow them because I love the shape and because they, like other white tomatoes, have a delicious flavor.  Medium tall in height, WO benefits from staking or caging.  Good yield, but not abundant.

White Zebra

White Zebra does not have the impressive flavor of other white slicing tomatoes and the plant is more susceptible to blight than others.  Yield is not abundant and even though the tomato has green stripes on its pale flesh, it is not an exceptionally pretty tomato.  For these reasons, I no longer plan to grow White Zebra.


Big Yellow Zebra

When I purchased seeds for this tomato variety in 2011, I hoped it would prove to be the same as a yellow tomato my grandmother used to grow.  With low yield and nothing of the flavor I remembered from childhood, I decided BYZ would not be included in future plantings.

Dr. Carolyn

These pale yellow cherry tomatoes are sweet and their smooth skins make a pretty presentation in a salad or combined with other colorful small tomatoes in a pie.  2012 was a very productive year for these medium tall plants at Heart & Sole Gardens, but they failed to thrive in 2013’s wet cool growing season.  I hope 2014 proves to be a better year for Dr. Carolyn, named for Dr. Carolyn Male, seed saver and author.

Egg Yolk

Medium tall plants benefit from staking or short cages and bear bright yellow fruit that is smooth-skinned and about the same size as a chicken egg yolk, hence the name.  With a thinner skin than other cherry or salad tomatoes, Egg Yolk bruises easily and has a short shelf life, but the flavor is sweet and the color is a bright addition to salads and other dishes where whole tomatoes are used.

Hssiao His Hung Shih

I am not sure why, in 2012, I chose to purchase seeds for this small yellow tomato with the unusual name, but I am glad I did.  Hssiao His Hung Shih seeds, collected from a Chinese market in 1931, were transported to the US and stored with the USDA.  Tall plants benefit from cages and bear an abundant crop of bright yellow, smooth-skinned fruit that is slightly elongated and looks like a miniature Roma.  The taste is sweet, yet slightly tangy and delicious in salads or tomato pies.  HHHS definitely will have a spot in my 2014 tomato garden.

Lemon Oxheart

Very tall plants require strong cages.  Fruit is bright yellow and during rainy seasons, can tend to crack.  Delicious fresh taste, this large fruit is easy to can or freeze.

Morning Sun

Fruit from Morning Sun is identical to Egg Yolk, so it is unnecessary to grow both varieties.

Plum Lemon

Although Plum Lemon is a beautiful, smooth-skinned fruit that is the size and shape of a lemon, the flesh is a bit dry.  Visually stunning, Plum Lemon is best eaten fresh, in combination with other colorful tomatoes, as it does not dry, freeze or can well.

Roman Candle

One of the more difficult tomatoes I have tried to grow, Roman Candle is a yellow version of Striped Roman, but is not as meaty and tends to develop more skin blemishes than SR.  After a low germination rate, seedlings do transplant as easily as other varieties and frequently wither and die after transplanting.  Plants are more susceptible to blight that most and tend to attract tomato worms.  Even with its disadvantages, RC fruit makes a beautiful presentation.

Yellow Icicle

Although I have attempted to grow several icicle varieties, Pink Icicle is the only type I find to be worth my time and effort to grow.  Yellow Icicle has not thrived nor produced well enough for me to include this type in my 2014 garden.

Yellow Pear

Yellow Pear is one of the hardiest heirloom varieties I have grown.  Very tall plants require stakes, cages or both and produce an impressive amount of fruit.  When blight develops, fruit darkens on the blossom end, but even with a severe blight, there are often a few “pears” that escape and remain unblemished.  With its sweet flavor and interesting shape, Yellow Pear is popular with children and the bright yellow color makes it a colorful addition to cherry tomato dishes.

Yellow Vermissage

Seeds for this plant had low germination and the few plants I placed in my 2013 garden failed to thrive or produce.  I will not include YV in my 2014 tomato garden.

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