Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our Favourite Tomatoes

Over the years we have grown a large variety of tomatoes, more recently sticking with heirloom or organic types. We don't want to grow or eat anything that has been genetically modified.

Although we have tried all shapes, sizes and colors, we prefer the normal, round, red tomatoes. Of all the tomatoes that we have tried, our favorite tomato is grown from seed that I got in a trade years ago, from a fellow gardener who's ancestors brought the seed from Porgugal. We just call them our "Portugal" tomatoes. We never did know the actual variety, if there is one. These may have been handed down through the family for generations. We just don't know.

I have had them too long for them to be GM seeds and I know they are not hybrids, as they breed true year after year.

These tomatoes are MASSIVE! Some as big as my hand. They are meaty, sweet and a great size for sandwiches. One slice is all you need!

These are a large beef heart style tomato, which is hard to find. There are a few more out there but I don't know how they compare to mine.

We love this tomato and nearly lost it last year! The tomatoes did so poorly and had so much blossom end rot, I feared that we would not get any ripe enough for seed. Fortunately, I did have some seed saved from the year before. (The smart gardener never plants all the seed.) I also managed to salvage a few of the ripe "Portugal" tomatoes and collected the seed from those, but not a lot. I do have some, now, on my seed site for sale. This year we will do better :-)

Another favorite tomato is the 'San Marzano'. It's our only paste tomato and is touted to be the best in the world. It's from Italy. We grow these every year and they do make great sauce!

They have a thick wall and very little water, which is why they make such good paste.

We also grow: Matt's Wild Cherry, 'Ailsa Craig' and the 'Manitoba' tomato, recently developed to grow big in the short Manitoba prairie season. It is not a GM seed nor a hybrid, so I am growing it for a few years on a trial basis.

I have just today put the seed for our 'Portugal' tomatoes for sale on my seed site, after determining that I do have a few left that I can spare, but not a lot. So many people have asked for it. I felt like I had let folks down by not selling any of this rare seed. Fortunately, there are now some available, after doing some germination tests. I would like to spread it around so that it does not get lost in a bad year. Anything can happen and I would hate to lose this one completely from our heirloom seed pool! Save those heirloom seeds!

The 'San Marzano' seed has always been there, as they did well enough last year for me to collect some seed. Not well enough, unfortunatley, for me to make tomato sauce or paste. I do not have the other three seed for sale due to such poor conditions last year. I am planting only these five this year and hope to have some seeds for sale this fall.

Let's hope for a great tomato growing season this year!

Nothing beats a juicy, ripe tomato fresh from the garden!


Lauren said...

Hi Sheryl, The portugal tomatoe seeds are doing great!! every single one has sprouted :) Im so excited for these babies!! Im experimenting a little with them, some in the garden and some in self watering containers. We will see which does best :)

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Hi Lauren! I'm so glad they are working out! They are really great tomatoes! They grow VERY fast and the plants get huge quickly!

Lauren said...

How do you recommend supporting them?

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

See today's post :-)
and thank you for the post idea!

Martin said...

Will the "Portugal" tomato seeds be available again?


Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Hi Martin!
Yes they will, but not until we get our first ripe Portugal tomato this year. Probably late summer.

I have sold all the spare seed for that tomato that I had. We had such a poor tomato crop last year!

I have a waiting list for the 'Portugal' tomatoes. If you like, I can put your name and email address on it. You will be notified as soon as we have them for sale this year.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Lauren, you will still get huge tomatoes. These need the suckers picked off and the top cut back but they don't need the leaf pruning as much.

Suckers are the little growing tips that spring up at the leaf nodes. If you don't pick a sucker off it will grow another entire stalk from the side. Most tomatoes are this way, but especially indeterminate ones. Some grow suckers more than others.

I enjoy a slow, relaxing walk around the garden in the evening anyway. This is a good time to do little maintenance jobs like that. I like mothering the growing things :-)

Martin said...

Yes! Please put me on the list!



Bethany said...

gosh, you have my mouth watering. I love the story of the portugal tomato. I was holing my breath when you were describing almost losing them. Glad they are safe. They look amazing.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...


You need to send me an email. I need your email address :-)

Just go to my "About" page in the left column and send me an email from there, please.