Jane Black of Wa-po gives a run-down of her disappointing experience with heirloom tomatoes.
I have eaten terrific heirloom varieties; indeed, I'm quite partial to the Black Prince, which hails from Siberia, a place one doesn't normally associate with tomatoes. But a week ago, I paid $4.99 a pound for a locally grown heirloom that was slightly mealy, tasted overwhelmingly bland and paled in comparison with a perfectly round, perfectly red commercial hybrid, dubbed Early Girl, that I ate last year and am still dreaming about at the height of this year's tomato season.
Call me persnickety, but someone needs to take a stand here: "Heirloom" is not synonymous with "good."
I remember local organic farmers saying that they discovered that one of the reason many "heirloom" varieties have been left behind by the food system is that they aren't very good to eat. I had a similar experience last year when I planted half my tomatoes as heirlooms. The yields and quality was dissappointing for the most part. There was one that was passed down the family line of my neighbor that was very good.
Basic rule of thumb - don't get the generic pack of heirloom tomato seeds. You'll likely be disappointed. Pick and choose. I think I've got a black Siberian variety in the garden this year. Look forward to seeing how it does.
My top tomato choices are 1. Sun Gold Cherry, 2. Yellow Boy, 3. Roma
In other random garden news, we harvested 14lbs of green beans yesterday and my genetic freak giant pumpkins are splitting open for some reason. So much for the $12 pumpkin seed.