Tomatoes Are Like Your Radio – Independent Heirloom Tomato List

While today is rainy and chill, but there is no doubt that the planting season is in full swing. I have planted the celery, cabbage, swiss chard and cauliflower. The peas were planted too, but as they took their sweet time rising from their beds, I think they will need to be pulled and composted. Such is the life of a vegetable, mulched for laziness.

But the peas need to be pulled so that I can make room for the American Idols of my vegetable garden, the tomato. Sorry folks, no phone in on who gets voted in or out but I will share the likely candidates for Hanna’s Tomato Tastings 2008. Drumroll please…

Among the nameless seedlings that I grew myself:

  • Marmande
  • Japanese Black Trifele
  • Cosmonaut Volkov
  • Homesweet
  • Hillbilly
  • Kimberly
  • Winsall
  • Green Moldovan
  • Celebrity
  • Wayahead
  • Russian 117
  • Manitoba

Hopefully, I can match the tomatoes back to the name when they grow.

I also purchased a few more from my very favorite tomato seller, Alainia (aka TomatoGirl) of Those tomatoes are:

  • Bear Claw
  • Believe-It-Or-Not
  • German Red Strawberry
  • Heinz 1439
  • Omar’s Lebanese
  • Chocolate Stripes
  • Blue
  • Noir de Crimee

All together, I will be growing 20 different tomatoes, which is a few less than last year but still a lovely number of new flavors to look forward to.

I bet you now have tomato envy. I bet you are looking down at your Better Boys and Beefmasters and wondering if there is a world beyond the Britney Spears of pop tomatoes. Disappointed because it is just too late to start tomato seeds now and your local nursery sucks like ClearChannel sucks. Well, I am here to tell you that there is and there is no reason why YOU can’t experience it. But first a segue…

Last year, I sent Alainia a packet full of the Clementine seeds from the plant I grew last year. She grew them this year, so that she could add it to her list of tomatoes she sells next year. But, she has some extras. Return to main point…

If you order some heirloom tomatoes from her, and tell her you are one of my readers, she will include a free Clementine tomato plant with your order. I am giving this recommendation without receiving anything in return. I am only making it because she is an awesome (very affordable) heirloom tomato seller and I do think that you have not had a tomato unless you have tried an off the wall heirloom tomato.

Tomatoes from the garden are not just food, the are something that should be experienced. Whether you buy from Alainia or find your own source, I urge you to try growing something a little different this year. No matter the outcome, your life and tastebuds will be a little richer for it.

29 thoughts on “Tomatoes Are Like Your Radio – Independent Heirloom Tomato List
  1. Yeah, I kind of shuffled my tomatoes around one day, and lo and behold, I have a number of mystery sprouts. I kind of like it; just think what I can rediscover!


  2. If I had the room, I’d try all of them. I’ve had great success growing beginner heirlooms like Brandywine and Black Krim along with my … ahem… hybrids.

    And growing tomatoes with names like Bear Claw and Cosmonaut Volkov sounds like fun to me. Hey kids, tonight we’re having B.L.C.V.’s for dinner (Bacon Lettuce & Cosmonaut Volkov).


  3. kate the kid on

    I got a heirloom tomato from the local guy…I hope it is an heirloom…if they are good, do you want seeds? I have no idea what they are…will let you know.



  4. kate the kid on

    oh, I live in eastern NC now, but I grew-up in Columbus, OH. Please don’t hold it against me (either one) (smile)



  5. I transplanted 20 brandywine tomato sprouts a week ago, and today, it looks like most of them are doing fine.

    Why are brandywine tomatoes “beginner” heirlooms? Sounds like indy-rock snobbery applied to the gardening world.


  6. Diana on

    Oh, the scent of a real tomato on a hot summer’s day. Lucky you.


  7. Wishing you a grest tomato crop. My first attempt has turned into a disaster as here in Dubai, tomatoes are winter crops. So am waiting till next winter for a fresh attempt.


  8. Aviva J. on

    Hi there! Stumbled onto your blog and just love it! I’m a brand-new gardener (as in I’m just beginning to research vegetable gardening), and am thrilled to see the subculture of gardening blogs out in the blogosphere. I live in Cleveland, too, so it’s even more neat to see your blog. Good luck on your tomato planting!

    As for me, I’m wondering when we will ever see sunshine! Feel free to correspond. All the best ….


  9. Erin on

    Mmmhhhhh…. green zebra heirloom tomatoes. I can’t wait until Farmers Market season.


  10. Gosh, I misread your title. I read it as “…Tomato Lust”. That works too!


  11. Mmmmm, you’ve got me wanting to try new tomato varieties! This year I’ve stuck with Big Beef, Celebrity and June Pink, oh and one tommy-toes. That would be so fun to try a bunch of different ones… guess it isn’t too late to add some now…!


  12. Hanna on

    Ananse – That is a great way to think about it!

    Anthony – There is nothing really wrong with growing hybrids. I like to think of them as young heirlooms. Kinda. The important thing is to try different kinds of things to have a little variety in life.

    kate the kid – I would love to try it. Let me know when you have some seeds. Even unknown heirlooms can be yummy! I would love to live in NC and Columbus rocks!

    Matt Wilson – Wow, lots of tasty Brandywine tomatoes! I think they are considered beginner just because they tend to be a more widely avaliable heirloom so many people who have not tried heirlooms before tend to start with a Brandywine. That is not to say that they are not an awesome tomato.

    Diana – Nothing like a warm tomato off the vine!

    Choomma – Good luck with your next try!

    Aviva J. – Welcome to my blog and to gardening! I wish you the best of gardening this year. The sun had better come to stay soon. I want to be warm!

    Erin – Farmer’s Markets… What fun!

    Qaro – Hehe. It is a little like that too…

    Melissa – Still lots of time to add a few fun varieties to you garden. 🙂


  13. I wish I had the space and time to play around with the Hierlooms. I love checking them out at the Saturday green market.I hope you post a list of your top ten when you start getting fruit to test.


  14. divya on

    Black, Black Zebra, Oaxacan Jewel, Lime Green Salad Tomato, Carbon, Orange Russian 117, Green Zebra, Sun Gold. The last 4 are repeats from last year. They were so lovely, I couldn’t not grow them! Hanna, are there any tomato varieties from the previous years that you are planting again? Being a city dweller, I can only fit 6 tomato plants on the deck, so I’ve hijacked my dad’s garden in the suburbs for the other 2.


  15. Hanna on

    rees cowden – If you have a garden, make space! I promise you will love it. If you don’t have a garden, some varieties grow very well in containers. Bar that, ask around at your local farmer’s market. I regularly see different varieties sold these days at farmer’s markets

    divya – I am growing Black Ethiopean (for my husband, he loves them) and Azoychka from past years. Your list sounds fab!


  16. Wow…I am late on this so perhaps I should attempt to start growing some this year?
    Also, is your recommendation a good for first time gardeners aka NEWBIES? I have never grown tomatoes but would LOVE to have my own growing in my own yard–salt and pepper and knife…YUMMO!
    Thanks, Maggie


  17. After buying heirloom tomatoes at a Farmers Market in an Atlanta exurb last summer, it was hard to go back to eating the store-bought varieties again, so I was determined to try an heirloom crop of my own this year. I’m growing Cherokee Purple (plants bought from a local source) and Abraham Lincoln (seed from Southern Exposure in Mineral, Virginia). So far, so good! The former are in bloom and the latter have come up nicely and are almost ready for transplanting.


  18. Mmmm seriously yummy post. Fortunently I just found a local nursery full of heirlooms am way excited to buy some (when I get a few bucks)…


  19. I have 3 heirlooms that I am trying this year – Amish Paste (like a Roma, only larger?), Super Choice, and Scarlet Topper (Pritchards). I live in Oregon.


  20. Oh wow–I can’t wait for your wonderful tomato tasting notes this summer.

    This year, I’m growing:
    Black Krim (my favorite standby–it just loves to grow here)
    Thessaloniki Oxheart
    Homer Fike’s Yellow Oxheart
    Amish Paste
    Isis Candy Cherry
    Currant (for salads and whatnot)

    Your notes on Persimmon are one of the reasons why I had to grow it . . ..


  21. Diane on

    Growing up we always had tomatoes from the garden, so even though I am now living in a condo, I still have about 20 plants each summ on my 40′ east facing balcony. I have most success with tiny tims which I grow against netting. They grow right up to the top – 8′ and more. The secret for me is using big rubbermaid storage containers. I must try some of the heirloom ones, they sound more tasty.


  22. Totally agree with you about tomatoes! Home grown are unbeatable. I thought I was doing well with the different varieties I’m growing, but your collection is v impressive.

    This year I’ve got Marmande, Moneymaker, Gardener’s Delight, Roma, Borghese, Brandywine, and miniplum.

    Hope you have a great growing season!


  23. Hanna! You’re not growing the Persimmon tomato again, despite the glowing review you gave it? I mean I know there’s only room for so many tomato varieties in your life but that review had me take on the task of tracking down persimmon seeds across international borders! I thought for sure you’d be growing it again, and was looking forward to watching it’s progress… ah well. I will persevere in tracking down seed, and give it a go next (southern hemisphere) summer.


  24. I have been growing tomatoes for a long time, but I have been what you referred to as “the Britney Spears of pop tomatoes” grower – HA, HA. Since I’ve had the pleasure of tasting an heirloom tomato there’s no going back! You are so right; you just can’t beat their flavor! It sounds like you have a good source for your tomato seeds. I use a small company out of NC called Appalachian Seeds – They also grow (organically) a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes. He includes a picture and description of each tomato that they grow. Just thought I would share.



  25. Your welcome! But there is small typo in my web address I referenced in my previous comment – there’s no period (.) on the end of the web address. Clicking on it with the period on the end takes you to a page not found (at least it did for me). Here is the correct address:



  26. Thanks so much for you tomato reviews. I read each and everyone of them and just placed an order from The Tomato Girl. I had tried to grow from seeds but it wasn’t happening for me. Everything else (zuchs, greens, melons, pumpkins, corn, etc.) came up nicely, but no tomatoes, they would sprout and keel right over.

    Anyway, I faithfully read but rarely comment. Thanks for all your informative posts.


  27. We have grown tomatoes for years, but this year for the first time we are trying to grow organic heirloom tomatoes. Hopefully it will work out. We are growing Amish paste and Cosmonaut Volkov. I was told they were kind of drought resistant, which is what we need.


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