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For many gardeners, tomatoes are the essential crop in the kitchen garden, the summer fruit eaten fresh that justifies spring's earthy labors. The vast array of tomato varieties is a clear signal of their popularity and ease of cultivation. The best temperatures for tomato growth are between 65°F and 80°F. A site with a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun is essential to harvest fruit.
Plants that grow lushly, but provide no fruit often do not receive enough sun or have been given too much nitrogen. Tomatoes require well-drained, loose soil of moderate fertility. Warm soil is also critical to getting transplants off to a quick start.
To warm cold soil, lay black plastic over the tomato bed two weeks before the intended planting date. Remove it at planting time or slit it to accommodate the transplants. Space plants 4 to 6 feet apart, a distance that should help keep foliage dry and lessen the impact of water-borne diseases that turn green tomato leaves yellow and then brown. Transplant seedlings 2 to 6 inches deeper than they were growing in their pots (removing leaves as necessary), either by putting them straight in the hole or in a shallow, long trench on their sides. Provide plant support at the time of transplanting. Side dress with a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes after the first fruits appear.
Tomato plants are available beginning in late April.
Tomato.'Arkansas Traveler'. 85 days. Indeterminate heirloom. Flavorful pink fruits in the 6 to 8 ounce range are produced in abundance on a plant known for its ability to withstand hot weather.
Tomato.'Aunt Ginny's Purple'. 75 days. Indeterminate heirloom. This beefsteak variety is considered by many experts to be superior to Brandywine in flavor. Deep pink fruits up to 16 ounces are produced.
Tomato.'Aunt Ruby's German Green'. 80 days. Indeterminate. Heirloom green beefsteak with a deliciously sweet flavor that's enhanced by a spicy undertone. Globe-shaped large fruits are smooth with light green skins at maturity and just a hint of yellow. Flesh is green blushed with pink, meaty, and flavorful. Pick by feel , not look, when soft to the touch, they are ready. Makes interesting juice!
Tomato.'Aussie'. 85 days. Australian heirloom. Large quantities of up to one pound, red fruit borne on indeterminate plants.
Tomato.'Big Beef'. 75 days. Indeterminate. All-American Winner Big Beef has globe-shaped flavorful red fruit on a plant that has high tolerance for adverse growing condition.
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Tomato.'Black Brandywine'. 80 days. Indeterminate. This black version of Brandywine has fruit with the same luscious flavor of Pink Brandywine combined with the richness of black tomato taste. Same flattened beefsteak shape and size as Brandywine, but this fruit is more like the color of deep mahogany. Tomatoes are 12 to 16 ounces. and grow on vigorous plants.
Tomato.'Black Krim'. 75-90 days. Indeterminate, Heirloom from the Black Sea of Russia. Large, 10 to 12 ounce, dark brown-red tomatoes are sweet and tasty with just a hint of saltiness. Color intensifies in hot weather, and fruit seems to set well even in the heat. Interior is a deep, reddish-green color. Prone to cracking, but a very heavy producer.
Tomato.'Black Tula'. 80 days. Indeterminate. Russian heirloom. Reddish-brown beefsteak. Sweet fruit with smooth texture weighs between 8 and 12 ounces. Sets well in hot weather.
Tomato.'Box Car Willie'. 80 days. Indeterminate. Prolific yields of smooth, reddish-orange fruits averaging a large 10 to 16 oz.! With an old-fashioned flavor you'll remember from childhood, these high-yielding, multi-use tomatoes will last throughout the season and are ideal for canning, freezing, or for home-cooked meals. Crack-free and disease resistant.
Tomato.'Brandywine'. 90 days. Indeterminate. An heirloom Amish variety from 1885, Brandywine is considered by many to be the finest-flavored large tomato ever offered. Fruits, though not abundant, are as large as 1.5 pounds with a full, sweet tomato flavor.
Tomato.'Bush Early Girl'. 54 days to fruit. Compact determinate. This "little sister" to Early Girl is high yielding and has medium sized, good tasting fruit. Good disease resistance.
Tomato.'Bush Goliath'. 68 days. Indeterminate. This tomato was created for gardeners with limited space, especially those who grow tomatoes in containers. Attractive, compact plants only 40 inches tall, produce 3-4 inch fruits packed with sweet tomato flavor.
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