Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ugly Tomatoes

At long last, and after a setback or two, the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. The first to start turning red are some of the heirloom tomatoes I planted. I must say, these are not the prettiest of tomatoes. Having said that, let me add that in my opinion, these tomatoes taste really, really good. Think about it. Many of the pretty, uniform, picture perfect tomatoes available today look good, but lack the old fashioned tomato taste we look forward to every year. This is because so many of them are hybrid varieties, genetically designed to look good and travel well. Many of them have been bred so that all the tomatoes on the vine ripen at the same time, making it easier to pick and preserve them. Hybrid varieties may have their place in the home garden, but I'll never grow them exclusively. Heirloom varieties on the other hand are just what they are. Good, old fashioned tomatoes are not always big on outside appearance, but are straightforward and unpretentious, offering up honest tomato taste. Who would bother to save the seeds of an ugly tomato year after year, from generation to generation, if they didn't grow well and taste great? Given the choice, I'll take an ugly, great tasting tomato any day over the cover girl variety that is all glam and no substance. If you would like to make room in your garden for some heirloom varieties, ask a friend to share some seeds, or check out the heirloom section of your favorite garden catalog. One of my favorite catalogs is "Totally Tomatoes." I haven't yet visited their website, preferring the paper catalog, but their web address is I also like to look for unusual heirloom tomatoes at my local farmer's market. Many growers specialize in heirlooms. If you find a variety you particularly like, save some of the seeds to grow in your own garden next year. Give an ugly tomato a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.

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