With so many varieties of tomatoes from which to choose, making up this list wasn’t as easy as I had initially presumed it would be. One could make a career out of just reading about each kind. If you were to ask my boss he might say I practically did.
Standard agreement amongst tomato aficionados is that there are around 10,000 tomato types in the world. Heirlooms, or heritage varieties, account for around 3,000 of all tomatoes grown.
I love gardening and especially love growing tomatoes. I like to grow different kinds to discover their secrets and to experience something new come harvest time. That got me to thinking that maybe other gardeners might want to try something new themselves this year.
In that light, I’m going to pick eleven tomatoes that will really add some variety to your tomato garden this summer. These tomatoes were chosen for their uniqueness (shape-size-uses), for the adventure that comes with growing something different, and also for their flavor.
I would list flavor first but to be honest, I haven’t tried all of these yet. That said, this list will include only those tomatoes given a big green thumbs-up for flavor.
Some of these you may have heard of but I’d be willing to wager there are a few on this list that you have not. They range from the traditional heirloom to hybrids.
Growing Tomatoes on This List
Growing these bucket list tomatoes requires nothing more than standard tomato know-how. Plenty of sunshine, food, and water is pretty much all you need. If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow any of the following kinds.
I would add that all of these tomatoes were selected for their uniqueness and ease of growing. While all may not be rare they are very good and will be well worth your time.
So this is not a gardening article on how-to… but more a why not?
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First on the List
I love these first tomatoes. You may have heard of this one but if you haven’t, you really should know about it. The Cherokee Purple is a really delicious heirloom tomato gaining in popularity with each passing year. It is also indigenous to my state, Tennessee. I started my plants indoors a couple months ago and have twelve ready to put in the ground as I type. One even has a tomato on it already. They are easy to grow.
A Little Purple Background
The story goes that in 1990, amateur seed-saver John Green of Sevierville, Tennessee sent a packet of these seeds to famed tomato guru Craig LeHoullier with a handwritten note explaining their origin. In it, Green expressed that he had gotten the seeds 3rd hand from a woman whose neighbor claimed they had been in her family for 100 years and that Cherokee Indians gave the seed to her ancestors.
LeHoullier grew the tomatoes and was amazed at what he saw and tasted. When sliced, the rich, purple color reminded him of a deep leg bruise so he aptly named it the Cherokee Purple. The flavor blew him away as well. “I love this tomato!” he exclaimed in a note sent to some of his tomato seed bank friends along with some seeds. They grew them and felt the same way he did. There has been a Cherokee Purple popularity explosion since that time.
#1 - The Cherokee Purple
Beauty in the traditional sense does not apply to this tomato, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find them gorgeous, especially when sliced, and delicious, especially when eaten.
This tomato has an uneven and green exterior with a deeply rich purple flesh. With its beautiful color and delectably sweet flavor, this heirloom is as delicious as the story behind its fortunate beginning.
As you can see in the picture, they are not your traditional store-bought, perfectly red tomato. Moreover, there is no comparison. Once you taste these you’ll throw your store-bought tomatoes into the compost pile.
#2 - Persimmon
If you relish the flavor of a sweet yellow-orange tomato that you can add to a sandwich or a salad with equal satisfaction then the Persimmon is the tomato for you.