07 Feb THE CHEF’S GARDEN: 5 TOMATO VARIETIES TO GROW FOR TASTE & COLOR
With the enormous number of tomato varieties on the market, there’s certainly a tomato for every dish and use possible, whether you’re aiming for size, taste, or unique presentation. But what if you’re looking for a tomato that ranks high in both scrumptious flavor and eye-catching color? No need to choose between traits when growing any of these 5 tomato varieties! Keep reading for our best next-level tips for growing your tastiest tomatoes ever.
5 TOMATO VARIETIES TO GROW FOR TASTE & COLOR
1. ‘Sungold’: One of my all-time favorites, ‘Sungold’ has a long growing season (57 days), a sweet and fruity flavor, and bright orange color. These are small tomatoes that just keep producing week after week — which is fortunate because half of them don’t make it into my house. Recommended for eating right off the vine, and fresh in salads or with hummus on a veggie tray.
2. ‘Orange Banana’: Want a larger tomato that’s good for sauces and drying for pastes? Reach for ‘Orange Banana’ (85 days) with its superb taste and orange shade. With thick flesh and few seeds, this one’s a keeper.
3. ‘Cherokee Purple’: Another favorite on our urban farm, ‘Cherokee Purple’ (80 days) sports dark purple skin and a rich, almost smoky, flavor. Although it’s somewhat of a so-so producer, the taste and funky color elevate it to high status. Use it the next time you need unique tomato slices for hamburgers and sandwiches.
4. ‘Green Zebra’: This small, 3-oz. fruit (75-80 days) offers a spicy flavor and eye-popping chartreuse skin with darker green stripes and bright green flesh. With an excellent yield, ‘Green Zebra’ is perfect for sandwiches, salads, and snacking — really, any dish for your next Green Bay Packers viewing party.
5. ‘Aunt Gertie’s Gold’: Aside from its adorable name, ‘Aunt Gertie’s Gold’ (75 days) is prized for its rich gold hue, creamy texture, and luscious flavor that’s neither too sweet nor overly juicy. And weighing in at a whopping 1-2 pounds, this tomato is ideal for canning or enjoying fresh in salads and on sandwiches.
Next-Level Growing Tips
Are you ready to kick your tomato-growing skills up a notch? Commit these 3 tips to memory:
Start with great soil. Enrich your soil with compost or other organic matter and your tomato plants will have a higher yield, better taste, and increased nutrition.
Water regularly. Irregular watering causes tomatoes to fail to properly absorb calcium, leading to blossom end rot — but it can also cause tomato skins to crack and split. Aim for 1-2 inches a week, spread out evenly. Never overly soak your tomato plants and then let them completely dry out — for this reason alone, we installed drip irrigation in our tomato beds.
Grow disease-resistant varieties. Most hybrid tomatoes have increased disease resistance to the four main tomato diseases, and these will be noted on the seed packets by the following letters:
- V — Verticillium wilt, caused by a soil-born fungus that leads to plant wilting and death while they are still green.
- F — Fusarium wilt fungi gain access through the plant’s roots, causing yellowing and death before the fruit ripens.
- N — Nematodes are microscopic pests that attack roots in warm, sandy soils.
- T — Tobacco mosaic virus is a less widespread disease that causes uneven ripening in fruit.