Best Home-Grown Tomatoes Backyard Garden


Dad grew up on a farm in Texas, where his family grew tomatoes. For a time, our family lived on Class A farmland in the long, hot summers of Illinois. So Dad knows something about tomatoes. Late summer, the fruit would weight the vines, making us impatient for these juicy beauties as we'd anticipate their perfect heft in the palms of our hands. We grew to know Early Girl and Better Boy and Beefsteak. These days, my "land" is not Class A, and summer is not so long and not so hot around here. My vines grow tall and spindly. Some fruit will ripen, but it will be sparse. My taste buds—and maybe my soul—are bereft. I am not interested in making sauce, and there will be no canning. I want to step out my door and pick a lovely slicing tomato that is still warm from the sun. I want to know something about tomatoes in this climate, so thank you, Seattle Tilth experts, for this list of the top five Northwest growers: Stupice, Black Prince, Mr. Stripey, Sungold, and Odessa. Here's the lowdown on Odessa's bona fides: "Russian heirloom, 58 days; small, compact plant produces 20–30 4–6-oz. juicy tomatoes in record time"; and on Stupice's: "Heirloom. 60 days. Cold-tolerant, red, slightly oval, 2-inch fruit. . . . You can't go wrong with this one!" (Emphasis mine, as I begin scheming for next summer with one eye on global warming.) Sure, come by and enjoy the crop; just look for Dad out there chuckling over the bounty.

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