Tags: experiments in the garden, garden labels, growing heirloom tomatoes, growing heirloom vegetables, growing tomatoes in containers, heirloom tomato, old-fashioned tomato flavor, open-pollinated tomato variety, organic manure, prolific tomato, Rutgers tomato, tasty tomato
Granddaddy told me. But I had to see for myself. Of all the tomato varieties I planted this summer, ‘Rutgers’ was the earliest to produce, the most reliable at putting out a steady supply of fruits, and quite obviously the tastiest for fresh eating. F. even pronounced its flavor to be “honest tomato.”
Plus, ‘Rutgers’ is an all-American heirloom, developed by Rutgers University for Campbell’s Soup Company in 1934. (A fact that makes me want to plant enough to use as a soup, sauce, or paste tomato next year; this season I depended upon the ‘Roma’ plants for that.) It’s also an open-pollinated variety from which you may save your own seed, year after year, with no loss of vigor or taste, in contrast to most modern hybrids.
What’s not to like?
If you live in my bioregion (Southeastern U.S.), give this classic some space in your garden next summer. It can even be quite successfully grown in a pot. One of my extra plants went into a large planter on the porch, with potting soil liberally amended with compost, a bit of organic manure*, and two doses of organic fertilizer over the season, and it grew almost 11 feet tall, draped elegantly over the edge of its cage, had purple-podded pole bean vines twining through it by midsummer and birds perching on its thick branches by the end, and finished producing its last edible fruit October 22nd.
I found one of the little labels stuck in the soil when I was cleaning up spent plant debris a few days ago. I usually don’t save them, but use plain wooden labels or, more commonly, no labels at all, just notes or little quickly scribbled diagrams in my journal to help me recall for the first few weeks after planting.
For those of you who choose to grow your own, what’s the one tomato you wouldn’t be without every summer?
(*Do be careful to purchase only organic manure. Standard manure tends to have heavy metals and other toxins in it, which you don’t want in your food, I’m sure. But the real reason to avoid non-organic manure is the herbicides used to raise the GMO soybeans that make up a large percentage of cattle feed, at least in the U.S. These herbicides can persist in the ground for up to a decade, and even go through cows’ impressive digestive systems unscathed. Which means they’ve been known to kill off plants when some poor soul decides to put a little manure in her flower bed or veggie garden — and even to render that part of her land unsuitable for growing anything for years. Terrible news, I know. But I couldn’t suggest, in good conscience, that you use any manure in your plantings without passing along the information.)