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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old December 11, 2009   #1
mensplace
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I am wondering if there are many of the older varieties (hybrid or heirloom)that you have experienced growing and tasting that you think fell into obscurity for good reason. Looking, for example, at the history of apples there were many of the older varieties that were grown solely because they were hard as rocks and able to endure the problems of the early days of shipping with no refrigeration, long periods in transport, lack of refrigerated/gassed warrehouses, etc., even though the flavor was often referenced as biting into sawdust or cardboard. The old Ben Davis comes to mind. Others simply were constantly problem plagued with insects and disease. Are there any of the old tomato varieties that will always stand out in your mind as varieties to be avoided whether due to lack of flavor or productivity, or simply too problem plagued? Any of the older varieties that one should know before attempting that WILL require considerable and constant care and special efforts? NOT in any way a shot at heirlooms; just curious.
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Old December 11, 2009   #2
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I am wondering if there are many of the older varieties (hybrid or heirloom)that you have experienced growing and tasting that you think fell into obscurity for good reason. Looking, for example, at the history of apples there were many of the older varieties that were grown solely because they were hard as rocks and able to endure the problems of the early days of shipping with no refrigeration, long periods in transport, lack of refrigerated/gassed warrehouses, etc., even though the flavor was often referenced as biting into sawdust or cardboard. The old Ben Davis comes to mind. Others simply were constantly problem plagued with insects and disease. Are there any of the old tomato varieties that will always stand out in your mind as varieties to be avoided whether due to lack of flavor or productivity, or simply too problem plagued? Any of the older varieties that one should know before attempting that WILL require considerable and constant care and special efforts? NOT in any way a shot at heirlooms; just curious.
I will not grow Roughwood Golden plum, Black Triffle, yellow pear, Brown Berry. Real spitters and Red Pear. Oh and none of the stuffers.

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Old December 11, 2009   #3
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You have to have a special market / want to grow the stuffers. I had thought chefs woulf like them for the chicken salad stuffed tomato that is on a lot of menus. But most of the stuffers I've tried are too small.

But the rest of Iceloard's list shows how hard it is to ask for a list like this. What 1 person thinks is a spitter, another thinks is great.

Personally I liked Roughwood Golden Plum (it made a great tomato juice) and a grower at Madison raves about Black Trifele. But I do agree that Brown Berry is rather tasteless compared to Chocolate Cherry and especially Black Cherry, the best of that group.

Carol
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Old December 11, 2009   #4
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It's an interesting exercise, because due to personal taste, how a particular variety does in a particular season in a particular garden, or whether someone is growing the variety that they think they are (they could get crossed or mixed up seed) will lead to a very mixed outcome....and some people's spitters will be other people's favorites!

But...if there were some frequent repeaters, then it is a pretty good bet that it is one that will not be favored by most!

These are OP tomatoes I've not liked very much for any reason (appearance or flavor)

Baxter Bush Cherry
Bellstar
Sabre -
Hungarian Italian
Banana Legs
German Garden Time
Micado Violettor
Una Harsock's Beefsteak
Magellan Burgess Purple
Hank
Sasha's Altai
Perestroika
Hungarian
Frank Williams
Elisa
Ridge
Packard
Speakeasy
Glasnost
Aker's Oxheart
Muchamiel (horrendous!)
Golden Glory
Alpha
King George
Queen Mary
Early Ruby
Essex Wonder
Excelcior
Amber colored
Oak
Black Plum
Silvery Fir Tree (Carrot Like)
Triumph
Beauty of Lorraine
Azure
Abel
Victorian Dwarf #1
Earliest of All
Dwarf Recessive
Orange Tree
Heterosis (truly awful)
Whittemore
Black Brandywine
Yellow Pear
Isis
Bull Heart
Green Grape (determinate)

and I love to look at, but not necessary eat, the large bicolors, the vast majority of which I find to be very bland (only exceptions - Little Lucky and Lucky Cross)
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Old December 11, 2009   #5
icelord
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You are right about the location Craig, green grape here was very rich and sweet, Isis candy is always a winner I would have thought the chefs would have loved the stuffers also, but one bite and back to the truck! we also had a very cold summer, perhaps stating if a tomato is sweet or more savory would be a better description, but again something that taste bad there may be a winner in these parts!!

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Old December 11, 2009   #6
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What about those that might have simply been too problem prone due to growing or lack of actual fruit production. I have read many here who shared stories of varieties that might have provided one or two actual tomatoes..are they really worth the room and effort?
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Old December 11, 2009   #7
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According to Pollans book ,old Johnny Appleseed only grew from seed so his apples were all over the place and wouldn't have conformed to the parent type .Didn't matter if you couldn't eat them , as the early pioneers only made the apples into booze and moonshine . It was a requirement that land settlers plant 50 trees as an orchard before gaining title ,so guess which smart entrepeneur sold them the trees----ole Johnny Appleseed . Grown on land he bought so he died a property millionaire ! All that other schmaltzy nonsense about him was made up by Disneyland for a cartoon .Some of his heirloom apples would have been unusable by modern standards .
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Old December 11, 2009   #8
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According to Pollans book ,old Johnny Appleseed only grew from seed so his apples were all over the place and wouldn't have conformed to the parent type .Didn't matter if you couldn't eat them , as the early pioneers only made the apples into booze and moonshine . It was a requirement that land settlers plant 50 trees as an orchard before gaining title ,so guess which smart entrepeneur sold them the trees----ole Johnny Appleseed . Grown on land he bought so he died a property millionaire ! All that other schmaltzy nonsense about him was made up by Disneyland for a cartoon .Some of his heirloom apples would have been unusable by modern standards .
Many are quick to say that all apples produced from seed are bad. That is just plain wrong. Seedlings can excel their parents. It's just that with so many varities available for pollenation today, most seeds will be some kind of cross...but, maybe a better cross. Johnny was very real and those apples he sowed fed meany a family when there was nothing else available. Today, there are over 4000 varieties. The Red Delicious did much for the industry, but surely led to most here ...up until about 15 years ago...having little knowledge of the true breadth of flavors and textures. Kind of like heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables. Each time I go to one of the MEGA international markets near Atlanta I see new vegetables that have long been enjoyed around the world. Interestingly, seeing the videos from India and Japan today on vegetable grafting kind of opened my eyes to new means of addressing disease...use rootstocks that are not susceptible!
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Old December 11, 2009   #9
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I won't bother with Old German ever again.
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Old December 11, 2009   #10
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I am wondering if there are many of the older varieties (hybrid or heirloom)that you have experienced growing and tasting that you think fell into obscurity for good reason,

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You asked specifically about the older varieties which in my mind means OP varieties from the late 1800's up to maybe the early 40's when hybrids were first made available.

And I've grown many of those older varieties, whether Livingston varieties or others, and some were great, others not so good and others I wouldn't grow again.

But I've also found over the years that any variety I might like very much another person doesn't. And vice versa. So I have no list to give as to which of those older varieties aren't worth growing.

If you have specific varieties in mind please mention them here and perhaps others here might have grown them and could at least express their own opinions with the eternal caveat that what one person likes another may not.

And for sure many that were know in past times are now deemed extinct, and since they are extinct there's nothing I or anyone else can say about them. Why they became extinct could be related to newer better varieties being introduced, changes in what was considered popular, seeds for such varieties no longer being in production so loss of availability.
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Old December 12, 2009   #11
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Can you grow a variety of tomato one time and think it not worth another year? I am thinking not. Our growing saeson last year was a bust to say the least. Clodest July on record here in north east IN. I plant a good number of newbies every year and will plant some of the "not so good" ones from last year agian in 2010 to see what I get. Hoping for the best.

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Old December 13, 2009   #12
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Can you grow a variety of tomato one time and think it not worth another year? I am thinking not. Our growing saeson last year was a bust to say the least. Clodest July on record here in north east IN. I plant a good number of newbies every year and will plant some of the "not so good" ones from last year agian in 2010 to see what I get. Hoping for the best.

Paul R
Paul. if I grow a variety that others have praised and I know the person and their likes, or if it's a brand new variety that I've received that no one has grown before, and it doesn't perform well in one year, whether it be the weather or whatever, I definitely will grow it another year.

I guess what you're asking is whether or not I've grown some varieties that DID perform well and would never grow them again, and that would be primarily due to taste. Yes, I have.

But I don't mention them in this thread or anywhere, b'c as I said above, what I don't like someone else will, and vice versa.
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Old December 13, 2009   #13
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I think as Carolyn said in post 10, that if an old variety was too problem prone and didn't have GREAT taste, those are the varieties that are no longer available. You won't have problems growing them as you can't find them any more.

For the most part those that have survived the years did so because they tasted good to someone. Often the taste is worth the fact that maybe they don't grow so well all the time or in all parts of the country.

Just because maybe YOU don't like the taste, doesn't mean that it won't be MY fav. That's the problem/joy with all these diferent tomatoes. What I think is great, maybe doesn't fit your tastes and vice versa. But there will always be SOMETHING that will be the perfect tomato for most everyone.

I had a family of Mom & Dad and boy and girl at my field day last summer. After tasting what we had on the tables they walked the field and tasted some of the smaller tomatoes out there too. When they were done, Mom said that son had always claimed he didn't like tomatoes. But he found several varieties he DID like there. He just hadn't tasted the RIGHT tomatoes before.

It may take you a few years, but you should be able to find several varieties that are just right for you. If you happen to be near any of the various tomato fest doings, attend some and try the samples. It could shorten your quest.

Carol

Last edited by Wi-sunflower; December 13, 2009 at 08:35 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old December 13, 2009   #14
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But then again there are those that are seemingly newer to the market. I grew Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge this year. And while it was one of my most beautiful and productive varieties, the flavor was bland and mealy. So I would not grow it again for myself... but there again My Grandmother liked Mealy tasting tomatoes......
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Old December 13, 2009   #15
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But then again there are those that are seemingly newer to the market. I grew Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge this year. And while it was one of my most beautiful and productive varieties, the flavor was bland and mealy. So I would not grow it again for myself... but there again My Grandmother liked Mealy tasting tomatoes......
But Purple Smudge and Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge are not heirlooms, by any stretch of the imagination. The history of them is known in terms of grafting/mutation and they wouldn't be known as Legacy of Yesteryear Varieties.
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