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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old August 28, 2010   #1
Stepheninky
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Default Limbaugh's Legacy Potato Top

Here is the story behind the Limbaugh's Legacy Potato Top, I thought it was a great read.

The original story can be found at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08061/861575-47.stm

The Backyard Gardener: Gardener's legacy lives on in plants
Saturday, March 01, 2008
By Doug Oster, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Douglass Oster, Post-Gazette
Fred Limbaugh looks over some of his 'Potato Top' plants in 2000.
We meet lots of people over the years. Some come and go, but others always hold a place in our hearts. Fred Limbaugh was one of those special people.

I first met Fred on a warm day in the spring of 2000. After reading about my love of heirloom tomatoes, he was compelled to call and tell me about the tomato his family had grown for generations, 'Potato Top.' He invited me over to pick up a couple of plants to try.

"They're the best-tasting tomato you'll ever eat," he bragged.

I listened with interest as he talked about the plant he loved and had given away to friends and family for years. Once they grew 'Potato Top,' they were hooked, said Fred, who didn't even like to eat tomatoes but grew them for everyone else.

Over the years, Fred and I became good friends. We would visit at his home in Robinson, and on hot days he would offer me a cold beer but never drank one himself. We talked about gardening, his love of the outdoors, his beloved German shepherds and how he was getting along in his 80s.

Together, the two of us would walk down a steep embankment in his back yard to his cold frames filled with deep green tomato plants; they had thick stems and sometimes were covered in bright yellow blossoms. As he got older, he couldn't get down there anymore. It was even hard for me to navigate, and I was 40 years younger.

Years ago, I started giving away the seeds of 'Potato Top' with the condition that gardeners send me some seeds at the end of the season so I would have more the next year to keep the program going. I wanted everyone to taste it and hoped that by sharing the seed, we could guarantee the survival of this tomato with potato-like foliage for a long time. Every year the project grew, expanding from Western Pennsylvania to other states and eventually to many other countries. One summer, I got 140,000 seeds back from readers all over the world.

Fred was never one for the limelight. As 'Potato Top' became more and more popular, he would call me and say with a laugh, "I never thought one phone call would turn into this."

One time his daughters brought him to North Park, where I was giving away the plants. Wanting to recognize Fred for starting the whole project, I tried to make an announcement. But Fred wouldn't hear of it, and in an instant he was gone, slipping away so he wouldn't be noticed.

His health took a turn for the worse a few years ago. When I went to visit him at a nursing home, he was figuring out a way to grow tomatoes on a windowsill so he could still provide plants for everyone who asked.

That was the year I started growing plants for him, as many as I could in my little home greenhouse. They never looked as good as Fred's; he just had a knack for getting nice stocky, healthy transplants. Eventually, I turned the job over to friends at Soergel's, who were able to produce quality plants for him.

Last month, Fred passed away suddenly at 86. He was out for dinner the night before with his family and then was gone early the next morning.

I always felt we were kindred spirits whose love of gardening transcended the boundaries of age. I'll never forget that first day we met when he gave me two large plants, their roots surrounded with newspaper.

In memory of Fred and with the blessing of his family, I've renamed the tomato 'Limbaugh's Legacy Potato Top.' For decades to come, I hope gardeners will search the name of the tomato and rediscover its origins. They'll learn about a wonderful man who wanted nothing but to share a big, meaty pink tomato with some friends. Little did he know that he would be sharing it with thousands of strangers, too. That always made him feel good, to know so many people were enjoying the tomato.

I miss that old guy and always will think of him as I sit at home filling seed envelopes to be sent to gardeners here and abroad. And it feels good knowing that his name will always be linked to a family heirloom that will live on in gardens around the world.

Attached is a picture of Fred Limbaugh and some seedlings he was starting
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Old August 28, 2010   #2
Bama mater
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Great story, I have to find some of these seeds, I'll give this variety a go for next year.
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Old August 28, 2010   #3
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Next year will be my first year growing it so will see how it does, but I always like a tomato with a story behind it
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Old August 30, 2010   #4
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first year growing. fantastic production and flavor. took the heat well. vigorous seedling and plant. i got the seed from knapps fresh veggies.
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Old December 30, 2010   #5
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I've been growing these for a couple years now. The first batch of seed I got was from the address supplied above. They sent 4 seeds...they didn't germinate!
I then received seeds from two members of another forum I belong to and they did well. The first year I grew them they were one of the largest and heaviest tomatoes in my gardens. The Taste was fantastic! A good old-fashioned tomato taste.
The past couple years, the size has decreased somewhat. Not one over the two pound mark this year. Although still more than one pound through the beginning of the season but dwindled in size towards the end. Taste was still up there with many of my favorites.
Due to a significant decrease in the amount I plan on planting this year, they won't be included in this years gardens, but I still recommend them highly.
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Old December 30, 2010   #6
travis
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I've grown Potato Top for several years, but not in the last two seasons. I got the seeds originally from Doug Oster, and he sent a least 30 seeds in that first little plastic packet.

I've gotten large red beefsteaks, large pink beefsteaks, some on regular leaf vines and some on potato leaf vines. Some had heavily fluted shoulders where the pleats appeared at every locule, and some were smoother with folded shoulders like Ponderosa. Some of the regular leaf shapes were more heavily serrated and some vines had smoother regular leaf shapes. The potato leaf shapes were all very smooth and similar to Brandywine. All the vines were sturdy and had very thick stems. I would describe Potato Top as a late season, moderate producer, not quite of the same quality as Brandywine but equal to or better than Ponderosa.

The best I got were one plant with huge pink tomatoes on potato leaf vines, and another from the same saved seed that made huge red tomatoes on a potato leaf vine. These two vines were from seed out of a single pink tomato the year before.

I never got the same exact results two years in a row, but it is definitely a tomato worth trying as you should get some wonderful tomatoes if you grow enough vines. I'd recommend at least 10 vines if you plan to grow Potato Top. And even then, get your seeds from someone who highly touts their own results, because this particular tomato truly has some diverse genetics due to the method of seed perpetuation followed by Doug Oster.
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Old December 30, 2010   #7
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Travis,
My 4 original seeds were from the Doug Oster deal also. They (he) simply asked that you send back seeds after you've grown them out so others could share.
Mine never germinated so I had nothing to return.
Such a distribution set-up could lead to all sorts of problems. In todays world, there are people that would return any seeds, be it for a joke or whatever other reason. Not all tomato growers are as dedicated and well intentioned as we would like to believe. I know a few that go out of their way to mislead others and supply mis-information for whatever the reason.
Don't take this the wrong way, there are also some great people out there that bend over backwards to help others...but not all!
Camo
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Old March 15, 2011   #8
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Funny, I just saw this thread. Camo, I hope some of the good ones came from me!
I think that original article (well, there may be another earlier one), was when I got mine. I got plenty of seed in my first pack, and I think I may have directed Camo to the article and was surprised when he told me he only got 4 seeds!! I guess people weren't so forthcoming with the seeds that year, or maybe they were flooded with requests.
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Old March 16, 2011   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puttgirl View Post
Funny, I just saw this thread. Camo, I hope some of the good ones came from me!
I think that original article (well, there may be another earlier one), was when I got mine. I got plenty of seed in my first pack, and I think I may have directed Camo to the article and was surprised when he told me he only got 4 seeds!! I guess people weren't so forthcoming with the seeds that year, or maybe they were flooded with requests.
Puttgirl,
Yes the good seeds came from you and Jay in Kansas. The original Doug Oster offer was from an article I read in our local paper. Unfortunately they never germinated for me so those from you and Jay were a great replacement.
Even though I'm cutting back this year on tomatoes I did manage to start a couple of them.
They are a tasty tomato, and all of mine have been P.L., fairly large beefsteaks and without any fluted shoulders. I wouldn't call them late season either. Maybe not quite as early as Barlow Jap, but like most of my larger slicers they all ripen about the same week as my Pink Brandywines.
If there was any reason to complain, it would be that they show signs of septoria/early blight before many other varieties. Usually around the same time as it shows up on Stump of the World.
Hope your season is progressing well. Enjoy!
Camo
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Old March 15, 2011   #10
OneoftheEarls
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Doing it this year...
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Old March 16, 2011   #11
puttgirl
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I may give it another whirl this year, too! So many tomatoes, so little room!
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Old March 16, 2011   #12
Bama mater
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I'm gonna cheat and put these in the ground this week, I normaly don't plant till April 15th. These look good and I started way too many, I'll be able to protect them in case of frost. My first time with these, Can't wait
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Old March 16, 2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bama mater View Post
I'm gonna cheat and put these in the ground this week, I normaly don't plant till April 15th. These look good and I started way too many, I'll be able to protect them in case of frost. My first time with these, Can't wait

Bama,
They are certainly looking good! I hope they do well for you, I think an early start is a good way to go this year. Best of Luck!
Camo
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Old March 17, 2011   #14
travis
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Looks great, Bama. And only one RL in the entire batch!
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Old March 17, 2011   #15
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Boy, those do look nice!
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