9 Tasty Tomato Varieties We Love

Between the tomatoes we planted, and the wide variety of volunteers we ended up getting from our compost, we ended up with 9 tomato varieties in our garden this summer! They are all tasty and unique – here is what we grew in our 2015 summer garden.

As you can see in the picture above, each of our tomatoes are all quite different! Here are the varieties we grew, and what we think of them.

Top Row (Left to Right):

  1. Heirloom Beefsteak variety: We planted this one from seed, and it’s amazing! HUGE tomatoes, and super-sweet (unfortunately the mice love them too). They are so heavy some of them hang on the ground – definitely need good staking! Stems are very tough, so they are hard to pick by hand – using a hand pruner works best.
  2. German Johnson (heirloom): We saved these seeds from last year’s CSA share – intending to save from a Cherokee Purple or something similar, but these are definitely not that – I must have saved the wrong ones. Pink fleshed and somewhat tart. Not my favorite, but fine for salads.
  3. Rutgers (slicer): Classically beautiful, these are perfectly round, bright red tomatoes with firm flesh great for slicing. They also taste awesome!
  4. San Marzano (paste tomato): An old variety favored for Italian sauces. We grew a ton of these for canning. The odd thing is, the plants grown in hay bales produced fruit that looks almost completely different from those grown in soil! The ones grown in the hay bales are smaller and more oval, while the ones in the soil are much larger and more oblong and blocky. They taste the same, though, and both work great for canning.
  5. Cherry tomato (variety unknown – volunteer – probably Sweet 100). Two words: Tomato candy! Yum! These volunteered from last year’s compost, so they sprawled out everywhere. Lesson learned: Cherry tomatoes need cages!!

Bottom Row (Left to Right):

  1. Green Zebra (heirloom): This was our favorite tomato of the year! We saved seeds from last summer’s CSA share for these, but these are tastier than any that we ever got in the CSA – or maybe we’re just biased! Super-sweet, but also with a light tartness, they are a small-to-medium-sized tomato, and seem prone to blossom end rot. They taste best when really ripe (they will start to turn orange around the shoulders), and are absolutely delicious in salads, sliced, or just plain!
  2. Golden Sunray (heirloom – volunteer): This volunteered from the compost (a CSA tomato), and we wish we had gotten more than one plant! They are sooo sweet and delicious – almost as sweet as a cherry tomato. We already saved seeds from one of these for next year.
  3. Roma (volunteer): We had one big plant from the compost that sprouted in one of our hay bales. Nice, good sized, heavy, meaty Romas for canning and salsa.
  4. Unknown Volunteer (probably canning tomato from last summer’s CSA share): These sprouted from the compost in one of our hay bales – we had a couple of plants, both loaded heavily with smallish, round, firm fruits. Very similar to the canning tomatoes we purchased from our CSA last summer, but I don’t know the variety.

We really didn’t intend to grow so many different types, but together with the volunteers, we had a really nice sampling of tomato varieties!  We probably won’t try to grow all of them again next year, but will definitely repeat the Golden Sunrays, the Green Zebras, the San Marzanos, and the Rutgers. And of course, you gotta have cherry tomatoes! 🙂



Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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