A Few of Laurel's Favorites
People often ask, " Laurel, let's say you are about to be stranded on a deserted island, your canoe is taking on water, and you have to swim to shore. You have 1 minute to grab your swim fins, snorkel, some garden tools, books, your shades, a case of wine, your dog, and 10 tomato seed varieties from among the hundreds you always have in your pockets. Which ones would you choose?"
"How about 15?", says I.
A Guide to the Symbols
(H) Hybrid. The few hybrids we list were developed with great flavor as the main criterion. These are delicious varieties which we have grown and taste-tested to ensure superior flavor.
(D) Determinate. Also known as 'bush' varieties, these plants are great for container growing or for your small garden. They reach a certain predetermined height and then stop growing. Most of the fruit is borne over a 4 to 6 week period.
Our Sunshine Symbol means this variety grows beautifully in all climates, and does especially well in sustained high heat but not hotter than 95º. Pollen normally becomes sterile above 95º
Extra heat tolerant.
A specialty plant, developed to produce consistently in very hot weather, up to 97º- 98º.
Our Penguin Symbol means this variety grows beautifully in all climates, and does especially well in cooler temperatures and produces late into the cool season.
Grows beautifully in most climates and is extra cold tolerant. However, this does not mean North Dakota in winter. Your tomato plants need night temperatures consistently above 50º F.
(E) Early ripening variety, with 78 days or less to ripe tomatoes.
(VE) Very early varieties, usually less than 68 days from plant-out to ripe fruit.
(EE) Extremely early ripening varieties, ready to pick in only 45-60 days from planting.
A good choice for growing in pots, and a variety which Laurel has already grown successfully in containers. Any heirloom tomato plant will grow well in a large 18 - 30 gallon container with proper growing techniques and the dwarf varieties can be grown in 5 -10 gallon containers.
See detailed container-growing info: Growing Tips
(Ch) A cherry tomato. These little fruits can be red, black, orange, pink, purple, green, yellow, ivory, white or bicolor and in varying shapes: round, pear, grape, ping pong, pea-sized and plum-shaped.
(B) A big tomato of at least 1 or 2 pounds.
(BB) A really big tomato. These 'super braggers' can reach 3 to 4 pounds.
(BBB) A ridiculously huge tomato, these prize winning giants can reach more than 5 lbs.
(SM) A small plant, great for containers or smaller garden spaces.
(VSM) A very small, dwarf type plant for small containers and tiny gardens.
(P-S) Paste or sauce type, especially popular for sauces. These tomatoes are richly flavored, ideal for cooking because flavors increase exponentially during the cooking process, and are also marvelous for fresh eating.
(HG) For your Historical or Heritage Garden. These are storied tomatoes with a fascinating history, including well-known historic varieties, some of them named after persons of high renown, or an historical event. Some are tomatoes with tall tales and legends attached to their names. Many have simply stood the test of time.
Days: Approximate time from planting the seedling to harvesting the ripe fruit. I note the number of days to ripening in my garden. Can vary from climate to climate.
New for 2021 This means we are offering these varieties this year for the first time.Not necessarily a 'new' variety.
My Top 15
'Stranded On A Deserted Island' Favorites
Paul Robeson ($6.75) (VE) (HG)
This is my all-time favorite tomato and our top seller for 22 years.
It is a gorgeous, dark and dusky-hued fruit with intensely sweet earthy taste with a hint of tanginess, a luscious velvety smooth texture, beautiful skin, rich with juice and high production. You will love it. The seed was made available by Marina Danilenko, a Moscow seedswoman.
This luxurious tomato is named for Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the elegant, renowned and charismatic operatic singer, law school graduate, champion athlete, film star, stage actor and boundlessly brave champion of civil and personal rights throughout the world. This marvelous plant will give you its perfect 3" - 4" fruit in only 65 days from planting. Incredible; a symphony. I do believe this is the finest tomato in existence.
New for 2020!
Anthony's Passionate Heart ($6.95)
Big, red heart shaped 1 lb. fruits on a plant that withstands every type of weather. A marvelous tomato with rich, bold, fruity-sweet flavors and a perfect balance of acidity.
This is our premier presentation for 2020 in honor of Tony's legacy: Food will always bring families, neighborhoods, cities and countries together, gathered at the table. Nothing to fight about, everything to love.
In our garden it kept producing through prolonged heat waves in the high 90's when other plants gave up the ghost. Now it continues to grow as cooler weather arrives. No cracking, high production, dreamy texture, disease free. A real winner.
In the words of Gary Ibsen of Tomatofest who developed it, "Anthony Bourdain was an American celebrity chef and author who explored the cuisines, culture, joys and essentials of human existence around the world. He was an icon to me, and many others, who love food and cooking as a most enjoyable way of gathering people together to celebrate our humanity."
Seeds are available here:
Black Krim ($6.75) 75 days (E)
This much sought after Russian variety is unique and unforgettable, originally from Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union, Black Krim has a superb smoky sweetness with a delicate lingering touch of tang in a 4-6" slightly flattened, mahogany-colored fruit with lovely, deep green shoulders. Just superb and very easy to grow.
Photo property of Damon Webber, used here with he is gracious permission
New to our list this season, Black Mamba is a big, bodacious, purple/black beefsteak tomato.