The Biggest Tomatoes!
These plants produce fruit from 2 to 6 lbs.
1884 ($6.25) (B)
(HG)(E) 78 days. 1884 is a superbly flavored old-time tomato which grows on a strong vigorous plant and produces big luscious 1 lb. to 2 lb. deep dark pink fruit with luxurious flavor and sets fruit readily in hot weather. The original seeds were discovered in 1884 by James Lyde Williamson in the debris after the big Ohio River flood of 1884 in Friendly, West Virginia. This grand fruit has taken top mention year after year in tomato tastings all over the country. Easy to grow and very productive.
Bear Claw ($6.25) 75 days
I've been hearing about this extremely rare fruit in heirloom tomato circles--everyone wants it! We've got it! Incredibly high production. From Lisa VonSaunder, "A fabulous tomato in every way you can measure. A huge tomato with some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever known. I never saw tomato plants grow so large so fast. Huge plant with stems like tree trunks. The first tomatoes of the season were one pound, then the fruit started coming in larger and larger and larger until they were the largest of all my tomatoes this season. Fabulous deep, rich, pink fruit that beat all the others in taste.
They grew so large the branches were drooping even with one fruit on them. So, if you want to win first place for size but you treasure flavor above all else, this is the tomato to grow! Do you want to have the most tomatoes ever grown on a vine? Then this is the plant for you!"
Photograph by Lisa VonSaunder of Amishland Seeds, used here with her kind permission.
Big Zac ($7.95) 80-90 days. (H) (BBB)
(HG)The biggest tomato of all! This gigantic and very delicious tomato normally reaches 4 lbs., and can reach 5 to 7 lbs., with luscious meaty fruits growing on a hearty disease-resistant plant. Big Zac is very easy to grow and reliably produces gigantic tomatoes in all climates.
Big Zac was developed by Minnie Zaccaria of New Jersey, a kind and kindred spirit, who has been growing big championship tomatoes for more than 20 years and has won the biggest tomato contest 7 times. Minnie, shown in the photograph with a 5.2 lb. Big Zac fruit, worked tirelessly to create this humungous fruit by crossing the largest heirloom tomato varieties she could find and finally came up with this amazing and yummy whopper of a tomato.
Brandywine Yellow, Platfoot Strain ($6.25) 85 - 90 days.
(B)From Gary Platfoot of Ohio, (Go Bucks) this magnificent big 1 to 2 lbs. or more brightly-colored smooth-shaped yellow tomato with marvelous complex taste is a special strain of Yellow Brandywine which has a higher yield than regular Yellow Brandywine and offers the same elaborate, delicious tomato flavor. Gardeners who try this variety continue to grow it in their gardens. Disease resistant and very easy to grow. It's a classic. I love it.
Chocolate Stripes ($6.25)
(B) 80 days. I'm sorry! I like to change the list a bit every year but was not ready for the hue and cry for the return of Chocolate Stripes.
After removing it from the list in 2009, I was bombarded by horrified customers who could not live without it and were freaked out by not seeing it for 2014, so I grew it as a special order for several customers. I've been hearing from more and more folks who really love it --so, it's ba-ack!
Among the largest of the black tomatoes, this one was among the top 3 winners of TomatoFest 2007. Reaching 4 inches and 2 lbs., ripening to mahogany with dark olive green stripes, these fruits have enormous old-time tomato flavor and an appearance similar to Black Zebra, but huge! A plentiful harvest, stunning beauty and out-of-this-world taste make Chocolate Stripes a rare treat in your garden.
Cuostraleé ($6.25) (Koo-struh-LAY)
85 days. Big, hearty, prolific plant, with beautiful huge red beefsteak type tomatoes, up to 4 lbs. I have to use both hands to pick them. Gigantic fruits have a superb, classic tomato flavor. Very easy to grow, disease resistant and a reliable producer, in my top 10 favorites. Another hot weather favorite which will grow easily and wonderfully in all gardens.
Green Giant ($6.25) (E)
On a flavor scale of 1 to 100, Green Giant is a resounding 100 + Incredible. Unforgettable. The flavor can be described as rich, intoxicating and intense.
Occasionally a tomato comes along which deserves very special attention. This big, up to 2 lb., green when ripe tomato resoundingly stole the show
in 4 different tomato tastings. We had the immense pleasure of tasting it at TomatoFest in Carmel, California where it captured the hearts of tasters and garnered a great deal of attention. I have not been this impressed by a tomato since discovering Brown Derby in 2007.
It arose originally in the garden of Reinhard Kraft of Germany in 2000 when he planted 30 seeds called 'Green Giant' from a friend in Canada. 29 of them grew out regular leafed except for one which had big potato leafed foliage. Reinhard cultivated that one, selecting the best fruit for several seasons, and continued to save seeds. Yay, Reinhard. Seeds are not available commercially but I have managed to secure some for the 2006 season from my buddy Cynthia Geske, owner of Love Apple Farm in
Ben Lomond, CA. Cynthia grew the magnificent Green Giant fruits we tasted at TomatoFest and graciously let me use her photograph here.
How to tell if a green tomato is ripe and not just an unripe fruit? Close your eyes and feel it; if it's soft, it's ripe.
Marianna's Peace ($6.25) 80 days. (B) (HG)
One of our top 3 sellers. The sugary nectar of this huge 5" tomato's creamy, dense, deep pink-red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance and sublime, complex flavors reminiscent of the finest of the "old-fashioned" tomato flavors. This big, beautiful irresistible up to 3 lb. deep pink-red fruit is the talk of the tomato world and has found its way into Top 10 favorite tomato lists of gourmands worldwide. It is perfection and one of the 3 finest tasting tomatoes in existence.
Marianna was from a family of farmers in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. During World War II, in May of 1945 when she was 17, Russian soldiers came to her school and forced Marianna and all her schoolmates into a truck to be taken to Siberia. During the journey, she and a few others escaped by jumping from the moving truck, but Marianna was shot in the leg just as she crossed the Czech border. With the help of her friends, she was able to continue on to the town of Weiden, Bavaria. She lost all contact with her parents and brothers for the next ten years, but after a long and diligent search with the aid of The Red Cross, she finally found them in 1955.
Before he died, her father gave her a little bundle of the seeds.
Marianna married, and in 1957 moved to Washington State with her husband where they raised four children.
The legacy of these seeds reaches back to the early 1900's and year after year the tomatoes borne from this marvelous heirloom continue to be treasured for their outstanding taste and beauty. Incredibly sweet, creamy, with dense flesh, rich and luscious, reminiscent of the finest of those "old-fashioned" tomato flavors, the memories of which are the stuff of dreams for all tomato lovers.
Mortgage Lifter, aka Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter
Radiator Charlie and his big tomatoes in
a newspaper photograph from 1964.
This gigantic legendary heirloom from Logan, West Virginia developed by M.C. 'Charlie' Byles in the 1930's, is huge, sweet, juicy, delicious and prolific, with splendid old time tomato flavor. The meaty pink-red fruits weigh at least a pound, averaging 2½ lbs. and reaching up to 4 lbs. A very prolific plant which continues to bear fruit right up until frost, it also keeps very well.
Marshall Cletis Byles, who much preferred to go by MC or just Charlie, owned a garage specializing in radiator repair.
He developed Mortgage Lifter over a six year period by crossing German Johnson, Beefsteak and 2 other really big varieties, all chosen for their huge size and grand flavor. He sold the resulting plants for a dollar each (in the 40's), and was able to pay off his $6000.00 house mortgage in only 6 years with the profit from his plant sales. "I didn't pay but six thousand dollars for my home, and paid most of it off with tomato plants", said Charlie in a tape recorded interview with his grandson which aired recently on National Public Radio.
Charlie's repair shop was at the bottom of a steep hill so travelers whose radiators over-heated during the climb had to coast back down to Radiator Charlie's for repair. Other folks heard about these huge luscious tomatoes and came from hundreds of miles to buy the plant. As my customer John in Virginia says, "It's just not a real tomato garden without Mortgage Lifter." Charlie Byles lived to be 97 years old. Here is a link to the story, in Radiator Charlie's own voice:
Our deepest thanks to Jeff McCormick, founder of Seed Saver's Exchange, for keeping Charlie Byle's tomato seeds and so many other great heirloom varieties alive and thriving for gardeners worldwide. Without Jeff's efforts many of these grand old family heirlooms would have been lost forever.
Neves Azorean Red aka NAR. (Pronounced Neh-ves Ah ZOR ee uhn) ($6.25) 75 days. Boy are you in for a treat! This terrific, boldly flavored, 1 to 3 lb tomato is produced on a big hearty plant with a large central stem branching out into loaded branches of big beefsteak tomatoes so delicious they have become the talk of the tomato world. I have been custom growing this variety for certain very discriminating customers for the past couple of years, and now that the world is catching on to this spectacular fruit, it could become the ultimate sandwich tomato or to show off your special tomato salad. This one packs quite a flavor punch--not for sissies. Featuring great disease resistance and an excellent production right up until frost, we heartily thank Anthony Neves who brought the seeds home with him from a trip to The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic about 900 miles west of the mainland.
Omar's Lebanese ($6.25) (BBB)
80 days. The big one! Omar's Lebanese has a passionately sweet and complex flavor. These immense fruits--deep dark pink and juicy--grow to 3-4 lbs, with excellent disease resistance. A spectacular tomato. Really easy to grow, out of this world. Takes 2 hands to pick it. In my top 5.
Todd County Amish ($6.25) 82 days.
NEW FOR 2013
(One of Laurel's new Favorites!) A genuine Amish family heirloom tomato.
Last season I had a chat with my sweet friend Lisa Von Saunder of Amishland Seeds. I asked, "So, Lisa, what's the very best big Amish tomato? The most awesome flavored one -- I mean the one that makes your eyes roll into the back of your head?" She said, "Laurel, you have got to try Todd County Amish, it is incredible!" So I did. Lisa's right. We went crazy for them! Huge, beautiful, luscious, deep pink, 1 to 2 pound slightly fluted beefsteaks on potato leafed plants. Delicious, elaborate, sweet, rich, old time tomatoey flavors. Todd County Amish produces scads of fruit all season right up to frost. U
nforgettable.When you bite into one of these you won't want to share it--but go ahead, it produces huge harvests. Lisa knows what she's talkin' about when it comes to things Amish.