Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bewitching Bicolours- Heirloom Tomatoes of course!

This time of year tends to be pretty busy.

Winter crops in the hoop house are doing a final surge, while indoors it's peak planting time for warm weather crops like... TOMATOES!!

I take a while to get all my tomatoes seeded.  It isn't just the planting per se.  It's the organizing prior to planting that takes as much time, if not more.

Hundreds and hundreds of varieties need to be categorized by colour, and then placed in alphabetical order.
Quite honestly, it gives me a bit of a headache.  But in the long run, it saves so much time.  Imagine trying to find a particular variety in a hurry with no semblance of a system at all.

Today was the bicolour day. Bicolour varieties are just what the name tells you...two colours in one tomato.  Think stripes, blushes, mottling and most importantly fun.  I planted 68 varieties today, and am not quite done with them.

I love the bicolours and that is why I grow so many. From the big yellow and red beauties like Pineapple, Striped German and Candy Stripe, with their fruity sweet taste to the zebras-green, black, yellow, white and red with their traffic stopping good looks, they are hard to resist.

Did I mention fun?

Let me tell you a funny little story about a funky red tomato with gold striping called Aviuri.  I few years back after I had dropped off all my CSA veg baskets at my St Catharines "depot" (Holly's house), I got a call from my friend Tiffany.  She had gone to pick up her veg basket, but returned home empty handed.  Somewhat bewildered, she wondered if I had forgotten her basket this particular week. I was quite sure I hadn't and asked her if there were any baskets at all left.  As it turned out there was one...for Aviuri.
In my haste to get the baskets out, I grabbed some old tomato tags, plugged the names of my shareholders on the blank side, and popped them through the wood slats on my baskets. Tiffany, aka Aviuri went back to get her basket.

I don't have a quip for every bicolour tomato in my collection, but I guess could tell the one about my  blonde friend Emily who helped me today and was asking about the Blonde Boar tomato. Hmm. (She's NOT a bore.)

There are some bicolours that are particularly unique and tasty.  In fact for my tastes, I find this whole category of tomatoes the tastiest and most popular.

Pineapple is always a sell-out, and I have mentioned in previous blog posts my new love, Tuxhorn. Some of the tomatoes are very similar-Old German, Striped German, Big Rainbow and Flame . Each is a large yellow tomato, with a red blush on the bottom , and red emanating up through the centre.  What pretty tomatoes sliced on a plate, or in salads. There taste is a very pleasant and sweet reminder that, yes, tomatoes are a fruit.

Michael Pollan-created by Brad Gates
Some of the very unique bicolours are "created" heirlooms- the very interesting and prolific Michael Pollan, a pear-shaped smallish green, with yellow striping, the peach-fuzzy Red Furry Hog, red with yellow striping, and the far-out striping of the Berkley Tie Dye trio ; the original, Berkley Tie Dye Pink, and Berkley Tie Dye Heart.

Some of the small ones are my favourites. ( I haven't said that about any other tomatoes have I?) Isis Candy Cherry is delicious...a pale yellow cherry with red mottling.  Similar, but a tad larger is Bicolor Cherry, and then there is the so-pretty Piedmont Pear, a pale yellow pear with red mottling.  These tomatoes are super sweet.

You'll be lucky to try Little Lucky.  A mid sized pale yellow with a pronounced red blush, again absolutely delicious.

I'll have these and the hundred or so bicolours I grow available at my "Tomato Days" sale the May 21-22 weekend.

If you aren't nearby and grow your own from seed, membership in the wonderful Seed Savers Exchange or Seeds of Diversity will give you access to an amazing number of varieties.  Not seed catalogues, but sharing mechanisms, they encourage seed saving and promote diversity.

Tom Wagner's Green Zebra
Piedmont Pear

Add a bit of colour to your meals this summer.  Try a bicolour!


CallieK said...

Jaune flamme was my favourite bi colour last year and the first tomato I planted this year!

Linda said...

Thanks for reading, Callie.That's a wonderful tomato- I grow it every year. Really unique taste, wouldn't you say?

Tiffany said...

Thanks for the laugh! You'll never know how sad I felt as I drove away, thinking there were no veggies for me. Mind you, it wasn't nearly as goofy as I felt after I went back for my basket. I think I should grow some Aviuri this year.

Tiffany said...

PS You're one of my One Lovely Blog Award nominees.

Linda said...

Hi T, yes you should grow some Ti..I mean Aviuri this year. Nice tomato.

Thanks for the I guess i need to keep that going but not sure I have the technology!

Buttons said...

I have never grown a bi colour tomato they look very interesting I will have to try them out. B