Have you ever thought about growing tomatoes in your own backyard?
If you have, this article may help you know some things about growing tomatoes. In particular, the topic for this is all about the best heirloom tomato seeds that you may want to plant.
Heirloom tomato seeds are generally easier to grow than commercial ones. Therefore, if you plan on starting some gardening activities, planting these seeds may be of your interest.
To learn more about heirloom tomato seeds, you can read further as we talk more about them.
What are Heirloom Tomato Seeds?
To know what heirloom tomato seeds are, first, you must know what heirloom plants are.
An heirloom plant, also called as heritage plant, is a type of plant that did not undergo the various mutations and cross-breeding activities that, typically, have been done on modern-day commercial plants. Hence, we can also call these ‘non-hybrid’ plants.
Heirloom plants were more commonly grown during the earlier periods of time when plants were not modified to be more ‘commercially presentable’.
Naturally, an heirloom tomato plant is a kind of heirloom plant. In some parts of the world, they are called heritage tomato plants instead. Obviously, their seeds are what we call heirloom tomato seeds or heritage tomato seeds.
Commercial tomatoes are generally uniformly reddish with a twinge of green. Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, are more random in terms of color and appearance.
There are more differences between hybrid (commercial) and non-hybrid (heirloom) plants and seeds. They will naturally be discussed as we go further in the article.
Heirloom vs Hybrid: The Advantages of Growing Hybrid Seeds in your Garden
Nowadays, heirloom tomato seeds are gaining popularity in the United States and other countries of the world. There are many reasons for this. Here is list a list of some advantages you can get from choosing to grow heirloom tomato seeds or the commercial ones.
1. Heirloom tomatoes are generally more nutritious
Due to the multiple changes that modern-day tomatoes have undergone, it is inevitable that some nutritional value is lost in the process. Some natural processes that tomato plants would have originally done are slightly hindered.
Meanwhile, heirloom tomatoes do not have this disadvantage. They are unaltered, and thus typically contain more nutrients. Furthermore, there were some research findings of how heirloom tomatoes process sugar better than their counterpart.
2. Heirloom tomatoes are generally more delicious
Gardeners and experienced farmers have vouched for heirloom tomatoes as being more delicious than their hybrid cousins. This can also be attributed to the breeding programs that are being done to commercial tomatoes.
It can also be attributed to the fact that, as mentioned earlier, heirloom tomatoes process sugar better. If this is true, then the more natural sugar content that the heirloom tomatoes have should be more delicious.
However, even though heirlooms are indeed generally much more appetizing than hybrid ones, this is also NOT guaranteed. This is the reason why cross-breeding is being done in the first place.
Heirloom tomatoes can be very inconsistent and random when it comes to taste. This inconsistency is what people hope to achieve when they do hybrids.
One thing that is guaranteed, though, is that regardless of the inconsistencies, you will find that the delicious heirloom tomatoes are worth the few that do not turn out to be good.
3. Heirloom seeds cost less
Although the price of heirloom seeds do tend to cost less, this statement does not solely refer to that fact. Growing heirloom tomatoes, as a whole, simply cost less in the long run. This can be attributed to a fact that was glossed over as of yet – heirloom seeds are open-pollinated.
This means that the seeds are prone to be reproduced naturally. This can be due to the various pollinating insects. This can also be due to the wind, rain, and other weather variables.
Regardless of the method, it is true that heirloom tomato plants (or heirloom plants in general) produce more seeds naturally.
Additionally, these seeds tend to resemble their parent plant. If you harvest seeds from heirloom plants, you can already expect what they will grow into once you plant them.
Hybrids plants do not really do this. Seeds that are produced naturally from their parent plant tend to be vastly different and inconsistent.
In conclusion, if you buy a set of heirloom seeds once, you will probably not need to buy them a second time, unlike for hybrid seeds. Due to this, the costs of growing heirloom tomato seeds are far less than growing commercial ones.
4. Heirloom tomato seeds grow at different times
In large-scale agriculture, the uniformity of harvest times is very important. This makes it easier to manage the farms. They will be able to use harvesters and certain machinery only if the crops ripen and mature at roughly the same time.
Meanwhile, for backyard gardeners and homeowners, uniformity will actually hurt more than help.
If the fruits mature all at once, they will also spoil at the same time. This means that the homeowners will be burdened to consume all of them for a limited time. This is less than ideal.
If the tomatoes ripen at different times, you will have a constant supply instead. You will also not need to consume them all at the same time.
Heirloom tomatoes seeds grow at random times. This makes it easier for the casual gardeners since it makes managing the harvest easier.
Heirloom Tomato Seeds Reviews: 10 Best Heirloom Tomato Seeds
If heirloom tomatoes got you interested, you may want to start by buying heirloom tomato seeds. However, you may still be confused as to what variety or type of seed you want to plant in your garden.
Here is a list of some of the best heirloom tomato seeds for you to choose from. While good tomato seeds are not exclusive to just these ten, you may want to consider them as they are certainly worth investing in.
1. Organic Italian Beefsteak Tomato Seed
Right off the bat, we have the seed of an appetizing tomato of the beefsteak variety. As mentioned earlier, beefsteak tomatoes are relatively huge. The fruits of this Italian tomato seed are no exceptions.
The tomato plant of this seed is classified as ‘indeterminate’. As such, they mature a bit slow. Fortunately, they don’t die easily and are, in fact, simple to grow. In most cases, you can even grow them in a container.
Getting huge tomatoes for every harvest is sure to be worth getting excited about.
- Huge fruits
- Deep-red colored fruit
- Matures in around 75 days
2. Amish Paste Tomato Seed
The Amish tomato is a variety of paste tomato. Paste tomatoes are also called plum tomatoes.
Paste tomatoes are known for their cutely small and cylindrical bodies. They are also known to be great for processing and are commonly the ones used in canned tomatoes.
Amish paste tomatoes, in particular, have a great balance between having a tangy, sour flavor and a sweet one. More notable is their appearance, resembling teardrops in contrast to the simple round shape that other paste tomatoes have.
The Amish paste tomato plant is also ‘indeterminate’. It may mature in 80 days at the earliest.
- Reddish color
- Matures in 80-85 days
- Has a nice sweet and sour taste
3. Cherry Roma Tomato Seed
The Cherry Roma, as its name implies, is part of the cherry tomato variety.
The ‘indeterminate' Cherry Roma tomato plant is famous for the shape of its fruits that are largely similar to grapes. It’s only to be expected that its fruits are small since it is, after all, a representative of the cherry tomato variety.
This plant is also quite easy to grow. In fact, it can handle many different types of climate and weather conditions. Since the stalk and the fruits are small, they do not demand much space. You can grow them in small containers and they will still live well.
The Cherry Roma tomato is characterized by its sweet and spicy flavor, different from your usual tomato variety.
- Tomato with a grape-like shape
- Sweet and spicy taste
- Matures in 75-80 days
- Adaptable to most weather
4. Black Cherry Tomato Seed
The black cherry tomato is a representative of the cherry variety.
When fully ripe, it has a unique black color not typically found in most of any other tomato. The plant is classified as ‘indeterminate’ and takes around 65 days to mature.
It is already established that cherry tomatoes are small. However, please keep in mind that despite their small fruits, being indeterminate, they still require support from stakes or cages. Despite that, as long as you’re not careless, there should be no problems in raising this kind of plant.
These seeds grow in a warmer climate. They typically need a temperature of around 24°C during the plant’s development stage. During the seed’s germination stage, even higher temperature is required, around 28°C.
- Round and black fruits
- Needs a warm temperature to grow
- Matures in 65 days
- Has highly nutritious fruits
5. Pink Brandywine Tomato Seed
The fruits of the Brandywine or Pink Brandywine tomato seeds can be loosely classified as of a beefsteak variety due to their size and shape.
Even for an indeterminate heirloom tomato plant, the Pink Brandywine tomato grows slowly. The maturity period can take as long as 90 days.
In contrast to paste tomatoes that are widely used for processing, Brandywine tomatoes are generally just eaten fresh and raw without any changes, just like an apple.
They may not be shaped beautifully, but their pinkish hue compensates for that fact.
- Beefsteak-like fruit shape
- With pinkish-red color
- Tomato with a juicy interior
- Matures in 80 to 95 days
6. Kanner Hoell Tomato Seed
The Kanner Hoell tomato can also be loosely classified as of beefsteak variety similar to the Pink Brandywine. However, since the former is also commonly used in salads, you can also classify it as a salad tomato.
There are some other similarities between the Kanner Hoell and the Pink Brandywine. For instance, they have large fruits. They are classified as ‘indeterminate’, and they mature roughly at the same time, around 85-90 days.
Instead of being pink, however, the Kanner Hoell tomato is red, more like your typical tomato. And, as said before, it is used more in salads due to its less-acidic nature. It also has a sweeter flavor that compliments other ingredients in a salad.
- Beefsteak-like fruit shape
- Deep-red colored fruit
- Used in salads
- Low acidity
- Has a sweet flavor
7. Cherokee Purple Beefsteak Tomato Seed
The Cherokee Purple tomato seed is one of the most popular heirloom tomatoes seeds out there.
The reason for this can be due to many things. For instance, its unique dark color, somewhere between black and red, is already eye-catching enough. In fact, it is one of the first few tomatoes to be identified to have such hue.
Another thing to note is the fact that Cherokee Purple tomatoes are widely used in many foods. They are used in pizza, for example. They also are not out of place in salads either. Despite this, many people would argue that this non-hybrid tomato is best eaten raw and fresh.
Lastly, the fruit sizes are huge. This means bountiful harvest every time the fruits mature. Furthermore, each one of them has a sweet, rich flavor that can make your mouth water.
- Beefsteak variety
- The fruit has a darker shade of color
- Used in salads and many other foods
- Rich and sweet taste
8. Sun Gold Tomato Seed
The Sun Gold tomato is a part of the heirloom cherry tomato variety.
True to its name, the color of the tomato is yellowish and golden, just like the sun. They are small and bite-sized. However, their tiny bodies craftily hide the explosive sweetness within.
Despite the small fruits, Sun Gold tomato plants can actually grow large. If you plan on raising them in containers, make sure to use large ones.
- Small and round-shaped fruits
- Yellowish color
- Very sweet
- Matures in 65 days
9. Blondkopfchen Tomato Seed
The Blondkopfchen tomato is a cherry tomato which originates from Germany.
Its name translates to ‘Goldilocks’ or ‘Little blonde girl’ referring to the golden yellow-colored fruits that it has.
Unlike beefsteak-like tomatoes, Blondkopfchen tomatoes are small. They grow in clusters of as many as 30. Like sun gold tomatoes, they are extremely sweet.
Blondkopfchen tomatoes are classified as ‘indeterminate’. They fully mature in 75 days.
- Fruits can grow in clusters of 30
- Golden yellow color
- Very sweet
- Matures in 75 days
10. Hillbilly Tomato Seed
The hillbilly tomato is an heirloom beefsteak variety tomato characterized by its orange and yellow body with some red.
These tomatoes take some time to grow. They can reach maturity in 85 days at the earliest and around 95 days at the latest.
Hillbilly tomatoes are also sweet. However, they also have a more tangy taste than some other sweet cherry tomatoes.
The plant can grow quite tall with large potato leaves. Hence, it is recommended to grow them in spacious areas.
- Large fruits
- Yellowy orange color
- Sweet and tangy taste
- Matures in 85-95 days
The Types of Heirloom Tomatoes and Common Varieties
Before discussing the best tomato heirloom tomato seeds, it may be appropriate to learn more about the different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.
There are many ways to classify the different heirloom tomatoes. The most general way to classify them is to arrange them by their growth speed and appearance. Some heirloom tomato plants can grow relatively fast, while some can take a long time.
A more specific way to classify them would be to arrange them by variety. In this section, we will list a few common tomato varieties for you to choose from.
1. Classification by growth and general appearance
There are roughly two types of heritage tomatoes based on their growth speed – determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate – Determinate heirloom tomato plants grow relatively quickly. They can shoot to maturation from their seed form in just roughly 45 days or less. Appearance-wise, they can form into a bush-like structure with flowers on the end of their branches.
Unfortunately, these kinds of tomato plants also die quickly. Once their flowers bloom and their fruits ripen, they will most likely die after some time.
Indeterminate – Indeterminate heirloom tomato plants grow slower. They require more than 45 days to mature.
Instead of forming a bush-like structure, they grow vines instead. Due to this, they will need a stake for support.
Even though indeterminate heirloom tomato varieties require more support and are slower to grow, they are actually more popular than determinate ones. This can be attributed to the fact that they don’t die even after the initial harvest, and continue to live until winter.
It is generally accepted that, for the most part, indeterminate heirloom tomatoes have the overall advantage. However, it is still recommended to grow a mix of determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties to know which works best in your area.
2. Classification by a collective variety
Classifying tomato plants by their variety is more precise. Unfortunately, due to how specific it is, it is also impossible to list all of them. Hence, this list only contains a few popular ones that are worth mentioning.
Also, it is worth noting that by doing this, hybrid plants come into the mix. The list will only mention the heirloom tomato plants to avoid confusion.
Salad tomatoes – The name refers to the fact that their fruits’ sizes are just right for a salad when sliced. They are also quite juicy which makes them a great addition to an otherwise dry viand.
As mentioned earlier, salad tomatoes are not exclusively heirloom. However, some of the popular salad tomatoes are. These include Valencia, green zebra, and stupice.
Cherry tomatoes – These tomatoes are characterized by their bite-sized bodies. They are also one of the easiest to raise. Therefore, they are a great choice for gardeners who are still new to planting heirloom tomato seeds.
Popular heirloom tomato plants of this variety are black cherry and yellow fig.
Beefsteak tomatoes – They are called such since tomatoes of this variety are large and heavy.
Common heirloom beefsteak tomatoes are Black Krim and Hillbilly tomato.
Heirloom Tomato Seeds Buying Guide: Things to Look Out for when Buying Heirloom Tomato Seeds
You have already read the summaries of some of the best heirloom tomato seeds to grow in the garden. However, even though it should be easy to grow these seeds into mature plants, raising plants is still an extensive subject.
There are many things about growing plants that you simply need more research on. This section aims to guide you as to what aspects of heirloom plant-raising you should look more into.
Important Factors to Consider When Buying Seeds
Climate and temperature – While some tomato seeds grow in low-temperature areas, some are the opposite. Learn about your local weather and climate and know what heirloom tomato seeds you can actually plant accordingly.
Diseases and resistances – Heirloom tomato plants are actually vulnerable to diseases. Thankfully, specific heirloom tomato seeds are resistant to certain diseases. You should learn what plant diseases exist around your area, and choose seeds that are resistant to these particular diseases.
Growth – Indeterminate or determinate? 45 days or 85 days? Knowing the seeds’ growth type and maturity date will help you plan on what to put in your garden.
Characteristics and attributes of the fruit – The fruit descriptions summarized earlier mostly focused on this aspect. You should know the shape and taste of the fruits that the seeds bear. Additionally, you should also learn what they’re commonly used for and match them to what you need.
There are many kinds of tomato seeds. Whether hybrid or heirloom seeds are better, nobody knows for sure. One thing is for certain though. If you have the time and patience to raise an heirloom tomato plant, and as long as you are aware of the best heirloom tomato seeds, you can always easily plant them in your backyard and see your tomato efforts bear fruit.