Sunday, March 17, 2013

Brandywine Tomatoes

The largest sections in seed catalogs are usually for peppers and tomatoes, and for good reason. While tomato plants all look about the same, the fruit they produce varies widely in shape, color, texture, and taste. One could fill entire gardens with heirloom tomato variations and I suspect some do, but many people recognize the Brandywine tomato as the standard to which all others are compared.

Image credit: hardworkinghippy

Named after the Brandywine Creek in Chester County, PA where there was an important Revolutionary War battle, the tomato appeared in 1889 offered by Johnson and Stokes Seeds. The seed had originally come from a customer in Ohio. The tomatoes are large, some reaching 12 ounces, and the plants produce plenty of them.

There's a variety of Brandywine called Sudduth's Strain. Heirloom tomato champion Ben Quisenberry received seeds for this pink tomato in 1980 from Dorris Sudduth Hill. Hill's family had grown the variety for more than 100 years, according to Seed Savers Exchange, which now sells several of Quisenberry's tomato varieties.

Tomatoes of any kind are the perfect first plant for budding gardeners and no garden is complete without tomatoes. A flat of Brandywines is germinating in our basement; I hope to enjoy their sweetness in a few months.

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