Heirloom tomato varieties are gorgeous and many offer better taste and flavor than the hybrid ones you see in grocery stores.
I’ve been growing heirloom tomatoes for a few years now and I’ve found a few favorite varieties and there are endless varieties to try. Every year I try to add some new heirloom tomato varieties and keep some of my old favorites.
Because I love talking to other gardeners about heirlooms, I thought it would be fun to discuss heirloom tomato varieties and where you can buy heirloom tomato seeds.
What Are Heirloom Tomatoes?
The seeds of the heirloom tomatoes are what make heirloom tomatoes. These seeds have been passed down from season to season by gardeners and farmers who have carefully selected the seeds from their best tomatoes based on desired characteristics of heirloom tomatoes like taste, color, size, and juiciness.
There is a bit of a debate about when a seed can be classified as an heirloom. Some people say 50 years, but many say that the seeds have to be from before World War II.
Heirloom tomatoes come in an amazing array of colors from black, brown, red, orange, yellow, pink, green, and many are bi-colored or striped. Many varieties can look a bit funky and crack easily (especially the large beefsteak ones or Brandywine ones).
The skin of heirloom tomatoes tends to be thinner and they bruise easier which is why you need to be gentle when harvesting. But the taste of heirloom vine-ripened tomatoes is amazing!
Heirloom tomatoes are often open-pollinated which means they are pollinated by birds, bees, or other natural means.
Heirloom Tomato Varieties
I’ve really taken a liking to the black tomato varieties. I started with Black Icicle, a black paste heirloom tomato which I absolutely love.
Then I heard how great Black Krim was so I grew them this year. Black Krim was large, but it didn’t color as deeply as we have a shorter growing season here in Canada (although they were greenhouse grown).
I also personally love growing a lot of the roma shaped/paste tomatoes as I do a lot of tomato sauce canning and canning fresh tomato salsa more than fresh eating. San Marzano was decent, although I prefer the Amish Paste.
I tried growing Gold Medal but the yield was far less than most of the other varieties (unfortunately! It was GORGEOUS).
Yellow Pear was very abundant and had great color.
I’ve grown German Pink, and Black Vernissage, although both didn’t yield as well as many other varieties.
Where to Buy Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Here are some fantastic seed companies to buy heirloom tomato seeds. If you have a favorite that’s not here let me know in the comments and I’ll add it!
- Baker Creek Seeds finest old varieties in lots of delicious colors
- Wild Board Farms offers some of the most outrageous tomato varieties available on the planet’
- Tomato Fest more than 650 varieties!
- Heritage Harvest Seed (200+ varieties from Canada)
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Johnny’s Seed
- Salt Spring Seeds (Canada)
- Territorial Seeds
- Southern Seed Exchange
Heirloom tomato poster from Wild Boar Farms
What is your favorite heirloom tomato variety?