Whether you have a short or a long growing season, the range of organic, heirloom tomato varieties means that you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing which seeds to plant in your garden, greenhouse or polytunnel. This list outlines some of the best varieties of tomato seeds that will give you some of the best tomato plants possible come harvest time. It is of course an incomplete list but will certainly give you some ideas when it comes to choosing which type of tomato plant to grow. All the plants on this list are heirloom tomatoes, as these will allow you to collect seed from the plants and grow again next year and eventually, to breed plants ideally suited to your climate and local soil conditions.
Easily recognizable from its unusual foliage which resembles potato leaves, this heirloom variety is one of the best known and most highly regarded around. It is suitable for growing outside or in a greenhouse or polytunnel and is generally considered to be one of the best tasting ‘beefsteak’ tomatoes. It dates from 1885 and has a long history as an organic garden favorite. Brandwine tomato plants will grow to a height of around 2m with a spread of around 50cm and are best grown as cordons. They will flower and then fruit between July and September. Fruits are slower to mature than other varieties, taking 80-100 days to grow to full size, but these fruits can reach a weight of 0.7kg.
An heirloom alternative, perhaps, to the popular hybrid variety, Sungold, this super-sweet and super early, yellow tomato variety comes from Siberia and could be a good choice for those who want all kinds of tomatoes in a variety of different colors. With these tomatoes you can make a great yellow tomato soup or yellow tomato ketchup – for something a bit out of the ordinary. Galina produces an abundance of fruits of around 3cm in diameter in bunches on tall plants. These potato leaf foliage plants grow to around 1.2m in height and the fruits do not fall off when ripe which makes harvesting easier. Galina can be harvested early and will continue to fruit for longer than other varieties, perhaps bearing even until November.
3- Cherokee Purple
One of the best tomato plants for dark-colored fruit, this heirloom variety dates to the 19th Century and is prized by many, who say this is what large tomatoes should taste like. The flavor is sweet and the dusky purple color is attractive. These mature in around 80 days, perfect for those growing tomatoes under cover. Cherokee Purple tomato plants are slow to start but can be good producers once they get going, producing plenty of dark fruits on vines that can reach around 1.2-1.8m in height. Fruits are beefsteak in style and can reach a weight of around 0.2-0.3kg. They can have a long harvesting period and some gardeners report getting the last fruits under cover as late as early November.
Stupice (pronounced stu-pitza) is one of the earliest of the vine tomato varieties and can cope with even the greyest and wettest of summers, which makes it a sturdy choice for outside growing. These red tomatoes are around two inches across and are perfect for use in a variety of salads. Vines will grow well, even in containers on a patio and will reach a height of around 1.2m and can reach maturity in as few as 50 days, meaning that they are perfect for a short gardening season.
5- Orange Banana
An extremely productive plum tomato, the large orange-color fruits on this variety are something a little bit different. They look and taste great both cooked and in salads and also make great sauces. Best of all, these little beauties are said to be extremely high yielding. These paste type tomatoes reach a size of around 7cm in length and mature late in the growing season. The fruits grow abundantly on tall, vining plants that are best grown cordon style. The plants can grow vigorously to well over 2m in height in optimum conditions.
6- Peacevine Cherry
This pretty little cherry tomato takes its name from the fact that it has high levels of an amino acid said to have a calming effect on the physiology. Bundles of cherry tomatoes are formed on trusses and are great to use in a number of different ways in the kitchen or straight from the vine. Peacevine cherry tomatoes grow to maturity in 69-80 days. The small, red fruits reach a size of around 2cm in diameter. The indeterminate vines will grow to a final height of around 1m in height, though these will need plenty of support, especially as fruits begin to form.
7- Chadwick Cherry
A bright red cherry tomato, this is said to have a fantastic flavor. It was bred by eccentric horticulturist Alan Chadwick, who, in his fifties, decided to give up his career as a Shakespearean actor in South Africa and created and took on the University of Santa Cruz’s farm and garden project in California. As well as inspiring many, he created this delicious tomato. Chadwick cherry tomatoes will grow to maturity in around 80 days. The fruits are slightly larger than true cherry tomatoes – approximately 0.2-0.3kg in weight and are produced in abundance. Fruits lose their flavor slightly as the season wanes but are tasty eaten straight from the vine in late summer.
8- Gardener’s Delight (Cherry)
This cherry is often described as one of the sweetest and tastiest cherry tomato varieties around. It is a popular heritage variety and one of the most highly regarded of the cherry types of tomato. Best grown as a cordon variety, Gardener’s Delight plants reach a height of around 2m. The small cherry tomatoes are produced on trusses and reach around 2cm across. Under cover, these will produce an earlier crop but they can also be grown outside. They tend to fruit between July and October.
9- Latah (Bush Variety)
This is one of the best tomato plant varieties for the earliest possible crop. It tolerates short or cool summers well and though the bushes can be sprawling and untidy looking, the quick-ripening fruits do have fantastic flavor. The red fruits, which are around 2-3cm in diameter, can be ready to harvest as early as June and will continue to produce abundantly over a long period, even in colder climates. These are sprawling bush plants that are extremely difficult to support in any way but if you simply leave them to it they will produce tasty fruits on their somewhat ungainly plants.
10- Legend (Bush Variety)
One of the best things about this bush variety is that it not only matures medium early but is also fairly resistant to blight – holding it off for longer than many other heirloom tomato varieties. The round fruit grow to around 2 inches across outdoors, though they can be up to double the size if plants are cosseted under cover. Fruits will usually be ready for harvest indoors from late June/ early July under cover, a week or two later outdoors. Plants will grow to a height of around 1.2m.