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Five-Must Have Tomatoes

cherry tomatoesAssure yourself months of delicious tomato-munching with this can't-live-without lineup.

Each year, I always make room for tomatoes (a tough thing, since it's critical that you rotate their location every three years and the locations are supposed to be 50 feet apart!). I fill my precious space carefully with the following:

1. An heirloom beefsteak
I plant one of these because they are so incredibly flavorful and wonderful, the best tomato I'll eat all year. My favorite is 'Brandywine,' a big, fat and (frankly) ugly tomato that has out-of-this-world deep, rich, complex flavor. It starts bearing in early to mid-August or so and continues through frost.

2. An early slicing tomato
I plant one of these to ensure homegrown tomatoes as early as possible. They aren't big and they aren't as flavorful as the late-season beefsteaks, but they are so welcome I'm thrilled to have them! One of my favorites, 'Early Girl', matures in just 52 days, so with luck you could have them by the 4th of July.

3. A cherry or grape tomato
I also am sure to plant a cherry tomato or two. They start producing mid-season, approximately late July. 'Sweet Hundred' is one of the most popular, but my very favorite was introduced to me by my neighbor, Janie. It's called 'Sweet Million' and it's so incredibly sweet with a full, beautiful flavor that it's the one cherry tomato my 12-year-old will eat straight from the plant.

4. A few paste-type tomatoes
Sometimes called roma tomatoes or plum tomatoes, these small, oblong tomatoes are meaty with few seeds, perfect for making into sauces, salsas, or to can.

I plant at least three of them and if I'm ambitious, six (since the seedlings come in three-packs and I can't bear to throw them out). I'll collect them by the armload come August and September. 'La Roma' is one of the most widely available and is a good choice, though I planted 'San Marzano' one year and it made the best, sweetest pasta sauce ever.

5. 'Long-Keeper'
Ben introduced me to this one. It's a tomato that you harvest while still a pinkish green, right before frost. The fruits are small, about the size of a tennis ball, but the tomatoes take up to three weeks to ripen indoors, assuring me of fresh tomatoes up to Thanksgiving. The flavor isn't as good as some other garden tomatoes, but it beats the heck out of the supermarket kind.

All these tomato seeds are available online at, a wonderful source for the widest variety of tomatoes and peppers.

Get hints and tips for having truly healthy tomatoes this year. Check out our top tips for truly healthy tomatoes.

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