Tomato Varieties – A Few of Our Top Picks

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Who doesn’t love a fresh, delicious home-grown tomato? But the hundreds of varieties that are currently available can quickly leave prospective gardeners scratching their heads in confusion. To help you out, we’ve tested an enticing crop of tomato varieties and here are the results!

Red Beefsteak Tomato Varieties

This plant was bought as a Bonnie’s Plants start from Lowes for about $4. That’s probably why it had fruits on it the quickest. At one point last month, it had about 7 green tennis ball sized fruits on it. However, two fruits turned very squishy, one shortly after being picked and another while it was still on the plant, so I’m not sure how well that bodes for the overall success of this plant.

I’m not sure about the potting soil that went into this one, which I think is predominately the problem. Cracking was also a problem as were bugs. The beefsteak is also especially tall, so you might want to go with a large tomato trellis for this one. The fruits didn’t seem to turn out as large as advertised. However, they do have a good, classic tomato flavor and are fairly prolific.

tomato varieties
Clockwise: black cherry, red beefsteak, black from Tula.

Black from Tula Tomatoes

The seeds for this plant came from an Etsy vendor and had reasonable germination rates. I know from past experience that these ugly fruits are extremely tasty and they make great BLT sandwiches. However, the trick in Georgia is getting them to produce fruit because they don’t seem to do so well once the heat kicks in. I started the first set in March but a random cold snap got them, so I had to start over.

Although I had two plants, there have only been two fruits thus far. The first was very badly cracked (a problem with this variety) and couldn’t be eaten. The second had blossom end rot. These plants also get very large, even in containers and wilt rather quickly if not watered for short periods. So for some people, particularly those in the deep South, it’s probably not worth the hassle of growing. But our family loves them when it does work out.

Black Cherry Tomatoes

tomato varieties
A cluster of black cherry tomatoes.

These seeds were bought as part of an order from Tradewind Fruits, but plants also are easy to get as starts from Lowes and that’s what I did last year. I know from previous experience that these plants are extremely prolific and produce small, succulent black fruits during even the hottest months. They also have a good flavor and make decent, if extremely large, container plants.

They were one of the first to ripen this year, despite getting a late start. However, this time around, I left the first fruits (a cluster of 5) on the plant too long. Some cracked and couldn’t be salvaged. Another downside is that you really need a handful of them make a decent sized tomato sandwich. They are also very good cut up and sautéed with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, and a little bit of feta cheese.

Risentraube Tomatoes

These are another juicy cherry tomato variety, but one with a more classic tomato flavor. I’ve had them randomly come up in my yard from spoiled fruit that had been dropped the previous year on the way to the garbage bin. They also seem to be fairly hardy plants, despite the summer heat. This time around, I got the seeds from Tradewind Fruits. They are also doing alright in their container but have nonetheless begun to outgrow the tomato cage. Several months in, my plant has finally started developing fruit, but they are oddly shaped compared to the ones I have grown in the past.

Roma Tomatoes

Tomato plant.

I’ve grown these tomato varieties in the past but haven’t been overly impressed with them. After all, they aren’t very juicy or much good for fresh eating. They’re typically either roasted in the oven or sun-dried for later use. Or they are used in sauces. I don’t recall them having any pest or disease problems, but their dull taste was the reason that I decided not to grow them again.

My cousin (who does love them) had obtained a packet of these from Livingston Seeds several years ago and shared them with me. They still came up easily and were one of the few plants that didn’t seem to be outgrowing their cage.

Pink Brandywine Tomatoes

tomato varieties
Brandywine tomatoes.

The seeds for these plants came from Burpee via Lowes and probably had the best overall germination rates. I was looking for a tasty full-sized variety that would continue to do well in the summer heat here in Georgia, to make up for the productions gaps in between the Tula tomatoes. They have odd shaped “potato” leaves, which makes them easy to tell apart from the other plants. (A bonus, if you tend to mix up the seedlings!)

But the primary downside is that they seem to need more sun than the other tomato varieties. I’ve been growing one in an area that gets some shade and it’s flopped over to the point it’s now growing below the container. My grandmother’s plants are in full, almost relentless sun and they already have numerous fruits, defying various claims online that these are not very productive plants.

These tomatoes are medium-large (ours) to large sized (allegedly). Depending on the strain, they turn red or pink when ripe. Ours were the latter. We also noticed some splitting because of the rain but it’s been rare this year that the tomatoes don’t split.

These fruits are juicy and can be watery, but still have a decent flavor. My grandparents loved them but my mother and I personally like meatier varieties. If you are using the Brandywines in sandwiches, make sure that you toast the bread first. Otherwise, your meal will get soggy and gross before you finish eating it.

What tomato varieties are you growing in your yard? Tell us about them and how they did in comment section below.

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About Lauren

Lauren Purcell is a freelance writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is the proud owner of two spoiled little dogs. Her hobbies include gardening (in case you hadn't noticed), cooking, traveling when she has money, and waiting on her key lime tree to produce fruit.

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