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The Best All-Purpose Tomatoes

>18 July 2012
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I’ve been harvesting tomatoes for the past week, and am having the best harvest yet! I’ve also been canning tomato sauce… the “how-to” coming soon.

After three years of growing (or attempting to grow) tomatoes, I’ve finally settled on my favorite variety, and the best way to grow them.

Hands down, Amish Paste tomatoes.

They’re the perfect all-purpose tomato. They’re good for slicing, and they make delicious sauces! They are very meaty, with very little juice and seeds.

I’ve decided that on a small homestead like ours where there isn’t much room to waste, we have to make the most of every square foot of garden that we have. Big, slicing tomatoes are nice. And little cherry tomatoes are fun as well. And I might plant one of each next year. But if I’m going to be serious about canning all of my family’s tomato products, it’s gotta be as many Amish Pastes as I can squeeze in.

This year I tried something new for trellising my tomatoes…

I hammered stakes into the ground, and secured goat wire fencing across them. It’s helpful to use fencing with big holes like this, so you can reach your hand through the wires, and so the vines have room to move in and out freely.

Amish Pastes are indeterminate, meaning that they vine instead of bush, so they need something to climb. If the plant is left to sprawl across the ground, it will quickly succumb to insect infestation and rot.

I did help the vines a little by carefully weaving them through the wire as they grew. I’ve also used twine to hold up the long branches that didn’t find their way to the trellis, and were too stiff to bend back without breaking.

I’ve had almost none of these tomatoes to rot or go bad on the vine. They’ve definitely done better than any other year!

So that’s my vote. Amish Pastes. And goat wire trellising.

Do you have a favorite? If you could only grow one type of tomato, what would it be and why?

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19 Comments »

  • Amanda said:

    Beautiful!!! Love your garden.

  • Kris Watson said:

    This year, I discovered Celebrity tomatoes, a determinate variety, they said. I planted 24 plants, lost four to the dog, and ended up with more than 500 tomatoes on 20 plants. It was insane. The bushes grew to four feet, and even though I staked them, the weight of the fruit pulled every plant over the edge of the raised bed. I picked the tomatoes when they were green, hard, and from medium to very large in size. It took weeks for them to ripen after that. If they had remained on the plant, I doubt many would have survived at all. I will plant Celebrity again. Only deeper and further apart. And maybe half as many plants!

  • Mich said:

    I always grow a selection of different tomatoes every year but the one that I always grow is Tigerella. It gives a good yield of medium sized fruit that is good for slicing and cooking down to a sauce.
    I have a range of hertiage ones this year that are looking good.
    I have to say i grow all mine in greenhouses as the summers in the UK are just not great for outdoor tom production….esp this summer. WET.

  • lis said:

    Have you ever heard of the Florida Weave way to support tomatoe vines? I stumbled across this idea on the internet and I tried it for the first time this year and will use this way from now own. For me this has worked the best.

    Favorite tomatoes are Black Plum, Cherokee Purple and Black Krim.

  • Shirley said:

    I grow Amish paste and Roma tomatoes and MAYBE one Beefsteak for a slicing tomato for sandwiches but for sauce, and salads it is the Amish Paste. However, we prefer Roma for salsa.

    Shirley

  • Cranky Puppy said:

    We used to grow Celebrity and Early Girl but, hands down, our new favorite is Cherokee Purple. It’s an heirloom variety that we decided to try this year and we’re in love. It’s an old-fashioned slicer that is slightly sweet.

  • Pam W. said:

    Amish Paste is our favorite, too. We plant a really long row of them. We also trellis them up on some of our extra hog fence panels. We usually also grow some Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and one or two heirloom slicing tomatoes just for some variety. We have way more than we eat and use for canning, but that’s okay, because the pigs and chickens love them, and they are a nice juicy treat for them to eat during this never-ending, hot, dry heatwave! Plus, the more produce they eat, the less feed they eat, and since we can’t afford to buy the organic feed, the feed that they do get does contain GM corn, etc. So we try to supplement with as much of our extra produce and chicken scraps as possible. We’ve also greatly enlarged the chicken yard to go from their coop all the way out around all of our fruit trees, so they’re basically like free range now, but still safe from predators 9and neighbors dogs, our cats, etc.)with the six-foot wire fencing. And of course we close them up in their coop at night. We plant our potatoes inside their yard now, too, and it works great, because they don’t eat the foliage, but they do eat the potato bugs! We also plant a large area of sunflowers inside their yard, and they love hopping up to get to the seeds. Also, just a caution–no matter how nice your rooster seems, always be careful, especially with your kids. We’ve had a beautiful Buff Orpington rooster for about three years now, that we bought as a day old chick, and he’s always been very calm and never aggressive. However, a couple of months ago, I went into the chicken yard, which I have always done on a daily basis, and when I walked past him, he attacked me from behind. It was just at knee level, but it hurt, and if it was a child, it could have been on the face or head. I had jeans on, and he still punctured my skin on both the front and back of my leg, right below my knee. I think a spur got the back, and maybe his beak in the front. Anyway, both drew blood (through the jeans, remember). He ended up with a spur caught in my jeans, which left him hanging upside down from my leg, ha ha! My husband got him loose, and then we cut off the points of his spurs. I’m hoping since he ended up hanging from me that it means, in his mind, that I won! Anyway, I always keep an eye on him now, and sometimes even carry a thick stick when I go into their yard. He’s never tried it again, but I guess you never know. Anyway, be careful with your kids–we never would have thought ours would have attacked. Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble on and on! Have a good day. :)

  • Andrea said:

    Hi Kendra!
    I made a similar decision this year and planted 90% Romas in my garden for the same reasons you listed! I have about 50 plants this year but, being in the Chicago area, have not started harvesting yet.
    I would love to try the Amish Pastes next year….can you point me in the direction of where you purchased your seed? Do you save your own seeds?
    Andrea :)

  • JulieG said:

    Your tomatoes in the last photo look so lovely! I love the dark colored heirloom Black Prince tomato which I grew for the first time this year. Black Prince are juicy with seeds. The photo in the link shows they have meat too but I didn’t have that with mine.

    description from
    http://www.territorialseed.com/product/11632/92

    Princely refinement defines this outstanding, juicy, round tomato with its warm, rich colors and robust, full-bodied flavor. Originally introduced in Russia, this indeterminate plant performs quite well in cooler regions. Medium-sized fruit reach approximately 2 inches across with mahogany skin, green shoulders and florid, green and red striped flesh.

  • Melissa said:

    What’s the difference between Roma and Amish Paste tomatoes? I always buy (apartment dweller here) bushels of Roma tomatoes for all my canning needs.

  • Emily said:

    Amish paste are one of our favorites too. We use one cattle panel on each side of our tomato rows to keep them upright. Then we can use twine between panels as needed. Our other favorites are German lunchbox cherry tomatoes and Granny Cantrells (large slicing type). They all grow TALL. Cantrells are also very meaty and get huge and have a high yield. Flavor is awesome as well.

  • ann said:

    I had too many varities this year, plus stink bugs I could not get rid of. Next year, I will plant two Cherokee Purple, one pink Brandywine, and the rest Roma. I am about to root some of my Roma suckers for fall tomatoes. I really hope I get enough to can more. I will also plant a couple of cherry tomato plants. I planted one Sugar Sweet this year, and it is great! Some days I have gotten a pint of this one plant. Sweet 100 is also a heavy producer and will grow in a pot.

  • Rosalyn said:

    Your comments are all interesting, but for those of you that will be planting a large majority of your tomatoes from one variety, you may want to have a look at this post, that I just read a few minutes ago: http://www.urbanpioneerstory.com/2012/07/diversity-and-sustainablility/ I’d hate to think all of your hard work could potentially be lost if a bug or disease got your crop!! And I am just new to veggie gardening, so I don’t have a favourite yet. :)

  • Deb said:

    That’s a hard decision. I grow San Marzanos (another Roma/paste-type tomato) and they, or maybe some of your Amish, would be the pick for versatility, but I couldn’t give up my German Pinks for slicing – they are toooooooo delicious!!

  • LindaG said:

    Thanks for the recommendation! If I can find them, I will try them.

  • Mich said:

    oo after reading comments about Cherokee Purple I am looking forward to trying it, it is one of the heritage varieties I’m growing this year :)

  • Anonymous said:

    Celebrity is the favorite! They are meaty enough for paste and beautiful large slicers. They are prolific in number (you will end up with more than you need!)

    Do plant a variety of tomatoes because it has been prophesied that the clock is ticking on the genetically modified and they will fail. Always have a “Plan B”.

  • LP Johnson said:

    I grow a variety, but if I had to pick ONE it would be Juliette. It grows prolifically like a cherry, and is about halfway between a roma and a grape in size and shape. But because they are smallish, they mature quickly so you can pick early and often. I can them up skin and all, I also love them on my dehydrator. The best marinara-type sauce can be made with Juliettes roasted in the dehydrator for a day blended up with fresh herbs, garlic and onion.

  • Shane said:

    I second the Black Krim! I don’t think it’s a great canning tomatoe, although you can do it, but it has a wonderdul flavor. It has a very fresh flavor with a little saltiness thrown in, which makes them great in salads and for BLT’s.

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