Most Productive Heirloom Tomato You've Grown


SM gets a little BER for me, but the worst is that they seem to get ten times the stinkbug damage of my other tomatoes.


Howdy! Chocolate cherry is healthy and in one gallon pots at present. I will either up them to a 3 gallon or 5 gallon, or find a place in-ground in a couple weeks. They are about 9 inches tall. Not bad considering what 30 days?

PR I just didn’t get a good impression on taste nor on growth habits. Black Krim I would grow again in a heartbeat.


BK seemed to be a better producer and a bit more disease resistant than PR for me. I think I gave them both 2 or 3 years, but just didn’t get a lot of samples.

But this year has been a great year for all my tomatoes, dry, sunny and warm.


So someone else is trying for some late 'maters! I’ve got a couple Yellow Pears of about the same size.


I grow Reif’s red heart every year and save my own seed. It produces well for me and seems to be somewhat resistant to early blight (I perhaps I have been lucky so far). I never spray for it. All my neighbors are devastated with it each year and I am happily still picking my tomatoes.

Chocolate cherry? I sampled some once and love the flavor. Anyone know where I could find seed for it? My seed catalog sources I use do not offer it.


I get mine from but I also found them at the local Rural King this year. Don’t know if y’all have RK in your area, tho.


Something I’ve done that seems to help a lot is to start my plants early and intentionally make them leggy. Total root mass to vegetative mass seems to have a lot to do with the amount of fruit a plant can support, so I make sure I have at least 12-18" of stem buried and I make sure it’s shallowly buried.

I am also growing in homemade compost raised beds from the horse barn, about 30" wide, which seems to provide the shallow surface area needed for good root aeration. This is directly on top of 2-3" of native topsoil and then clay, so I get a good mix of drainage and built-in water retention, which to me seems fairly similar to a Deep Water Culture distribution of root mass.

My late season tomatoes are as big as the early season, and I honestly haven’t had time to fertilize… so obviously the compost beds are providing enough nutrition for the moment.

I made a lot of mistakes this year, like planting very late (after 4th of July) and not sticking to my intention of actually single-stemming so I have this enormous jungle that kind of has to be seen to be believed. I planted two rows in the bed with a plant every 12 inches and was like “ok, I’ll just have 2 leaders each” but I got busy and greedy and stupid so I strung up about 4 leaders per plant to start with across a 4-5 foot wide trellis on a ~25 foot bed. Turns out they’ll all lean on each other and create a true jungle, so the good news is that I didn’t have to do much additional stringing up but the bad news is that the growth was out of this world and severely impaired air flow and predator access to pests.

Tons of tomatoes lost to insects as a result, but for some reason foliar diseases haven’t really been a massive issue. They are present, but don’t seem to actually impact the plants… but the plants are like 15-20 feet tall in some areas and at least 12 feet everywhere… they’re above the top of my 7.5 foot trellis and back down to the ground and then up a few feet again, it’s totally out of control and the bed is oriented North-South which in retrospect was stupid on my part.

The bed has Brandywine OTV, Stupice, Granny Cantrell Pink, German Pink, and about 12 other similar varieties. No purple/black tomatoes there this time sadly, but I did grow Black Sea Man tomatoes in a different bed without any trellising and I think that variety may be nearly impossible to beat or kill. Half of my Pink/Red bed didn’t get trellissed because I just couldn’t make the time so they’re all on the ground without a single tomato surviving to harvest from like 8 plants… by contrast, my two Black Sea Man tomato plants must have made 50 each, on the ground, the majority of which were totally fine. I was pretty shocked. They have a very different taste than the other purple/black tomatoes, very rich flavor and they taste like they’re already lightly salted. Totally different than the others I’ve tried like the Cherokee Purple, Black Prince, Black Krim, etc. I will grow these again and this time put them in a Florida Weave.

Those plants were also completely buried, one with 2.5 feet of stem buried. I also stopped pulling the leaves off, that is totally unnecessary and as I have seen mentioned other places it actually seems to work better for me to leave those leaves on and just bury all of it than to rip/cut off everything from the main stem that is to be buried.

Anyhow, the point I am trying to make is that if root mass seems to be part of the issue then I’d consider trying to intentionally start the plant leggy so that you can bury a very long stem and get a much larger root system established. The taproot from the seed will find deeper water and the shallower roots from the stem will scavenge more nutrients and provide necessary oxygenation for the root system.

Next year I will be primarily planting dwarf tomatoes from the Dwarf Tomato Project in an effort to truly minimize my tomato maintenance, so we’ll see how that goes.

Not sure if this has been helpful but those were my thoughts as well as an unintentional ramble or two.


I actually did this with my peppers, bury most of the stems. I’m not sure if it made them more drought resistant (I added mulch for the first time this year too), but they definitely did not blow over in the high winds this year. I couldn’t do this with my tomatoes, because I graft them due to nematodes. (and I like planting them in a nematode spot so I can save the nematode free areas for green beans).

Back on topic, I’m an extension agent, and we did a homeowner tomato trial this year. I threw in a few heirloom and open pollinated varieties.
Our trial participants reported:
Atkinson- Meh. Unusually slow to start flowering but it caught up with the other varieties. Close to the average production. No one had any major complaints or any major raves of appreciation for this variety. It gets to come back next year.
Thessaloniki-Slow to flower. Most people did not report good production on this variety. Plants had high survival until August. I’ve grown this one in my garden before though, and it usually has ok production, so I was surprised it didn’t do better. Might have just been an off year, but I don’t think I can get anyone to take the variety next year, so it’s out.
Cherokee Purple- This is the only heirloom variety I could find an TX extension recommendation for. It had mixed results. It had poor set and production for most people throughout the trial. When people got one of these tomatoes though, they generally enjoyed them. I grow this variety too, and yeah, I’d swear I only get 5-6 tomatoes per plant, though it threw some monsters early in the season. I kept my plants over the heat of the summer (tomato plants dieback in August here) and I should get a second crop in the fall, or at least I thought I was. Only the plant on the end is setting…
Purple Calabash-I threw this into the experiment as the wild card. It had a little bit less than the average production but most people got a tomato off of it. Got alot of positive comments on the taste. The size of the tomatoes seemed to shrink towards the end, and the plants crashed healthwise, but I’d say this heirloom did the best out of the others this year. I can’t recommend it yet though because I want a second year of data.
Tomatoes were grown in a variety of places, including raised beds and in-ground gardens. Some of the plants got hailed on and didn’t recover. Oh and our climate is hot and dry, though we did get normal rainfall this spring. Plants were planted around late April, early May (which is very late for our region). If you want a copy of the trial report, PM me. As that it’s a results demonstration I need to get the results out.


That is a very poor list of tomatoes to grow in your climate Vault. Get these and ask your growers to trial them. Note, these varieties are specific to central Texas growing conditions so are not varieties I would recommend in a different climate.

Burgundy Traveler
Eva Purple Ball
Crnkovic Yugoslavian


Here in the Puget Sound lowlands, we need 72 day or less ripening Tomatoes.
The Striped Red Zebra is a good producer.
But the Determinate Paste types give the most bang for the space


No JD’s Special D-Tex? Just curious. Of course this year, it and every other dark tomato except Big Cheef did relatively poorly for me here in Virginia. Even on grafted rootstock.


Have to remember the target audience. Most people want tomatoes that are round and red. Even a pink tomato is asking them to step out of their comfort zone. J.D.'s Special C-Tex is a good tomato and certainly could be added to the list. I would add Lynnwood, but it is just another good flavored red tomato of which I already listed 2 red and 3 pink.


I’ve only heard of one of these, but I will certainly look up the rest. Thanks!


You might have some fun with this site. It covers most of the varieties I grow. The side menu lists peppers and other fruits and veggies.

As an example, here is the page for Crnkovic Yugoslavian

One piece of trivia, the clear epidermis gene in tomato interrupts a major section of the flavonoid biopath. The result is less intense flavors and more perception of sweetness in most pink tomatoes. Crnkovic Yugoslavian is a good example. Breeders today combine the gene for clear epidermis with the high lycopene gene. This re-enables part of the biopath resulting in relatively intense flavors and less perceived sweetness. Burgundy Traveler is an example with deep pink color and more intense flavor.


One that I haven’t seen mentioned is Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom. If you can stomach a yellow tomato, this one is pretty good, and from what I remember was very productive.

Not an heirloom but notable is Park’s Improved Whopper. If you like Celebrity, this one may get your attention. The harvest period is longer, and the plants are bulletproof. Fruit size is variable, unlike Celebrity.


Cherokee Carbon also had rot problems.
Large, irregular shape fruit.
Ripens earlier than Cherokee Carbon, but not durable.
I’d like to find a better Black Tomato that can mature in the Puget Sound lowlands. Usually that means 65-70 days. Also prefer Determinate types.


Black tomatoes in the PNW are difficult to get decent flavor. Try Black From Tula. Black Sea Man might work though it is a disease magnet in my climate.


Black from Tula