A few weeks ago at the farmers market down the street, I picked up an heirloom tomato plant. I didn’t go with the purpose of getting an heirloom tomato plant, but it is a small market, it was the only organic stall selling plants, and I don’t know what I’m doing regardless, so heirloom or not, I was getting one of their plants.

They had several varieties, and I was clueless about them all. I asked her to describe them, and the variety is really fascinating. That’s the point of seed swaps and heirloom varieties, really – doing a small piece of biodiversity maintenance! And the earth needs all the help she can get, after the large scale farming, and especially after the issues GMO companies like Monsanto have created.

So I was happy to get an heirloom plant, even though I would never have expected it to be as easy as walking down the street to the farmers market. I chose the “cherokee purple” almost entirely because it already had a couple little blossoms, and that seemed like a good sign to me!

And wow, it seems to really be producing.

In addition to the 3 obvious baby tomatoes (I only noticed two of them yesterday), there are 2 partially hidden babies, and 1 fully hidden one. That’s 6 tomatoes on the plant right now!

cherokee tomato plant with young fruit

The other exciting thing about this plant, for me, is that it seems really sturdy. It is growing strong without any kind of stake or cage to prop it up. As it gets heavier with fruit, I might need to put a cage around it (I’m too inexperienced at this point to know for sure) but the other (non-heirloom variety) tomato plant I have not only has just a few much smaller blossoms, but it needs a stake to stay upright.

When I was purchasing the Cherokee Purple, another woman was asking about Brandywines, but the stall had sold their Brandywine plant earlier that morning. The woman asking seemed very disappointed and absolutely uninterested in any other variety. I finally looked up some information on the Cherokee Purple, and was interested to see that it was described as having a similar taste as the Brandywine! Good or bad, I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. It is supposed to be a very sweet tomato. I have no idea what to expect. did find a nice blog of someone dedicated to writing about her Cherokee Purple experience! And some gorgeous photos on there of the end result, sadly not her own as the weather in her home state doesn’t sound friendly towards these tomatoes.

Doing even the smallest bit of research on the Cherokee Purples and Brandywines has me excited about heirloom plants. I might try saving the seeds and participating in a seed swap next January, or even casually with friends. It is really interesting to read about the history of particular varities and to realize that they can be traced back to specific people, and that the were sometimes in someone’s family for 100 years!

I was also surprised to see a big change in that eggplant blossom between today and yesterday. It amazes me how fast things change!

eggplant flower

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