This is a book for the true tomato snob who is not content with the ordinary red beefsteak weighing heavily on the vine at the end of summer. Yellow, pink, green, and orange tomatoes are all part of this guide to heirloom varieties, many of which are only available through catalogs or through an organization called the Seed Savers Exchange.
Author Carolyn Male favors heirlooms that have been passed down through families, not commercially created hybrids. She does not hesitate to be critical, calling some varieties mealy or bland, while others send her into epiphanies. Although she makes gestures toward guiding the novice, this is a book for either food fanatics or experts who move in the subculture of truly obsessed gardeners catering to gourmet cooks and specialty markets. Throughout the book, enticing photographs of freshly picked heirlooms remind the reader that grocery store tomatoes aren't really tomatoes at all, sitting sadly under fluorescent lights, losing their flavor and color. If only they had been born in a tomato snob's garden; then they would have been treated like royalty. -Emily White
Tomatoes have always been far and away the most popular plant in the vegetable garden, and today the class act among tomatoes is the heirloom varieties--those vegetables with a past that go back generations, their seeds preserved and passed down among families, friends, and dedicated farmers. And no one knows heirloom tomatoes like Carolyn Male, a biologist who's grown more than a thousand varieties in the last 14 years. Following the lush and practical format of 100 English Roses for the American Garden
(with 57,000 copies in print), 100 Heirloom Tomatoes
is a thorough how-to and a stunningly photographed field guide. It covers every facet of growing heirlooms, from selecting the right varieties for your zone and type of garden to timing and planting of seeds, transplanting, hardening off, staking vs. caging, fertilizing, and more. There's a section on how to become a seed saver and even how to do crosses that will lead to creating your own heirlooms. Then comes the tasty part: Aunt Ginny's Purple and Amish Paste, Redfield Beauty, Green Zebra, Georgia Streak and the Santa Clara Canner. Fluted, scalloped, flattened, or lobed--white, pink, red, orange, gold, or chocolate brown--sweet to tart, mild to strong, perfumed and fruity to dark and smoky--now these are tomatoes with real character.