I hate tomatoes. I almost never eat tomatoes and 90% of my tomato consumption comes in the form of pizza and/or tomato sauce. I don’t like tomatoes on my burgers or my sandwiches and I hate tomatoes in my salads. So then why am I growing eight different tomato varieties? I will tell you why, it is Cal Poly’s Tomatozania’s fault…kind of.
I am very lucky to live only about 15-20 minutes away from Cal Poly and early this year I discovered how great their farm store is. They also have a nursery that offers so much more variety than any of my usual resources for plants. When we started frequenting The Cal Poly Farm Store, we normally would just browse their nursery. Then the strawberries came out and I was so excited. Strawberries were at the top of my list of things I wanted to grow this spring and they actually had a large variety, compared to other places.
Around this time, the husband started following them on Facebook and shortly thereafter we discovered Tomatozania! In early March the Cal Poly Nursery released seedlings of over 200 tomato varieties. I had no idea there were even that many tomatoes! They had tomatoes of all different colors and sizes. It was honestly a little mind blowing. We needed to see them for ourselves.
We spent the entire afternoon browsing all the tomatoes Cal Poly had to offer and we ended up walking out with three different varieties. We picked up:
“This variety produces 1-pound fruit with yellow-and-red mottled flesh. Flavor is excellent: sweet, fruity and somewhat pineapple-like in taste. Productive and beautiful. Another favorite among seed collectors.” Smart Gardener
“This tomato was a favorite of Mennonite families from the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia and dates back to the mid-1800s. It is in the beefsteak family and can grow to a robust size of almost 2 pounds. The Old German tomato is bi-colored, featuring golden yellow and reddish stripes.” Veggie Gardener
“named after the lovely green boxes that are made from this mineral that comes from the Ural mountains and other areas. This early, light-to-olive green, medium-sized tomato has succulent bright green flesh that is very flavorful and tasty. Plants are productive even in the north, as this variety was developed at Svetlana Farm in Russia, and it has been tested in Siberia! Our grower likes to make a unique green ketchup from this variety.” Smart Gardener
So how do we now have eight? Well, we didn’t stop there. We also ordered the Berkeley Pink Tie-Dye from the nursery and ended up buying a Mr. Stripey and a Lemon Boy from Home Depot. We also started some Cherokee Purple from seeds and our old Hybrid Cherry Tomato from last year makes eight.
Berkeley Pink Tie-Dye
“Deep red polychrome beefsteak with metallic green stripes. Has a rich, earthy, luscious heirloom flavor. Nice and juicy. One of the coolest tomatoes you will ever see! Reminds us of rainbow tie-dyes from the sixties.” Nature and Nurture Seeds
“Heirloom. These huge, beefsteak-type red-and-yellow fruits with a high sugar content are delicious and pretty to slice because of the bi-coloring. Although the variety is called Mr. Stripey, don’t expect perfect stripes. This is an heirloom and no two tomatoes are ever the same. The background color of the tomato is yellow to light orange, and the red often appears in little spots that align themselves in stripes radiating from the stem end of the fruit.” Bonnie Plants
“Gardeners say Lemon Boy is as unique a tomato as you’ll ever grow. These indeterminate plants produce unusually colored, eye-catching tomatoes with wonderful flavor. Lemon Boy is perfect for slicing to reveal the delicious, lemon-colored flesh.” Burpee
“Heirloom. Cherokee Purple seeds, originating from Tennessee, are thought to have been passed down from Native Americans of the Cherokee tribe. This heirloom tomato variety consistently ranks very high in taste tests. Slice Cherokee Purple tomato for rich, dark color and unmatched sweet, rich taste on sandwiches or in salads. The tomato is a beautiful dusky pink with a deep, rich-red interior.” Bonnie Plants
Our old cherry tomato from last summer makes eight. Since we weren’t really taking gardening too seriously at the time and it’s been about a year now since we planted it, I honestly don’t remember what the exact variety is. I know it was some sort of hybrid, bred to do well in containers, but that’s about all I can recall.
But I still haven’t answered why. Why would two people who openly don’t like tomatoes decide to dedicate so much time and space to a fruit they don’t enjoy? Well, upon learning about how many varieties there were out in the world and how very different they all look and supposedly taste, we realized we had lived a very sheltered tomato life filled with Roma, globe and cherry tomatoes. Yes, we aren’t fans of the usual everyday tomatoes, but we started thinking maybe we just haven’t been exposed the right kind of tomato.
We will see how this goes.