All Things Tomato, Part 3: Tomato Terms

Let’s do some tomato terms and get that out of the way so you can get back to the fun stuff, like collecting salsa recipes - more about that later!

Days to Harvest

Generally understood to be the number of days from the time the tomato is transplanted in the garden or large container, to harvesting a ripe tomato. Early season varieties mature in 55 to 68 days; midseason varieties in 69 to 79 days; late season varieties in 80 days or more.

Heirloom

A tomato is considered an heirloom when the plant has been open pollinated and the seeds from the fruit are collected from year to year. The plants grown from those seeds will have all the traits of the parent plant.

Hybrid

A tomato variety intentionally cross bred with another variety to obtain the traits of both parents. The resulting plant will not have seeds that reproduce this cross, and many times these seeds are sterile and won’t germinate at all.

GMO or Genetically Modified Organism 

Articles on this subject abound on the internet so let’s address any fears that tomatoes we are offering could be the result of genetic modification (inserting the genetic code of another organism into the tomato’s DNA to enhance certain traits). There have been experiments to modify tomatoes with this technology in the past. A variety named ‘FlavrSavr’ was developed to enhance shelf life at the grocery. It wasn’t a very tasty tomato and was soon discontinued.  New tomato varieties are “hybridized” to enhance characteristics like disease resistance in the age-old method of cross breeding. 

Grafted Tomatoes

We do, at times, offer grafted varieties based on our customer’s interest. Grafting uses two or more different varieties of tomatoes that are spliced together at the seedling stage. These varieties remain true to their genetic code; a ‘Brandywine’ will still produce a ‘Brandywine’ fruit even though it has been joined to another tomato’s rootstock that was selected for its vigor in resisting soil- borne diseases. In this way, a very flavorful heirloom variety, not known for disease resistance, can benefit from this union.

Matthew Dammann