The second week in May marked the estimated latest possible frost date in central Pennsylvania, which means tomatoes and peppers will be safe from damage when planted outside.
Some of us (including myself), however, are a bit more daring and put our tomatoes out in April hoping to get a head start on the planting season. Luckily, with the gray and damp depressing days we'd experienced, frost was scarce. Hopefully, my gamble will pay off with an earlier harvest because I am counting the days until I can pull a juicy ripe globe from the vine.
For a Foodie, there is no better ingredient than a fresh heirloom tomato and this year, I have seen more varieties sold locally in greenhouses as seedlings.
The best use for heirlooms I've found is usually eating them freshly sliced with a little salt and pepper. However, when I have an overabundance of them, I love to make Salsa or fresh tomato sauce. Below, I've included a list of locally available seedlings and their suggested uses. Now, no more excuses... Ready, Set, Grow!
Black Krim - Dark purplish fruit, originated in Crimea, south of the Ukraine. Smaller fruits, about 8 ounces. Early to ripen. Smaller plants that do well in milder climates. Excellent flavor with tender skin. Excellent for salads, salsa, tacos.
Mortgage Lifter - Originated from Willam Estler of Barboursville, West Virginia. Estler crossed several varieties for several years and this tomato was the best result. He sold seedlings and made enough money to pay off the mortgage on his house! Beefsteak. About one to three pound fruits, sweet, rich taste. Can be slow to start, but great producer once mature. Great for turkey clubs, salads, burgers.
Cherokee Purple - Dark mahogany fruit with green coloration near stem. Indian heirloom from the 1800's. Can be susceptible to disease. Average size about 12-ounces. Can be difficult to grow but worth the effort. Rich, earthy taste. Tastes good with Mexican or spicy food.
Black Cherry - Purple, almost black one-inch fruits. Bred in Florida, rich, dark flavor. Great for shish-kabobs!
Dixie Gold - Huge yellow beefsteak, Amish in origin. Sweet, mango-like fruit. Less acidic than red tomatoes, colorful, great for eating as well as canning. Easy to grow. Good with fruit or garnish for summer salads or pasta salad.