Tomato 'Machine Gun Charlie' - great name, right?!
These tomato seedlings are from my neighbor - he saves the seed every year and always starts them early. This year he started far more than he needed, knowing a few of us in the hood would welcome his generosity! This year these delicious and productive 'Machine Gun Charlies' are the only tomatoes I'm planning on growing.
Usually I grow a few different varieties - with two constants: my favorite all around tomato, 'Black Krim'. In my opinion, the perfect tomato sandwich tomato; my favorite cherry tomato - 'Sunsweet'. These rarely make it to the kitchen - I eat them right off the vine. Actually, when our dog was a puppy she eagerly ate these as treats. I truly knew we were soulmates! I may cave and pick this one up if I see it, or if anyone starts any extras I'd bet I could find a home for it (hint, hint, Mom!).
I do have a preference for heirlooms...the very few times I tried a 'Better Boy' type I was impressed by the yield, yet disappointed in the flavor. I know last year a lot of the country had issues with tomato woes that the hybrids are bred to withstand, so please, trust yourself when choosing varieties. I was lucky enough not to have experienced a tomato crop failure.
Margaret Roach (who has lots of excellent tomato advice for avoiding last year's issues) recommended 'Reisentraube'. I decided to forgo a seed order this year (to avoid requiring an addition to the house for starting seeds and storing the packets in the off-season) yet after reading her post I nearly caved. I had the shakes for about a half hour then I remembered the famous gardener saying - there is always next year. If you grow it, let me know what you think!
If you are without a garden or have limited space, why not try growing your tomatoes in pots? White Flower Farm has several recommended varieties in their catalog and this link includes their growing information. I also had a friend recently recommend growing the tomatoes upside down. Now I've never tried this but it does seem to me it's such a unique idea that is also fairly well known...so there must be something to it!
One last thing on tomatoes - my favorite tomato companions. Dahlias, Ageratum 'Blue Horizon' and best of all, Basil. Mmm, I can almost hear the cicadas!