Grit Blogs > The Theoretical Farmers Almanack

Heirlooms and Hybrids

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions. – Benjamin Franklin 

Broadway, Virginia; 37 degrees; 12:50 pm 

TRF Cullers head shotThe sky has been spitting rainy mist for the past couple of days—good for the soil but hard on the bones! I haven’t been out to check on the garden for a few days. Don’t suppose much has changed yet; we haven’t had enough sunshine to warm up the ground. Those little seeds are picky. Conditions have to be just right before they will poke their little tendrils out of the dirt.

I’ve been researching the difference between heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. I used to have an old paper towel covered in tomato seeds. An elderly lady gave them to me and said they were the best tomatoes on God’s green earth. Alas, I am not always a good steward of my possessions, and I mislaid the little paper square. I guess I’ll have to go with hybrids.  I know some seed companies say they sell heirloom plants, but to my way of thinking, the seeds are not authentic unless they have been saved year after year by some grandma in a bonnet and calico apron.

I usually plant a large, beefy tomato such as Beefsteak or Big Beef – one of those bovine-like names. I also like to put in some Roma plants as well as they make for good sauce, juice and salsa.  Edna wants me to enter the biggest tomato contest at the fair this year. I’m not much into competition unless I’m pretty sure I can win. I wish you could just wait and see how big the little fellows were growing before you put your name on the dotted line of the contest form. Unfortunately, they make you sign up long before you know the outcome of your crop. Maybe if I ever turn from a theoretical farmer to an actual farmer I will be brave enough to enter.

Edna is still fretting over Cousin Effie taking over the southern bedroom during seedling-growing time. I heard her talking to Hoyt Miller at the Farm Bureau the other day about the possibility of building a mini greenhouse behind her place. Some people sure take their gardening seriously. My biggest worries are the three Fat Kats that live in my house. They usually commandeer the sunniest spots and don’t take too kindly to little pots of plants lined up in their cozy corner. Farming is a never-ending battle with nature.

 One of the territorial Kats 
trf cullers
1/26/2012 10:22:19 PM

Dave, Congratulations on the land purchase! What an adventure! When you start your seeds indoors? My grandma always said if we didn't have the seeds stuck in little paper cups by February 17th, it wasn't any use to start them! RIght now, we're having a warm, rainy spell---I hope it doesn't make the spinach sprout too soon! I didn't realize tornadoes happened in January. We don't usually see twisters here in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.


trf cullers
1/26/2012 10:18:24 PM

Thanks for the heirloom tips, Mary. I've never tried Cherokee Purple...I LOVE the story of how you got the seeds: worm compost in a nun's orchid! We also have a rather large Golden Retriever who tries to keep the Kats in control...


trf cullers
1/26/2012 10:15:44 PM

Thank you so much, Cindy! I'm honored that you visit my "world" (or one of them! :)


cindy murphy
1/25/2012 12:49:30 PM

TRF, your posts go so well with a good cup of coffee in the morning; reading what Ben has to say, what Edna's up to, and whatever is going on at the Farm Bureau or in the theoretical farmer's garden, gives me a smile. Not a bad way to start the day at all.


mary carton
1/25/2012 3:01:33 AM

Dave a lot of the tornados in central Alabama were in the same area hit last April. Many home owners are still fighting insurance companies and have tarps on the roof. Cherokee Purple is my most favorite heirloom. I have 2 plants that came up from worm compost in a nun's orchid that I pulled up and put into larger pots and have them in the garage. When the weather is nice I take them out for a little sun. I also like the German pink or Mennonite pink. I usually try 1 heirloom that I haven’t tried before, but always have the Cherokee along with the new. Hooligan collies rule the roost at my house.


nebraska dave
1/25/2012 12:28:57 AM

TRF, I think I'm going to get some first hand experience with a never ending battle against nature this Spring. My new land purchase, Terra Nova Gardens, is filled with plant and animal challenges. I usually grow Rutgers tomatoes which are heirloom tomatoes. This year with the expansion of the garden I'm going to plant some beefsteak tomatoes this year as well. I won them from a blog last contest last year but it was too late in the year to think about starting the seeds. Hopefully, I'll be able to sprout the little buggers and have them ready to plant by May 15th. March is always such a busy gardening month. We did have a little bit of snow here but it's almost all gone and will be gone after the middle 40s that's predicted for tomorrow. The cold as been with us for the last couple weeks but now it's supposed to warm up again. This whole year has been w-e-i-r-d weird. Who ever heard of 22 tornadoes in January. That's got to be a record of some kind. Have a great garden planning day. P.S. Cats do kind of rule the house, don't they.