Grow Yellow Heirloom Tomatoes: The Early and Heavy-Bearing Taxi
By S.M.R. Saia
Excerpts from my 2009 garden notes:
June 8: My yellow taxi plant seems stunted and unruly compared to my other heirlooms, but it is heavy with ripening tomatoes, way more than any of the other plants have at this point.
July 11: Most of my tomato plants are lush and huge, but not with huge amounts of fruit. This little bugger (the Taxi), on the other hand, is FULL of fruit, and looks low and stunted. I haven’t done anything to it (no sucker pinching, etc.) but it certainly is putting all its efforts into developing fruit and not into developing foliage. I guess that’s good?
July 12: Well, that yellow tomato plant I showed you a picture of yesterday today has an entire dead limb on it. Yesterday, it was only the suckers (?) the small limbs that had no flowers or fruit on them that were dying and dropping off. I pulled a bunch of ripening tomatoes off of there today.
July 26: Well, the heirloom tomatoes are really popping now, and starting to earn their keep! So we’ve gone into preservation mode around here, learning as we go, and exercising that hot water canner! (Note: to all of you with a discerning eye, you are correct: the big yellow pointed tomato on top is not a Taxi.)
A local area food program that I participate in here in Southern Maryland is selling heirloom tomatoes for $4 a pound. My kitchen window has pretty much looked like this – rotating tomatoes through to finish ripening before being turned into some product (BBQ sauce, canned tomatoes or spaghetti sauce) – for over a week now. And we’ve eaten plenty raw in salads, and have given some away. I’d say the $25 investment for the 6 transplants was WELL worth the money. And boy are they tasty. Thank you Tasteful Garden!!!!
August 26: The yellow taxi is gasping its last breath. Not sure what happened to it, but it sure put out a HUGE amount of fruit, all within about a month, and then kind of shrunk up and petered out.
End of excerpts. Back to present time:
Though I ordered the same 6-pack of heirloom tomatoes from The Tasteful Garden in 2010, I did not end up with a Taxi last year, and I missed those early yellow tomatoes, though I was still perplexed about what seemed to be its unnaturally early demise. Lo and behold, flipping through my Territorial Seed Company Catalog a few weeks ago, I found this:
“TAXI (80 days). The best bright yellow tomato for short season gardeners. This determinate variety grows to about two feet tall and two feet across. Expect heavy yields of mild, non-acid tomatoes for 3-4 weeks. Great for the lunch box and salsas.”
Holy moly, do you know what this means?
It means that I did not, in fact, kill off my Taxi – it went through its normal life span, and did exactly what it was supposed to do.
You may be getting the sense that I cause myself a lot of anxiety by being maybe a little too fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants at this gardening stuff. What can I say? I learn best by hands-on experience. This is gardening year number four. And let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot.
So what’s the point?
I ordered a packet of Yellow Taxi seeds, and I’m going to get them started when they get here, which should be any day. I’m excited to have them in my garden again, and like other things that have been very successful around here, we’re adding them to our permanent list of things to grow every year. They are both beautiful and delicious. Try them out!
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