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I have to rave -- Italian Heirloom

August 21, 2010

Two (extremely different) years in a row ... my favorite tomato, on flavor alone. EARLY, big, round but with roma-esque internal structure, moist, flavorful, few seeds, great eating and as part of a combo for juice. And did I mention EARLY! They are so satisfying.

Last year (wet and cool) these were early enough that I actually got a few in my community garden plot before the late blight hit. Tried them again this year (hot, hot, humid) in a hay bale (straw bale gardening) up against my house (south facing, blasting hot). Had ripe fruit by the third week in July--56 days from planting. They will be done soon but they really get the season rocking!

While I'm raving -- Nebraska Wedding also rocked in a new bed (which is a perfect little micro-climate for 'matoes and peppers). It is still coming on strong. However, the fruit is red, not orange.

And Jaune Flamme -- sweet and delightful. Grower promised me one perfect tomato a day for my salad. Ha! Can't keep up.

OTOH, Cherokee Purple. Meh. Ugly and not very tasty. Short window to pick before fruit goes funky. Bad year or bad spot?

Care to rave?

Comments (30)

  • garystpaul

    +1 My single Italian Heirloom, first year I've grown it, has produced huge, blemish-free, flavorful tomatoes. In terms of taste and production, they're not the best in my garden, but easily in the top ten. Gary

  • taz6122

    Moist? come on! Aren't all tomatoes moist?

  • sunsi

    My Cherokee Purple tomatoes were very good sorry you had a bad experience.

  • skeip

    Also in Madison area and IT Heirloom has one I have been raving about for years. My other favorite is Helen's German. Check My Page, I've got seed.


  • woost2

    "Moist? come on! Aren't all tomatoes moist?"

    Well, some have lots of juice and suspended seeds. Some romas (little juice and seed) are kind of dry. These have lots of juicy flesh and few seeds, but not a lot of running juice (unless squeezed).

    I'm so glad others know and love Italian Heirloom!

    "Also in Madison area and IT Heirloom has one I have been raving about for years. My other favorite is Helen's German."

    Looks very interesting! I googled ... practically a Madison native!

  • tdscpa

    Moistness of a tomato depends entirely on the picker.

    I like to pick mine about 2 days before they would start leaking juice.

  • greenmulberry

    Where did you get your seeds? I am growing Italian Heirloom from seed savers 2009 crop, and they are small, seedy and hard, although prolific, for me, I wonder if I got a bad batch.

    I was expecting a big juicy tomato that was suitable for slicing,

  • woost2

    Seed Savers. Big and juicy. I'm learning tomatoes are an inexact science. Like my deep red Nebraska Weddings (supposed to be gold). Hmmm... And my Evergreens which were huge juicy and candy sweet last year yet this year are funky shaped and tart.

  • taz6122

    Nebraska Wedding should be orange and I've never heard Evergreens described as candy sweet, more a typical delicious tomato taste.
    Maybe it would be more of an exact science if you actually knew what varieties you have.

    My tomatoes are always not just "moist" but juicy.

  • carolyn137

    Taz, I've grown many many green when ripe varieties such as Evergreen and I too find Evergreen sweet, maybe not candy sweet depending on the candy being referred to, LOL, but one of the reasons that I like the green when ripes so much is b'c of their sweet somewhat spicy taste.

    Taste is personal and perceptual and there's even a human genetic factor associated with taste. And the taste of varieties can vary from year to year, even considering the same variety, depending on the weather, and other variables in general include how one grows their tomatoes, what amendments are used, what the soil or mix ( containers)is like,etc.


  • woost2

    "Maybe it would be more of an exact science if you actually knew what varieties you have."

    I started them, so I know my oddly red Nebraska Weddings came out of the Seed Saver packet. Along with 8 other mostly heirlooms.

    I also started the Evergreens this year ... from bought seed. The ones I had last year were started by a friend from saved seed. I grew them in a different bed without so much heat so they were slower to ripen. I passed out huge perfect Evergreens to the neighborhood kids to have as "dessert tomatoes". They were that sweet. I figured it was the nature of Evergreens. Learned, yet again, that every year can be different for heirlooms.

    "My tomatoes are always not just "moist" but juicy.

    Well, I have have had many a roma that was simply moist. Did my first dehydrator load last night. Now some are crispy like potato chips. Bwahahahaha!

  • carolyn137

    I started them, so I know my oddly red Nebraska Weddings came out of the Seed Saver packet. Along with 8 other mostly heirlooms.

    A bit of clarification?

    I know you bought your Italian Heirloom seeds from the SSE Public catalog, but did you also buy your Nebraska Wedding seeds from the same place?

    The reason I ask is b/c if there are problems with seeds from SSE they would want to know about it.

    How many Nebraska Wedding plants did you put out and how many are red fruited?

    If it were just one I could suggest a stray seed although with their new seed packaging system that would be unlikely, but more would indicate a definite problem.

    And if just one is there any chance when watering your seeds that nearby seeds could have been splashed over?

    That's happened to me from time to time b'c I'd use those 20 row professional seedling inserts or 8 X 8 " Permanest trays to start my seeds and it can happen.


  • woost2

    Good questions, Carolyn. All my SSEs came off the rack at the Garden Expo in Feb. They have a huge display. I start my seedlings in the 12 cell box--2 seeds to a cell. The size and shape looks right for NW and I didn't start anything else of that size and shape so a mix up on my end seems unlikely (altho screwing up that tags when potting up 8-9 varieties, twice, is easy enough... planting round slicers and getting little romas is a tag SNAFU). I only planted one NW, but I can ask around to my neighbors who got the rest.

  • woost2

    Still raving. IH was the first regular tomato to produce and I just picked 8 ripe lovelies in the 10 - 14 ounce range. In Wisconsin.

    Will also rave about the Rose de Berne, grown in a bale of marsh hay. (Last year my haybale toms did show blight/wilt ... whatever which I thought I'd be able to avoid in the bale. RdB has been non-stop all summer with NO sign of any foliage distress. Leaves are still crispy green, tons of fruit left which won't be able to ripen on the vine.

  • woost2

    Oops, I was wrong ... have upwards to 30 ripe fruit on two plants in hay bales. Sweet.

  • windclimber

    I agree, with the one and only Italian Hierloom I was fortunate enough to watch get big...then bag to foil the rouge squirrel I battled, it was early, delish and pretty, even tho the rodent tried to claw thru the paint strainer I had it bagged with and left teeth marks in it....aaarrgggh)and also a fruit worm burrowed into the backside I could'nt see.......Only in tomato world do we enjoy it so....:)

  • behlgarden

    This year I also planted Italian Heirloom from seeds I got from Tomatofest. I will second the poster that the taste was really good. others that I got good taste was from 1884 and chocolate stripes. Chocolate stripes was the best I grew, very tangy/sweet rich deep red/black tomato.

  • spartan-apple

    Interesting to read all the posts from Madison, WI about
    Italian Heirloom. 25 years ago, I got hold of an Italian
    heirloom tomato from Joe Namio. Does anyone remember Namio's Italian Restaurant? Joe said he brought the seeds
    from Italy. It was an oxheart type with thin skin and very
    sweet. Very good taste.

    I saved my own seed of this variety for at least 5 years
    but lost it all when the seeds I were drying on top of the
    refrigerator were disposed of by the refrigerator repair man who made a house call. Weeks later when I remembered to check on them, them they were gone.

    I had none left from the year before as a backup and no more tomatoes left on the vine to collect the seed from.
    Sad to say I lost this fine variety. I wonder if same as
    the Italian Heirloom mentioned?

  • woost2

    Had my first Italian Heirloom today ... 40 days from transplant. The package says 70-80 days. I harvested it early to save it from the rodents. Let it ripen on the counter. Upon slicing discovered it had not one seed, no seed 'pocket' and no watery juice. It was 100% solid tomato. Generally there is regular tomato structure at the stem end, with bottom 2/3 being solid.

    Heat is horrific. 130 today on the sidewalk next to my tomato and pepper bed. In full sun. 101 in the shade. With not a drop of rain in many weeks. Expect to have no fruit set during this time. *sigh*

  • coconut_head

    I have 6 nice Italian Heirloom plants with a good clutch of green tomatoes on each plant. They were one of the later plants I set out due to the delay in filling my last 2 beds, yet they are just as big as all but my San Marzano redorta's.

    Can't wait to taste em. We have some big heavy thunderstorms rolling in in the next hour. Hope we don't get any hail!!!


  • kevinitis

    I have Italian Heirloom growing but fruit set has been poor in this heat (utah). The other day we had a little rain come through which looks like it helped. Plants are robust and healthy and I hope they do set soon.


  • coconut_head

    As a follow up, So far I have gotten the most from my Italian Herlooms. Like the OP said, Big early and very tasty. Chocolate stripes may be catching up to it in production soon, but so far IH is beating them all.


  • fruitmaven_wiz5

    I'm going to have to try this variety next year. I'm also close to Madison, WI. I'm loving my Amish Paste right now, and agree that Cherokee Puple hasn't been very interesting to me, though this is the first year I'm trying it. I'm also disappointed with Black Cherry, though I love my Sungolds! Green Zebra has been so-so, though I'm still learning when it's ripe.

  • mandolls

    I am 4 hrs west of Madison - great to hear about a tasty tomato that does so well here. I will definitely try them next year. I have eight different types growing this year, but so far am only picking Early Girls, Purple Russians and Genovese Roma. Of those, the Early Girls are by far the tastiest for me.

    Do you WI growers top your tomato plants in the early fall? If so when?

  • woost2

    Just pulled the last of my IHs on Friday after a hard freeze. It was still producing and ripening -- a winner yet again. Even though we'd been through several frosts and several cold nights the fruit was still completely edible.

    A local tomato guru says to top your plants the first of August. I forgot and didn't do it until September. Oh well. The whole season was bizarre.

    I didn't have luck with Cherokee purple a few years back and haven't tried again. Got 2-3 ugly fruit, total.

    I tried Borghese this year ... a oval-ish cherry meant for drying. Over the top productive and very perfect fruit right up to the end. No disease or weirdness from the heat/drought. No splitting. Drying is fun but I eat the things like potato chips.

  • Woost2 Zone 5 WI

    And still raving. First Italian Heirloom picked yesterday at 13.5 oz. About 50 days from transplant. Still needs a day or two on the counter as I try to beat the ground squirrels to the low hangers. Few more ripe ones coming. Nothing else close on the other varieties altho pretty good fruit set all around so far. Extended heat coming next week. We've been short on rain with nothing predicted until August. Not that the weather guys have any luck forecasting south central Wisconsin.

  • yankeebubba

    Kinda late to this thread, but I've been raising Namio Heirlooms for 6-7 years.

    EXCELLENT vine that'll get 10 feet tall with proper sun & staking/support.

    I get the seedlings each year from Abdullah & Greg at Felly's on Nesbitt Road in Fitchburg.

  • Woost2 Zone 5 WI

    Good to know. Is it a Roma or slicer?

  • yankeebubba

    ''Is it a Roma or slicer?''


    2018 was an odd year for tomatoes in the YankeeBubba garden.

  • Scott

    Italian Heirloom isnalsonoke ofnmy favorite tomatoes. I highly reccomend it. I purchased it from SSE

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