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Thessaloniki Oxheart vs. Thessaloniki

Shule
February 16, 2017

Thessaloniki is one of my favorite tomatoes. How does Thessaloniki Oxheart compare to it? Is it the same tomato with a different shape? Are they related tomatoes?

Comments (31)
  • gorbelly

    Caveat: I have not grown Thessaloniki Oxheart. This is just what I could find on it from visiting all the various international tomato databases.

    • It's not on Tatiana's TomatoBase, tomatofifou, or tomodori. I could only find it on vent marin, where it says simply that "Thessaloniki Oxheart OP" is red and from Greece. There's a small thumbnail photo of some foliage on that page--no pics of fruit.
    • Mentions of Thessaloniki Oxheart appear on various growlists posted by people on forums, but no other info than the name.
    • Carolyn comments on it in 2008 in this GardenWeb thread: "TOx is maybe around 12 oz to a lb. Thessaloniki Oxheart was found at a farmers market and named by Mary-Anne Durkee and I was posting at her site at the time,and did get the seeds but they grew out Grandpa Willie instead, a totally different variety." Note that her source information possibly contradicts what's on Vent Marin, where it's listed as being from Greece--unless the farmer's market was in Greece?
    • Things get more curious, as there's a thread on Tville from last year where Carolyn says she hasn't heard of Thessaloniki Oxheart. Of course, Carolyn with her vast knowledge has probably forgotten more varieties than I could ever grow in my lifetime.

    I don't know whether any of this is helpful. Hopefully, someone who has seen it with their own eyes or even grown it will show up.

    Shule thanked gorbelly
  • Shule

    Thanks for the research, gorbelly!

    I also found a site where someone said Winter Sown used to provide seeds labeled Thessaloniki that produced an oxheart. I don't have the link, but I found it via Google. I don't know if it was Thessaloniki Oxheart, though, or a coincidence, but the person who was talking about it seemed to suppose it was Thessaloniki Oxheart.

    It's possible that Carolyn didn't forget, but that she had in mind that they're unrelated tomatoes with similar names, but we'd probably have to ask her to be sure.

    I'm friends with the vendor at favoritetomatoseeds.com who might give me some of the seeds. So, that's why I asked about the variety. I'm in the process of conferring with the vendor about the seed source. I should probably ask for permission before I repeat what the vendor said, though.

  • Shule

    So, I now have permission, and my friend told me even more information. I'm going to paraphrase what I learned about Thessaloniki Oxheart from my friend:

    Apparently, it used to be a little easier to find information about this
    tomato available through web searches than it is today. It has a few
    alias names (Thessie, Thessi, Thessy, Thessie O and perhaps Thessaloniki
    Ox Heart). My friend's seed source is Mary-Ann Durkee, around 2002, via
    the Yahoo! group called TomatoMania. They met on TomatoMania. Mary-Ann
    Durkee's Thessaloniki Oxheart seeds were rare and treasured in the group
    back then. It may be an 80-85 day tomato (some say longer, but it was
    one of the first to ripen in Mary-Ann Durkee's garden). (I should note that regular Thessaloniki can be anywhere from kind of early to midseason. Mine were midseason—later than I expected.)

    Mary-Ann saved her Thessaloniki Oxheart seeds from tomatoes grown by a Greek gentleman in Lodi, California. He brought the seeds from his village (which was near Thessaloniki in northern Greece). They're red, large oxhearts, and the flavor is supposed to be awesome (at least when grown in the sun). You're not supposed to let them over-ripen—they're said to lose flavor if you do.

    Someone said they were 'deep orangey red'.

    Someone said they are very large (averaging 1-2lbs) with nice taste and low yield (I should note that the regular Thessaloniki had a very high yield for me, and although the fruits were probably about a pound or a little over, they never got close to two pounds; normally I think regular Thessaloniki is a bit smaller than mine was—I got softball-sized tomatoes, but there was wood ash in the soil, and the potassium could potentially result in larger fruit; my seeds came from timeless-tomatoes.com).

    Someone said Thessaloniki Oxheart is a larger heart with excellent flavor.

    Someone said it's the best-tasting red oxheart, termed the beloved baby of TomatoMania, "'discovered' by Mary Ann and carefully increased by our members".

    Someone said the tomato had been in the Greek gentleman's family in Thessaloniki for as long as he can remember.

    Okay, I'm done paraphrasing.

    In 2004, my friend/source said this about it: "I love Thessaloniki Oxheart! Wow!"

    I have to say it sounds like a good-tasting tomato.

  • bragu_DSM 5

    someone said it sounds worth trying ...

  • gorbelly

    Let us know how it grows. I'd love a report. I tend to be a bit suspicious of superlative descriptions of varieties that fall so quickly into obscurity. But some pretty decent varieties do fall by the wayside. The tomato world has its fashions as well.

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Pretty accurate! Yes a Greek man over in Lodi grew them, I saved seeds! I have grown over 1000 varieties over the last 30 years. Thessaloniki is a favourite. Mary-Anne Durkee owner TomatoMania on YahooGroups.

    Shule thanked Mary-Anne Patterson
  • Shule

    Thanks, Mary-Anne! It's good to see you.

    I believe my plant is flowering now. It's regular leaf. It's in a sunny spot. I'm excited to try the fruit later.

  • Shule

    Mary-Anne, is the full name Thessaloniki Oxford Heart, or is that another variety?

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Thessaloniki Ox Heart is the name. Size varies, but flavour outstanding. The popular Thessaloniki is a round red tomato. Shule, where are you gardening? 4a to 6b? Did you belong to TomatoMania?

    Shule thanked Mary-Anne Patterson
  • Shule

    I'm in southwestern Idaho, which is a steppe-like area (semi-arid; usually arid in the early part of the day and less arid at night) near some high deserts. The untamed portions of landscape include such as sagebrush, lots of bare gray to light brown dirt, grasses that aren't green, Russian Olive trees, thistles, wild rose bushes, an assortment of weeds (which can get huge in gardens), and not much greenery without encouragement (except in the first two thirds of spring), special tactics, or the right kinds of plants. Local farmers grow (with irrigation) such as sugar beets, corn, alfalfa, wheat, mint, oats, seed lettuce, fruit orchards (in my personal opinion, plums, pears and peaches are the most reliable fruit trees for the area, but people grow other stuff like apples and cherries, too).

    4a is based on record lows, but it doesn't often get that low. It gets quite hot in the summer and late spring. (89° F. to 110+° F. is the norm for the daily high.) The frost-free growing season is usually somewhere around five months long (about May 10th to October 10th).

    I'm new to TomatoMania, but I have a friend who did belong to it back in the day (at least).

    The regular Thessaloniki is one of my favorite varieties. It's setting fruit already, this year. I think it was later last year. it wasn't the earliest in my garden, but the size, productivity, quality, and ease of harvest were excellent.

    I'm trying a number of other varieties that are showing promise, so far, too: e.g.

    • Matina (2nd year; it did well the first)
    • Sweet Orange Cherry (2nd year, but I had super late germination last year, although it did well; it's very prolific and one of the first two varieties to set fruit, this year)
    • Sasha's Altai (prolific and early to set fruit)
    • Silvery Fir Tree (very prolific)
    • Blue Beauty (I was impressed at how prolific and early to set fruit this is)
    • Kara Market (one of the first two varieties to set fruit)
    • Oroma (2nd year; doing much better this year)
    • Chocolate Pear (ditto)
    • Mountain Princess (ditto)
    • Super Snow White
    • Jackie (ditto; last year, it dropped a lot of blossoms, but not this year)
    • Tomatoes I'm breeding (e.g. a couple kinds of Husky Cherry Red F4 and a pleated tomato descended from Ambrosia Red)
    • Creole (2nd year; doing somewhat better, this year)
    • North Dakota Earliana
    • Forest Fire
    • Extreme Bush
    • New Yorker V
  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Your weather sounds almost as interesting as Calgary where my husband lived for 25 years. He was transferred with his late wife to the SF Bay Area 7 years ago. They never grew tomatoes up there. LOL. I live in an ideal area for tomatoes, only place better is an hour further inland Sacratomato area.

    Super Snow White is a favourite as is Black Cherry, Sungold, and super Sweet Angora Cherries. This year I am growing 20 cherry types.

    Matina and Stupice are both excellent early tomatoes here.

    After Facebook became so popular TomatoMania slowed down, and my late husband became ill and passed at barely 60, so I rarely posted. Now my cofounder Byron has passed away. I think you might be referring to Margaret up in Idaho. Very nice lady!!!

  • Shule

    I'm sorry to hear about your husband, and also about your co-founder.

    I don't know Margaret. I'm not sure what my friend went by on TomatoMania, but I think you knew each other. I know my friend via Dave's Garden.

    My area isn't bad for tomatoes (especially as we get cool nights and it's dry enough that fungal diseases aren't a huge problem compared to most areas), but heat and cold tolerant varieties tend to be earlier and more prolific, and plants tend to be slow-growing at first unless I shower them regularly. The combination of dryness and our strong sun can be a challenge the first half of the season, and it can make container gardening difficult if you use potting soil and don't shower plants.

    Have you tried Ron's Carbon Copy? It's extremely sweet. Medovaya Kaplya is, too.

    Sweet Angora Cherry sounds interesting—a fuzzy cherry tomato!

    I've grown Wapsipinicon Peach before, and I'm growing Bushy Chabarovsky, this year. They're both fuzzy types.

    Manitoba is another variety I would have listed in my list of promising varieties. It's looking quite good. It's bushy, has lots of flowers and is setting a fair number of fruits.

    I'm growing a lot of new varieties this year to find those that do the best (and to continue landrace-like efforts). I grew about 30 varieties in 2015, about 100 in 2016, and I'm growing about 105 this year (many of those are repeats for the sake of acclimatization, though, but lots are new).

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    I don't know Ron's Carbon Copy, nor Medovaya Karla but both sound very interesting. I adore black varieties, and Ananas Noir is a top fav! I use to grow over 100 varieties each year, cut back to 85 to 65 to 35, now this year increased again. Loosing mum and husband then my cancer battle this is the first year getting back to gardening, but still in first gear.


  • Shule

    Wow. :) Sounds like you've grown a lot. Mine are mostly too close together. So, that's how I've been managing to do that in the space we have. One of these days I plan to spread them out a normal distance again.

    I tried Ananas Noire last year, but I had a crop failure there. I get the feeling it wasn't used to our soil.

    The black/brown tomatoes I'm growing this year include Black, Black Giant, Black Bear, African Brown Beefsteak, Ron's Carbon Copy, Brazilian Beauty, Chocolate Pear, and maybe a few others (like a Pink Berkeley Tie Dye cross, a GGWT cross, and maybe others). The blues include Jackie, Blue Beauty, Black Beauty, Red Beauty, Indigo Apple, Dark Galaxy, Amethyst Jewel, and I think that's it.

    Just so you know, if you don't know, if you want to be able to receive private messages, you have to enable it in your settings. I don't know why it's not enabled by default.

  • Shule

    I picked my first ripe Thessie O, today.

    Although it does have pink on it, the video (and the pictures a couple posts down) make it look even pinker. The skin at the stem end is orange-red, and it gradually becomes more pink as it goes to the blossom end.

    The texture was just a tad mealy (probably because the fruit was shaded), but the taste was excellent. It doesn't taste at all like the regular Thessaloniki did in 2016 or 2017 for me.

    The flesh is pink with orange-red gel. It has lots of locules and seeds.

    I do intend to grow it again.

  • Shule

    Here's a cross-section (the flesh, other than the gel, is pretty dry, in this fruit):

  • Shule

    Here's are some pictures of the whole fruit if the video doesn't work for you (they're all of the same fruit):

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Gorgeous! Where did you get the original seeds? I obtained Thessaloniki (called Thessie O on TomatoMania at times) from a Greek man in Lodi who brought the seeds from his village near Thessaloniki, Greece. I donated seeds to the then Seed Bank on my list on YahooGroups, TomatoMania. TIA

    Shule thanked Mary-Anne Patterson
  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Sorry, just reread our conversations in the past! Please save seeds! I would love to grow it again. My seed box is MIA after the tree fell on my house resulting in complete pack up and storage. Then all off loaded into my house along with what was left after much sorting and donations. Also have remarried and his 5 bedroom house also packed up and here. Hopefully I will find my seed box as I unpack, but energy is limited after bi-lateral breast cancer and radiation last year. I use most of my energy for gardening and cooking, even a little canning. TIA Mary-Anne Durkee-Patterson, 1448 Casa Vallecita, Alamo, CA 94507. I am growing Brandywine this year, have saved seeds. It is a very prolific strain!

  • ddsack

    Echoing the Please save seeds comment! There are no current listings for it at Seed Savers Exchange, so you may be one of the few people that still have fresh seeds!

  • Shule

    Thanks. I intend to save seeds from every fruit (each fruit separately). I'm growing a lot of other varieties; so, it's possible it may be crossed (so saving seeds from each fruit should be some insurance against obvious crosses, anyhow). I do have more seeds from my original source, too (really old ones and newer ones; my plant this year came from the newer ones, although I imagine the older ones are still viable, based on the viability of other old seeds my friend gave me and grows). It seems like there's about a 10-20% cross pollination rate in my garden. I like to grow the crosses out, though.

    If any of you want Thessie O. seeds, feel free to send me a message with your info. (or you can request my address for a SASE). I zap my seeds with a Z4EX instead of fermenting them. It seems to work well. But, I might be persuaded to ferment the next fruit, if it's an issue for you.

  • Shule

    Mary-Anne, I forgot you posted your address already. I can send you some in a while.

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    BTW tomatoes cross only 4% of the time as they are self fertile according to Dr Carolyn Male, tomato authority :-). Peppers/chiles are VERY promiscuous and cross most of the time up to hundreds of feet. To save seeds for Capsicum you need to bag blossoms. I so appreciate getting Thessaloniki Ox Heart seeds! To coax old seeds I soak in weak tea over night. Works really well! I will make a list of my seeds and will send you as you like!

    Shule thanked Mary-Anne Patterson
  • Shule

    Mary-Anne, I have your seeds ready to mail. Sorry I took so long. I'm sending you seeds from the pictured fruit and from the one that came after it, in separate bags.

  • Shule

    I sent it out, earlier today.

  • Shule

    I should note that not all those tomato varieties I mentioned up there that I said were showing promise turned out particularly well. Some of them did, though!

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    I finally figured it out, you sent me the seeds! I didn’t recognize your name and address. Thank you so much! Now I will save seeds again for Thessaloniki Ox Heart and share with others. Love this one!!! I am growing out some other older varieties this year. Keep in touch! Mary-Anne (shantihhh#sbcglobal.net). Maybe some will be special this year

    Shule thanked Mary-Anne Patterson
  • Shule

    Yeah. My real name is Mark. Before Houzz took over, my username was Shule or shule (not sure which), but then after Houzz took over someone from Houzz already had that username. So, I just put Shule in the first name field, and now it shows up the same as before Houzz took over. My new username is nushelu, but I don't think anyone knows that.

  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    It drove me crazy trying to figure out who Mark was!!!! The envelope got misplaced with your addy on it! Tomato Power! I am on FB. As Mary-Anne (Durkee) Patterson, https://www.facebook.com/shantihhh


  • Mary-Anne Patterson

    Shale, are you still here posting?

  • Shule

    Hi Mary-Anne! I unsubscribed from all email notifications a while back and haven't managed to turn them on again, but I still visit Gardenweb and post once in a while. I post most of my stuff on my own website. If you have my email (I think you do), I'll get notified of that. I'll get notified of private messages on Houzz, too, if you PM me. I'm not on Facebook anymore.

    Anyway, I found that if I used Gardenweb too much, it increased my stress levels considerably. So, I cut back on my usage, and I've been happier since.

    Did you grow Thessaloniki Ox Heart, this year? If so, how did it turn out?

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