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2014 tomatoes branded as colorful, tasty and ginormous

The SteakHouse Hybrid, a 2014 introduction from Burpee, is said to be the largest tomato ever bred (Photo Courtesy of the National Garden Bureau).

By Bobbie Whitehead
Posted December 25, 2013

While many new tomato varieties, some blue and streaked, will welcome in the 2014 gardening season, heirlooms with their satiating flavor continue to maintain popularity as do ginormous ones.

Whatever the gardener may want to produce - old-fashioned or cross-bred ones - he'll have plenty of choices as seed companies roll out their latest catalogs introducing the New Year's showstoppers.

In the Southeast, for example, Tomato Growers Supply Co. of Fort Myers, Fla., offers the Purple Bumble Bee, an open pollinated cherry tomato that has a green and dark purple streaked color. According to the company's product description, the 1 1/2 inch diameter indeterminate tomato offers crack resistance and matures in 70 days.
For beefsteak tomato lovers, Tomato Growers has also added the Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, another open pollinated tomato described as a "port wine-colored" fruit with "green stripes and deep brick-red interior flesh." Pink Berkeley Tie Dye grows up to 12 ounces and adapts well to "almost all climates, as noted in the product description.

"We think this variety is likely to become a classic specialty tomato with both gardeners and chefs alike," Tomato Growers writes of the early maturing indeterminate that's ripe in 65-70 days.

For an Old World variety from Basra, Iraq, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds of Mansfield, Mo., has added the heirloom Basrawya, according to its Web site, Since the seeds Baker Creek received came from the southern part of Iraq where temperatures are hot, the company notes that Basrawya has reportedly grown well in hot U.S. climates.

For more heirlooms, Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, Iowa, has added the Mamie Brown's Pink OG, a beefsteak said to have been grown in the 1930s by a family in West Virginia, according to the SSE Web site. This indeterminate tomato is described as having been used for canning and sauces with
"good flavor."

W. Atlee Burpee & Co., based in Warminster, Pa., has introduced the SteakHouse Hybrid, described as the largest "tomato ever bred," according to the National Garden Bureau. This giant beefsteak can grow up to three pounds and larger. This red tomato grows from an indeterminate plant and ripens in about 75-80 days, the NGB writes.

Gardeners and consumers interested in smaller tomatoes with varying colors to add more visual appeal to their recipes may want to grow the Artisan Tomatoes™ Collection from Johnny's Selected Seeds, located in Waterville, Maine. This collection features round, plum and elongated-shaped tomatoes in striped and streaked colors (pink, green, yellow and blush) that are described as having "exceptional flavor," the NGB writes.

As January nears, gardeners will find more new tomato varieties available once seed catalogs arrive.