2024 is the Year of Heirloom Tomatoes

This year in the Master Gardener Grow It Eat It program, we are celebrating all things heirloom tomato.

2024 is the “Year of Heirloom Tomatoes” for UME’s Grow It Eat It program! Let’s celebrate the incredible diversity of this popular crop, so easy to grow in Maryland, by learning about and trying new cultivars and techniques. We have lots of resources to help out beginners and seasoned gardeners.

Please download and share these Year of the Heirloom Tomatoes Graphics to help us spread the word. The resources below can also be made into a PDF to use and share. If you'd like to host Year of the Heirloom Tomatoes programming, please feel free to use and adapt our presentation template Growing Heirlooms. PowerPoint template was created by Jon Traunfeld, Program Director of HGIC. 

Year of the Heirloom Tomato Social Media Graphics

Year of the Heirloom Tomato PowerPoint Template

Spring Tomato Tips

  • It’s ok to plant tomatoes in the same spot if that’s your best/only spot. Otherwise, rotate your vegetable crops to different garden locations.
  • Having troubles with wilt diseases that live in the soil, such as Fusarium wilt? Grow your tomato plants in containers in a mixture of compost and soilless potting media, OR try grafted tomato plants- they have resistance to these diseases.
  • Don’t rush starting seeds or plant them too early in your garden. Start seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before planting after all danger of frost (around the 2nd to 3rd week of May in Central Maryland).
  • Don’t crowd tomato plants. Most cultivars need 18-24 in. between plants and 4-5 ft. between rows, depending on how they are pruned and supported.
  • Be prepared to cover plants with paper bags, tarps or blankets if frost is predicted after plants are in the ground.

2024 Heirloom Trials

In 2024, Master Gardeners (MGs) around the state will be growing heirloom cultivars in demonstration gardens (including the MG Learning Garden at State Fair) and other community green spaces. Data collected on these cultivars by MGs will be shared with the public at the end of the year.

Varieties

Style

Color

Paul Robeson

Beefsteak

Dark

Cherokee Purple

Beefsteak

Dark

Aunt Ruby’s German Green

Beefsteak

Green

German Johnson

Beefsteak

Pink

Brandywine (Sudduth Strain)*

Beefsteak

Pink

Preacher Joe 

Beefsteak

Red

Hillbilly

Beefsteak

Red/Yellow

Kellogg’s Breakfast

Beefsteak

Yellow

Matt’s Wild Cherry

Cherry

Red

Yellow Pear Cherry Yellow
Hungarian Oxheart Heart Red
Carmen Siciliano Plum/paste Red
Rutgers Slicer Red
Grandpa Henry's Italian Paste Plum/paste Red

 

If your county is participating in the Master Gardener heirloom tomato trials, you will be sent a survey at the end of the growing season. There is a collection form available to help you gather that information throughout the season. 

Please share your heirloom tomato photos to our Google Photo album!

 

Heirloom Seed Sources

Most vegetable seed companies sell heirlooms. These companies have a large selection.

 

Some favorite heirlooms tomatoes of UME faculty, staff, and Master Gardener Volunteers:

Oxheart, Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine, Mr. Stripey, Green Zebra, Igleheart Yellow Cherry, Destler, Hillbilly, Black Strawberry Cherry, Costoluto Genovese, Homer Fike, Yellow Pear, Golden Jubilee, Black Krim, Eva Purple Ball, Wapsipinicon Peach, German Pink, Grandpa Henry’s Italian Paste, Cherokee Purple