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A Real Heirloom Tomato

September 11th, 2012

Last week I went to my mom’s to visit and see how her gardens were doing. While there, she gave me a beautiful heirloom tomato.

This tomato was grown from seed that my grandpa gave us. It’s a hillbilly type tomato that he has been saving seeds from for a while. Sadly, this is the first year he hasn’t been able to grow tomatoes, so he gave the seeds to us.

I’m going to call it ‘Grandpa Meade’s Hillbilly’ tomato. You see, my grandpa is an authentic hillbilly straight from the hills of West Virginia.

You can bet that every single seed is being carefully saved. Hopefully, I’ll get enough to share with all my family members who are interested in growing them. If I get enough, I’m more than happy to share if any of you are interested.

Did you grow any new heirloom tomatoes this year? What’s your favorite heirloom beefsteak tomato?

36 Comments to “A Real Heirloom Tomato”
  1. Sherri on September 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Suzy, I’d LOVE to have a few of those seeds and I’d HAPPILY pay you postage for them! BEAUTIFUL!

    Reply to Sherri's comment

    • Sarah on September 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Me too!! I would love to have Grandpa Meade’s Hillbilly tomatoes growing! What an awesome family “heirloom.”

      Reply to Sarah's comment

      • tj on September 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        …Me three! And I’d happily pay for the seeds too Miss Susy. *lightbulb just came on* Chiot’s Run Seed Co., hmmm… ;o)

        …Lovely tomato! It would take me awhile to cut into that one. I think I would place it on a silver charger under a glass cloche and just sit and admire its beauty for awhile. :o)

        …Have a lovely day!


        to tj's comment

  2. Sherri on September 11, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Forgot to add that I am growing some Brandywines, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifters, and Black Krim. By far, my best producers this year (of all the tomatoes) are Bonny Best and Jaune Flamme.

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  3. Victoria on September 11, 2012 at 8:10 am

    It would be hard for me to cut into it! I stuck w/ good ol cherokee purple this year. Maybe next year I’ll pick an heirloom beauty.

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  4. Adelina Anderson on September 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Beautiful tomato! We have tried the heirlooms, but those are what the deer go for first. Next year is going to be differant…getting a fence up now.

    Reply to Adelina Anderson's comment

  5. Peggy on September 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I started my season with Black Krim’s but lost them but the heirloom plum tomatoes I grew did well… problem is I don’t know what they are called. My only issue is they split horribly during the drought even with irrigation. The only way we were able to avoid it is if we picked them a little early…. any idea why that might have happened?

    And your grandpa’s tomato is simply gorgeous! I know I would feel privileged to grown some from seed. I would even be willing to pay for them! Truly a stunning tomato!

    Reply to Peggy's comment

    • Susy on September 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Generally splitting some from dry/wet cycles. It was pretty much unavoidable this summer I think!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on September 12, 2012 at 5:22 am

        Some tomatoes also just have the propensity to split more than others.

        Gardeners Delight cherry tomato is one of them. Very prolific, but man does it like to split.

        to KimH's comment

  6. kristin @ going country on September 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Sadly, the only big slicing tomato I planted (from some seeds a friend gave me–some heirloom yellow kind that I’ve forgotten the name of) produced such huge tomatoes that they flopped right over and got eaten by slugs or something. Because I didn’t really stake anything this year. It looks like they’re growing another round of tomatoes though, and if they have enough time to ripen, I might get a second chance to try them.

    Black Krims are my favorite. Next year, they will return to my garden. I’m counting a lot on next year to redeem this year’s disappointments.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  7. Lynda on September 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Hopefully you’ll have a couple seeds to share with ME! I grow only heirlooms…and I run “small” field trials…5 to 6 plants of dozens of varieties…I’ve done it for years. The last year or two I’ve even had tomato “tastings”….fun! Your grandfather’s tomato is Beautiful!

    Reply to Lynda's comment

  8. jennifer fisk on September 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I grew Pruden’s Purple and had terrible luck with them for the first time. My Brandywine’s and Moskivich did ok but no where near what they normally do. I keep telling myself that it won’t be too long before it is time to start seedlings again.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

  9. JOsh on September 11, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Wow, that’s amazing. I tried some heirloom tomatoes from seedsavers this year, and of the dozens that I planted, 3 germinated, and none bore fruit. I was really disappointed with seedsavers this year. I think next year I’m gonna try territorial.

    Reply to JOsh's comment

    • Susy on September 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

      That’s strange, I’ve always had great luck with seeds from Seed Savers Exchange.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Deb on September 11, 2012 at 11:59 am

        Me too, Suzy.

        to Deb's comment

  10. Donna B. on September 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

    First: Wow. That is a beautiful tomato… I cannot simply grasp how large it is… and it makes me hungry for a tomato sandwich… wowowow! ♥

    I try to grow mostly heirloom tomatoes. I have a Tennesee Spear’s Green, Ananas Noire, and Amazon Chocolate from Baker Creek seed’s… Sadly due to crop rotation I didn’t grow them in the right spot this year and they were planted too late. I’ve lost the majority to late blight. Cherry tomatoes are doing excellent as always! Many different kinds… but I’m craving that perfect big slicer!
    Yes, I think even if you charged for the seeds we’d be interested in them. I’d happily order a pack from you to keep the seed tradition alive! That, and I’m a southern girl at heart… So I’d love to grow a hillbilly tomato! hee hee.

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  11. Mich on September 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Well i found Cherokee purple, Box car willie & White beauty heritage tom seeds here in the Uk :)
    Also had a packet of mixed heritage toms all big beefsteak types and they have done well.
    They make a regular tomato look so…boring!

    Reply to Mich's comment

    • Susy on September 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      You’re so right. These beautiful heirlooms in their various shapes and sizes make plain old round red tomatoes seem so, so boring!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. cynthia on September 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Suzy, I would dearly love a seed or two of this lovely hillbilly tomato- actually they and the Pineapple tomatoes are my favorite heirloom tomatoes. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to cynthia's comment

  13. amy on September 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I have always grown Brandywine and German pinks…..The Brandywine has been my favorite until this year:)…. I introduced the Black Krim and I will never be without them! My father has waxed on and on about the Oxheart and while it taste nice it cannot compare to the BK…..On his last visit here I gave him one to take home,,,,,so that he may enjoy them next year:) A bit off topic….but….I grow many varieties of plum tomatoes and this year I tried a new one…..the Speckled Roman Plum…..They are wonderful…..If you have not tried them you may want to……They are larger than Milano and San Marzano….but they taste wonderful and are beauties and very interesting to look upon:)

    Reply to amy's comment

    • Susy on September 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Black Krim are a favorite around here too.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Deb on September 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I grow only heirloom and don’t have any of these. I start all my own plants and would gladly pay postage for a few seeds also. I prefer other than red tomatoes for eating fresh. Many thanks in advance if you ahve extras. Then I can save seed also to share.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  15. Melanie G on September 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    My great-grandmother (maybe great-great? I’ll have to check) developed an heirloom tomato over the years in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia that we call the “Hollen tomato.” My great-grandmother, grandmother, grandfather and uncle carefully saved seeds and continued raising them through the generations. My sister, two cousins and I now all have these tomatoes growing in our gardens.

    I love knowing the heritage behind these garden treasures! They can grow to be enormous, and are very juicy with a lovely, deep flavor. They’re not good “putting up” tomatoes, but are just wonderful sliced up for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

    What a beautiful one you have there – it will be fun to watch them grow in your backyard next year :-)

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

  16. Karen on September 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    A beautiful story about a beautiful tomato! I read this while I was getting my things ready to head over to the National Heirloom Expo here in Santa Rosa (put on by Baker Creek Seeds).

    I just love the stories like this, where folks make an emotional connection to the food they’re growing and saving. It’s the best kind of genealogy.

    Reply to Karen's comment

  17. goatpod2 on September 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    We didn’t grow any heirloom tomatoes this year but we did last year, I think it was Brandywine that we grew last year, one of them was 19.5 inches circumference and 2.2 lbs.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  18. sharon on September 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    what a monster…..

    Reply to sharon's comment

  19. Laura on September 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I grow these beauties but call them German Stripe. Good flavor, few seeds, doesn’t travel well. I love cutting into them to see the pattern of red stripes through the yellow meat.

    Reply to Laura's comment

  20. Kathi Cook on September 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I too grew Hillbilly tomatoes this year. They were huge (one weighed 2 lbs)and I am still getting a few. I will definitely be planting those again! I used to grow only heirlooms,but now I grow a mix of of heirlooms and hybrids. My favorite hybrid steak is a brandy boy (cross between a brandywine and a big boy) I find them much more reliable than the traditional brandywine and very tasty. I think my new favorite heirloom steak tomato is the hillbilly. I love its pink streaks inside when you slice it open.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  21. trurak on September 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    beautiful! looks a lot like a gold medal. id love to get a few seeds if you have any extras. let me know and I’ll send you some from what I’ve been growing.

    Reply to trurak's comment

  22. warren on September 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    It must be good if it has a tie to WV!

    Reply to warren's comment

  23. KimH on September 12, 2012 at 5:34 am

    I’d love to have seeds too.. but I probably need more seeds like I need another hole in my head. ;)

    I grew a few hybrids this year, but my favorite were the Black Krim & the Purple Cherokee. They were wonderful. I grew several others but their names escape me at the moment. Quite lovely plants. I preferred the Purple Cherokee over the Krim.

    I was at an Amish farm a few days ago & they had some tomatoes that looked like yours. I was going to buy one for the seed, but I forgot and didnt.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  24. Rebecca on September 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I grow some heirlooms with my conservation in agriculture 4-H club. We don’t have a favorite beefsteak yet, but the heirloom “yellow pear” grows like a champ in our little garden with nothing more than a good watering when the weather’s not doing that job. The kids eat them straight off the plants whenever we harvest, which has been going on for over a month now. If you could spare a seed, we’d love to see what we can do with it.

    Reply to Rebecca's comment

  25. Rocky Top Farm on September 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    How very special! And I would love some seeds! :)

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

  26. Michelle on September 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Awesome! I’m from WV and I collect heirloom WV seeds. Grew Mountain Princess and Mortgage Lifters this year. I have a couple more I need to try. Yours looks wonderful!!

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  27. catherine on September 13, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I grow many varieties of heirlooms, over 20. Your tomato looks like a variety called “Virginia Sweets”. Unfortunately I don’t remember the story behind it but I’m sure your grandpa had some pretty good ideas about it!

    Reply to catherine's comment

  28. Hannah on September 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Hello Aunty Susy,

    I Get to go to The Family Grave yard on Saturday, With Grandpa !!

    — Hannah

    Reply to Hannah's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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