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Know Your Tomatoes

The arrival of mid-July heat and humidity has some of us almost (almost…) wishing for the snow of this past February. Yet, though the days are at times swelteringly hot and the sun unrelenting, we can make no complaints about the start of one of the most delicious times of year: tomato season! Gone are those bleak, wintry days when a limp, flavorless supermarket tomato was our only option. Alas, time has come to feast upon that most spectacular symbol of summertime gardening!

This season, Green City Growers has planted thirteen different varieties of tomatoes in backyards and rooftops around the Greater Boston area. Make no mistake, though these may all be tomatoes, their shape, color, size, and taste could not be more different.


Unlike some other tomatoes varieties, that can be slightly acidic, these yellow-orange cherry tomatoes are sweet and smooth. Honeydrop tomatoes are ready early in the season, so you very well may have already been enjoying your first harvest or two!


These sweet orange cherry tomatoes are prone to splitting, which means that they can’t be easily shipped and must be eaten soon after harvesting. That’s no problem for backyard farmers, who get to enjoy the spoils of their labors fresh from the vine.

Supersweet 100supersweet 100

Rounding out our cherry tomato lineup is the Supersweet 100, whose name is a pretty obvious tell of its characteristics. These rather disease-resistant plants are sweet and flavorful, and will grow over the top of a cage or trellis, yielding fruit until frost!


Perhaps one of the most well-known heirloom varieties, the brandywine is described by Johnny’s Selected Seeds as “very rich, loud, and distinctively spicy.” These big, bold tomatoes are less a snack, and more a meal!

cherokee purpleCherokee Purple

These well-producing heirlooms with a deep, rich color have an equally sweet and rich color. Originating from Tennessee, but capable of thriving in a multitude of climates and regions, Cherokee Purple tomatoes gets their name from the Cherokee tribe who are thought to have passed seeds down through the generations.

Striped Germanstriped german

These bi-color tomatoes have a beautiful marbled texture of golden and red streaks. Striped Germans are noted for their unique ribbed ‘shoulders.’ The fruits are smooth-textured with a complex and fruity flavor.

big-beefBig Beef

These large, beefsteak-type tomatoes are delicious, bear fruit early in the season, and are highly disease-resistant. Even in the relatively chilly New England growing climate (again – no weather complaints from us at GCG!) fruit will set reliably.


Bred by Colen Wyatt, also the original breeder of Big Beef, Celebrity tomatoes are a reliable crop suitable to your ‘everyday’ tomato needs – sandwiches, slicing, and snacks. Celebrity tomatoes are considered ‘semi-determinate’ because like determinate varieties, they grow to a definitive height (3-4 feet) but like indeterminate varieties, they will produce fruit until frost.


The aptly-named Defiant is a fairly new variety, bred to be ultra-resistant to diseases. They are a mid-season, mid-size, determinate variety, and will thrive well in gardens where you are also growing potatoes or where you have previously encountered issues with disease. 

Jet Starjet star

Though Jet Stars are compact and stocky plants, they are excellent producers. Yielding dozens of firm, meaty, low-acid, and crack-resistant tomatoes over the course of the growing season, Jet Stars make an excellent addition to your garden. 

Mountain Meritmountain merit

A bit larger than Defiants, but similarly disease-resistant, Mountain Merits are a medium-large slicing tomato grown on determinant plants. These plants can grow in a variety of field (or rooftop) conditions.

mountain magicMountain Magic

Mountain Magic tomato plants produce uniform clusters of bright red ‘cocktail’ tomatoes. This variety can be truss-harvested, a method wherein fruits are kept on the vine and harvested in clusters (think: grapes, but tomatoes!)


Sources: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Bonnie Plants

From Fenway Farms to Whole Foods to school garden programs throughout the Greater Boston area, we’ve got a good a good thing growing here at Green City Growers! Learn more about how you can contribute to the urban agriculture movement by taking part in our community investment campaign.


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