Best Tomato Varieties to Grow This Year

Discover some new tomato varieties this year, including those top-rated for flavor and several recommended disease-resistant tomatoes.

| February/March 2016

As you choose tomato varieties for this year’s garden, summon the mantra “Change is good.” Branching out can be great fun, and also tremendously rewarding, when a new-to-you variety solves a chronic problem with an unmanageable tomato disease.

Most MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers prefer open-pollinated (OP) tomato varieties that have been selected for flavor, texture and color. These include some heirlooms, a term that has various definitions but generally refers to an open-pollinated variety that’s at least 50 years old. Open-pollinated varieties allow gardeners to save their own seeds from year to year, too. On the other hand, hybrids may be the best tomato varieties to prevent devastation in disease-prone climates.

To help you choose the best tomatoes for your inclinations and situation, we’ve selected some classic, representative varieties in a few broad categories, which we chose based on reader feedback from a tomato survey. Then, we’ve offered up top recommendations among both open-pollinated and hybrid varieties based on eating quality and disease resistance. (See the key for disease-resistance codes.) Some of these tomatoes are sure to climb their way to the top of your must-grow list!

Best Tomato Varieties for Big Slicers

Most gardeners feel pure pleasure when they haul in a basket full of perfect, round slicing tomatoes. True tomato perfection comes in a range of colors, shapes and sizes. Bright red is the most popular color, but pink-red and purple-hued varieties offer unique flavors worth adding to your mix.

Red slicers represent a huge subgroup of varieties that bear fruits that look deceivingly like the round, red tomatoes in stores, only they taste worlds better. Many beefsteaks — a common term for large, thick-fleshed, juicy tomatoes — appear in this group.

Classics: Some varieties that define this category and are plentiful in seed catalogs and garden centers, including ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Better Boy,’ ‘Beefmaster’ and ‘Big Beef,’ are hybrids produced by Seminis, which is owned by Monsanto. So, you may opt to avoid them if you’re concerned about Monsanto’s corporate stronghold on the seed industry.

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