When it comes to names, fruit and vegetable growers seem to have lots of fun – think Granny Smith apples, silver queen corn and iceberg lettuce – but heirloom tomato growers get the prize for creativity.
Looking for a deep, dark purplish variety? Try Brad’s Black Heart or Black Sea Man.
Prefer traditional red? You might like the Bloody Butcher. Yellow Submarine is a variety of yellow tomato, there’s also Tommy Toe (elongated), Green Zebra (striped green) and Brown Derby (deep rusty red). And the list goes on.
Heirloom tomatoes aren’t the easiest tomatoes to grow – they tend to be more susceptible to certain diseases and generally must be started from seeds instead of seedlings – but proponents say the superior flavor and texture are well worth the extra effort. And then there are those snazzy names.
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The Tasty Tomato Celebration, Columbia’s week-long salute of all things tomato, culminates on Saturday, July 19, at the Tasty Tomato Festival. You will be able to taste tomatoes in a variety of forms, including fresh heirlooms and in Bloody Marys. We suspect we’ll see a few tomato sandwiches and BLT’s as well.
But tomatoes are just the beginning. The festival will also feature music from Scars on 45 and Alternative Routes, arts and crafts, face painting and a beer garden. And if you really want to sink your teeth into a big ‘mater, you can try your hand at tomato bobbing.
The Tasty Tomato Festival will be held 4-9 p.m. at City Roots Urban Farm, 1005 Airport Boulevard, Columbia. Tickets are $10. Dogs are welcome, but note that shade is very limited. For more information, visit tastytomatofestival.com.
Katie McElveen, Special to The State