Appalachia Gardening

Tomato Varieties I’m Growing This Year

Sow true Seed Tomato seedlings

I can’t believe how much our tomato seedlings have grown over the last few days. Even though, there’s been more rain than sunshine lately the tiny plants seem to be getting enough light anyway.

Starting tomatoes from seed


We’ve used large paper cups to start our tomato seeds in for the last several years. But this year, there were no paper cups to be had so we’re giving these plastic ones a try.

I liked using paper cups because they decomposed easily. However, the plastic cups are so sturdy I believe we’ll be able to re-use them for at least a couple of years if not longer.

Since we only transplant the tomato plants once, when we plant them outside, the taller cups really help the plants stay upright once they began to get top heavy from growth. And the cups don’t take nearly as much soil to fill as regular planting containers.

We are only growing 4 tomato varieties this year.

Sow true seed mountain princess 2016


I’m so excited to be growing Mountain Princess again! Last year Sow True Seed didn’t have any Mountain Princess seed and I sorely missed them. This variety produces tons of tasty red tomatoes that are the perfect size for canning.

Sow true seed cherokee purple


Cherokee Purple. The Deer Hunter couldn’t make it through the summer without this one! We’ve grown this variety of seed from Sow True Seed for several years and it has never let us down.

Sow true seed black cherry


Black Cherry. The tastiest tommy-toe ever. We discovered this variety from Sow True Seed’s first sponsorship of the Blind Pig garden and we’ve been growing them ever since.

Cream and Sausage tomatoes


Cream & Sausage. I’ve been saving the seeds from this variety for at least 6 or 7 years. I picked up a plant by chance at Christian Love’s greenhouse. It’s a yellow pear shaped tomato-very prolific and very sweet. Somehow I failed to start even one last year-I made sure to remedy that by planting more than a few this year.

Sow true seed tomato growing in brasstown


Now that I’ve shared my favorite tomato varieties with you, I hope you’ll share your favorites with me!


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    O. P. Holder
    March 4, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Just wanted to know if anyone is familiar with an old watermelon variety called Kleckley Sweet.
    These are never sold at markets or stores because the rind is too thin to transport. They are the sweetest I have tasted.
    They were developed by a Dr. Kleckley in Georgia who later moved to Alabama. My grandfather grew them when I was a pre-teen. Seed is available from several internet sources. I have tried them twice and they didn’t mature.

  • Reply
    Maggie Roberts
    March 25, 2017 at 11:22 am

    My problem is come Jan and Feb and those seed catalogs come in I can’t resist! I have hundreds os seed packets I’ve tried and still have some leftover. I can’t throw them away! Such an addiction!

  • Reply
    Maggie Roberts
    March 25, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hi Tipper, I always grow 250-300 plants a year for sale and for my garden. Better Boy and Jet Star are great sellers, as are heirlooms Old German Golden Jubilee, also Pineapple and Mortgage Lifter & Brandwine. In the past I’ve grown Cherokee Purple, but I’m trying Carbon these year which is supposed to be like CP, but doesn’t crack as much. I’m also trying San Marzano instead of Roma. Others are Big Beef, Bush Beefsteak, Bush Champion. Cherries are Sun Sugar (yellow), red cherry and chocolate cherry. I have Tumbling Toms an Geranium Kiss as well. Last year I grew Orange Chef which is orange and really like it, but I’m running out of space! They sold so-so, even though they are supposed to have more lycopene than others. Peppers are Bell Boy, Orange Star, Red beauty, Jalepeno and banana, and the small mini peppers. Wanted to grow more but no space!
    BTW yes my back is killing me and the season hasn’t even started! Thanks for your article!

  • Reply
    Tom Ball
    April 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks — really neat stuff. My dad used to grow a kind of heirloom green tomato that stayed green when they were ripe — for green fried tomatoes, which taste very different from tomatoes that you pick green and then fry. There’s a sweetness to them and the green gives a sharp kick. I notice that True Seed sells a kind of green tomato also.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    April 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    We generally only plant two kinds, a selection of cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes we use for salads and cooked dishes where diced tomatoes are called for. The plum tomatoes we use for everything else, including mater sandwiches.
    (Nothing on this earth is better than thick a mater sandwich with fresh white sandwich bread, salt, pepper and good old Duke’s Mayo.)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I planted my raised beds with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and three different species of hot peppers. Here in Princton, TX the weather is now in the low 70’s in day and in the low 60 ‘s at night.
    My father use to plant large gardens every Spring on Good Friday, usually 1/2 acre of every type of vegtable that would grow in MS., when I was a child growing up. I remember he harvested seeds for the next planting.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I’m not a fan of the Cherokee
    Purples, they’re OK but my family
    won’t eat them. So, I just plant
    some Better Boys, German Johnson
    Pinks, and the Yellow Brandywines.
    Those yellow tear-dropped tomatoes you gave me some time back are the producingest things I ever saw.
    My friend has a large tomato field and I buy Mountain Princess
    from him for canning.
    I’ll sure be glad when this rain
    stops so I can get started in my

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 18, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I have Cherokee Purples and German Johnsons started and I will buy Beefsteaks and pickup some free Better Boys at United Bank Customer Appreciation Day. I did this last year and had beaucoup for the family and most of the neighbors.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Sweet 100 and Better Boy,, hard to break a tradition.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 18, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Tipper–I’ll plant Cherokee Purple (my favorite), Lemon Boy, Brandywine, a yellow pear tommytoe that has no name, and a couple of others. I usually overdo it to the tune of about 100 plants overall, but I never have any trouble giving them to friends and neighbors. We also freeze a lot for tomato-dill soup.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Having a nursery must be wonderful. It is very exciting this time of year to start all the plants and prepare for the garden. Your tomato plants just look wonderful.
    I have both tomato and pepper plants started in cups and halved Pringle cans. I just started Butternut and Spaghetti Squash in pots yesterday–they sometimes do better just to plant them directly in the ground. Pepper plants were started early this year so the would have a better start. Last year they were still bearing well when the frost hit. It sure is a lot of running bringing them in at night then back out to the limited sunshine. Gardening is so addictive I would plant plant even if entire garden did poorly.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 18, 2015 at 9:32 am

    My garden is too small to experiment and I’ve fallen into the habit of planting just 3; Rutgers, Roma and Sweet Millions. I use bedding plants instead of seed and only plant about 20. Rutgers average 6-8 oz. – a good eatin size – and are smooth and easily peeled for canning. Romas, a paste type, are meaty for sauce. The grape is mostly for salads. They can grow to 10 feet or so by frost.
    The last 2 years I have cut off the lowest branches that sprawled out into the balks and replanted them in places were I had ‘skips’ for whatever reason. Worked like a charm except they lagged the other plants by a couple of weeks. But they were also more productive after the others had faded a bit.
    Thanks for the reminder about ‘tommy toes’. It’s what I grew up calling them but I don’t hear it much anymore.
    Wish I had a garden big enough to plant everything I’d like to try ! But we all know how that works; great weather in April to plant, sweltering in July to weed. Blessings you all

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 18, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Let me correct the previous post about the size of the permaculture bed..It’s not a 4 inch permaculture bed…LOL
    It is four foot tall raised permaculture bed. Size is 4′ high x 4′ wide x 8′ long…We put rotting, logs, branches in the bottom…Leaves and mown grass on top of that. Watered it down among the branches and logs…Added wood chips, soil compost and more soil on top…As it decays, it doesn’t dry out and keeps the plants fed and moist from the bottom up….I wish I had a dozen of these wooden tall beds…Easy for me since I use a roll-a-tor to move about. My better half built one for our son also, who has to carry his oxygen with him so he can just reach to plant and pick his veggies….
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Brandywine has always been my favorite, but I decided to try something different this year. The Brandywine seems to ripen all at once, leaving me without tomatoes for several months. This year I planted Cherokee Purple and Beefsteaks. I can’t wait for a fresh tomato out of my garden!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 18, 2015 at 8:20 am

    We used to stay with tomatoes we have grown from the past…Now, the better half just skips around and tries different ones. He loves Big Boy/Better Boy types and we always grow Roma tomatoes, for Mexican and Italian sauces. We just love Roma…they just produce well for us, hanging in bunches on the vines….
    The most fun we had was the year he grew tree tomatoes, he actually had to get a ladder to string up the top growth…The tomatoes weren’t all that special but fun to show off the plants…We have grown German Queen and loved them as well, a pinkish tomato that one could show off, weight wise…but not a real pretty tomato. We one huge tomato one time that when sliced for the ‘sandwich’ hung over the sides of a slice of Pullman loaf white bread…Yep, it was a biggin’! That was some ‘mater sandwich’!
    The most tomatoes we ever had was the year he put in over a hundred (mine you this was not the only variety) Rutgers…We went along and put mulch as soon as the ground heated up…then laid thick straw under the plants and let them go…Yes, we had to bend over a few times to pick the tomatoes, and yes we had to carry off a few hungry terrapins, but we had more than enough to feed all the critters and most of our end of the county…Every time the better half brought up a bushel, he would say, “That’s not all, I think there’s at least another bushel ready on the end of the rows”!
    That was the year, I made anything one could make out of a tomato, juice, salsa, sauce, canned, chopped, whole…etc. etc. and sold some!!!
    I canned one morning until 3 AM…got up and was at work in the art department at 8 AM….the next morning at 5 AM, I was in the hospital with a wrenched back….LOL That was the last year of overgrowing tomatoes…
    Last year when in Pickens, SC jockey lot we saw many beautiful tomato plants for sale. We purchased a yellow sweet salad tomato that a lady was raving about…She only had a few left as she said she sells out every year…I am here to tell you that is the best little salad tomato I have ever eaten. It is between a tommy toe and Sweet 100 size…turns a medium to light yellow when ripe and popping delicious. Don’t eat one while you are picking to take in for the salad or you will eat them all before you get in the kitchen! LOL They also bare a lot of fruit as well. They grow tall and when planted in my 4″ permaculture bed, went up thru the cage and draped over loaded with fruit just right for little hands to pick!
    I doubt we will make it down there this year to find the tomato lady! So we have searched online and the better half met the truck at Lowes last week and bought their version of the round yellow tomato…very sweet and new they said….we will see what happens…
    Tipper, careful with that greenhouse. That is exactly how we got overrun with tomato plants…I was so glad when the plastic gave way and we decided to tear that “grow monster” down, after a few years…
    Now-a-days, I am wishing we had another small greenhouse…ours was 12 by 20 back then…too much greenhouse for a family of four!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I couldn’t find the Cherokee plant this year so I am trying a different one. I find the black/purple tomatoes interesting. I purchased a variety of bell peppers – all different colors. I use them for cooking and snacking.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2015 at 7:38 am

    I like the Cherokee Purple for salads and for eating and the Mountain Princess for canning. Thank you Sow True! You’ve made my summers better.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2015 at 7:23 am

    I grow Cherokee Purple and Black Cherry, too. Some of my other favorites are Eva Purple Ball, Earl of Edgecombe, Rose, and 1884. But I grow too many different kinds …. I get a lot of my seed from Sand Hill Preservation Center. And I find Tatiana’s Tomato Page (Google it) a priceless source of information on varieties.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I love Matt’s tomatoes a Florida native commonly called Everglades tomato as well. This little tomato is about 1/2 the size of a cherry, enjoys cool nights and to me sounds perfect for NC. They are so sweet you can and I do,eat them like grapes. It is an heirloom. I save my seed from year to year. Yummy

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I love Matt’s tomatoes a Florida native commonly called Everglades tomato as well. This little tomato is about 1/2 the size of a cherry, enjoys cool nights and to me sounds perfect for NC. They are so sweet you can and I do,eat them like grapes. It is an heirloom. I save my seed from year to year. Yummy

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I love Matt’s tomatoes a Florida native commonly called Everglades tomato as well. This little tomato is about 1/2 the size of a cherry, enjoys cool nights and to me sounds perfect for NC. They are so sweet you can and I do,eat them like grapes. It is an heirloom. I save my seed from year to year. Yummy

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I love Matt’s tomatoes a Florida native commonly called Everglades tomato as well. This little tomato is about 1/2 the size of a cherry, enjoys cool nights and to me sounds perfect for NC. They are so sweet you can and I do,eat them like grapes. It is an heirloom. I save my seed from year to year. Yummy

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 18, 2015 at 6:55 am

    My mouth waters from reading your descriptions. Cherokee Purple is a fave of mine, but the others sound tasty, too. Hope they all produce well for you.

  • Leave a Reply