These are ninth-generation open-pollinated tomato plants humming along nicely under a 900-watt halogen bulb, awaiting spring transplant time in the garden (which could be any day now given our lack of winter this year).
The plants were developed mostly from an heirloom beefsteak variety called German Johnson, crossed with another called Belgium Giant, and suffused with the DNA essence of maybe four other heirloom varieties. After the first two years, no further crossing was made, and plant selection for the coming year’s seeds depended on tomato flavor and size, early ripening and the ability to withstand the extreme heat of South Texas summers.
I call these Brazos Beefsteaks, after the river running a couple hundred yards south of our gardens. The fruit ripen as soon as 65 days from planting, which is pretty quick for a beefsteak type, and they typically range in size from 10 to 16 oz. They’re meaty, with small seed cavities and (OK I’m bragging, but it’s true) really terrific old-time tomato flavor the likes of which can never be had in any grocery store.
Open-source tomatoes are in my opinion superior to hybrids if one has at least three years to devote to selective breeding. It’s amazing how adaptable they are to various climates. With hybrids, selective breeding isn’t possible, because the seeds produce plants that are genetically different from each other and almost always inferior to the parent hybrid plant from which they came.
That’s it for the winter garden report. So remember kids, don’t buy that which you can better grow yourselves.