3 New Tomatoes for This Year

I'm starting tomato seeds this week and wanted to describe 3 new varieties. It feels late to be starting tomato seeds, but our weather doesn't really stay warm until after May 9th when we get back from our vacation. I also don't want my tomatoes to be too big and have a hard time staying up.

This year, I'm trying 3 varieties new to me that were bred by Fred Hempel. Fred died last fall. His work used to be sold under the Artisan Seeds brand, but now is carried by a new company he was in the process of starting called Bene Seeds

Benevento is the tomato that Fred was so proud of. It is a beefsteak tomato that is ideal for gourmet restaurants because it tastes great, holds up well if it is on a gourmet burger or sandwich, and stores well. You can pick it, store in normal conditions like a kitchen or restaurant, and have it still hold its shape and taste great. He talked often about the need for hold up like commercial tomatoes but taste like heirlooms. Benevento is a hybrid. I once asked him about growing hybrids versus open-pollinated because he developed both types of tomatoes. Hybrids really do have vigor. I grow both hybrid and open-pollinated varieties. Benevento is red with yellow streaks inside and out.

Amalfi Pink is a similar tomato to Benevento but pink. Pink tomatoes have red flesh with clear skin. I wanted to try these this year because they are similar to Benevento's best characteristics like flavor and storage and because I want a tomato that looks more normal. I normally grow tomatoes that are purple, green striped, yellow, brown, etc. It can be hard to share that with someone when they have only known red tomatoes. I wanted to see how they hold up verses another pink tomato that I grow called German Pink. This is a hybrid as well.

Rainbow Jazz Heart is similar to Benevento and Amalfi Pink but is open-pollinated. Fred once included this in a list of his best tomatoes for growers and was the only open-pollinated slicer he had. I wanted to be able to save these seeds if I like the tomato enough. It is pink with yellow stripes.

I'm planting at least two of them in the local library garden that I help with. I planted cherry tomatoes there last year, but they grew so fast and needed to be picked more often that I could be there. I'm hoping with beefsteaks that I have an easier time keeping up with them.

I refer often to the list that Fred posted online. I took a screenshot and found that I loved the cherry tomatoes as he ranked them. I wanted to try the slicers as well. We eat a lot of tomatoes at our house and his varieties are some of our favorites. If these are good enough for him to recommend to market growers, then I want to give them a try.

I don't get anything for recommending Bene Seeds, but I believe in Fred's tomatoes. His Sunrise Bumblebee, Pink Bumblebee, and Golden Cherrywine are amazing. They are a bit more or a lot more expensive than other tomato seeds. But if you spread those seeds out over several years then they are worth it. They are also cheaper than buying 5 tomato plants at the store.


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