‘Eva Purple Ball’ is a favorite among heirloom fanciers for producing lots of perfectly shaped fruits with great flavor.
Word of mouth is always a great advertisement. I first ventured into heirloom tomatoes after hearing for the umpteenth time how swell ‘Brandywine’ was. If gardeners from New Jersey to California were extolling its virtues, it must be worth growing. And it was. Since that first ‘Brandywine’, I’ve grown ‘Persimmon’, ‘Old Flame’, ‘Georgia Streak’, and ‘German’, among others. And while I’d rather fight than give up my favorite hybrids, heirlooms now make up the lion’s share of my tomato crop.
Most of us cut our gardener’s teeth on hybrid tomatoes, those with names like ‘Jet Star’ or ‘Better Boy’ or ‘Ultra Girl’. With few exceptions, our chosen varieties were red, round, and—for the most part—the bigger, the better. There’s always been another side to the tomato world, though, a side where the fruits of the vine can be fluted, scalloped, flattened, lobed, or shaped like hearts or strawberries. When ripe they might be white, pink, red, orange, yellow, gold, purple, chocolate-brown, blackish-red, green, or striped. In addition to the typical tomato foliage, there are potato-leaf types, wispy fern-like leaves, and puckered rugose leaves. And the flavors range from sweet to tart, mild to strong, perfumed and fruity to dark and smoky.