The brandywine was more than I bargained for (it was my first year growing tomatoes). The fruits were huge and I did not prepare the proper supports for the plant. The regular wire cage was not enough for this beast.
This year a friend encouraged me to visit the Landis Valley Garden Festival held in May, http://www.landisvalleymuseum.org/index.php. I was also unprepared for what I found there. Heirloom plants galore, herbs, veggies and garden widgets. I found many vendors that I adored! Check into it next year and take a radio flyer or cart if you can, I thought my friend was kidding but it would have saved me loads of hassle carrying items back and forth to the car.
As an FYI, if you have a shade garden and are tired of the run of the mill items there is a fab vendor that sells the run of the mill items and then some. I picked up a trillium lutem and chinese wild ginger (asarum splendens). I have a tolerable relationship with the yard bunnies unless one touches either of these plants.
You will have to visit the Cloverleaf Herb Farm stand and check out their blog site, http://cloverleafherbs.blogspot.com/ They are located in Mt. Joy and enjoy educating their customers. The Herbal Springs Farmstead also had some wonderful goodies. They are located at 447 Brossman Rd in Ephrata and they host classes about using teas for health, making homemade hand lotion and so on.My other favorites (all were my favorites) were the Manheim Central High School teens. All of the students seems knowledgeable and passionate about the tomatoes that they started from seed. They were eager to answer any questions and had a wonderful selection of tomato plants and a handy brochure that details about each variety. http://manheimag.org/
I saved the best for last…. happy cat organics farm!!! Come on they have a great logo, wonderful variety of garden veggies, photos of what you can expect the fruits to look like and great tips for the use of the veggies! http://www.happycatorganics.com/ I picked up some a green sausage tomato plant and tollies sweet peppers (which will grow in happy colors) from happy cat farms. The owner made himself available to answer and advise the public on his items. It sounds like local restaurants buy his goods as well! Follow this punk rock farmer’s blog (and mine if you are not already, good grief folks) http://happycatorganics.blogspot.com/ just remember you heard of him here 1st!
so without further ado (drum roll) here are the heirloom tomato plants I picked up from the Landis Valley fair:
- opalaka – not ompalompa… from poland with red plum shape & few seeds, sauce perfect
- amish paste – large, meaty, heart shaped fruit with little juice. ideal for sauce!!!
- german strawberry – fruits resemble strawberries, both in color & shape. low in seeds & juice
- garden pearl – pink cherry tomatoes that are very prolific, great for hanging baskets
- orange fleshed purple smudge – unique tomato stunning in vibrant orange and purple colors
- thessaloniki – and the greeks have it…the perfect tomato…need I say more
- japanese black trifele – 8 oz pear shaped mahogany-black tomato. can’t wait for this one!!
- isis candy – gorgeous fruits marbled with red. rich flavor and complex blend of sweetness. yum!
- green sausage – this one will be fun. Sausage shaped with pointy tip, great in salads
- green grape – very juicy and sweet 1″ fruits
- riesentraube – A.K.A the “giant grape” that will produce ’til frost
- hartmen yellow gooseberry – cherry type that is mildly acid and tart