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Best Tomato Varieties for the Arkansas Garden

With 25,000 known varieties of tomatoes, it is difficult to determine the best tomato varieties for the Arkansas Garden. I have tried many varieties with mixed success.

What Kind of Gardener are You?

Every gardener has a different method. Some gardeners gently nurture their plants from the first time seed meets soil. They diligently weed, carefully prune and generally pay attention to their crops.

I’m not one of those gardeners. To put it bluntly, fussy plants won’t survive in my garden. I like tough varieties that give me a lot of food without a lot of effort. Because I start and maintain a no-till garden, I don’t have a lot of weeding to do. This means I can grow a lot of food with a small time commitment, but it also means I have to weed out the needy crops.

When it comes to tomatoes, which produce in the heat of summer, I have one major requirement -- they must be crack-resistant. Cracking is caused by inconsistent watering and rain during the summer is very hit and miss. My home/garden layout isn’t ideal for rainbarrels, so when I water, I have to use city water. Not only does the garden not care for sterile water, I don’t care for enormous water bills. Therefore, I have to find tomatoes that are appropriate for my style of maintenance.

Good Varieties for Arkansas and the Surrounding Areas

  • Ozark Pink- This variety my favorite. While they are a bit slow to produce, once they start they never stop. I have grown this variety for years with no cracking, even during years that I lost the entire harvest of certain varieties to cracking. This variety does so well in my climate because it was produced next door at the University of Arkansas. Not only does it produce consistently, without cracking, it also happens to be one of the best tasting pink tomatoes I have ever had.
  • Peacevine- You just can’t beat this variety for flavor and production. Each plant grows vines up to 10 feet long and produces pints -- yes, PINTS! -- of fruits every day. I use these for fresh eating as well as dehydrating. This is the perfect snacking tomato. 
  • Cherokee Purple- This is one of the best tomato varieties for the Arkansas garden. While not a heavy producer, it is consistent and offers one of the best tomato flavors you can find anywhere. Sadly, it also happens to be the favorite of the neighborhood squirrels, so I have to fight them to get tomatoes.

Tips for Selecting the Best Tomato for Your Garden

After many years of growing tomatoes, here are my tips for shopping for seeds or plants:
  • Look for varieties that originated in your geographical region or a region with similar climate. I look for keywords like "Arkansas" and "Ozark."
  • Look for varieties that state that they "resist cracking."
  • Grow several varieties. If one variety fails to produce, you will still have some fresh tomatoes.

What is your favorite tomato variety?

1 comment:

  1. I have been preaching about the awesomeness of Cherokee Purples for years and years--long before you could find the plants in local nurseries, The flavor is close to perfection as far as I am concerned:) A very prolific and sturdy heirloom cherry that I love (and does well in Cent AR) is Blondkopchen. I've never seen them in nurseries tho. I received some experimental seeds years ago. Have you tried those? My seedlings still aren't quite ready for the garden yet, and I'm still not quite sure where I will put them all;)


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