When it comes to growing northern tomatoes, we always try to offer sage advice of choosing “early” varieties. We are definitely looking for types that mature in that 60 to 70 day range. This is true regardless of growing outdoors or in a greenhouse, we really need all that extra time to eek out ripe tomatoes up north.
Some see this as some sort of sacrifice, like you can’t get that heirloom quality goodness out of those early tomatoes. While that is somewhat true, it definitely isn’t completely true!
There are a surprising number of heirloom quality, super tasty and outright gorgeous tomato varieties that fit that “early” 60 to 70 day maturity range. For example, we’re currently growing Pink Berkley Tie Die, which has been an absolute winner in our greenhouses for a few years now.
This variety pumps out all the traits we’re looking for, it almost makes us think we are growing tomatoes at a more southern latitude. Dark, deep purple colors, meaty flesh and a wonderful, rich semi-sweet flavor that makes for an excellent slicer. It’s also dank in sauces, salsas or even just as straight canned tomato.
The way we generally structure our tomatoes is to grow one super early variety so we have some very early production. These are usually the least interesting, but it gets us into tomato supply as soon as possible. For the remainder of varieties we grow, we try to seek out interesting, flavorful and slightly longer season varieties to fill out that “quality” spectrum. Since we can be tided over by those early tomatoes in the early season, we don’t mind waiting a few more weeks for these beautiful, delicious and heirloom grade ‘maters to fill out the rest of our production!
Using this structure, we don’t at all feel like we are “sacrificing” quality, just to get those northern tomatoes to come in on time! We can get exactly what we want, sometimes we just have to put a little more thought into how we’ll approach it!