10 Tomatoes To Grow Before You Die

Time for us is separated into two distinct parts, the time when you can grow tomatoes and the time when you cannot. The football season segregates time in a similar way for a lot of people too, and now that our major code is put away for another year, Melbourne is left scratching its head for things to do. Thankfully, there are tomatoes to grow.

Bill Shankly, ex-Liverpool coach once said of football: “It’s not a matter of life or death, it’s far more important than that”. The same thing could be said of the tomato. It is more than just a vegetable - or fruit, whatever you prefer - it is a cultural icon and pin up for the home growing food revolution.

Something stirs inside us whenever there are tomatoes to grow and each year there will be a mix of known and unknown quantities planted out in the patch. Of course there will be my guaranteed performers - such as the Tommy Toe, which throws out an abundance of sweet, pest/disease free, cherry tomatoes - but then, and most excitedly, there will be the mystery varieties that we have only heard rumours about.

So now that the football season is over, it’s time to source the seeds of these 10 varieties you need to grow before you die.

Japanese Oxheart (main image): If you’ve ever been to Japan and admired the quality of their marbled meats, you can now admire this marbled oxheart tomato. A prolific variety that produces large, meaty, pink fleshed fruit.

Burpees Globe: a perfectly round and smooth fruit with a firm, honey-sweet flesh, it contains little to no acid and it the ultimate multipurpose tomato.

Aunty Ruby’s German Green: This large beefsteak variety has a green flesh and amber coloured skin once ripe. Its has a sweet, zesty and almost fruity flavour, which some describe as having the perfect balance of sugar and acid.


Black Russian: The Black Russian is the primary reason we got into growing food. It is the tomato for me, with a smooth dark skin revealing a sweet, pulpy, dark flesh.

San Marzano: This has the reputation as the ultimate pizza and pasta tomato and for a very good reason. It revolutionised the tomato industry - starting in the 1920’s - popularising Italian tinned tomato to the world. Every self respecting Italian (or wannabe) has them growing in the spring/summer garden.

Big Ben: as its name indicates, this is a big (and beautiful) ribbed, beefsteak variety. Perhaps the ultimate hamburger tomato, as one slice of this blood red fleshed fruit will easily fill out the roll.

Dad’s Sunset: with an electric orange colour, high juice viscosity and winner of “Best Tasting Tomato” at renowned US breeders Baker Creek heirloom seeds, there is plenty to look forward to when growing this variety this spring.

Black Cherry: Dark skinned cherry tomato, with a dark sweet flesh that highlights all that is good about the tomato. It never disappoints.

Amish Paste: a plum shaped tomato with a firm flesh, that is meaty and juicy. It is one of the most versatile varieties in the kitchen, delicious to be eaten raw or used to make a perfectly balanced tomato sauce.

Green Zebra: A green, mid-sized fruit that has darker green, speckled stripes running through it. As the fruit matures the green of the skin shifts to an amber, indicating ripeness. Created by tomato guru, Tom Wagner - who was only 10 years old when he began breeding this variety - the colour is believed to throw off pests and would be tomato thieves. A sweet but zingy flavour.

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