A tomato should be round and red – right? Actually, wrong. Some tomatoes are red and round, others are yellow and oval, while others are lumpy and black. Tomatoes have been especially bred over the past 50 years to conform to the red and round stereotype (I blame the Americans), at the cost of diversity and flavour. Happily, the trend these days is for more adventurous, authentic eating and other varieties of vegetables (heirloom) are being rediscovered.
We visited the south of France last year. I was amazed at the quality and variety of vegetables, especially tomatoes, on display. The French have a very independent approach to eating and were never influenced by the desire for the ‘perfect’ tomato. Unfortunately, us South Africans were and we’ve chosen good looks over taste for way too long. Luckily, the tide appears to be turning with many small-scale and market farmers experimenting with heirloom varieties of vegetables, thanks in part to the success of online seed shops, such as Livingseeds. They provide an astonishing array of heirloom seeds, from tomatoes to beans and carrots (and anything in between), all locally grown and open pollinated. I was lucky enough to get some tomato seeds for Christmas (thanks Chips) and will be planting them this week and documenting their growth on Sprig.
Apart from the flavor-burst these veggies offer, they are also meant to be more hardy and pest-resistant. Has anyone had experience with growing heirloom veges in South Africa? What were the results? Are they as much fun to grow as they are to eat?