Big Rainbow Tomato

Big Rainbow Tomato
Big Rainbow Tomato
Solanum lycopersicum
Grown in 2012.
January 2013 germination test: 95%
Packet = around 30 seeds

The quintessential heirloom tomato: squat and often wonky in shape, not your regular red, and uncommonly delicious. The yellow to rose striping goes all the way through, often making dazzling sunburst patterns. Flesh is solid and meaty with small seed cavities, making it an ideal slicer.

We noticed a lot of variation in the Big Rainbows we’d grown from different seed sources, so in 2012 we tried seed from five sources (E & R, Baker Creek, Cook’s Garden, Victory, and Laytonville gardener Jane Evans). We eliminated the off-types early (and there were some puny ones unworthy of the name Big Rainbow) and saved the fabulous, the best being Jane Evans’.

Culture: Start seeds indoors six weeks before last frost. Though originally a Southern variety used to 24/7 warmth and high humidity, these seeds are from plants that performed pretty darn well with our 45-degree summer nights.

Saving Seed: You’ll need to separate this variety from other heirloom tomatoes by 150 feet. One hundred feet will do if there are significant barriers like buildings or dense tall plants in between. Save seeds from a minimum of 10 plants.

You can eat your tomatoes and save seeds too. Just wait until they are very ripe (over-ripe is fine for seed-saving too). Scoop seeds and the gelatinous goop around them into a container and set the mess aside until the top is covered with mold (2-7 days, depending on temperatures). Then rinse well and dry the seeds on a screen or wax paper. The seeds have a protective coating that keeps them from germinating while still inside the juicy fruit; enzymes in the mold dissolve that coating.