VEGETABLE SEEDS: Tomato - Brandywine
Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Brandywine'
Potato leaf, semi-determinate
This classic heirloom, named by an impressed trial gardener in the 1880s after a beautiful stream near his home in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, was popularized by Seed Savers Exchange after they received seeds in 1982 from Ohio gardener Ben Quisenberry, who was given the seeds by Dorris Suddith Hill and who's family had been growing it for more than 80 years. We keep coming back to Brandywine for the great flavour of its big 10 cm (4 in) red beefsteak fruit, which don't start to ripen until late August, but are worth the wait. These tomatoes still taste good when picked green before the fall frost and allowed to ripen inside in the dark at room temperature.
Start plants indoors mid-March to the beginning of April. Cover seed with 0.6 cm (1/4 in) of soil, tamp and water. Seeds germinate best at soil temperatures above 24°C (75°F), so an electric heat mat is helpful. We use 72 cell plug trays and let the seedlings get quite large and crowded - or pot them up as they grow, or start in large containers. Wait until risk of frost has passed before planting out to the garden, usually early to mid-June. Gently loosen root bound plugs to encourage root growth and remove leaves halfway up the stalk, then bury at an angle so the bare stem is covered - it will form roots. Space plants 45 cm (18 in) apart. Tomatoes thrive when the average temperature is above 15°C (60°F), so a greenhouse or plastic covered hoop house is beneficial, especially in early and late season.