Most gardeners probably have their favorite tomato cultivar. Mine is an heirloom that’s been cultivated for over 100 years. I’m not sure how it got it’s name but It’s called Brandywine.

The Brandywine Story

There isn’t a lot known about it’s history but through my research into it’s background I learned that it first appeared in the Burpee catalog in 1886. There are references to it earlier than that but I couldn’t substantiate them.

It’s hard to say what happened to this cultivar over the years but it resurfaced in 1982 listed by the Seed Savers Exchange. The submission to the Seed Savers Exchange came from an Ohio man named Ben Quisenberry.

According to Ben, he received his seeds from Doris Suduth Hill whose family had been growing Brandywine tomatoes for at least 80 years.

Who is to say how many other sources have been involved in propagating this variety. Some say the Amish had something to do with it. Does it really matter. Probably not but what does matter is the characteristics that have become part of this tomato strain.

Why I Grow This Cultivar

The two most frequently mentioned characteristics (and I can attest to that) are its size and flavor. This tomato is compared to a beefsteak in size and the taste is outstanding. My first observation was how much meat there was in it. In the picture below you’ll notice that is has small seed cavities and large lobes. One slice is quite often larger than a slice of bread.

Large Meaty Brandywine TomatoAt the time I selected this tomato I was particularly looking for an heirloom. Ultimately my reasons for selected it were that it came recommended for good success in Florida and it had a reputation for great taste. Let me say that this tomato lives up to its’ reputation and it absolutely loves the heat too.

How I Grow My Tomatoes

I grow them hydroponically and also in raised beds. My hydroponic plants are grown under the overhang of my home and these plants have no problem filling out and easily growing above the overhang. They get so big it’s hard to contain them.

6 foot tomato plantWhether it’s growing hydroponically or in my raised beds, these plants can put on some size. Don’t under estimate the size potential of these plants. I put a 2 foot round cage over them that’s 5 feet tall. (If you look real close in the picture above you’ll see I had to add a second cage to the top of the 5 foot cage.)

These tomato plants outgrow the sides and top with ease and the tomatoes produced are in bunches.

Quote from Bonnie Plants “It is considered one of the benchmarks for intense tomato flavor. The indeterminate vines are vigorous, so use tall cages.”

There’s a certain pleasure you get knowing you produced it from a seed. That’s why my preference is to grow crops from seed as much as possible. I got my Brandywine seeds from the Sustainable Seed Company.

Brandywine From Sustainable Seed
A Final Thought

Advances in DNA have come a long way. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a way to do a DNA study of various tomato strains and somehow trace their origin to the cultivars that they were created from.