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Heirloom tomato seedlings

I may be jumping the gun on the season, but does any one have any suggestions where these might be become available in the GTA, such as Farmer's markets? Thanks.

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  1. I had to start mine from seeds available at the Home Depot. They were easy to start in peat pucks if you want to do it the old fashion way.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mactoo

      I don't know for sure, but I doubt that the seeds sold by Home Depot are heirloom varieties. Colette Murphy of Urban Harvest is a good source for organic, heirloom seeds, seedlings and plants. www.uharvest.ca

      1. re: Tatai

        Some mainstream stores might be coming on to the bandwagon. I wouldn't be surprised if HD had them. I was in a local Zellers last year and found a variety of heirloom vegetable seeds. Brandywine is your most approachable heirloom in the mass market.

    2. Richters Herbs in Goodwood has an enormous selection of unique seeds and plants. Their on-line catalog gives descriptions and uses for plants. Also a nice day trip if you want to pick them up in person...


      Richters Herbs
      357 Hwy 47, Goodwood, Ontario L0C 1A0

      1. Humber Nurseries carries a number of heirloom tomatoes plants, as well as lots of non-heirloom. They're on highway 50 south of highway 7 (near the airport). Take highway 427 north to the wnd at highway 7, turn left and go 1 km or so to highway 50, then turn south. it's 1/2 km or so on the right. Phone first to see if they're in yet, since it may be a little early.

        I like the Brandywines.

        1. Fiesta Farms often has an excellent selection of vegetables especially tomatoes. It's worth a try for heirloom -- I'll be checking there this year.

          1. Most farmer's markets should have them. I know Riverdale farmers market and Withrow and Brickworks have had them.
            I've seen them at the big carrot on Danforth.
            I bought them one year from a random stranger on craigslist. It was like a drug deal, except for tomato plants.

            1. I saw many varieties of heirloom tomatoes plants at Green Barn Farmers market on Saturday at the Sosnicki organics booth. Sosnicki is also at the Dufferin market on Thursdays.

              1. I bought mine last year from a vendor at the Waldorf School Farmers Market (Sat morning on Bathurst north of the 407). I picked mostly the Russian varieties since I figured they probably came from a climate similar to ours.

                1. The Dufferin Grove Park Farmer's Market on Thursdays (Bloor and Dufferin) has at least two vendors selling seeds and plants, and you can also find a few plants at the Nathan Phillips Square Wednesday farmer's market (from 11AM to 2PM) in season if you work downtown and that's convenient. Fiesta Farms is my favourite though: big, beautiful healthy plants and the most interesting varieties.

                  1. we've been buying our heirloom tomato plants from plant world (http://www.plantworld.net/en/index.php) for three years now. we'll be heading there in a couple of weeks (thanks for the reminder!) to get our stock for the summer. they have been carrying more and more varieties each year. but go EARLY because they sell out quickly!

                    fyi: last year, we bought brandywine, pink ping pong, arkansas traveller, something sunset (can't remember the name - gorgeous + delicious), green zebra, and something russian...(black russian?)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lilaki

                      an update: plantworld had brandywine in last week ... but their other heirlooms haven't come in yet. however, they had signage out in anticipation... they should be getting pink ping pong, green zebra, black krim, a white variety and another red variety (sorry - can't remember the names) hopefully today... and today is also the 20% off sale so it would be a double bonus!

                    2. I just bought some beautiful heirloom tomato plants from Colette Murphy at Urban Harvest, at her temporary retail location at King and Dufferin. www.uharvest.ca

                      She must have in excess of 30 varieties of tomato plants, many of which are heirloom and some of which are very rare. All were grown organically from organic seed.

                      She also sells seeds, of course, if you want to go that route.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Tatai

                        It's a getting late for starting seeds. But anyhow, with all the farmer's markets starting to open, you'll have no trouble finding these plants. My wife picked some up at Riverdale Farmer's market yesterday. Purple Cherokees, Black Prince, Aunt something's German Green and the unfortunately named Black Seaman.

                        I really like the black/purple tomatoes. Unfortunately last year's heavy rains meant very little production in my little backyard plot. Hopefully we get a better yeaer this time around.

                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          Way too late for seeds, grandgourmand, like about 3 weeks. Friends have had very mixed luck with bought heirloom plants--mislabeled, low yield, weak plants. Caveat emptor. Seed start tomatoes are fun, tricky, and well worth the trouble--for next season.

                          1. re: Kagemusha

                            that's what I was suggesting. I usually started my seeds in late march. But this year, the place usually designated for sprouting plants has been annexed by our new baby's stuff.

                            seeds are indeed fun, but not without problems. i've had issues with low yields as well and even mislabelling (brandywine package, but not in the end). I think a lot of it has to do with picking the right varietal (although mislabeling will screw that up). Not everything does well in our climate or in my specific backyard, even. I've had my best production out of the black/purple tomatoes, including one year of purple cherokees from a bought seedling and one year from seeds.

                            and If I'm buying seedlings from an outfit like Urban Harvest, I'd think the mis-labelling risk is lower, no? they seem to specialize, so you'd think they'd do a good job.

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              Trust me, you won't have problems with mislabelling when you purchase seeds and/or plants from Urban Harvest. Colette Murphy is totally dedicated to, and knowledgeable about, the quality and integrity of her products. Just read her "mission statement":

                              "Urban Harvest is dedicated to providing its customers with seedlings and garden supplies that promote ecological diversity and preserve the health of our planet. Our plant seeds and garden supplies are specially chosen for their unique qualities by seasoned urban gardeners. All of our seedlings are grown in or near the greater Toronto area to support our local economy.

                              Why should anyone only be able to eat Beefsteak, Sweet 100 and Early Girl! We wanted to taste some of those old varieties like Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter, Zapotec Pink and Black Krim tomatoes. White Beauty Eggplant and Sweet Chocolate Peppers. These were varieties with great taste which had fallen out of favour because they didn't fit a narrow criteria dictated by big agribusiness. We wanted to taste tomatoes so good they would make us weep. North Americans now eat only a fraction of the diversity of fruit and vegetables we ate 100 years ago. So grow some heirlooms, save some seed and really enjoy the fruits of your gardens. Growing as much of our own food as we can is not only good for our health it enhances our food security. Good luck with your gardens, share some meals with good friends, know where your food comes from and may you never hunger. All of our seedlings are grown in or near the greater Toronto area to support our local economy.

                              Safe Seed Pledge: All of our plants and seeds are certified organic. Urban Harvest does not knowingly buy, sell or use genetically modified plants or seeds. Saving and protecting our plant diversity inspires what we do and is and was the motivation for starting the business. It informs all our choices.

                              May you always be able to save your own seed. And may we be here to provide those you don't. Enjoy your harvest and thank you for your continued suppot of organic agriculture.
                              Colette Murphy

                              I had a terrific yield last year from all of the seeds and plants (tomatoes and numerous other vegetables) I purchased entirely from Urban Harvest. Nothing was mislabelled. Unfortunately, it was not a great year for tomato flavour given all the rain.

                              I seeded my two large raised beds about three weeks ago, and everything is coming up beautifully, as are the pepper and tomato plants I planted this week.

                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                Sorry but I go direct to dealers like Thompson&Morgan for seeds and bypass the middlemen. Never a problem with stale or mislabeled product from them. This just takes some planning and patience to work. Basement or cart-based grow-ops are easy and cheap to set up, too.

                                1. re: Kagemusha

                                  There's no middleman when buying seeds from Urban Harvest. I've also heard great things about William Dam Seeds. http://www.damseeds.ca/productcart/pc...

                                  1. re: Tatai

                                    I seriously doubt that, Tatai--they source seeds and resell and I'm sure they're just fine but they're not "producing" all this here.

                          2. re: Tatai

                            hi tatai,

                            do you recall what other vegetable plants were available for sale? i'm looking for heirloom beets and carrots, specifically. also, do you recall the price?


                            1. re: lilaki

                              lilaki, I don't recall seeing beet and carrot plants, but they do have many varieties of seeds that can be planted directly into the soil. It's not too late (I got a late start last year, seeding carrots and beets in mid-June, and had good yields).

                              I'm not sure of the price per plant, but I paid $66 (including tax) for 17 pots (usually two plants per pot), including numerous varieties of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and some herbs.

                              1. re: Tatai

                                hi tatai,

                                wow - i'm impressed ... direct seeding from the middle of june!!

                                our elderly neighbour has a plot in our shared side yard and she's getting frail so she's not planning to plant anything this year. so we thought it would be a good plot to use for some beets/carrots.

                                do you recall how long it took for yields of your beets/carrots?


                                1. re: lilaki

                                  If I remember correctly, we were harvesting our beets and carrots through September and into October. Our June seeding included bush beans, rainbow chard, collards, Red Russian kale, radishes, and summer squash.

                              2. re: lilaki

                                I'm pretty sure that carrots need to be direct seeded so you won't ever see carrot "plants" for sale. I believe the same applies for beets.

                                How long it takes carrots and beets to reach maturity depends a bit on what variety you're using and more on what you want from them. If you're fine with small beets for pickling and mini carrots a June or even early July seeding is alright--I sowed some after peas were done last year. If you're after larger specimens to go in the root cellar (or stay in a partly frozen garden) then you want to get started pretty soon.

                            2. I've seen heirloom seedlings at the Big Carrot before. Haven't been this year, but it's worth a try.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Full tummy

                                I planted about 6 different varieties last year, all from Urban Harvest, but purchased them at Big Carrot and Grassroots. In fact, if I remember correctly, their website may list stores that carry their seeds/seedlings.

                                1. re: tracey

                                  How did your seedlings turn out???

                              2. Matchbox Garden and Seed company had a whole variety of heirlooms yesterday at the Trinity Bellwoods Farmer's Market. They looked lovely. Their website is www.matchboxgarden.ca
                                They'll be back at the market next week. It runs from 3-7pm at the northwest corner of the Park at Dundas and Shaw.

                                1. We were coming home from Richter's yesterday and decided to stop by a small operation on Hwy 47/Bloomington Rd just west of Richers close to Hwy 48. What a pleasant surprise! They had an excellent variety of heirloom tomatoes. They also carried peppers, squash, eggplant and, lettuce - from what I remember. I'm not sure if they were heirlooms or not.

                                  We were most impressed and ended up picking up tomatillos; white & purple (who knew?), some ugly (which means tasty) tomatoes and poblano peppers (which is something Humber didn't have this year).

                                  All the plants were individually potted and had strong stems and are very healthy looking. I"m looking forward to my bounty

                                  GIARDINO ORGANIC FARM
                                  5780 Bloomington Road,
                                  Stouffville Ontario
                                  L4A 7X3

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lyndak

                                    This weekend Tree & Twig Heirloom Farm (www.treeandtwig.ca) in Wellandport has their "Tomato Days Sale" May 23-24 from 8am - 4pm. She has over 100 different varieties and her prices and product are great! I would recommend taking a trip out there to get some of the wonderful plants.