Most experts agree that Heirloom Tomatoes are all open-pollinated, which means that if you collect the seeds from a certain Heirloom Tomato variety and plant them, they will consistently produce tomato plants identical to the plant the seeds came from.

What experts and tomato aficionados disagree on is how long it takes to produce a variety of Heirloom Tomatoes. Some people say 40 years, others 50, others 100 years.

A Hybrid Tomato plant is a tomato that has been selectively grown over the years to look good and be resistant to disease and – hopefully – pests. If you collect and plant the seeds from a Hybrid Tomato, you will get a plant that is not identical to the plant the seeds originated from.  Of course, this is to the advantage of many seed companies: if you like a specific Hybrid, you will need to go back to the place where you bought the plant, or the seeds, year after year.

Pros and Cons of Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

Pros

Heirloom Tomatoes are very cool looking
Heirloom Tomatoes melt in the mouth
Heirloom Tomatoes have exceptional taste
Heirloom Tomatoes look fantastic both in your tomato garden and in your plate
Heirloom Tomatoes are cheap when you collect the seeds
Heirloom Tomatoes start at $5-6 a pound at the store. Cheaper and better to grow Heirloom Tomatoes at home than buying them!

Cons

Heirloom Tomatoes are prone to diseases
Heirloom Tomatoes attract all kinds of pests.
Heirloom Tomatoes do not produce as much as hybrids (in theory at least)

Personally, I prefer growing Heirloom Tomatoes over growing Hybrid Tomatoes. If you are unsure, try both and see for yourself!

Additional Resources:

There is a nice article on the Eatocracy site, called Heirloom Tomatoes Explained. Truly interesting information in the second half of the article.

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