Q&A with Marie Krane: Growing Heirloom Tomatoes for Tomato Bliss

Our founder, Marie Krane, went from heirloom tomato gardener to heirloom tomato farmer after her operation grew bigger than her rooftop gardens on the South Side of Chicago. Now in her fourth year of regenerative farming, we asked her to share a few details about her experience growing a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes en masse. 

Team Bliss: Tomato Bliss products contain a "seasonal mix" of heirloom tomatoes. What does "seasonal mix" mean? 

Marie: Seasonal here changes almost every week as heirloom tomatoes have different ripening times. Unlike commercial tomatoes, which are harvested by machines when firm and green and then ripened by ethylene in trucks, our tomatoes are hand-picked straight from the vine when perfectly ripe.

Tomato Bliss Hand Picked Heirloom Tomatoes Regenerative Farm

Team Bliss: Do all heirloom tomatoes grow at the same rate from seed to ripeness? 

Marie: Every heirloom tomato has its own lifespan from seed to ripeness. Some heirloom tomatoes take 55 days to ripen and some up to 100 days. We plant in successions to get a wide variety every week of the growing season.

Team Bliss: How many heirloom tomatoes are in each jar of Tomato Bliss? 

Marie: When we hand-pack our tomatoes and soup, we work with approximately 30 to 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. The varieties are mixed together so that each jar has a rainbow mix of heirlooms. Then they are hand-cut, flame-roasted and hand-packed into jars. When they are roasted, the rainbow varieties are roasted together so that the flavors meld. In any given jar you will have the flavor of many heirloom tomatoes and the chunks will be unique to the jar.

Tomato Bliss Heirloom Tomatoes Hand Packed Jarred tomatoes

Team Bliss: Is there a core variety of heirloom tomatoes you use in all Tomato Bliss products? 

Marie: The essential tomatoes that are in just about every jar of Tomato Bliss are: Jaunne Flamme, Black Cherry, Aunt Ruby's Green, Striped Roman, Cherokee Purple, Kelloggs Breakfast, Ukrainian Purple and Nebraska's Wedding. Later in the season, Green Zebra comes in.

The five backbone tomatoes are Black Cherry, Aunt Ruby's, a large purple (varies depending on harvest Ukrainian and Cherokee this year), Jaunne Flamme and Green Zebra. The essential key is a rainbow of tomatoes.

Team Bliss: Do you work with other heirloom tomato farmers? 

Marie: In addition to the heirloom tomatoes from Lotus Flower Farm (our farm), we choose high-quality surplus from neighboring farms. Kalerville Farms is growing, for example, 

Red heirloom tomato varieties such as:
  • Sub Artic Plenty
  • Whittemore
  • Trophy
  • Wisconsin 
Orange heirloom tomato varieties such as:
  • Kellogg's Breakfast
  • Gold Medal
Pink heirloom tomato varieties such as:
  • German Pink *One of my favorites 🙂 
  • Henderson Pink Ponderosa
  • Brandywine Pink
Striped Color varieties such as:
  • Chocolate Stripes (Red Brown)
  • Vintage Wine (Pinks/Some Green)
  • Yellow Radiance/Pork Chop (Yellow/Green)
  • A few trial red striped varieties
  • Along with trials of Blue/Red and Red/Brown striped varieties

Team Bliss: Has regenerative farming been successful with heirloom tomatoes? 

Marie: In our fourth growing season, we've experienced an earlier, more bountiful harvest. The promise of regenerative farming is being proven at Lotus Flower Farm. 

Regenerative Farming works heirloom tomato farm Tomato Bliss

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