This review originally appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Northern Gardener magazine.
With Epic Tomatoes, How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time (Storey Publishing, 2015), Craig LeHoullier has created a truly comprehensive guide to growing the vegetable that some consider the entry to a lifelong passion for vegetable gardening. LeHoullier is an expert on heirloom tomatoes, and has introduced more than 100 varieties to the trade.
Epic Tomatoes begins with a history of the cultivated tomato and how it was introduced into North America, then goes on to describe the vast array of heirloom varieties that are grown today in all their colors and sizes and textures and tastes. Included are profiles of 33 of LeHoullier’s favorites, and they’re augmented with beautiful photos. His guide to seed starting, along with planting and growing tomatoes, is filled with rock-solid advice; other sections cover saving seeds and plant breeding in remarkable depth and clarity. Particularly impressive is the section on troubleshooting disease and pest problems, illustrated with photos to help in identifying them.
LeHoullier also challenges some long-held tomato growing nostrums, such as the one that advises gardeners to pinch off the side shoots that develop between the main stem and leaf stems because they sap energy from the main plant. Not true, he says, and removing branches where blossoms and fruit will form instead simply lowers overall yield. It’s that sort of knowledge based on many years of hands-on experience that makes Epic Tomatoes an enormously valuable resource for the heirloom tomato gardener.
Would you like a copy of Epic Tomatoes? Enter our giveaway by telling us your favorite tomato variety in the comments here or on our Facebook page. The winner will be drawn at random and will be announced on Friday!