‘Black Seaman’ Tomato

Update: The first of the next batch has ripened. I had both my neighbour and my spouse do a taste test and we all agree that while it is tasty, it doesn’t stand up to the black indeterminates like ‘Black Krim’ or ‘Black Plum’. My final verdict is that it’s a great mid-sized determinate perfect for small spaces like fire escapes, but if you want the real thing get a HUGE plastic garbage can and grow an indeterminate variety.

'Black Seaman'

I’ve been waiting anxiously for the first ‘Black Seaman’ tomato to ripen. From the looks of things I was certain this would be my new #1 determinate but I was hesitant to even go there in my mind without tasting one first. I watched everyday with bated breath as a large crop of good-sized green tomatoes blushed with color. The first was eaten by a large raccoon (The largest I have ever seen! A film crew could use this deck as a location for Wild Kingdom). And then over the weekend we caught the tail end of hurricane Ernesto and the bulk of the nearly ripe ‘Black Seamans’ burst open as a result of torrential downpours and had to be quickly, and prematurely plucked from the vine. We tasted a few with salt and I will say that they were rich and flavorful with a hint of tang, even when under-ripe. Some were on the mealy side but that was likely caused by the splitting. I will provide a more thorough update on taste when the next batch ripen but in the meantime here’s why this variety has been given a tentative spot in my top 5:

  • It’s a determinate mid-sized plant with medium-sized fruit.
  • The fruit is a lot larger than expected. It’s hard to find a variety that is small and compact with reasonably-sized fruit. My long-standing #1 fave was ‘Silver Fir Tree’ but I am almost certain ‘Black Seaman’ will replace it.
  • My test plant has done exceptionally well in a pot size normally reserved for small, bushing tomatoes. In fact I usually grow ‘Sunrise III’ in this container as I assumed the plant size was similar. I was shocked when ‘Black Seaman’ grew both upwards and bushy and even more astounded by how healthy it has been in such a small container. The container is terra cotta no less!
  • It is prolific. It’s sad that I lost so many to splitting but there are still plenty more queuing up. In mid-sized containers my ‘Silver Fir Tree’ plants generally produce an absolute maximum of 10 mid-sized tomatoes. The lone ‘Black Seaman’ stands to produce around 20.
'Black Seaman' Tomato
  • The fruit is colorful both inside and out with a dense centre that makes it perfect for slicing and eating on sandwiches.
  • Flavor: This is yet to be determined since the first batch were under-ripe. I will guess that they will not measure up to other black varieties like ‘Black Krim’ or ‘Black Pear‘ but you can’t grow either of those in a mid-sized terra cotta container on a blazing hot rooftop in the city.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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2 thoughts on “‘Black Seaman’ Tomato

  1. I’ve harvested Black Krims, Big Rainbows, and Brandywines so far this year — don’t think I’ll have a terrific harvest, given that it rained most of the summer and has now turned pretty chilly! But we’ve been thrilled with the Krims — they are really deep and rich tasting. My friend gave me some Black Pearls that she grew at home — a cherry-sized black tomato. Really beautiful, and an nice cherry flavor (although not as tart/sweet as most cherries — more mellow). The Big Rainbows are beautiful but slightly mealy, and the Brandywines are just perfect.

    This is my first time for tomatoes, basically, and definitely my first time for heirlooms. Wish the summer weather had been more forgiving, but I’ll get 20 fruits off 4 plants before the cold really hits. Not great, but if I can manage to eat 20 beautiful tomatoes this season, it’s not so bad either.

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