Meaty, dense, huge, and prolific: I didn’t intend to grow ‘Mennonite Orange’ last summer, but boy am I ever glad I did.
- 80 days
- Open-pollinated heirloom
- Beefsteak, Slicer
- Ripens: Mid-season
- Story: Originally from Pennsylvania but grown in Southern Ontario.
- Container Growing: You’ll need a really big pot, 16″+ deep.
One thing you can always count on is that no matter how hard I try, I always over-sow tomato seeds. With over 130 varieties in my ever-expanding collection and limited growing space, it’s no surprise that I overdo it. Each spring I make my way through the box they are kept in, weeding it down to 50 varieties, give or take, that I will start from seed.
I do not have the space for 50 varieties!
When the time comes to plant them outside, I slowly make my choices. I never really know what will make the final cut until it is in the soil, and even then I often find myself scrambling to locate a patch of sun or one more container so as to not be disappointed by those I simply could not fit that year. The remainders go to friends, although in the process of giving plants away I often acquire a few that I had not anticipated.
This is how I ended up with ‘Mennonite Orange.’ My friend David came over to pick up some seedlings for his community garden plot and brought along an extra to give me. And even though I had no real idea what I was getting into (Orange beefsteak, Indeterminate, was the sum total of my knowledge then) I could not refuse. I can never refuse.
I no longer recall which of the varieties that I had reared was cast aside in favour of this new plant, but it hardly matters now. ‘Mennonite Orange’ flourished and grew into a sturdy and not overly sprawling vine in no time. When the fruit arrived they were enormous; thick and dense slicers exactly how I like them. They were mild but sweet and tasty for an orange variety — they became our favourite sandwich tomato of the summer. They produced all season long and kept going late, after many other varieties had long ago called it quits. Every last one was over a pound, even the very end-of-season stragglers. I was surprised how easily the green fruit ripened indoors. They were a little mealy but still good.
I would definitely grow this variety again, possibly even this year. We’ll see. Anything could happen.
Have you grown this variety? What did you think?