How’s your tomato year? Mine is 50/50.

In part of my garden, I have grown varieties that don’t claim any disease resistance; they are open-pollinated varieties that are different shapes and colors. They are delicious, and the plants produced well for a while but are now burned up.

In another part of my garden, I have grown hybrid varieties that claim broad disease resistance — to fusarium wilt and late blight and many others, but most importantly to nematodes. I have root-knot nematodes in this part of my garden.

So I had low expectations for these plants. Last year’s tomatoes in this area did not do great. Yet each of these five hybrid varieties has won me over, earning the right to be planted in following years, and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending that you try them in your garden, especially if yours have struggled with root-knot nematodes or other diseases. Let me briefly introduce them to you.

Mountain Fresh Plus

Mountain Fresh Plus is the Platonic idea of a tomato. It’s not perfect, but it is perfectly typical. It is medium to large, red, and round. It looks like a tomato that you would see in a painting.


BHN-1021 is almost the same as Mountain Fresh Plus in every way, just look at the photos above. Both have good, expected tomato flavor.

Here are the plants:

The above photo was taken on July 13 when my tomato plants were coming into full production this summer. The Mountain Fresh Plus and BHN-1021 plants are in the front row on the right side, where you can notice that they are productive and smaller than the other plants. Both Mountain Fresh Plus and BHN-1021 plants are efficient fruiters, as they make lots of tomatoes on compact plants.

Big Beef

Big Beef, on the other hand, is both a larger plant and a slightly larger fruit.

The flavor of the fruit is excellent and slightly milder and fruitier than Mountain Fresh Plus and BHN-1021.

Big Beef fruit has also had slightly less skin cracking, and I think this is partly due to the vigorous plant that shades its fruit well. Here are my Big Beef plants:

They are threatening to pull down my stakes.


Do you see the pinkish color? Damsel is a beautiful tomato. Over the past few weeks, when we’ve had extra tomatoes to give to friends I’ve wanted to give them Damsels because of how attractive they are, and they also seem to have a slightly richer flavor — although I sometimes wonder if the unusual hue of the fruit is influencing my sensation of its taste.

The size of the Damsel plants are in between the big Big Beef plants and the compact Mountain Fresh Plus and BHN-1021 plants.

One downside to Damsel is that the fruit sometimes gets concentric cracks around the stem or green shoulders if they are not shaded well under leaves or shade cloth.

Lemon Boy

Finally, we have Lemon Boy. I hadn’t planned on growing Lemon Boy this year, but neighbors kindly gave me a plant, and when I looked the variety up and found that it claimed root-knot nematode resistance, I put it in the infested area of my garden — and it has thrived.

The Lemon Boy fruit’s flesh is meaty and its flavor has less acid and a bit more of a tropical taste. I have loved adding a bit of diced Lemon Boy into my salsas this summer. The Lemon Boy plant is large and fruitful, yet not quite as productive as the above red varieties mentioned in this post.

The above five varieties are all excellent, workhorse tomatoes that seem to fulfill their claims to disease resistance. I can attest that they definitely thrive despite the root-knot nematodes in the soil of my garden, and I’ve seen no other diseases affecting the plants.

I bought my seeds for the above varieties from Johnny’s and Territorial: Mountain Fresh Plus, BHN-1021, Big Beef, Damsel. Lemon Boy seeds are widely available, and plants are often found at nurseries.

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