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Sow heritage tomatoes for health and flavour

Media Release 1 September 2008

Sow heritage tomatoes for good health and great flavour

NZ Gardener is encouraging Kiwi gardeners to celebrate the official start of spring by sowing heritage tomatoes from seed.

“Homegrown heritage tomatoes are so much tastier than the standard supermarket varieties, plus research suggests that they’re better for you too,” says NZ Gardener editor Lynda Hallinan.

The September issue of NZ Gardener reports on a major tomato trial by the Central Tree Crops Research Trust in Wanganui that found that the heritage tomato ‘Oxheart’ contains twice as much cancer-fighting lycopene as some of the main commercial varieties.

Wanganui gardener Mark Christensen teamed up with Frank and Joy Bristol from Bristol Plants and Seeds in Wanganui to grow 144 tomatoes varieties which were then tested for their nutritional properties by Hort Research in Palmerston North.

‘Oxheart’ topped the trial for lycopene, followed by ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’, ‘Amish Paste’ and the Russian heirloom ‘Black Krim’. ‘Silvery Fir Tree’, ‘San Marzano’ and ‘Polish Giant’ also rated highly.

“The research also found that dark-skinned tomatoes generally have higher levels of cartenoid and phenolic compounds than yellow or orange-skinned types,” says Hallinan.

Spring is the perfect time to sow tomato seed in order to have strong, healthy plants to put into your garden by Labour Weekend – the traditional tomato planting time.

The September issue of NZ Gardener also includes tomato sowing tips and a crop calendar of sowing and harvesting times in part four of the Back to Basics guide.

“Whether you want to grow your own organic vegetables for health and wellbeing or to save money at the supermarket, now’s the perfect time to get started. If you start sowing seeds now, you can enjoy fresh salad greens and tomatoes all summer,” says Hallinan.

In addition to their research, in November this year 5000 heritage tomato plants grown by Frank and Joy Bristol will be given away to Wanganui residents to encourage locals to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Kiwi gardeners outside of Wanganui can get heritage seeds online from Bristol Plants and Seeds at

The latest issue of NZ Gardener is on sale now.


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