Monday, May 05, 2014

Tomato Patch: Grandpa Henry’s Paste Tomato

In this guest blog series by Bob Nixon, he explores various tomato varieties and how well they grow in the Mid-Atlantic region. Look for Tomato Patch posts every Monday for the next few months as our local tomato season gets underway.

Grandpa Henry's heirloom tomatoes
One of the most unusual paste tomatoes I’ve “trialed” in years is Grandpa Henry’s, the seeds of which were a gift late last winter from Henry Lysy, a Carroll County Master Gardener.

The Grandpa Henry’s I’ve grown this summer averaged just over 10 ounces.  They were long, narrow, with pointed ends, reminding me of a few other paste tomatoes I’ve seen in catalogs—such as Jersey Devil and San Marzano Redorta.  When visitors saw them, they often thought they were hot peppers, not tomatoes. 

Henry said his dad received the original seeds from an Italian immigrant neighbor in Rhode Island and passed seeds on to Henry, who’s been growing them at least 30 years.  For Henry’s family and his many gardening friends, Grandpa Henry’s paste tomato is truly an heirloom variety.  Thank you, Henry, for carrying on a grand gardening tradition—and for sharing seeds with me and many others.

'Solid, little juice...just perfect for making sauce'
“I’ve really seen nothing like them,” Henry said when he gave me the seeds.  “I gladly share seeds and just ask that they call them Grandpa Henry’s. They’re prolific producers and are solid with little juice—just perfect for making sauce.”

Though many of Grandpa Henry’s sported green shoulders when I picked them to avoid damage by brown marmorated stink bugs, they were mostly deep red inside.  The green shoulders turned red in four or five days on a counter in our garage.  I made several batches of sauce in late summer, and this open-pollinated family heirloom has been a welcome ingredient, along with my other trial paste tomato, Burpee SuperSauce, which I blogged about a few days ago.

Thank you, Henry Lysy for sharing a family treasure.  Maybe you’ve just proved again that some of the best things in life are free.

If you've grown Grandpa Henry's, please post a comment about how this heirloom performed in your Tomato Patch.

About the Author
Bob Nixon is a retiree who lives at Meadow Glenn, a rural residential home near Clarksville in the piedmont region of Maryland. He loves gardening with emphasis on veggies and perennial flowers, and he is gradually reforesting parts of his home lot with native trees. And while he is gardening or mowing or just walking about, he sometimes reflect on life and what’s happening beyond Meadow Glenn at his blog:


  1. That looks like a wonderful tomato. I suppose it's indeterminate? Thanks for the great post.

  2. Bob Nixon5:01 PM

    Yes, it's indeterminate but not in an outlandish way, such as Sweet 100s.


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