ripe and unripe Early Girl fruit
|Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)|
|Plant height||9 feet|
|Fruit Weight||8 oz|
The Early Girl tomato is a medium globe type F1 hybrid popular with home gardeners because of its early fruit ripening. Early Girl is an indeterminate growth variety, meaning that it produces flowers and fruit until killed by frost or some other external factor (in contrast to determinate varieties, which grow into a limited, predefined shape and are most productive for a single, larger harvest before dying or tapering off with minimal new growth/fruit). It is tall-growing and needs support as the plant grows. Fruit maturity claims range from 50 to 62 days from transplanting, which appeals to growers in climates with shorter frost-free seasons. Early Girl can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 °F, and is well-suited for hot, dry climates. Plants are reliable and prolific.
The ripe fruit is about the size and shape of a tennis ball—very much a standard tomato—and weighs 4 to 8 ounces (~130 g). It has a bright color and good flavor.
Early Girl VF hybrid is verticillium and fusarium wilt (strain I) resistant. The VFF hybrid is resistant to fusarium wilt strains I & II. An open-pollinated version has also been bred, although it is not widely available.
The variety was named "Early Girl" by PetoSeed boardmember Joe Howland to complement the company's popular "Better Boy" tomato. Seed catalog Burpee Seeds struck an exclusive three-year deal for the new variety, and featured it on the cover of its 1975 Spring catalog.
Early Girl is well suited to dry farming. Researchers at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are among those who have described the technique: not watering tomatoes after transplanting, forcing the roots to grow deeper to seek out moisture, producing more "concentrated flavor", and saving water.
Dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes are popular in farmers markets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The variety is also popular with home gardeners in that region, where it thrives despite the area's cool and often overcast summers.
Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters is a fan of the Early Girl tomato, telling an interviewer "[O]ne of the best tomatoes I've ever had was an Early Girl that was dry-farmed up in Napa at a friend's house."
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