by William J. Langenberg, M. Sc. Env. Biol. 

Many local gardeners in the North Grenville area are probably making a tomato variety selection in determining the type of tomato to grow in the garden this coming season. Ontario has its own heritage tomato with exceptional high qualities in flavour and fruit size: “Basket Vee”. At the request of the Ontario vegetable growers and market gardeners, the Ontario Government was asked to come up with a specific ‘Ontario’ garden tomato that is early, and is of a good fruit size and flavour.  

Each country has its own tomato variety that performs well as a garden and market tomato. Ontario is no exception. Dr. Ernest (Ernie) Andrew Kerr a long-time plant breeder with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs Horticulture Research Station in Simcoe, spent over 30 years breeding plants for newer and better varieties. After five years of testing tomato variety generations, Dr. Kerr introduced Basket Vee in 1977. The parental material for Basket Vee is Campbell 1402 and Heinz 1350. 

After its introduction in 1977, Basket Vee was thoroughly tested through replicated tomato variety trials, for roughly six years, by this author, assisted by Horticulture Technician, Bill Hossie, of the Horticulture Division at Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology (KCAT). The evaluation was for maturity date, fruit size, and fruit colour. The students and staff of the Food Science and Home Economics Division at KCAT performed the culinary taste tests.  

Basket Vee is an Open Pollinated determinate (bush) type tomato plant, with vigorous, somewhat open, vines. The plant grows about 4 feet tall, therefore staking and pruning is required. Basket Vee produces high quantities of medium-size tomatoes (8-9 ounces, 224-252 gm). The ripe fruits are firm; the skin is thick, smooth, and crack-resistant. The fruits have good vine storage and shelf life. This means that the fruits won’t go soft quickly when stored. The culinary tests conducted by KCAT’s  Food Science Department gave Basket Vee a “Thumbs Up” for flavour.

Basket Vee is perfect for sandwiches, salads, and slicing and canning. It is an excellent choice for home gardens and market gardens alike. Therefore, this author, owner and operator of Grenville Herb Farm since 2003, decided to have Basket Vee in its selection of tomato transplants for this coming season. “It is important to preserve knowledge and horticultural achievements of the past generation”. 

William J. Langenberg is a former Horticultural Researcher, and current owner of Grenville Herb Farm


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