I was scouting tomato seeds last winter at a seed swap when I came across a variety called ‘Rumi Banjan.’ The package was a small coin envelope labelled only with the variety name and year the seed was saved. There was no description, so I had no idea what to expect when I took home the seeds and grew them.
Well, I was in for a real treat. This is definitely a variety that I’m going to grow again.
Like a Mini Pumpkin
‘Rumi Banjan’ tomato is small, flattened, and slightly ribbed—almost like a little pumpkin.
The top is a vibrant yellow and the bottom is a bright red-orange blush. The flesh is marbled.
Because it is tasty, very juicy, and has a thin skin, I like to slice it and serve it with bocconcini cheese and basil chiffonade. (Chiffonade is a word I picked up when Chef Barb Zabinsky taught me to make tomato-basil soup for the Soupalicious soup festival. It is just a fancy word for cutting basil into thin slices with a knife or scissors.)
Grow Your Own
‘Rumi Banjan’ is a determinate plant, which means it grows to a certain height, and then ripen all of the fruit (unlike indeterminate tomatoes which continuously grow and produce fruit until killed by frost.) I suggest supporting it with a stake, cage, or trellis.
If you’re looking for seed, one place you can look is a seed swap, which is a great way to meet other gardeners, share ideas, and share your extra seed. It’s exciting to come across an unusual treasure like ‘Rumi Banjan.’
Visit the Seeds of Diversity website [https://seeds.ca/sw8/web/events] to find a seed exchange, called a “Seedy Saturday,” near you. Maybe you’ll come home with a neat variety that you haven’t seen available anywhere else—or a neat family heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Emma Biggs is a 13-year-old gardener and garden communicator. Emma raised over 130 tomato varieties in her Toronto garden in 2018—gardening in containers, in straw bales on a driveway, in a neighbour’s yard, in wicking beds under a walnut tree, and on the garage roof. Her garden is the source of many of her stories—and the source of produce that she sells in her neighborhood. In 2015, at the age of nine, Emma co-authored of Grow Gardeners, Kid-Tested Gardening with Children with her father and started helping him at garden talks and workshops. For the past couple of years, Emma has been giving her own talks at libraries, seed exchanges, garden clubs, and garden shows. Emma is the co-host of The Garage Gardeners Radio Show. She hosts kids gardening videos on the From Dirt to Dishes gardening channel on YouTube. Her latest book, Gardening with Emma, helps kids find the fun in gardening (and helps adults remember how much fun gardening is!)