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 ripens 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 seeds, 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 to find a seed exchange called a “Seedy Saturday,” near you. Maybe you’ll come home with a neat variety you haven’t seen available anywhere else — or a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation.
Emma Biggs is a gardener and garden communicator who has raised over 130 tomato varieties. Her Toronto garden is the source of many of her stories and the produce that she sells in her neighbourhood. She hosts kids gardening videos and her latest book, Gardening with Emma, helps kids and adults find the fun in growing.