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Early Girl tomatoes are a hybrid tomato variety famous for their rapid maturation. Within two months of transplanting, the plants start yielding red, juicy tomatoes which can be used in a variety of recipes. The Early Girl has been a perennial favorite among gardeners since the 1970s, when it was introduced to the United States from France. Most garden stores carry seeds which people can use to start tomatoes in their greenhouses, and in the spring, Early Girl seedlings are often on sale, ready for transplanting.
This hybrid varietal was developed for gardeners who lived in cool climates and areas where temperature extremes were common. People wanted a tomato which would mature quickly and have a guaranteed yield, along with a hardy cultivar which could withstand sudden temperature changes. Researchers at PetoSeed Corporation in Southern California were alerted to the existence of the French hybrid, and they entered into a contract with the venerable Burpee company in the 1970s to start selling Early Girl seeds. The plant was an instant hit, and numerous variations on the original cultivar have been developed.
These tomatoes are globe tomatoes, and they are usually around the size of a tennis ball at maturity. Assuming that the soil is in good condition and the plants are well cared for, Early Girl tomatoes have a great deal of flavor, and they are excellent as slicing tomatoes or components in cooked meals. Some other early yielding tomato cultivars include: Sasha's Altai, Early Pick, Oregon Spring, and First Lady, among many others. These lesser-known varietals have comparable quality to Early Girl tomatoes, and some people find that they are even better.
Sometimes, Early Girl seeds and seedlings are sold with designations such as VF1 or VFF. VF1 tomatoes are resistant to Verticillium fungi and fusarium wilt (type 1), two common problems which plague tomatoes, and VFF tomatoes are also resistant to fusarium wilt (type 2). Early Girl tomatoes are also naturally hardier than many other tomato varietals, even without VF1 or VFF designations.
Gardeners have been able to pick Early Girl tomatoes in as few as 52 days after transplant, a clear advantage over mid and late season tomatoes, which mature much later. These tomatoes require supportive staking when they are planted, and they need to be grown in a sunny area out of the wind in well-conditioned soil. Gardeners who experience a slightly lackluster flavor may want to tone down the watering; so called “dry-ripened” tomatoes tend to have much more flavor.