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What are Early Girl Tomatoes?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon360186 — On Dec 24, 2013

I am in La Mesa California, which is just outside of San Diego. It is considered inland however, La Mesa has beautiful weatherfor growing tomatoes. I have Two Early Girl Plants, both growing in pots. One pot is on the medium/large side insofar as capacity goes. The other is in a 5 gallon sized, tall, black pot. Both are caged.

The plant which is within the 5 gallon size container was started in March of 2013 and is still giving us ripe fruit as of Christmas Eve 2013. The second Early girl, in the larger capacity pot was actually started when I cut off the grow tip of another, very prolific Early Girl plant which I allowed to grow un-caged. The resulting plant is now 2 feet high and has both blossoms and green tomatoes on it's vines.

Caging the plant does reduce the overall size of the tomatoes, however the tomatoes are of a uniform shape and size, just a little larger than the biggest of the cherry tomatoes. In my humble opinion, the Early Girl tomato seems to taste much better when grown caged.

Early Girl tomatoes can also be used to make an incredible tomato sauce. They are also very nice sliced onto sandwiches or simply eaten out of hand. The flavor of my Early Girls is amazingly sweet and yet tangy at the same time. Some growers will tell you that hybrids all taste like cardboard. I'm fairly certain that this is just people who like growing heirloom tomatoes. I like and grow heirlooms as well. Trust me: use a gallon milk jug and water very early in the morning during hot months. Twice per day when it is very hot, and once every two or three days in the winter.

We also have one enormous Black Cherry tomato plant which is growing against the front of the house which is now into its third winter season. It is not what I would call a prolific plant but, wow does it make some delicious tomatoes, and beautiful as they can be on a plate. This past summer, the vines from this one plant reached upwards of 30 feet in length! --Lz

By anon172037 — On May 02, 2011

I have an early girl that started out great with two tomatoes but then the plant seemed to stop growing along with the tomatoes. I have fertilized and given them water. I live in the Dallas TX area and we have had a lot of wind this spring. Could this be the problem or do I need to do something else?

By anon169479 — On Apr 21, 2011

You think you have hot weather in Washington? I plant Early Girl tomatoes in late February and have a harvest by May 15. This is all done in Phoenix, Arizona in large flower pots. They are great tasting and we give loads of them to friends. They do requite watering each and every morning. These plants are huge, and produce tons of juicy tomatoes. I recommend this variety. --Bob in Sun City Az

By anon39404 — On Aug 01, 2009

I have an Early Girl tomato plant that is huge. I always plant Early Girl, and this one is loaded, but they are cherry tomato size, and are greenish red in color. We have had extreme hot weather here in the Seattle area, could this be the cause of the size and color, also the flavor dosen't seem to be as good. Please respond. Thank you.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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