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Best tomatoes from seed: Copia heirloom

Updated on March 17, 2013
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Beautifully striped

Stripes vary with each fruit. Some tomatoes are very stripped, while other tomatoes have peachy yellow skins and no stripes all on the same vine.
Stripes vary with each fruit. Some tomatoes are very stripped, while other tomatoes have peachy yellow skins and no stripes all on the same vine. | Source

Art by the slice

There are few seeds in these meaty  Copia tomato slices.
There are few seeds in these meaty Copia tomato slices. | Source

Red and yellow striped Copia

These tomatoes are so beautiful, you will want to eat them all fresh, sliced, or in a salsa fresca. The inside is as beautiful as the outside, red and gold all the way through.

A regular leaf tomato, it grows on big long indeterminate vines. Provide sturdy stakes or cages to keep these big, heavy Copia tomatoes from snapping the tomato vine. Fruits average 12-14 ounces and grow to 3"- 4" across.

I ordered a Copia tomato plant, from Abundant Acres. The bicolor tomato caught my curiosity. The tomatoes were juicy and tasted like an old fashioned heirloom.

Next, I purchased seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (which is where Abundant Acres buys seed.) For the past two years, I've grown this open pollinated tomato using seed from the same seed packet. I am using the last of that tomato seed packet this spring (Three years after the purchase of this Baker Creek seed, I am still getting excellent fertillity.)

We are eating main crop tomatoes days, maybe weeks, before most of the really big tomatoes. Copia is a late producer. Bigger tomatoes usually mean fewer tomatoes. Removing most of the little green tomatoes will encourage the remaining few to grow to a bigger size.

Bob's Copia

When sliced, this Copia is green all the way through.
When sliced, this Copia is green all the way through. | Source

Green striped Copia tomatoes

Not all Copia tomatoes look the same. Fellow gardener Bob Stensholt, in Melbourne Australia, sent this photo of his Copia Tomato.

“I googled Copia photos and came across yours which were quite different to ours. They do get a bit redder than the ones ripening in the photo but not much more,” Bob said. "They are still quite green when ripe including green on the inside.”

Bob purchased his Copia tomato plant from Diggers, a well known heirloom seller. If Bob and I have Copia tomatoes, it could be that Green Zebra and Marvel Stripe were crossed by someone besides Jeff Dawson. Considering that Green Zebra is a parent, it is not surprising that there is a green Copia.

There is some chat and a few photos of green Copia. There are more plant and seed sources for the red and yellow striped Copia. Perhaps it is not as stable as we think?

Unusual patterns inside and out

Always Juicy and sweet averaging 1/2 - 1 pound.
Always Juicy and sweet averaging 1/2 - 1 pound. | Source

Reply from Diggers

Thanks for your email and the link to your page on tomatoes. You are a wealth of knowledge and obviously have a soft spot for Copia! We do too but mainly because it is so beautiful when sliced. We don’t rate it highly for flavour but perhaps that is climate related?

We originally sourced our Copia seed from Baker Creek and have only ever had the same type of fruit as you, yellow on the outside and definitely not as lobed as the ones in the pic Bob sent in. Judging from the photos from Bob it looks more like a variety called Ananas Noir, and this would explain why they stay a bit green when ripe. Otherwise it could be a throw back- but this doesn’t seem likely as we haven’t had any in all of the crops we have grown from the original Baker Creek seed.

--Seed Manager, The Diggers Club

Copia is one of the prettiest tomatoes I grew last year. Expect to see more bicolor tomato hubs as the garden season progresses. pbh

Grow your own

Saving Seed

If you have left over seed, tape the packet closed. Put the packet in a ziplock bag to help keep the seed dry. Store in a cool, dry location.

Buy Copia Seed or plants

plants Abundant Acres

seeds Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

And this climate positive company in Australia, Diggers. Australia's largest garden club.

Introduced in 2003, Copia is a cross between two heirlooms. Bound to be a favored heirloom, this bicolor tomato is a stabilized cross between two herlooms, Green Zebra and Marvel Stripe. The Copia tomato variety was stabilized by Jeff Dawson in Sebastopol, California.

Poll: is this Copia?

Is the green stiped Copia the same tomato as the red and yellow striped tomato?

See results

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