Whenever a fruit bears the name of another kind of produce, it warrants a closer look to find out what’s going on. It turns out the Mushroom Basket tomato isn’t a hybrid between a fruit and a fungus. It’s very much all tomato and a delicious one at that!
Keep reading to learn about this relative newcomer to the US tomato-growing scene. You might be intrigued enough to plant a Mushroom Basket tomato in your own garden this summer.
History of the Mushroom Basket Tomato
The Mushroom Basket tomato originated in Russia where it was known as “Gribnoe Lukoshko.” It was developed by breeders V.N.Dederko and O.V. Postnikova and the tomato first appeared on the Russian State Register in 2008. It’s still one of the most popular tomatoes grown in Russia and surrounding regions.
In 2010 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds introduced this tomato commercially in the US. “Mushroom Basket” is the English translation of that name and it’s been marketed under the English version since being introduced to the US market.
It’s called a Mushroom Basket tomato because when the fruit is turned upside down it resembles a mushroom cap.
Characteristics of the Mushroom Basket Tomato
The Mushroom Basket is an indeterminate heirloom with a compact growth of 4-6 feet tall. It produces unusual looking, deep watermelon-pink fruit with cream-colored speckles. It’s a high-yielding variety that requires sturdy supports (stakes, large cages, trellis, etc) to support the weight of the the fruit that grows toward the center of the plant in thick bunches.
Mid-season tomato, 70-80 days to maturity.
Ruffled tomatoes that are heavily ribbed and pleated. The inside is firm with little gel, not many seeds, and a sweet taste.
Large fruit weighing 8-16 oz each.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes grow in zones 3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9. They don’t do well in very hot climates.
Their compact size makes them suitable for patio and container gardening.
Size and Spacing
Tomato plants should be planted deeply with only the top 4-6 leaves showing. Moisten the soil prior to planting. Plant tomatoes 24-36 inches between plants and plants rows 48 inches apart.
Once planted, tamp the soil gently — do not compact it. Water your newly planted tomatoes thoroughly, taking care not to get the leaves wet. You may also apply fertilizer at this time.
Tomatoes are self-pollinating, which means you can grow a single tomato plant and still get fruit from it. They’ll also pollinate naturally with help from bees, birds, and wind.
The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes. You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!
The Mushroom Basket appears to need the normal care required by most tomato varieties.
Tomatoes need a sunny, but sheltered, location where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight.
The soil tomatoes grow in should be well-draining and amended with compost and decomposed manure to a depth of 24-36 inches. For heavy or clay soils, raised beds with a soil mix tailored to the needs of tomatoes should be used for planting tomatoes.
Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your tomato plants, but keep the ground clear of mulch three inches around the base of the plant. Water on a regular basis at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry. Provide 1-2 inches of water each week to keep the ground moist (not soggy).
Once blossoms start to appear on your tomato plant, add extra compost, a cup of compost tea, or a slow-release tomato fertilizer on the soil near the roots. Do this every 1-2 weeks until the first frost of the fall kills the plant.
Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.
Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.
All tomato varieties are susceptible to disease. Not subjecting them to stress increases their chances of staying healthy and disease-free. Still, it’s always a good idea to take normal precautions against the common tomato diseases like blight, fusarium wilt, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium wilt, and Southern bacterial wilt.
Keeping the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant is your best defense against tomato plant disease. To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.
Gardeners know that tomatoes suffer a number of pests including aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, slugs, pill bugs, stink bugs, and rodents. Companion plants like marigolds, catnip, fennel, dill, basil, and cilantro repel common tomato pests. Netting helps keep out birds and larger pests, but can also interfere with beneficial insects and pollinators.
For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.
When to Harvest Mushroom Basket Tomatoes
When the fruit turns a deep pink color and the fruit has a slight “give” when you gently squeeze it, your Mushroom Basket tomatoes are ready for harvesting. Once picked, store them at room temperature for best results and eat them within a few days.
Common Uses For Mushroom Basket Tomatoes
The taste, size, and unusual appearance of this tomato works in raw and cooked dishes.
What Does This Tomato Taste Like?
The Mushroom Basket tomato has been described as tasting sweet and mild.
Their size makes them suitable for stuffed tomatoes. They also cook down easily to make very nice sauces too. Use them as you would any other tomato in your favorite recipes.
The sweet taste and the shape of the fruit make pretty slices of tomato. Sandwiches, burgers, and salads are great ways to enjoy these tomatoes.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Mushroom Basket tomato plants are reported as “very productive” and the fruit is rather large. Unless this is the only tomato in your garden, you’ll likely be preserving your harvest. These tomatoes do well for canning, freezing, and drying.
Lobster and Heirloom Tomato Salad
Heirloom Tomatoes Stuffed With Summer Succotash
Ricotta Pizza With Fresh and Roasted Tomatoes
Health Benefits of Mushroom Basket Tomatoes
Tomatoes aren’t just delicious fruits from the garden — they’re healthy too. Tomatoes are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They’re also one of the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer.
Where to Buy Mushroom Basket Tomato Plants or Seeds
These aren’t easy to find in starter plant form, but this retailer does advertise Mushroom Basket plants on the website. You’ll have better luck starting these tomatoes from seed and there are several online retailers (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, of course) where you can purchase seed packets.
Where to Buy Mushroom Basket Tomatoes
Like many heirloom tomatoes, fresh Mushroom Basket tomatoes are hard to find for sale. Local farmers markets are your best bet for finding them.
Wrapping Up the Mushroom Basket Tomato
A newbie on the US tomato-growing scene, the Mushroom Basket tomato wasted no time becoming a hit with heirloom tomato fans. Growers love posting online photos of the unique-looking fruits growing in their gardens and sharing reviews about the flavor of these tasty tomatoes. Being a more compact plant, it makes a good choice for those with small space gardens or as specimens in patio or container gardens.
Do you have a tip to share about your experiences with growing or eating the Mushroom Basket tomato? Leave it in the comments section below! Excited for more tomato content? Then visit our tomato page for growing tips, comprehensive guides, and tasty recipes!