Pre-trip odds and ends - and The Big Decision part 4. Dwarf Project tomatoes for 2016

Oh no! I look at the local (WRAL) website weather page. Then go to Accuweather. Then The Weather Channel. There is no escaping two nights either slightly above, at or below the magic (dreaded) temperature of 32 degrees F. Since we are on the cusp of a week long trip (speaking at Stowe in Belmont on Tuesday, then in Asheville at the Mother Earth News fair on Saturday and Sunday), I am flipping a mental coin.  Floating row cover....or the big relocation into the garage? Tomorrow the decision must be made. Fingers crossed for increasing low temps in the forecast.

If I haven't bored you to tears yet with lists (and note to folks local to me - there will be some opportunities to try out some of the varieties I am describing in this series of blogs - I always over-plant), here is another. This at last is the list of the varieties I hope to squeeze in to further the Dwarf Tomato Breeding project.

Some of you will recall that I went a bit off the rails and attempted loads of crosses last year, with over 20 succeeding. Though I got a rough idea of what some of the new hybrids looked like, they came in either very late, or were picked green and ripened indoors to give some F2 generation seed to start with this season.

Well, I decided to get all of the new hybrids going again - at least to grow them part season, check out the fruit characteristics in the prime of the summer, and harvest lots of seed. For a bit of background - I used various dwarf plants as the female, removing the anthers from blossoms prior to fully opening. I collected pollen from some interesting indeterminate varieties and applied it to the style of the dwarf plant flowers. If a tomato developed, I marked it, since there was a good chance it was a successful cross - an F1 hybrid between the indeterminate and dwarf. I chose the dwarf as the female because proof of the success of the cross is easy - if the seed saved from the tomato that formed grew indeterminate (the dominant trait), success could be claimed.

Here are the new hybrids I hope to grow out this year - I will list the dwarf female, followed by the indeterminate pollen donor.  Yes, I gave them each names in the spirit of our project.

  • Addy - Sweet Adelaide X Yellow White
  • Fishy - Iditarod Red X Variegated
  • Artsy - Perth Pride X Variegated
  • Sandy - Sarandipity X either Egg Yolk or Variegated (I lost track of which flower was hit with which pollen)
  • Acey - Dwarf Mr. Snow X Variegated
  • Emmy - Dwarf Emerald Giant X either Sun Gold F1 or Mexico Midget (lost track on this one too)
  • Sissy - Iditarod Red X Russo Sicilian
  • Roddy - Iditarod Red X Brandywine
  • Arcky - Dwarf Arctic Rose X Mullens Mortgage Lifter, pale chartreuse leaf mutation
  • Leafy - Dwarf Jade Beauty X Mullens Mortgage Lifter, pale chartreuse leaf mutation
  • Betty - Dwarf Jade Beauty X Yellow White
  • Speckly - Dwarf Golden Heart X Speckled Roman
  • Worry - Wherokowhai X Speckled Roman
  • Scary - Dwarf Golden Gypsy X Sun Gold F1
  • Burly - Dwarf Beryl Beauty X Sun Gold F1
  • Teensy - Summertime Green X Mexico Midget
  • Tiggy - Dwarf Mr. Snow X Tiger Tom
  • Dummy - Bundaberg Rumball X Dester
  • Priddy - Perth Pride X Mullens Mortgage Lifter, pale chartreuse leaf mutation
  • Reddy - Iditarod Red X Egg Yolk

My goal in these crosses was to expand our dwarf lines to include cherry and paste tomatoes. Of course, flavor is important, as well as uniqueness. We will have fun with these going forward.

For those that I did manage to save F2 generation seed from, we can start the process of hunting for interesting dwarfs. It is just simple genetics that dictate that 25% of the F2 seed will produce dwarf offspring, and they are easy to spot pretty early on. So I will be growing dwarf plants from the following crosses done last year:

Morty (this is from two years ago - it is Summer Sunrise X Mullens Mortgage Lifter), Chocky (also from two years ago - Dwarf Mr. Snow X Cherokee Chocolate), Ruggy (from a cross done from a gardening friend Carson - Dwarf Kelly Green X Rutgers), as well as Teensy, Speckly, Scarey, Tiggy, Dummy, Priddy, Worry, Burly, Betty, Reddy, Roddy, and Sissy. I also have dwarfs from another new cross - Steamy - Dwarf Pink Passion X Sun Gold F1 - I sent a plant to a California friend - she grew out the hybrid and sent me saved seeds. I can only fit one each from the above, so will be looking for help on exploring some of these.

I did get a chocolate colored dwarf from Ruggy last year, and I have some plants of the F3 generation growing. My friend Linda also grew out four dwarfs from the Teensy line, and found cherry sized dwarfs in red, yellow, purple and green; I have a few of each up and growing.

(taking a deep breath) - I also want to grow out all of the new Dwarf tomato releases since last summer, as well as regrowing a few that didn't perform as expected last year. This category includes Sweet Adelaide, Sweet Scarlet Dwarf, Rosella Crimson, Banksia Queen, Boronia, Chocolate Lightning, Dwarf Blazing Beauty, Dwarf Pink Passion, and Sean's Yellow Dwarf (all previous releases), and the new ones - Adelaide Festival, Dwarf Mahogany, Maralinga, Dwarf Russian Swirl, Kangaroo Paw Green, Kangaroo Paw Yellow, Kangaroo Paw Brown, Dwarf Orange Cream, Dwarf Golden Gypsy, Waratah, Sturt Desert Pea, BrandyFred, Tennessee Suited, Lucky Swirl, Tanunda Red, TastyWine, Kookaburra Cackle, Dwarf Wild Spudleaf, Loxton Lad, Loxton Lass, and Dwarf Crimson Sockeye.

Finally (really!) - are some that I want to check out since they are either nearing completion, or are early on but I want to put my two cents worth in on how they are doing.  In this category are Dwarf Caitydid, Wilpena, Dwarf Firebird Sweet, Dwarf Beauty King, Desert Start, Galen's Yellow, Bendigo Dawn, Bendigo Moon, Bendigo Rose, Bendigo Blush, Bendigo Drop, Mandurang Moon, Moliagul Moon, Marong Moon, Dwarf Velvet Night, and Saucy Mary.  Many of these are cherry types.

Pretty cool names, hey?  

So what's left? A few odds and ends, some things I am trying to work out (like a weird greenish cherry tomato that volunteered near my driveway garden but gave both potato and regular leaf plants, a Sun Gold looking tomato that volunteered at the back of my big side garden, dwarfs that appeared in Ferris Wheel seed - that sort of thing).

And I've not even gotten to the peppers and eggplant yet!

Happy Spring - hope to see some of you in Belmont, or Asheville!