Recent progress in the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project

more releases, more choices, and a request 

Despite recent cold (very cold, as in one morning at 6 degrees F - not extraordinary for some of you, I am sure...but a rather unpleasant surprise for Raleigh NC) and snow, our minds are turning to garden plans, planting seeds, and warmer days.

View out of my office window on January 4

View out of my office window on January 4

Late in 2017, a package arrived from Bill Minkey, a Wisconsin gardener and fellow long time Seed Savers Exchange member who has been solely responsible for growing out the release lots of new varieties that emerge from our Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project. Bill outdid himself, as did some of our most active volunteers, resulting in the introduction of 24 new varieties through one or more of the 4 main seed companies that have been selected to unveil them to the world.

When we first started finishing and releasing new dwarf growing tomato varieties, in 2010, there were 10 to consider. We are now at 90, and hope to cross the 100 mark late this year. That being a nice round number, and having co-led this unique project since its conception in 2005, we are actually going to formally bring things to a close. If all goes well, my book describing the project will be published at the same time. 

We are at the point where I've not even grown some of the newest releases, as there is some significant delegation happening, a necessity in a project with such size and complexity - but that also signifies great trust in our volunteers.

Looking through the new releases, you will find the first dwarf growing cherry tomatoes from our project, in colors of white, pink, purple and red (there are yellow, orange, brown, green and striped cherries coming along for future releases). There are larger slicing tomatoes in yellow, red, green and purple, as well as a yellow/red bicolor and three showing distinct stripes. The first dwarf paste tomatoes make their appearance this year as well, in colors of pink, or striped green. Those I've tasted are wonderful. I can't wait to try the rest.

With 90 dwarf varieties in all, the obvious question - "which ones taste best?" is getting asked of me more and more. As with all flavor questions, it is all about each of your preferences, so my opinion may or may not be of any worth to those who ask.

I will go ahead and list my flavor favorites to date, in no particular order. These are the dwarfs that I most crave: Dwarf Beryl Beauty, Dwarf Emerald Giant, Summertime Green, Rosella Purple, Summertime Gold, Dwarf Mr. Snow, Dwarf Kelly Green, Dwarf Sweet Sue, Summer Sunrise, Rosella Crimson, Wherokowhai, Dwarf Blazing Beauty, Sweet Scarlet Dwarf, Summer Sweet Gold, Adelaide Festival, Dwarf Orange Cream, Dwarf Golden Gypsy, TastyWine, Dwarf Confetti, Dwarf Peppermint Stripes, and Dwarf Black Angus - that's 20 of our 90 releases that to me are the equal of the very best indeterminate varieties in flavor. 

I would love to hear from you.

Now, here is my request of you. I'd love to know what you think of our dwarfs. Please share your experiences - I will do a future blog that captures your opinions - and pictures, if you wish to share! Drop me an email with whatever you wish to share!

Dwarf Tomato R&D in 2007 - ALL tomatoes on this table are from our early Dwarf Tomato Project efforts. 

Dwarf Tomato R&D in 2007 - ALL tomatoes on this table are from our early Dwarf Tomato Project efforts.