I’ve got a few hours until my next talk - I am in St. Louis, so pleased to be the headline speaker at the Home and Garden Show. Music is playing on my phone, the coffee is nearby, and I am thinking about….what else? Tomatoes (and peppers and eggplants and….). Sue is just about to move the plethora of germinated seedlings out of the safety and warmth of our front room to the garage, under shop lights.
It may sound a bit funny to be still planning what to grow when thousands of seedlings are up and growing, but I always plant more varieties than I can fit. While I was in the airport, I took out my 2019 garden notebook and started to make some categories and sort my options.
The list of varieties that are my primary flavor types (indeterminate) - the must-grow-because-must-eats - is as follows: Azoychka, Akers West Virginia, Andrew Rahart Jumbo Red, Nepal, Italian Heirloom, Dester, Polish, Stump of the World, Brandywine, Ferris Wheel, Cherokee Purple, Cherokee Chocolate, JD Special C Tex, Carbon, Indian Stripe, Yellow Brandywine, Sun Gold, Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom, Egg Yolk, Cherokee Green, Green Giant, Mocha Stripes, Little Lucky, Lucky Cross, Casey’s Pure Yellow, Striped Sweetheart. That’s too many - I will have 10 straw bales, so need to whittle the above down to 20. Bye bye Italian Heirloom, Dester, Polish, Brandywine, Ferris Wheel and Striped Sweetheart (which I will grow in a 5 gallon grow bag just for some fresh seeds). The others in the cut list were recently grown. I will have seedlings of all of the above for local spring seedling sales.
Now on to the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project varieties….and that is a real puzzle. My strategy is to grow some of the recent releases I’ve yet to try, and some promising leads from yet to be finished lines. On the former list are Hannah’s Prize, Maura’s Cardinal, Sneaky Sauce, Sarah’s Red, Melanie’s Ballet, Mystic Lady, Vince’s Haze, Tiger Eye, Egypt Yellow, Jasmine Yellow, Sunny’s Pear, Laura’s Bounty, Grandpa Gary’s Green, Parfait and Andy’s Forty. Also released, but favorites, on the grow list are Sweet Sue and Blazing Beauty. For works in progress, I hope to grow best leads from Sweetie, Buzzy, Beastly, Fancy (two different ones), Hearty, Teensy (six different colors), Ivory Ink, Pink Ink, leads from Choppy, Freezy, Walter’s Fancy, Ann’s Dusky Rose plum (purple variant), two from Scotty, three from green striped Beauty finds, and four from Emerald Isle as I continue looking for green hearts. I also plan to grow a few new crosses - Rangi (Tom’s Yellow Wonder X Beryl Beauty), and Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom X Zlubu Kytice.
More tomatoes - just in case I feel like doing some additional crazy crosses, I hope to grow Blue P20, Honor Bright, Variegated, Velvet Red and Surprise (for the antho, yellow leaf, variegated and fuzzy leaf genes). A hodge podge of varieties sent to me over the years are on the grow list, probably in smaller grow bags just to get an idea of the fruit size, color and flavor, and a few seeds - Fruity, Fuzzy (flat and upright growth), Roman Figun, scalloped Tiny Tim, a few new Micros from my friend Dan, Russian, Hibor, Swamp Sweet, Civil War, Bartelly Cherry, Redman Giant, Abraham Brown chocolate, Abraham Brown yellow skinned green, saved seed from a tiny cherry growing in front of Mackey’s Ferry peanut shot, Blue Bling, Abraham Lincoln (another try at the bronze leaf original), historic varieties from the USDA Matchless and Peak of Perfection, a mystery red tomato…..whew. Can I fit all of these? Will they all make it? Stay tuned and read my blog for the coming months to see!
Then we get to eggplants and peppers….on the grow list are the latest selection/generation from my Orient Express dehybridization work - Twilight Lightning, Midnight Lightning and Skinny Twilight, my green/lavender selection from a Cloud 9 cross - Mardi Gras, then my dehybridization of Islander pepper work - Carolina Amethyst, Fire Opal, White Gold, Candy Corn and Royal Purple, as well as Chocolate Bell (from a hybrid). Finally, a few other hots from a friend - Arbol, Cascabel, Manzano, the latest from variegated sweets from JC Raulston arboretum (spectacular last year), the latest from my Gemstone/Bouquet ornamental hot pepper work, Pinata jalapeno type…and that’s that.
If all of this works out, is 120 plants - a big effort, but in line with what I’ve been achieving the past 10 years or so. It will be fascinating, delicious, offer some surprises, a LOT of work….and fun!
That’s that - blog done…off to talk tomatoes in St Louis! See you in Raleigh starting mid April for seedlings (for the list and more details, send an email to email@example.com )