Dwarf Tomato Project Releases An opportunity for space-challenged gardeners to experience the different colors and delicious flavors that were previously only available in tall growing (indeterminate) heirlooms!
These varieties were all made possible and made available to you by the "Dwarf Tomato Project" - A group of all volunteer, amateur, hobby gardeners led by Craig LeHoullier and Patrina Nuske-Small. See below for the rest of the story.
Please remember that maturity dates are from time of setting plants into the garden. Additionally these dates will vary from location to
location and even from year to year. They are for rough planning purposes only.
In 2005, Craig LeHoullier (aka nctomatoman) of Raleigh, North Carolina, long time heirloom tomato enthusiast and SSE member, discussed an idea with Patrina Nuske-Small of Australia in a forum on a popular gardening website. Craig and his wife, Susan, had been selling tomato seedlings locally for years, and customers would often request varieties that could be grown on decks or patios and still be tasty and delicious.
Craig knew of a very few so-called dwarf varieties, distinct from the determinate types, in that the flavor seemed in general to be better in the dwarfs. These dwarf types are very distinctive in having a thick central stem, stout compact growth, and dark green, crinkly looking (so-called rugose) foliage.
As a collector of old seed catalogs, Craig ran across a listing for 'New Big Dwarf' in the 1915 Isbell Seed Company catalog. What caught Craig’s eye was that the creation of 'New Big Dwarf' was clearly described! This involved a cross between a medium sized pink-fruited dwarf called 'Dwarf Champion' (well known from the late 1800s), with the largest known tomato at that time, 'Ponderosa'. After crossing and several generations of selection, 'New Big Dwarf' was released. It kept the compact growth of its 'Dwarf Champion' parent, but with the large sized fruit of 'Ponderosa'.
It was clear that Isbell's approach was successful, yet strangely
never further explored to create a range of new dwarf growing varieties
with large fruit, in different colors.
Through their online chats, Craig and Patrina, who was also an avid heirloom tomato gardener and skillful at carrying out crosses, Craig explained the 'New Big Dwarf' story to Patrina.
So Craig and Patrina designed a project in which some strategic crosses would be made, the resulting new hybrids grown out, then seeds shared for work on selection of promising new varieties, followed by several generations to reach a stable new non-hybrid variety with the desired characteristics.
Around this same time, a new tomato chat website called Tomatoville emerged. It provided a structure for both tracking the project, as well as a magnet for the kind of extreme tomato enthusiasts who could make up a perfect team of volunteers to accomplish a plan of this scope. Craig set about gathering volunteers in North America, while Patrina did the same in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. By working the project across hemispheres, two growing seasons could be achieved in one calendar year, thus reducing the new tomato variety development time by half.
Armed with more than one hundred willing volunteers, the project set off with the first crosses being grown out in 2006. Over a decade has passed and in that time, over forty interesting crosses have been made by Patrina and others, resulting in dozens and dozens of possible color, size and shape combinations. Craig and Patrina are quite sure that this is the very first, all volunteer, world-wide tomato breeding project in documented gardening history.
No one involved with the "Dwarf Tomato Project" receive compensation for their part in developing these new varieties. None are botanists nor horticulturists – just avid gardeners with a keen interest in learning about tomato genetics or discovering interesting new tomatoes. They have done this awesome work out of a sense of purpose and a passion to create new choices for home gardeners.
The Victory Seed Company, along with three other small companies, were chosen by the project to produce seed and make these varieties available to you. We have added all of the varieties to our seed catalog and will continue to add new releases as they become available.
As of December, 2015, the sixty varieties listed below are the "Dwarf Tomato Project"
introductions organized by the "families" that they
were developed from.
Beautyis the result of a cross made in 2008 by
Vince Lavallo between 'Beauty King' and the F5 generation of 'Dwarf
Savor your best tomato harvest ever! Dr. LeHoullier, tomato adviser for Seed Savers Exchange, offers everything a tomato enthusiast needs to know about growing more than 200 varieties of tomatoes — from sowing seeds and planting to cultivating and collecting seeds at the end of the season.
He also offers a comprehensive guide to the various pests and diseases of tomatoes and explains how best to avoid them. No other book offers such a detailed look at the specifics of growing tomatoes, with beautiful photographs and helpful tomato profiles throughout.