The Dwarf Tomatoes
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A whole new profile in the garden and an exciting new addition to our seasonal offerings
See that tomato you just walked by? Yes, the short, stocky one with the unique-looking leaves getting covered up by those other more standard-sized tomato seedlings on the retail shelf. Step back. Take another look. It just might be your favorite tomato this season.
Something new on the scene? No, not truly. Maybe you’ve grown Better Bush, Husky Gold or Bush Champion. Then you know the drill: a familiar-looking tomato but delivered on a smaller and more compact plant. Dwarf profiles have been around for a century, from the days of New Big Dwarf and its progeny. But in a world where bigger is better, or so we’re led to believe, the dwarf series is often delegated to the “cute” file.
Nothing could be more inaccurate. Yes, we’ve carried these hybrid tomatoes in the past, but they’re mostly passed over for the standard space grabbers.
The Dwarf Tomato Project is something different. It’s the project, or the passion, of a group of tomato lovers; hybridizers from all over the world who joined forces to breed and develop a new set of plants that would address one key problem or goal in the tomato world: Manageability.
The result? Heirloom fruits in exciting colors and shapes, delighting gardeners with production that thrills and ease of management that’s a welcome summer gift.
A productive and exciting Dwarf variety
So, are they the answer? Well, they might be. For those who want to make the most of a smaller garden or gardening situation (containers, patios, balconies, courtyards) it may well be the key to a great season.
Yes, put these in plant containers. Perfect. Give them their own space or tuck them in among spring and summer annuals or other herbs and veggies.
And you’re free to plant more than one in a container you normally reserve for one full size tomato. We broke those rules in trials last year. We bet you’ll be surprised when these small little dynamos outpace their larger counterparts in production and length of season.
Can you plant them in raised beds? Yes, yes, yes. Here too you can plant more closely than with standard plants. Enjoy the ease of covering, treating and harvesting from these smaller but mighty garden heavyweights.
During our trials we took note of three distinct classes or styles in this group: Microdwarfs, Dwarfs and Tree-Types. Most of the selections in our offering are tree types. These 2-4’ plants offer heavy, stocky branching, rugose (heavily wrinkled) foliage and dense flowering and fruit production. The largest of the group, they grow upright to 2-4 feet tall and require minimal support to stay upright and happy. While tiny micros are round and upright, generally hugging the top of a pot (and often don’t grow 10 inches tall), the dwarf class stretches out a little further and might be left to weep and sprawl over the sides of a container.
And what about the fruit? Is it all cherry-sized? Definitely not.
The heirloom series offers a full spectrum of colors, sizes and shapes. Find your compact beefsteak, paste type or cherry. Yet another element that makes this effort so spectacular.
Delicious and beautiful dwarf variety
This beautiful fruit is borne on a very small and wispy plant, yet the fruit is phenomenal and much larger than a cherry. It’s early, delicious and beautiful - and almost looks funny and out of place on such a small plant.
From our investigations it seems that very few gardeners will use these in the ground but why not? If you alternate these with standard plants down a long row, just think of how much more sun and circulation you will provide for your larger plants! Plus, you might avoid that huge tomato thicket that confounds you each August. :-) Could be just the ticket. Last season we planted a micro and one tree type variety in a HUGE pot with two regular sized heirlooms. All did well. We were thrilled.
It’s always exciting to find a new and exciting wrinkle in a favorite hobby or pastime and this might just be yours this year. It also occurs to me that the huge production and willingness of these plants in last year’s trials made me happy but even more important, it made me feel like a successful farmer and that I had a "great tomato year". Isn’t that what we’re all after?
We can’t wait to hear of your success!