Cool/short tomatoes leaning to greens and blacks


I’m not sure that I’m into true landrace territory yet, but I’ll get there.

Last year I did a variety trial of the following tomatoes in order to find ones that would ripen in my climate and tasted good. Except for the Lofthouse and exserted orange none were known exserted stamens or open anther cones.

Before I planted these out they were on my deck in 10C daytime weather for almost a month (I brought them in to keep them from freezing) and some definitely went chlorotic from that kind of stress.

I also noticed that any blossoms the plants made at this time tended to be more exserted, so I’m hoping they crossed a little.

Anyhow, here is the 2021 list:

Alexander B
Ambrosia red
Big Hill (Lofthouse)
Big Hill series polyamorous (Lofthouse)
Bloody Butcher
Brad (Lofthouse)
Brad F2 (Lofthouse)
Cherokee chocolate
Czech bush
Early siberian
Exserted orange (Lofthouse)
JD’s special C-tex
Karma miracle
Karma purple multiflora
Kiss the sky
Lime green salad
Martino’s roma
Maya and Sion’s Airdrie Special
Mikado black
Minsk early
Moravsky Div
Native sun
Northern ruby paste
Old italian pink
Q-series polyamorous (Lofthouse) (Brad Jagodka, wild)
Rinon rippled delight
Ron’s carbon copy
Rozovaya bella
Silvery fir
Silvery fir tree
Store green cherry
Sugary pounder
Sweet apertif
Sweet cherriette
Uralskiy ranniy
Van Wert Ohio
Violet noir
Wildling polyamorous (Lofthouse)
Test alpharora
Test Stupice

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
Interestingly, Joseph’s seeds only fruited for me at a slightly higher rate than the other tomatoes. I’m so curious to see what happens this year!

(Lauren Ritz)
When I did cold tests for tomatoes I noticed that the underside of the leaves of many of the survivors turned purple in the cold. Not causation, no, but it indicates that something is going on that you may want to pay attention to. Perhaps a survival mechanism that you can use in future generations.

I haven’t planted any of Joseph’s tomatoes yet (I have some seeds; life happened last spring and very little got planted) but like all other seeds the results have been variable for what I did plant. Joseph grows in a short season, cold mountain valley with clay soil and plenty of water. I grow in the hot desert, with sandy soil and limited water. So it makes sense that his plants wouldn’t thrive for me, but there’s always a few that just take off.

(Lauren Ritz)
“Before I planted these out they were on my deck in 10C daytime weather for almost a month (I brought them in to keep them from freezing)…any blossoms the plants made at this time tended to be more exserted, so I’m hoping they crossed a little.”

I wonder if the exerted stigma might be a response to stress in some tomatoes? I’ve noticed that those I deliberately cold stress tend to be more exerted. Not always, but more.

A few years ago I found a watermelon that had perfect flowers. Joseph said it was a response to stress. Since I was growing them without water, that makes perfect sense. Only one of the four varieties I grew that year under the same conditions did that.

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
That’s how I interpreted the exsertion-- as one of those attempts to mix up the genes that so many plants seem to do when they’re under stress. It occurred to me to deliberately super-stress a bunch of plants in small pots to try and get them to cross, but I don’t think I could do it emotionally :rofl:

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
I couldn’t wait until a reasonable time to test my two best-tasting Lofthouse-stock tomatoes, so I planted several seeds each of the firm green berry and the bicolour (these need working names).

The bicolour seedlings came up largely very similar to each other, five near-identical plants so far, and then one that is having trouble shedding its seed coat and looks different than the others. At a guess this means it didn’t outcross as much; I’m very curious to see how it does.

The firm green berry seedlings are more heterogenous. I’m super excited to see what happens with them.

In the meantime I have first true leaves on the plants I’m going to cross into exserted orange, but I haven’t started any exserted orange yet. Oops.

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
Super exciting! One of my favourite plants from last year was a potato-leaf green-fruited plant, KARMA miracle. It was bred by Karen Olivier whose tomatoes often seem to be somewhat open-flowered. I planted some seeds from it and got a couple of regular-leaf plants in the batch; because potato leaf is recessive this means it probably crossed with something. I had been hoping for some new things to show up out of my tight spacing and panamorous seeds, it’s pretty great that one of my favourite tomatoes seems to have done it, and also that its flower architecture allows this kind of thing.

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
Planted seeds for my northern garden, the one these seeds came out of, yesterday. I put seeds into 48-cell trays which I intend to plant out in 7 weeks without potting up in the meantime. I planted 1-3 seeds per cell, I don’t intend to thin, so some will be planted in clumps.

48 cells of “everything mix”
12 cells from one particular bicolour red/orange plum plant that was a little crunchy and tasted good.
36 cells from promiscuous tomatoes that tasted good and were harvested mid-August.

I may add some solanum peruvianum and Julia’s golden cherry.

I don’t expect I’ll be able to harvest past the end of July and August is my tomato season, so I don’t expect to get much food out of this. I am very curious about what the seedlings and young plants look like, and how long it takes them to grow and ripen, and what colours and flavours I get out of the fruit. It’s been a bit since I wanted to check seeds a dozen times a day to see if they were germinating yet.

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
I also have 4 seedlings of “exserted orange”, grown by William Schlegel as a breeding tool, of which 3 are regular leaf and one is potato leaf. Potato leaf is recessive, exserted orange is regular leaf, so that means there must have been both some crossing and some weirdness with original seed. Very exciting!

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
Hardening off. Should be in the ground in 3 weeks. I kept most of them in cells and planted a little later. It’s a good happy medium between growing starts and direct seeding for me: 36 or 50 plants per flat is pretty easy to handle. Those in yoghurt containers in front are my breeders. Not much variety trial this year because of the moving confusion, just my landrace growouts and deliberate crossing.

(Greenie/Erin DeS)
After watching the webinar on dwarf tomatoes, I bought and just yesterday seeded uluru ochre, saucy mary, and bundaberg rumball dwarf tomatoes. They’re supposed to be quite short season and they are some lovely colours, so I expect to be making some deliberate crosses with them. Meanwhile it’s been quite cold here so everything is yellowing when I take it outside for some sun during the day; nights are still frosty.

I have comments on how the summer went, but I’m cataloguing my saved seed here in the meantime:

Green cherry F3 greenest
Mikado black
Hardin’s mini x Baby Jade F1
Baby Jade x Hardin’s Mini F1
KARMA miracle x sweet cheriette additional pollen non-emasculated exserted
Early red (minsk early or moravsky div)
More mikado black (it is my favourite)
KARMA purple x Silvery Fir non-emasc exserted
“Heirloom cherry” x Baby Jade F1
#2 in row promiscuous orange early
Fat Frog
Heirloom cherry aerogarden
Sweet jade
Green cherry tomato F3 amber/mild
Promiscuous green freckles early
Promiscuous mix 2022 cool spring slightly shaded selection year
Promiscuous #2 early another fruit (I should combine these with the other seeds from the same plant)
Zesty green x Silvery Fir Tree F1
Uluru ochre x mikado black F1 (unless it was Uluru ochre x minsk early, my label got eaten, but I’m excited about this one)
Minsk early x Zesty green F1
Silvery Fir Tree x Mikado Black F1
A couple different packets of Minsk Early from different garden locations
Mixed store cherry tomatoes rainbow pink black and yellow-green very tasty
Promiscuous (I should combine these as well)
Pygmy micro

Actually it looks like I got more crosses in than I thought! It was challenging, my tomatoes Really Did Not Want To Drop Pollen except for Zesty Green. At this rate Zesty Green will be the parent of everything on one side or another, just because it’s tasty and easy to cross.

I have several heirloom varieties but I am thinking to only plant promiscuous tomatoes next year. (Assuming I can get my hands on seeds :slight_smile: Well, I’m also considering planting some wild species or wild hybrids. But yeah they’d be promiscuous too so…

I don’t know really what the different options are for promiscuous tomatoes good for growing in the UK but what does everyone else here feel - is there much point in planting non-promiscuous tomatoes anymore?

Oh and by the way I was reading on another post here today about direct seeding - well this year was my first yeah of growing tomatoes and no-one told me I couldn’t direct seed. So that’s how I grew mine. I planted very late and my garden is very shaded but at least they sprouted ok! One I actually took indoors because it was growing in the shade of the one that really took off, and it’s now my Christmas tree :slight_smile:

I have saved seeds from 2 varieties I grew and still have seeds from the others but, I don’t really see the point anymore in spending time with heirlooms despite how lovely they are, if I could spend that same time working on promiscuous ones, improving their flavour and adaptation. Am I missing something?

Also just out of curiosity, is it normal to be able to grow an indeterminate tomatoes inside in pots, and giving fruit in snowy December? I had the sense we are not meant to do this but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying :slight_smile:


Why grow non-promiscuous tomatoes? In my case, it’s because I don’t have the range of flavours I like from the promiscuous tomatoes. Joseph has very different tastes than I do, and selected away from them, so I’d like to fold some of the tangier, sharper flavours back into mine. Plus, tomatoes are just fun (if you’re into that kind of thing)

Way to go on the direct seeding!

I know a lot of folks who grow micro minis indoors in winter (these may or may not be determinate, but are very small, I think the definition is in the range of 12" tall at maturity). Micro minis are just starting to be popular, so folks are just beginning to breed nice flavours and colours into them, and they tend to have late maturity, but they are fun over the long winters.

I also kept a couple dwarf tomatoes in over the winter various years for breeding (Sweet Baby Jade was last year) and they tended to get pretty etoliated (I did not grow them under lights) and were pretty light on production, though I wasn’t optimizing for production so who knows. Some work better than others for this. If you do this, maybe post a thread and let us know how it goes?

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Ah yeah that makes sense, so, using them for breeding for your promiscuous population!
What kind of taste was bred out? Oh and, is there a lot of variety in the different promiscuous strains and landraces that different people are growing? I saw a few different seeds being sold in the US that seems to all be promiscuous… maybe originating from Joseph but then bred on by different people?

And yeah I’ve heard about special small tomato plants for indoors, sounds nice. I just tried to not let mine get too crazy as it’s just a regular old indeterminate in a fairly small pot! And yeah I was curious how long it might live. Was fairly surprised it made it this far, glad to finally have ripe fruit on it, and let’s see if it makes it to Spring!

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My impression is that @Joseph_Lofthouse selects for fruity, sweet, and tropical less-tomatoey flavours. I like tangy, zingy, and smoky tomato-type flavours. There’s a lot of diversity in there, though, and a lot of people have contributed as you say. @WilliamGrowsTomatoes has a bunch of experience with it, and I know @julia.dakin tasted a bunch of hers.

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I have a hard time growing a single large tomato in the field that actually tastes good (so I’m not picky with the field tomatoes), so I was wondering how you can @Greenstorm, but I found this weather graph with more accurate temps to my field by the ocean. My September average high is 58F/14C, and Ft St James is 71F/21C. But wow your summer night time temps are so low! And obviously my season is waayy longer.

I found the promiscous tomatoes to taste better in my temps/have an easier time setting fruit, but be more susceptible to blight than many of the heirlooms. In 2022 there was 100% mortality with promiscous ones, so obviously that’s a giant problem :slight_smile: Very excited to try some of @WilliamGrowsTomatoes and see how those do.

Back to they why mess with heirloom question… @Justin I was going through old coversations this morning trying to decide what to bring over, and [in this thread] I noticed a relevant comment by Lauren Ritz: “Nowhere near absolute, but I did notice that after a few generations of deliberately crossing tomatoes (mostly closed flowers with occluded stamens) I ended up with a population that had majority exerted stamens and more open flowers.” And I still recommend you read at least parts of Darwins’ book, not joking. You will like it. Lots of manual cross pollinations and trials and notes of things.

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I am trying out replying to this email to respond since the site isn’t loading for me. So Joseph’s populations might be heading in a fruity, sweet, and tropical less-tomatoey flavor direction. However, depending on the population they are not all there yet. In fact I believe I contributed XL and 2022 direct seeded to the modern landrace seed swap both strains from Joseph’s promiscuous project that aren’t there yet and from which you might just get some red and pretty ordinary tomato flavor tomatoes. Also some of those “purple” as in Cherokee Purple type tomatoes showed up in mine. Also even if you end up with a population that doesn’t have what you like- one cross with a tomato you like and those flavors are back in.


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Are they all promiscuous?

How likely would it be for such an F1 to be promiscuous? Or like what proportion of its F2s? Would we likely have to … is it called ‘backcross’? Like cross its F2s back with other promiscuous ones?

Also how do any of you feel about Stupice? It was the main one I grew here and so I can’t really compare it but it has a reputation for resisting blight I think, and doing well outside in UK’s cold climate compared to others. I wonder if it would be useful for you @julia.dakin for breeding?

11 posts were merged into an existing topic: The Montana Tomato Project and community networking

Stupice is pretty early here, and fairly reliable, but not as early and reliable as minsk early (my reliable early red) or as tasty as my zesty green (which I think may be an off-type of KARMA miracle, as time goes on and I observe it) or mikado black or even KARMA purple, which seem to be reliable-ish and also tastier, here.

Exserted orange has ripened two years in a row here, which is a trick most tomatoes can’t pull off, but because of its exsertion I don’t always assume it’ll do the same next year, of course. It’s also pretty good at holding flavour in my climate, which a lot of tomatoes do not do. I should put in some pollen trap plants of it again this year.

I’m going to start another thread on some of my thoughts about pollinators and crossing.

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Once I started growing genetically diverse tomatoes, and tasted things like melon, mango, sea urchin, and guava, I abandoned all efforts towards growing red tomatoes. I cull any reds that I find. I don’t save the seeds from reds for sharing with people who love red tomatoes. I don’t want my legacy to be the creation of one more red tomato.

Our taste testing panels consistently choose orange tomatoes as the most tasty. I am primarily breeding tomatoes for a chef in New York, so taste is among the highest priorities.

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Reed’s Tomatoes

What is (or are) your exerted tomatoes (or, ones that you know of), that have the shortest season - i.e. that would be most suited for growing outdoors in colder/cloudy climates - and which are or have been available? I suppose if someone were to want to either make one of the promiscuous landraces, or some wild crosses, shorter season, then the earliest well exserted tomatoes would presumably be ideal breeding partners?

Or… I just had a thought (and my thought is mainly around choosing a partner for wilds and wild hybrids but I guess could also apply to already existing landraces) - perhaps another route could be to ignore exsertion and taste and focus only on size and earliness. The earliest reasonably sized tomato one could find, even if it is totally bland! And rely on the wild genetics for the flavour and exsertion, while trying to bring in as much earliness and size increase into the wild mix as possible! Would that be a good plan perhaps?

(Edit: Oh, come to think of it, I suppose that is what Joseph was doing! Silly me! Though I wonder, perhaps we can find earlier still, as it seems the promiscuous tomatoes struggle as they go North…)

ya i feel the same way. I love red tomato flavors, though i’m excited to try some tropical flavours too.

i have a few of those micro tomatoes you were talking about, and just found out the other day that my friend has been growing one of my unstable f3 or so ones (I was working with another breeder from the dwarf project on a micro project) outside and says that they’re addictingly good - i’ve only ever grown them inside where they’re only so so

The project that initiated this thread is also about working with northern/short season tomatoes (as described in my list of species in the first post) and flavour that develops even in my cool climate. I planted that initial list in between promiscuous tomatoes, saved the seed, and as described planted only the promiscuous seed the following year.

What I found was that the promiscuous tomatoes adapted pretty quickly to fruit/ripen here after a year of climate selection, so I didn’t really need to fold in more earliness, but that I didn’t get consistent flavours I liked from them. At the very least saved seed from the tasty ones didn’t produce tasty fruits the next year, but also if I got a tasty fruit off a plant, the plant didn’t produce more equally tasty fruits reliably. So for me up here, flavour is harder to come by, since I was getting somewhat reliable production in one year of selection, but not reliable flavour. Thus my plan to fold in some of my most flavourful tomatoes for a couple years.

I also didn’t see a lot of diversity in my survivors.

Current plans for 2023 project forks:
The area where I grew the promiscuous tomatoes last year, I’m going to use to experiment with direct seeding– or rather, I’m going to till very shallowly and see if anything from last year’s dropped fruits will volunteer. I’m also going to see if any seeds from last year’s volunteers ripened enough to volunteer this year too, and start a volunteer seeds packet/project jar.

I’m going to grow out F1s from last year’s crosses, which since at least one parent of each cross tended to have somewhat open flowers (up here) I’m interested to watch over the next few generations…

I’m going to take my two well-flavoured selections from 2021’s promiscuous growouts and grow several of them out, planting them in sibling groups so I can hopefully get something that tastes good out of them and also so I can see what kind of variation in flavour I get from those two parents.

I’m going to do a patch for stronger selection for open/crossing flowers from the promiscuous group, including seeds from my first and second year’s growouts as well as from the landrace distribution this year and maybe the last few seeds from my original packets of promiscuous seed. I’ll probably space these significantly further apart than I have in the past, so I can be clear on which plants are which (I don’t stake or restrain my plants; they don’t grow that large in my growing season). I also expect to cross my flavourful favourite tomatoes into the most open-flowered plants in this group, to give myself some new F1s for next year.

So, a little more of the same, and a little more taking the older projects further.

I have a lot of F1’s to grow out in 2023 also! I feel like the F2 is the most exciting though!

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Hard agree that F2/F3 are most exciting, I was going to grow out the F1s this winter but I don’t seem to have done it yet.

My work situation has complicated winter grow outs and seed starting for me. On the other hand, I get to think about plants all day. Ok I already did that but now I get paid for 40 hours of it a week all year round.

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