No kidding, would you look a the size of that tomato! Compared to the dog anyways.
This is a photo sent to me by one of my customers. Janet Y. It is a Kellogg’s Breakfast, one of our customer favorites. the second picture shows the scale with a ruler. Almost 5 inches! Wow! I see BLT’s in her future. Plus it is only the first part of August. Ours are just now starting to color up.
The story goes like this: Ironically enough. this tomato is not named for the breakfast cereal developer of fame, Will Keith Kellogg, but for a humble gardener, Darrell Kellogg, a railroad supervisor in Redford, Michigan. He received his seed from a friend in West Virginia where it originated.
Sweet and meaty, he liked the tomato so much he saved the seed and began to breed the variety. A brilliant orange and nearly blemish free, they can grow to weigh a pound or more.
Kellogg’s breakfast tomato was voted one of the best tomatoes by Sunset magazine.
This is the first picking of tomatoes from one of my Dwarf Tomato Project plants. It is called Pink Passion. A bit blurry, I apologize. Some are slightly heart shaped, pinkish red with yellow, greenish shoulders. They range in size from golf ball to softball. The plant seems to be suffering in this heat, high 90’s.
Tomatoes like heat. To a point. It can cause their flowers to dry up and fall off. It can also cause the green-yellow-orange shoulders. Lycopene, chlorophyll and carotene are all pigments present in tomatoes and work to give them their color.
Lycopene is the pigment that gives the fruit it’s color red. Chlorophyll gives the plants their green color, Carotene gives them their yellow or orange color.
The optimum temperature for lycopene production is between 65 degree and 75 degrees. After 75 degrees, lycopene production slows. The fruit’s exposure to direct sun dictates what happens to its shoulders. As sun strikes tops of tomatoes, temperatures in the fruit rise, inhibiting lycopene causing them to stay green.
Tomatoes may stay green due to chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color. Excessive heat prevents chlorophyll from breaking down. When subjected to hours of hot sun, chlorophyll hangs on.
Carotene, another pigment in tomatoes, produces yellow and orange. Less affected by heat carotene (yellow) shines through while lycopene (red) is inhibited, thus yellow shoulders.
The part of the tomato most protected from direct exposure to the sun will be the color it is supposed to be.
This is one of the reason I crowd my plants and grow them up. I try to space them about 2.5 feet apart and use massive tomato cages. Planted in containers, it is more difficult to give them extra leaf coverage. Try placing them where they will get shade in the afternoon when the sun is hottest.
It is also why I don’t prune. Leaf cover is so important in protecting the tomatoes. It also protects against sunburn, a white flaky patch.
There are also tomato varieties, usually heirloom, that naturally have green shoulders. I’ve seen them a lot in dark tomatoes such as Japanese Black Triefle and Cherokee Purple.
Here are three Krainiy Sever tomatoes, recently picked. They are juicy and fairly dense. I placed them together with a quarter for scale. When I read catalogs and see “this plant produces 1 oz. tomatoes in abundance” I always wonder that that looks like.
Having grown tomatoes for at least 20 years, I can tell you their is a wide variance in the weight of tomatoes. It depends on how dense, how juicy, what the seed cavities look like, etc.
The Krainiy Sever is one of the dwarf series that I sold this year.They are a pretty standard tomato, not especially packed with flesh like a paste tomato or hollow like stuffer tomato.
The biggest tomato I’ve ever grown was a Rose. It weighed over 3 pounds! This variety is very juicy and solid.
Also known as Superbissima Grandiflora. In fact that is the only name I had for them for the longest time. After doing some research, I found out they used to be called California Giants and are an heirloom petunia from way back. They are no longer commercially grown, at least I’ve never seen them at the big box stores or local nurseries.
They are huge, sometimes reaching 5″ across! In colors of dark purple and lighter pink, they have fantastic, contrasting veining in their centers.
Fluffy Ruffles has, well, a lot of ruffling! Double Fluffy Ruffles has even more.
Double Fluffy Ruffles
Dark green foliage, rounded leaves and thick stems compete the plant. Usually when a plant is not carried commercially in the petunia world, it’s because it doesn’t live up to the weather or produce reliably. I have not found this with this petunia. It hangs from a basket nicely, is a pleasure to deadhead, lasat for a long time and produces lots of blooms. I use it with other flowers to fill a pot. Because it is so stocky it holds up well to the weather in my garden.
This is my favorite petunia! If you would like to come by and see it in my garden and the different ways I use it give me a call. I’ve had people come by and are stunned and perplexed when they see it. They don’t know what it is! You can buy them from me next spring as I will always grow it.
I was able to transplant the little green guys in the last couple of days. Not trying to toot my own horn but I gave the “leavings” away to the Geiger Correctional facility. (I had met one of the correctional offices at a banquet honoring our local law enforcement and since I ride with SCOPE Mounted Patrol, was able to participate. He had expressed interest in my plants and I invited him out to see them. Last year he came and bought several flats of them.)
I always plant what I know I can sell and since I tend to over seed, I usually have leftovers. What to do with the leftovers. Bright idea – offer them to Geiger! I emailed and offered and they were very happy about it.
Either I give them to friends or wait until they grow to big for the cell pack, roots coming out the bottom, looking a little peaked and then toss them out. Kind of like leftovers in your fridge, you’d feel bad tossing it out right after dinner, even knowing you won’t ever eat it. No, you have to wait until you discover them at the back of the fridge and they look something like a science experiment gone bad. Only then can you profess surprise and astonishment and feel righteous about throwing them out! You all know what I am talking about.
Thanks to Zac, Dan and Ray for coming out to get the plants. And thanks for allowing me to show you how we transplant and care for them here at The Tomato Lady. The inmates at Geiger have a spectacular garden and start most of their plants from seed, however, these are like instant tomatoes, just transplant, water and pouf, you have a tomato plant. They harvest all the veggies they grow and give them to food banks and other places that hand out food. I believe they delivered over 23,000 pounds of food last year. It serves more than one purpose, hungry people get fed fresh produce and it gives the inmates a sense of accomplishment. Everybody wins!
I was so excited for them to go to a good home. There is going to be a lot of head shaking when they show up with striped, yellow, pink and green tomatoes. Instead of the usual red they know and love. All I can say, is live a little and try something different. You might be surprised at what you’ve been missing by only eating red tomatoes!
Meet Fred’s Tye Dye. I don’t know who Fred is but I love his tomato. This is another tomato out of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It is the most beautiful color, hopefully you can see the stripes in this picture, it is from my garden. The taste was delicious. The growth habit very manageable as you can see below. This is a mid season producer and is one of the taller dwarfs although mine didn’t get any taller than 4 feet. It was one of the first ones to color up. As with any heirloom, size varies from baseball to softball size. One of the other things I like about the dwarfs is their stocky stems and their rugose, regular leaves, very crinkly and dark green.
Yes, these came from a dwarf tomato plant. Part of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It was very tasty and produced an ample supply of tomatoes for such a small plant. Staked, in a large pot, it was maybe 4 feet. Perfect for someone who wants to grow slicing tomatoes without taking up much room, such as a deck or apartment balcony. A very pretty dark pinkish fruit.
Information about the Dwarf Tomato Project. I’d put the link to their website but apparently the server has gone down.
This remarkable project was started in 2005 by Patrina Nuske-Small of Australia and Craig LeHoullier of Raleigh, North Carolina, and by February 2011 it had over 250 volunteers growing out various tomato crosses and segregation lines, selecting for new dwarf varieties with the best taste and unique color characteristics. This project is still continuing, and it will yield many more tomato varieties with heirloom taste and perfect for space-challenged home gardeners.
This is the very first all volunteer world-wide tomato breeding project in documented gardening history. None involved are botanists or horticulturists – just avid gardeners with a keen interest in learning about tomato genetics or discovering interesting new tomatoes.
All Tomato Dwarf Project varieties are associated with the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI)
The OSSI Pledge – “ You have the freedom to use these OSSI seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents, or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.” The seed packets that you share or sell should include this information.
This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?
Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.
This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!
Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.
One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.