(Lycopersicon lycopersicon) – There are so many varieties of tomatoes available, and you have been so generous in sending me seeds of your favourite variety, that I am not catching up on testing the 100 or so varieties in my collection. Despite this I am encouraging you to grow your own tomato seed and, with careful selection over the years, you may develop a variety that is more suited to your growing conditions.
If you do not see a variety that you want, ask and I might have some on hand. If you can grow vine ripened tomatoes you can grow tomato seed. To get the best seeds you should pick the fruit when it is somewhat overripe but not going bad. Mash it and put it in a small container of water. Stir or shake every day; after a few days it will have fermented and the seeds will be clean. The good seeds will sink to the bottom, the pulp and immature seeds will float to the top, making for easy separation. At room temperature fermentation takes about three days, but this may vary depending on the temperature and the ripeness of the tomatoes. The length of fermentation time is critical since too much fermentation will cause the seeds to sprout and not enough time will not clean the seeds properly. Spread the seeds on paper and air dry thoroughly. Store in a cool place and the seed will germinate well for at least five years.
There has been a fair amount of interest shown in the SIBERIAN tomato. The round, bright red tomatoes are small to medium-sized and are produced on sturdy, upright, bright green plants. This variety is very tolerant of cool growing conditions. FIR TREE has carrot like leaves and compact plants. The fruits are medium-sized and fairly early. ATOM is an early, fairly small fruited red tomato from the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. COLDSET (Ontario Ag. College, Guelph, 1961) produces medium-sized fruits and was bred to perform well in cold climates.
MAIN CROP, MOSTLY DETERMINATE
RIDEAU, which was trialed as Ottawa 28, is a selection from Meteor x Urbana made at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa and named in 1962. The determinate vine gives a heavy yield of medium-sized red fruit and ripens mid-season. VINELAND BRIGHT comes from the Horticultural Experimental Station (HES) Simcoe, ON, probably released in the 1960’s. It produces medium to large, slightly pointed red fruits with quite solid flesh. EARLY RUTGERS is an early selection of Rutgers (New Jersey Ag. Exp. Stn., 1934). It produces medium large, intense red fruits on semi-determinate plants. At one time most of the processing tomatoes in the USA were Rutgers. The strain I am offering was selected by Ernie Kerr at the Hort. Exp. Stn., Simcoe, ON. EARLY CHATHAM (1943) is a mid-season variety with 2" fruit that was bred in Michigan by Dr. Yeager. BOUNTY (N. Dakota Ag. Exp. Stn., Fargo, 1941) is a maincrop tomato producing medium-large red fruits on determinate plants. VICTOR (AAS 1941) is a mid-season tomato with compact plants and medium-sized fruits. CANADA NORTHSTAR is in the Canadian gene bank collection but I have no idea what its origins are. It produces round to slightly oval red fruits, 1” -- 1 1/2” in diameter. The fruit has two locules (seed cavities), thick walls and good flavour.
About 1900 W. J. Macoun at the Dominion Experimental Farm in Ottawa started making selections from Sparks’ Earliana, mainly for early maturity and heavy yield. This selection was carried on for about 10 years and resulted in ALACRITY, the first tomato cultivar named in Canada. It produces medium-large red fruits, mid-season in maturity. HERALD (1926), also from Ottawa, is a selection from Alacrity x Hipper. The somewhat flattened red fruits are 2”—3” in diameter and mature a week or so earlier than Alacrity. In 2006 I found one cluster of fruits on one plant of Herald that had lighter coloured fruits. I saved this seed separately and planted a patch in 2007 so now I am offering PINK HERALD, the same as the original but with pink fruit and a clear skin.
LARGE RED was one of the first commercial tomato cultivars offered in the USA. The Shakers were selling it through their catalogue around 1830 and by the 1860’s it was the most commonly grown tomato in the country. The round red medium-large fruits are borne on compact fairly upright plants and mature late mid-season.
KANATTO is a selection from a wild Philippino tomato with intense crimson colour which was made by Professor T. Graham of OAC, Guelph, ON. It is a late large indeterminate cultivar. In 2011 I grew it in our plastic tunnel, pruned and trained to 8 feet tall. It produced a heavy crop of large well-shaped fruits. Using the high crimson gene, from Kanatto, Professor Graham developed High Crimson(1963). I am offering EARLY HIGH CRIMSON with fairly early, full-sized somewhat flattened red fruits, and probably a selection of High Crimson.
SUMMERJET (1970) is a selection from Vinered x Summerdawn. It is part of L.G. Denby’s breeding program begun in the early 1950’s in Summerland, BC, to increase Verticillium wilt resistance in commercial tomatoes in the Okanagan.
SUGAWARA was bred by James Sugawara, a Japanese immigrant who operated a market garden in Vernon from the late 1920’s until about 1950. He bred his tomato in the late 1930’s. It was one of the local cultivars into which was bred Verticillium resistance by Denby & Woolliams (Summerland, BC) in the early 1950’s.
As I look on myself as a regional seedsman, I try to offer a good selection of prairie bred tomatoes. The following are all mid-season with a good yield. SWIFT (1961) is the earliest with round fruits a bit larger than a golf ball. MELFORT (1973) has large determinate plants which give a heavy yield of flattened, beefsteak-type fruits. Ripening is early mid-season and mature colour is orange-red. BROOKPACT (1970’s) is intermediate with very compact plants. KEYSTONE (1978) comes from George Luther’s tomato breeding program at U. of Manitoba. Produces a good yield of red fruits and is quite early. PEMBINA (1973) was bred at Portage La Prairie, MB. Also a good yielder and fairly early but the fruits are smaller than Keystone. I have not grown STARFIRE (1963) for over 20 years but it was one of my mother’s main crop tomatoes and there has been some demand for it. It was released from the Morden Research Station in 1963 and was popular on the prairies. RED STAKER (CHARLIE’S RED STAKER) (1972) was the last tomato worked on by the late Dr. C. Walkof of the Morden, MB, Research Station. PRAIRIE PRIDE (1978) and MANITOBA (1956) are the latest with the largest fruits.
MAC PINK (1973) was bred by Chong, Bible, and Gyapay at Macdonald College of McGill University. Pink tomatoes are popular in Quebec but the varieties available at that time were all rather late. Mac Pink is an early determinate variety with quite large open plants. The medium-sized pink/red fruits are round and smooth and the yield is good.
James Baggett has done wonderful breeding work at Oregon State University, especially in tomatoes and peas. I have been growing his OREGON SPRING for a number of years and am very happy with it. It is nearly full sized and very early, and the first fruits are seedless. A more recent release is SILETZ which is nearly identical to Oregon Spring but the fruits are much larger and perhaps slightly earlier maturing. LEGEND (2000) is the most recent release from Dr. Baggett. It is quite early, large-fruited, with many early fruits seedless, and has some resistance to late blight.
In the 1960's and '70's Roger Doucet led a tomato breeding program in Quebec which tried to breed varieties that tolerated cool nights in spring. He released twelve cultivars with -bec in their name and I am now offering seven of them. PRECOCIBEC is quite early and produces a good yield of medium sized fruits. MASKABEC, from Precocibec X Canabec, is quite early with good cold setting ability. The medium-sized fruits are very red and show little tendency to crack. ITABEC has Precocibec as one its parents. It produces a heavy yield of medium-large fruits and is fairly early. YORKBEC has New Yorker as one its parents. It produces a heavy yield of medium-sized fruits in early mid-season and is resistant to cracking. CANABEC SUPER (1975) produces smooth round fruits of an intense red colour on medium-size determinate plants. CANABEC ROSE has pink (or at least light red) medium-sized fruits. The plants are large and maturity is mid season. ROSABEC is similar but slightly later with larger fruit.
QUEBEC #13 is one of a series of numbred cultivars released by J. O. Vandal in the 1950‘s and 60‘s. It produces medium-large round red fruits on tall plants and is a bit late maturing. SAVIGNAC, which is also known as Dufresne, was given by Raymond Dufresne of Joliette to Frère Armand Savignac CSV in the 1930‘s. The indeterminate plants are mid-season in maturity, and give a good yield of 3" fruits. I received FORME DE COEUR from a Quebec collector. It produces a good yield of fairly late large smooth heart-shaped fruits. They are solid fleshed and are very good keepers. MONTREAL 61 produces small to medium, round, red, very uniform fruits on a fairly compact plant. Maturity is fairly early. The seed came to us from the USDA who got it from a Mr. Bramhill of Simcoe, ON, in 1956.
GERMAN DWARF has compact plants which could be grown in 12"—15" pots. The plants are very vigorous with sturdy upright stems and dark green leaves. Plants are 1'—2' tall and remain upright without staking until they are heavy with fruit when they lean somewhat. The leaf cover is so dense that most of the fruits are not visible, even when they are ripe. The red fruits are 1½”--2" and round to slightly flattened, maturity is mid-season and yield is good. DWARF CHAMPION is similar to German Dwarf but has pinkish red fruits. There is mention of “stakeless” or “tree” tomato varieties in the mid— to late 1800's in both France and the USA.
HERITAGE, INDETERMINATE to SEMI-DETERMINATE
BONNY BEST (1908) is an indeterminate variety with large round red good-flavoured fruit. Known as a good canning variety. GLOBONNIE was bred in Ottawa, a selection from Livingstone Globe X Bonny Best, named in 1935. The plants are indeterminate and vigorous. The fruits are medium-sized, round and red and mid-season in maturity. ADDA has large smooth beefsteak fruits, late mid-season in maturity. I would like to know more about it but it appears to come from Dr. Graham’s tomato breeding program at the U. of Guelph. It has some resistance to late blight as the green fruits I picked mid-September actually ripened rather than succumbed to late blight. BREAK O’ DAY is a heavy yielder of scarlet red, globe-shaped fruits with a tangy old-fashioned tomato flavour. It was introduced in the USA in 1931, a cross between Marglobe and Marvana. MERVEILLE DES MARCHES is an indeterminate variety with large firm fruits with good colour. A commercial variety from France from the 1880's or earlier. Also from France is VALENTINE, a potato-leaf indeterminate variety, giving a good yield of large beefsteak-type fruits.
In 2012 I grew the following in a plastic tunnel, trained up strings from 4’ to 8’ tall. SICILIAN SAUCER, a heritage cultivar from southern Italy, was the first to ripen, had the tallest plants and the largest fruits, most ranging from 500g to just over 1 kg. MONEYMAKER is an older greenhouse tomato with medium-sized round to slightly flattened fruits that are red, smooth and uniform. DOUBLE RICH is similar to Moneymaker with slightly smaller plants and fruits with green shoulders that ripen lighter than the rest of the fruit. Fruits have twice the vitamin C of most tomatoes.
OXHEART (1925) produces a heavy yield of very big tomatoes. The plants are very vigorous growers, and should be staked and pruned. REDSKIN looks like a smaller version of Oxheart. The plants sprawl flat on the ground but the yield is good, and they are my earliest full sized tomato. Both Oxheart and Redskin are older solid fleshed varieties producing few seeds. GRIGHTMIRE'S PRIDE is mid-size between Oxheart and Redskin, and considerably earlier than Oxheart.
I have been growing “black” tomatoes for about five years now. They all appear to be older varieties coming from Russia (usually from around the Black Sea) with quite large vines, dark fruits, and very good flavour. The fruit colour is red-brown or brick red, with darker shoulders, dark green to almost black. The best variety is BLACK RUSSIAN, which gives a heavy yield of large flattened well-shaped fruits. Unfortunately it is somewhat late. BLACK PLUM and BLACK KRIM are the earliest blacks with oval mid-sized fruits. Black Plum is the earlier and smaller fruited of these two.
PURPLE CALABASH is a very old variety with flat ruffled fruits, rosy purple in colour. The indeterminate plants are very heavy producers, mid-season in maturity. The fruit is identical to pictures in 16th century herbals.
CHERRY and CURRANT, INDETERMINATE
YELLOW, ORANGE and BI-COLOURED
ELBERTA GIRL has somewhat sprawling plants with fuzzy silver foliage. The plum-shaped fruits are red with yellow stripes. ISIS CANDY CHERRY has very sweet fruits, red marbled with yellow, on indeterminate plants.
STRIPED CAVERN produces 1/2 lb fruits, red with gold stripes, which are hollow inside except for a small cluster of seeds. Plants are indeterminate and late mid-season in maturity.
PRINCIPE BORGHESE is a small red plum tomato that produces fruit in clusters. This compact variety is traditionally grown in southern Italy where it is used to make sun dried tomatoes.
(Solanum scabrum) produces large quantities of small purple—black fruits. They can be eaten raw but are probably better cooked, used like saskatoons or blueberries, or as a purple-blue food colouring. I am offering seed from an
(Physalis ixocarpa) has its 1’ — 2” diameter fruits, each enclosed in a papery husk which splits when the fruit is ready to use. The fruits keep well until you are ready to turn them into salsa. TOMA VERDE produces a heavy yield of green fruits on indeterminate plants.
(Capsicum annuum) — My best producer is YANKEE BELL, an early 3- to 4-lobed bell pepper, ripening green to red. APPLE is a thick-walled pimento pepper. Top-shaped fruits are about 4” long and ripen green to red. These two peppers were bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. VINEDALE (1952) was bred at the Horticultural Experiment Station, Vineland, ON, and received an All American Selections (AAS) award as an early, high-yielding cultivar. The medium-sized tapering fruits ripen green to red. BELGIAN RED is good yielding with fruits slightly smaller than Vinedale, ripening yellow to orange-red. SWEET CHOCOLATE is an early red pepper with brown skin (and brick-red flesh under the skin), developed by E.M. Meader (U. of New Hampshire).