Season Summary; Tomato Seeds Available from 2018

Much anticipated updated lists of available seeds are ready – for tomatoes only at this point (November 01, 2018).

A quick summary:

674 – Number of tomato varieties planted in 2018, 41 of these grown only as seedlings for other gardeners

269 – Number of new tomato varieties attempted to grow for seeds

334 – Varieties grown to replenish seed inventory

67 – Dwarf varieties grown and seeds saved (seeds of over 130 dwarf varieties now available)

11 – Mini-dwarf varieties grown and seeds saved

561 – Total varieties with fresh seeds from 2018

73 – Crop failure due to no germination, goat damage, Curly Top Virus, etc.

674,112 – Number of seeds saved in 2018 (an estimate, of course)

1,589 – Number of batches of seeds processed

2.046 lb. – Only 1 tomato over 2 lbs. in 2018, variety Hercegovac

2,069 – Total number of tomato varieties for which seeds are now available (plus 74 with limited or very limited quantities)

The full list is located here:

Still to come:

List of large-fruited varieties with weights

List of most flavorful varieties – many outstanding ones this year!

List of most productive varieties – several very impressive ones

Pictures – over 16,000 still to name and edit

Descriptions – takes up to an hour per variety

Website work – NOT a little:

Back at it!

A sure sign of changing season –

Dwarf and mini-dwarf tomato vines after another cold night and subsequent major leaf fall.



Homestretch, Tomato Seed Processing 2018


October 15, 2018

A hard freeze last night, 24° F, required a rush job on harvesting tomatoes, both for seeds and fresh eating.

This is what the dwarf tomato vines in grow bags look like:

And this is what I was able to rescue from the backyard garden (minus hundreds of cherry tomatoes):

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of pounds of green and rotting tomatoes that went to waste at “the farm”.

Estimate is at least 100 hours of work left to get seeds extracted from this final surge of tomato harvesting –


A few plates of dried seeds to be packaged:

A few boxes of packaged seeds to be sorted:

19,814 photographs still to be named of 63,303 total, meaning 69% of photos are easy to find; and research and descriptions of over 2,000 varieties still to be completed and uploaded.

But at least by November 1st, I hope to have all seeds dried and organized from the 2018 season, and lists published of which seeds are available.  This should include at least 550 varieties of tomatoes from which I collected seeds this year, at least half of these will be new offerings from Delectation of Tomatoes.  And yes, many of these are fabulous varieties!

The clock just ticks way too fast.  Please do let me know how I can make that blasted clock tick at one-tenth its current speed!

😵  😵

= = = = = = = = = = =


October 24, 2018 Update

Approximately 180 batches processed in the past week:

Including one huge batch from about 80 very ripe tomatoes intended for fresh eating that had started to rot before I could get them eaten, sold or bartered – representing about 35 varieties:

Remaining to be processed for seed saving are 48 batches of tomatoes at various stages of ripening.  Many of these batches will need to be split into 2 or 3 sub-batches and the greener brought indoors to fully ripen before seed saving.

And one of these days I’ll finally get a chance to start extracting seeds from peppers, squash, melons, beans, etc. from the 2018 growing season.

= = =

Update October 29, 2018

The main tomato patch with about one-third of support structure removed:

An example of what causes distress from having no helpers and not enough time to harvest and market the extra tomatoes – that is, more than I can or even need to process for seed saving:

Thousands of tomatoes went to waste – just not nearly enough hours in a day…

Aunt Swarlo’s Polish Plum – a large, very impressive variety that was loaded up even two weeks after frost:

Now down to just 28 batches of tomatoes to process for seeds – just waiting for them to ripen fully indoors before seed extraction.

Just in time for Halloween, for those inclined to pareidolia, largest batch of dried seeds I have ever saved, this coming from a 5-gallen bucket full of a mixture of tomatoes that were intended for fresh eating but I could not get them sold, traded, eaten or processed before they rotted:

Enjoying some end-of-season tomatoes, at least for the next few weeks – this one likely Dr. Wyche’s Yellow or Flathead Monster Orange:

Doing my best to get at least a rough inventory of tomato seeds harvested in 2018.  It took nearly 5 hours just to get a rough sort complete – down to first letter.  About 18 more hours to get them fully sorted.  Inventory, etc. after that.

Back at it…

Update 10-30-2018

Tomato seeds from 2018 sorted!  At least 95% of them.

The potted plant shown is a pepper variety called Aribibi, which I rescued from frost and Winter.  Seeds came directly from the Amazon Rain Forest, but this is clearly different from Aribibi Gusano.  Tiny pods, quite hot.

Anyhow, pretty sure this is the most seeds I have ever saved in one year.  Just the seed saving work itself (not counting planting, potting up, transplanting, cultivating, etc.) came to about 1,200 hours.  Before I have had a chance to enter information about each batch into the database, my estimate is 1,200 batches and 500,000 seeds.  I will be doing very well to sell 5% of what I saved.  At 10 cents per seed – well you do the math – it is hard to imagine that or why anybody else would subject themselves to this.  I know why I do it:


Now on to harvesting peppers, etc.


Seed Saving – Home Stretch for 2018

I was hoping, and worked very hard to have all tomato seed saving completed by October 1st.  But there will be at least two more weeks of this.  This is what the project looked like 12 days ago:

Today, the work load is at least double this – at least 300 hours worth of work to do before frost sets in and forces me to stop harvest tomatoes and saving seeds.  Such is life.

Here is a quick look at the process.

The tomato patch, about 70% of tomatoes harvested:

Some “extra” tomatoes I was hoping to trade for some help with this massive seed saving project. Seems like a good deal from my perspective: $100 worth of premium, organic, heirloom tomatoes for a couple of hours of real work.  No takers so far.

Sampling, picture taking, cutting up tomatoes, putting them to ferment:

Batches of tomatoes fermenting (about 4 days seems to work well), awaiting seed extraction:

Seed separation station:

Seeds drying on plastic plates:

Stacks of plates with dried seeds awaiting packaging:

Seed packaging station::

Boxes and boxes of envelopes of seeds to organize; about 20,000 photos to name, edit and organize; several weeks of data entry (including field notes for each batch), then packaging of the the final product for sharing with other growers:

Oh, and everything non-tomato…

Yesterday (September 29th) was the annual weigh-off event for the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers:

My pumpkin was a slight 196 lbs. – once tomatoes start coming on I have no time for this kind of fun.

My heavist tomato, Gold Medal (1.740 DT 2018), managed third place.

That’s it for now – back at it!

Midseason Progress

Time crunch, so this will be brief, more of a vlog, this video from August 06, 2018:

On August 27th, I picked the first tomato over 2 lbs. and it was NOT from the high tunnel.  Instead it was on a vine of the variety Hercegovac in the open field, with no pruning or thinning.  This 2.050 lb. specimen came from a quite impressive, dense cluster of large tomatoes – perhaps 15 lbs. of tomatoes shown in this shot alone:


I think my pruning efforts in the high tunnel may be counter-productive?

Many thousands of grasshoppers getting their fill in the tomato patch, along with the occasional relative, probably a Broad-winged katydid, Microcentrum rhombifolium:

Seeds saving – yes, lots, currently (August 28th) at least 80 hours behind on harvesting and processing tomatoes for seeds – not to mention computer-based work such as naming thousands of new photographs, entering data from seed harvesting, trascribing field notes and adding new varieties to the website.

Video update, August 30th:  seed saving work station, slightly overwhelmed –

To be fair, I am getting some help with processing for seed extraction, on occasion:

Video update, September 2nd:


First Ripe Tomatoes of 2018 – and Curly Top Virus Is Back with a Vengeance

Dozens of tomatoes have been full-sized but green on the vine for three weeks or more.  Finally, the first ripe tomatoes of the 2018 growing season ripened and were picked this past week.  With ambitions to save seeds from nearly 600 varieties, I have been anxious to get an early start on seed saving.

These are the first varieties to produce ripe fruits:

Totushka (Тётушка, from Russia ) – a compact, dwarf determinate variety.  The plant in a grow bag produced a ripe tomato two days earlier than the plant in the garden; but the plant in the garden was much more productive.  Days to maturity was 48 from transplant, 102 from seed.

Bison – among the “extra early” varieties started from seed on March 15th.  Shortly after planting, the seedling suffered from severe drought stress (watering was missed somehow) which seemed to force it into early blossom formation (just a hypothesis).  Photos below taken on May 30th and July 13th.  DTM: 58/120.

Red Alert – a very early, determinate variety.  As with Totushka, the vine planted in the main garden was significantly more productive than the vine planted in a grow bag.  DTM: 50/122


Utyonok (Утёнок, from Russia) – A dwarf determinate variety that, like Totushka, produces almost all fruit with few leaves.  This is my third year growing Utyonok, and as previously, this has been one of the first to ripen. This year, the plant was one that struggled from the start and I was surprised that it survived to bear fruit.  DTM: 48/121.


Maddeline’s Vine Candy – A small, orange cherry tomato; history and details are described on the website:

DTM: 48/108, picture from last year.

Koralik – a variety from Poland, translates to “Bead”; small, red cherry tomatoes, extra early; DTM 43/94.  Grown by my cousin in Arizona from seedlings I raised, so no pictures; my Koralik seedling nearly died from heavy browsing by goats and is still in recovery mode.

Babushkino – From Russia, Бабушкино translates to “Grandma’s”, very tasty, small round red; DTM 63/105

Americke Pyramidni – Perhaps not true to type, need to research; DTM 61/105

Appetitnyi – From Russia, Аппетитный translates to “Appetizing”, and is indeed quite tasty, with a distinctive, lively flavor; DTM 61/101

Emerald – Offtype, red fruits; will see if it’s worth saving; DTM 61/101

Sungella – Beautiful and delicious little orange tomatoes; DTM 60/100

Black Cherry – Fabulous flavor, picture from 2017; DTM 51/120

De Barao Chorniy (from Russia, Де барао чёрный translates to “Black from De Barao); DTM 63/105.

Ditmarsher – Quite a distinctive growth form, sprawling along the ground with almost no seeds; would be excellent for planter boxes; picture of loaded plant is from 2016; DTM 61/101 (43/94 for my cousin in Arizona)

“Pugent Sound Sweetie” (name is placeholder, murky history, working out name, etc. with a colleague from Pugent Sound area); DTM 53/92

Auria, dwarf – Third year growing this remarkable variety, and it has been one of the earliest and most prolific producers every time (photo from 2016); DTM 56/105

Damascus Steel – Distinctive color combination; DTM 65/109

Dwarf Pink Opal – Photos etc. to come; DTM 56/97

Rozoviy Kit – From Russia, Розовый кит translates to “Pink Whale”; DTM 66/109

Rozoviy Syrayeva – From Russia, Розовый Сыраева translates to “Pink Syraeva”, Syraeva is a feminine name; DTM 66/109

Fourth of July (OP) – This is my own open-pollinated version of the hybrid, Fourth of July; it has potato leaves and has performed very well in cool climates with high production potential; new name variety name under consideration, as stability seems to be present after seven years of working on this; DTM 55/128

Sweet Apertif – Addictive cherry tomato, very sweet; picture from 2017; DTM 55/115

Zolotoe Serdtse – From Russia, Золотое Сердце translates to “Heart of Gold”; prolate with very pronounced nipple; DTM 55/105

Zolotaya Kanareyka – From Russia, Золотая канарейка translates to “Golden Canary”; DTM 65/109

Dwarf Shadow Boxing – One plant inexplicably not dwarf growth form but the other is; DTM 58/107


Tel-Aviv Train – Small red fruits; DTM 56/106

De Barao Tsarskyi Krasnyi Ukrainskyi – From Russia, Да барао царский красный Украинский translates to “De Barao Royal Red Ukrainian”; shaped like a Roma tomato; DTM 68/108

Germanskiy Polosatiy – Seeds indirectly from Russia, Германский Полосатый translates to “German Striped”; research needed, as this is not striped and does not appear similar to the English “Striped German”; DTM 68/100

Hybrid 4 Tarasenko (labeled as “Gibrid 4 Tarasenko) – Seeds indirectly from Russia; DTM 68/100

Ispanskaya Roza – Seeds from Russia, Испанская роза translates to “Spanish Rose”; is much closer to burnt umber than rose colored, research needed; DTM 70/112

Krasnaya Grusha Frankov – Seeds from Russia, Красная груша Франков translates to “Red Pear Frankov”, Frankov is a name.  This one obviously not ripe yet, just an intriguing shape.

Larisa – DTM 70/112

Lyagushka Tsarevna – from Russia, Лягушка Царевна translates to “Frog Princess”; green when ripe, looks delicious!  DTM 69,112

Paska – from Russia, Паша is a masculine name; red, very productive vine; DTM 69, 112

Rozoviy Izyumniy – from Russia, Розовый изюмный translates to “Pink Raisin”; DTM 69/112

Rubinovyie Zvozdy – from Russia, Рубиновые звёзды translates to “Ruby Stars”; DTM 69/112

Sugary – Very small “grape” tomato, picture from 2011; DTM 67/107

Super Sweet 100 – Red cherry tomato, picture from 2011; DTM 67/107


Glacier – Despite the name, still needs warm weather to ripen! DTM: 52/113; first ripe was from a fused blossom, perhaps three fused.

Dwarf Arctic Rose – Set fruit as early as Totushka, but took several more days for fruit to ripen; fruit in grow bags ripe about two days before those in ground in the garden; DTM: 59/113

Barossa Fest – Fruit in grow bag first to ripen, others still green; DTM: 59/101

Many more varieties are starting to ripen as of 7-24-2018.  I likely will not manage the time to keep this list up to date, as very soon, harvesting and processing for seeds will be taking up virtually every waking moment for the next 3-4 months.

= = = = = = = = = =

Now for an update on the dreaded Curly Top Virus.

I should know better than to take a chance with not completely covering seedlings with row cover fabric – see lessons learned in 2014 and 2016:

On June 15th this year, I removed two plants which were obviously dying from CTV, Drug (Dzhan) and Polesskiy Gigant Tarasenko:

I was hopeful that this would be the end of CTV this season – alas, it was just the beginning.  Two weeks later the count was at 45; then 71 a week after that; then this past week, I quit counting at 90 seedlings dying – so discouraging.  Even a Big Rainbow vine – part of the giant tomato project in the high tunnel – succumbed to CTV.  A once vigorous plant, nearly 18″ tall, replaced here with a very-late-to-germinate Mammoth Cretan seedling:

Someone claimed a special formulation of Chitosan will cure and/or prevent virtually every known disease or physiological problem with tomatoes, including viruses.  As a trained scientist, I am very skeptical about grandiose claims (skeptic = “show me the evidence”), but I remain curious enough to give it a try – you just never know when someone might stumble upon a cure for CTV.  So we sprayed seven infected plants with the formulation.

Not a hint of any positive effect as far as reversing or curing the disease.  This is just anecdotal evidence, of course.   Anybody out there willing to try this or any other claimed CTV in a large-scale, rigorous field study with large sample sizes, appropriate controls, etc.?  Hypothesis: Chitosan protects tomato vines from developing Curly Top Virus disease, even after infection.  If only I still worked for a research university and had financial support to investigate such questions…  My solution is to go ahead and invest several hundred dollars for row cover fabric and the means to keep the vines covered at least until late July.

Update on megablooms and developing fruits – please see revision to my previous post on this subject:

Non-tomato stuff –

I am trying to grow giant pumpkins this year, with two vines growing and taking over the garden.  I am unable to keep up with burying vines or with protecting the growing tips from intense heat, with many days over 95°F the past couple of weeks.  But I have pollinated about 6 pumpkins and am trying to decide which to keep and which to cull; this was the first to pollinate on June 30, but it will be a cull:

I am growing some tall sunflowers and some gourds (long and dipper).  Here’s what the structure looks like:

The parent of these was 170.5″ tall (see:

I am hoping to exceed that!  I am also growing large-headed sunflowers.

Following are a couple of pictures of my favorite Cauliflower variety, Purple of Sicily, taken two days apart.  Hopefully I will be able to harvest seeds from it this year.  I will cover the head with fabric to prevent cross-pollination with other Brassicus varieties, though I realize that most varieties in this group are largely self-infertile.  We shall see.

Just something “cute” – White Scallop squash, aka White Pattypan, conjoined twins:

And I have plenty of interest but not a lot of time for flower seeds, such as bleeding heart:

So many more…







Inducing Tomato Vines to Produce Megablooms

I wish I had a complete answer to this major issue for all competitive growers of giant tomatoes!  There are a number of other resources which address this issue, with insights from very experienced, elite growers.  Perhaps the best resource on the Internet for ideas for growing giant tomatoes:

With that introduction, here are some anecdotes from my experience.  The year 2014 was my best year, with a 4.670 lb. Big Zac still holding the Utah state record.  I’m trying to duplicate the conditions of that year, but I don’t have the very rich compost pile available to me, which was loaded with red wriggler worms.  Anyhow, here is what seems to be working

  • Start with seeds from proven lineages – parent fruit documented to produce megablooms and large fruit
  • Good soil prep – around here (dense, alkaline clay as native soil) this means peat moss, compost (including lots of spent mushroom compost this year), slow release fertilizer, kelp meal, trace minerals, mycorrhizal fungal spores
  • A high tunnel to warm soil and get seedlings off to a vigorous, rapid start
  • Fish emulsion (two doses so far) or some other formulation to jump start growth
  • Vibrating toothbrush or other means to fully pollinate flowers – megablooms can be a real challenge to get fully pollinated.

If you know of any useful additions to this list, especially details about brand names and dose rates of products, please do let me know:

So we’ve had a few days of “tomato-like” weather, with highs in the 75-85° F range.  This is uncommon in this climate of the high desert.  Typically, high temperatures in late Spring around here skip the 80’s and go straight into the 90’s and 100’s.  It’s too early to tell if this spell of good weather will result in HUGE tomatoes in a couple of months, as none of these megablooms have set fruit yet.

Below is a video overview of the giant tomato project as of 6-20-2018, followed by closeup pictures of individual megablooms – well, “megabuds” anyhow, as most of have not even begun to open yet.

So here is a countdown of the “Top 10” megablooms as of June 20th. [Followed by updates on July 16th]

10.  Gold Medal – 3X (estimating that three ovaries are fused into one blossom – really hard to tell for sure without dissection under a microscope – and I ain’t doin’ dat!)

Update July 16th – fruit growing, but not fast:

9.  KY Cygni – 3X

Update July 16th – blossom aborted, as did most others, despite repeated efforts at pollinating with an electric toothbrush.  Either it got too hot, or the flower thrips are eating all the pollen before pollination can occur.

8.  Westerlund – 3X

Update July 16th – blossom aborted

7.  Bigzarro – 4X

Update July 16th – This one took!  And is looking very much like its parent, but is not growing very fast –

See extensive documentation of parent fruit at:

6.  Megamutt (5.24 Borgers 2017) – 4X

Update July 16th – Fruit set, but growing very slowly:

5.  Tamara – 4X and the most hefty of all

Update July 16th – Growing, albeit slowly:

4.  Michael’s Portuguese Monster – 5X

Update July 16th – blossom aborted

3.  Big Zac (2.41 Ritchie 2016) – 5X

Update July 16th – This one also took, but apparently did not pollinate well:

2.  Nesravnennyi – 6X, 20+ sepals

Update July 16th – blossom aborted

And (drumroll), my number 1 most promising blossom, the one most likely to push me over that elusive 5-pound barrier – at least at this very early point in the season –

1.Domingo (3.420 DT 2017) – 6X, 22+ sepals

Update July 16th – blossom is still alive; if there was any pollination, it was minimal.  There is little hope of getting anything significant out of this:

It will be a real challenge to get these pollinated, as 98° is predicted just 4 days out – about the time most of these will be opening.  Time for the shade cloth again!

More to come…

Update 6-25

Honorable mention is a possible 10X on a variety from Russia simply labeled, “Ruttgers”.  This is clearly NOT the same as “Rutgers”, a common, little, old commercial variety.  It could be that it is named after someone with the surname Rüttgers? Research needed…

Anyhow, this very impressive megabloom is apparently splitting into at least three separate sections or lobes. Sewing the sections back together before or after fruit set maybe will not work. Um, maybe I won’t even try such a stitching trick, not yet…

Here is a picture of the parent fruit of this Ruttgers plant from 2015 – grown in the open field under poor, very weedy conditions with no pruning or special care, reaching 2.370 lb. – perhaps some potential here!?


Update July 16th –

Recent pictures loaded and commented on above.  Pollination has been very disappointing.  I’ve attempted pollinating with a battery-powered vibrating toothbrush as many as 20 times on these blossoms, to no or little avail.  It has just been too hot.  I’ve scarcely observed even a grain of pollen.

Following are pictures of a couple of random megablooms out in the main tomato patch.

Giant Monster –

Alice’s Dream –

In the high tunnel, a 2X megabloom from Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi, which did not make the original “Top 10” list above, has set fruit:

Among the 25 vines in the later planting in the high tunnel, only one has developed a promising looking megabloom so far, Big Zac (3.29 Borgers 2017); but unfortunately, this one too seems to be aborting:



Planting Completed for 2018 Growing Season

As of June 15th, planting is completed for the 2018 growing season.  This includes a late-late planting of 40 tomato varieties for those that did not germinate or that were destroyed by goats.

Oh yes, let’s not forget those goats::

Goats and gardens really don’t mix.  Why were the goats getting out, again and again?  “You give power to what you blame”.  Moving along…

Anyhow, here is what the main tomato patch looks like after installation of T-posts and drip irrigation:


Final Tally for tomatoes:  591 varieties from which I plan and hope to be able to save seeds this year for sharing with other growers.  I hope they start ripening extra early this year, as this is a massive undertaking and it would be really good if I could finish the task before Thanksgiving.

Here are a few varieties with earliest blossoms and fruit set:

Dwarf Arctic Rose
Dwarf Franklin County
Dwarf Shadow Boxing
Totuska ( Тётушка )
Fourth of July (OP)
Red Alert

Bison, first blossoms on about May 12th, 58 days from sowing; fruit golf ball sized by June 15th:

Dwarf Arctic Rose, first blossoms open on June 3rd, 63 days from sowing; fruit as of June 17th:

At least 40 other varieties have set fruit – hoping temps will stay under 95 for a couple more weeks at least so that blossoms will set fruit and I can start saving seeds before September!

Giant Tomato Project Update:

The three most impressive megablooms (still in development as of June 17th) are on these varieties:


Michael’s Portuguese Monster


And Gold Medal.  Plus there are megablooms forming on at least 20 varieties in the main tomato patch.  Here is a reminder of what the parent of Tamara produced in 2017, forming from perhaps the most impressive megabloom (8X) of that season, out in the open tomato patch with no special care, yet growing to 1.964 lb.:

And some other interesting items –

North Pole Lettuce, three plants survived the winter:

Even after severe damage from goats I may be overly optimistic about this growing season.  Here is the first plant to bite the dust from Curly Top Virus, Polesskiy Gigant Tarasenko:

Should have a good crop of fresh chive seeds this year:

An attractive and tasty variety of lettuce, Flashy Speckled Trout:

Kale is producing well, Red Russian:

An interesting variety of cushaw squash, named Moapa Squash, seeds obtained in person at the 2018 Utah Farm Conference from Quail Hollow Farm:

Microdwarf tomato seedlings are growing very slowly, but at least they are alive and look healthy:

Grzduja plants are getting stressed in this shallow pot.  I ought to transplant them out into the main garden, now that they are likely mature enough to survive attacks from snails and grasshoppers:

Very tasty Amish Snap peas produced the first ripe peas 68 days from seed, nearly two weeks earlier than five other varieties:

Chickens have done their share of damage as well, even in the high tunnel.  At least this one seedling in the giant tomato project may not survive:

And some aesthetically pleasing sex organs of plants – flowers that is –


Larkspur, some of these well over 6′ tall: