Reed's Tomatoes

[Moved from Greenie’s thread to it’s own 5/9 because I sent some of Mark’s seed to quite a few of you, and looking forward to hearing bout it later in the season. --Julia]

I don’t know how to describe flavor but all of those that I like, have something in common, whether it’s a big tangy red one or a little yellow sweet one. I don’t know what it is or how to relate it in words other than, some have it, most don’t.

I don’t mess with breeding tomatoes, just way to tedious for me and too much recordkeeping. Once in a while a new one shows up on its own. Maybe lots do but they get eaten or canned before I ever know it and my garden is too little to plant lots just to look for them.

I’ve had trouble in recent years trying to grow new kinds. I tried heat tolerant F1s that just croaked the first hot day and disease tolerant F1s that turned to gray fuzz the first time it rained. The dwarf types I tried made a few fruits early then croaked.

It’s sort of like if it hasn’t come from at least a few generations in my own garden it just won’t grow here. I’m a bit worried about that because I don’t have all that many different kinds and I think a little more diversity would be nice.


We’ve been colleagues together a long time on these message boards Reed. If I have a tomato you would really like some genetics from send me seed of one of the kinds that survives in your garden and I’ll cross it with the other one for you and send you back some F2 seed.


@WilliamGrowsTomatoes Thanks for the offer, I’m just not sure what ones I might like to see crossed. How about I just describe what my tomatoes are at present and if you decide if you are interested in crossing any of them with whatever you think would be appropriate?

One of my favorite flavor wise (I think) is just an old heirloom called Mr. Stripy. It’s a big orange/yellow tomato, sometimes confused, name wise with a nasty little tomato called Tigerilla. It, Mr. Stripy, is on Cornell University’s short list of disease resistant heirlooms. My major complaint about it is that isn’t all that productive. I’ve grown it for twenty years or more but as far as I know it is still just an inbred heirloom.

Next is what I call Utah Heart, it came several years ago from Joseph that he had labeled “early all kinds” And survived its first season here in near 100% neglect. It never segregated so I’m not sure it was a cross when I go it, but I don’t know. Highly productive of large dark red ox-heart fruits, very meaty with few seeds.

Hoosier Rose, this came from a commercial variety called Red Rose. I don’t think Red Rose was supposed to be a hybrid, but it segregated into a normal leaf and a potato leaf type. The potato leaf was deeply lobed and tended to crack and potato leaf plants as a rule do very poorly in my garden due the various diseases. My complaint about it is the same as Mr. Stripy, giant vines, few fruits.

Even though they are not all that productive the Mr. Stripy and Hoosier Rose keep us in fresh tomatoes all season from about a 1/2 dozen plants of each. A 1/2 dozen of the Utah Heart generally makes more than enough to can our juice and sauces for the season plus plenty for sandwiches along the way. We like the sweeter ones for slicing just to go with a meal and the more robust Utah Heart for something like on a hamburger.

I have seeds from all of the above in packs to themselves.

Then I have the little tomatoes that we just snack on and use in salads and the like. Seeds for them are just all mixed up and I only plant a few each spring, just in case none come up on their own, which actually has never happened. They are pretty much feral and even grow in the weeds outside the yard where I don’t generally harvest them because we have too many wood ticks and chiggers.

There is a big range of colors, shapes and sizes in the little ones. They are all quite sweet and delicious except the pear-shaped yellow ones which while OK they are not on par with the others, I cull them.

I know that some of the little ones are from a random cross with pimpinellifolium with pimpinellifolium being the mother side. One of the larger ones had to be the father.

Also possible in the little ones is segregations of another of Joseph’s from a long time ago that I called Captain Crunch. Captain Crunch made huge clusters of ping pong ball sized fruits that looked like yellow plastic and tasted, little at all like a tomato, more like some kind of tropical fruit. The foliage was terribly disease prone, but the fruits didn’t care, they just kept on producing even if the leaves all fell off.

And then several years ago the woman here bought some little tomatoes in the middle of winter that were grown in a greenhouse in Canada, and they were actually very good, so I saved seed and mixed them in too.

Getting a bit long winded here so in a nutshell, I have the large-fruited kinds individually saved and the little ones all mixed up. If any of these are of interest, I can send some along. I’ll leave it to you though to decide which or with what to do any crossing.

I’m not sure if I have your address so just send me private message.


Mark do any of these tomatoes look familiar? I took these photos on October 18th, and by then every other tomato that wasn’t in the ‘Mark Reed section’ was long since dead, especially any non cherries. Seeds from these will be 75% of my tomatoes next year, and I yes I vote for William doing some manual crosses with these!


Humm, I can’t tell for sure but if they came from my seeds they must be. The very spherical orange/red ones could be Hoosier Rose, although in my climate they tend to have more green shoulders. Those in the second picture could be Mr. Stripy. Did they have mixed up colors on the inside? I don’t really see any ox-heart shaped ones.

What about those small very dark ones in the bottom picture? I do also have some dark tomatoes I didn’t mention but they are much larger, if those came from my seeds, they are a new cross or segregation, I suspect that happens sometimes, but I never know it because my grow outs are too small to find them.

***ADD - I forgot there might have been another tomato in the seeds I sent. I call it PPR, Particularly Productive Rutgers. It came from a plant I found in the Rutgers patch several years back. Shorter vines, much more productive and more determinate than normal Rutgers. It makes lots of tennis ball sized very round fruit in clusters of five or six and all at once about mid-season, then it dies.

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Feel like I am mucking up Greenies thread talking about disease resistance so much. Though everything I work on usually ends up being sort of short season given my favorite breeding stock is.

I think that Mark’s tomatoes doing well in Julia’s garden is really interesting though.

Maybe I should talk about greens and blacks. Hmm I need a refresher on what counts as a black tomato. I am thinking it is sometimes synonymous with purple. I found one with kind of dark flesh in amongst volunteers from Joseph’s promiscuous project. Saved just a little seed from it. Also made a disease resistance cross with my Mission Mountain Morning F2 and Purple Zebra F1. Only got 11 seeds. Hmm an F1 between an F2 and an F1 should segregate pretty wildly. Which should be fun! In Mark and Julia’s gardens it would probably end up with good disease resistance.

I made one cross with a green tomato in 2022. I crossed Mission Mountain Morning with Brad Gate’s Brad’s Atomic Grape. Brad’s Atomic Grape kind of has all the bells and whistles. Good flavor, stripes, bicolor, blue skin.

I went on a hunt for better flavor in 2022 after reading Craig LeHouillier’s book a year ago. I think I found some and one of the things I found were three green when ripe tomatoes with superior flavor. Dwarf Saucy Mary, Dwarf Kelly’s Green, and Tom Wagner’s Muddy Waters. Of those I am planning to make a cross with Muddy Waters in 2023.

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I wouldn’t be surprised either if it just doesn’t do well! That is one reason I am hoping to make some crosses with Reed’s tomatoes. It is very possible that my tomatoes enjoy a life of sort of luxurious disease free status because of my physical location and won’t do well in a different environment- at least not without crossing to tomatoes from that environment.

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Cross with Reed’s strain of Mr. Stripey finally took but I worry it won’t ripen before frost, but will see. It is in a bed that is sometimes the last to freeze.

I hope I’m not horning in too much on the Montanna Tomato Project, but I made a little video about some of my tomatoes this year.

Nice video Mark! That last one, all the brown on the leaves, what’s that? Is it just normal, leaves gradually dying off? I noticed some of my plants have that all over, most leaves having a lot of that, whereas some plants have almost none. I was wondering if it’s a disease. Even some of my habrochaites and pevuvianum have that but some accessions don’t.

It’s just what happens later in the season, especially on lower leaves. It might just be die off of old leaves but I assume it is also a bit of disease of some sort. I don’t worry over identifying such things specifically. As long as we get a good harvest anyway, some disease or bugs or whatever is just part of the cycle, I reckon.

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Ok cool, thanks. Sounds rather reassuring, though also I might try selecting for less of that!

Yep, that’s what I’ve done for a lot of years. I don’t think that anything in my garden, tomato or otherwise is 100% free of disease. I’m not sure that’s possible but I’m also convinced it isn’t necessary. As long as we get a nice harvest, the disease or bugs can have theirs too.

I think pretty much everything starts with the soil. If it’s built up for years, without any chemicals, without discarding anything, even diseased vines, if it’s not “tilled” up all the time, then everything sort of settles into a rhythm. The genetics of the plants that grow in it for years, the microbes that live in it, everything just sort of comes to an agreement on its own after a while.

We talk about epigenetics and endophytes, if either of those is true, which I can’t prove one way or the other, but if they are true then, they might explain tomatoes or beans that consistently produce a nice harvest despite some disease. Genetics and breeding of the plants is important for sure, but the most important landrace might be what lives in the soil.

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Thanks @julia.dakin for moving this post. I had forgotten there was a Reed’s tomatoes topic. :grin:

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I am down with Covid19 again and isolating from my family. My wife just video called me and harvested a few new F1’s for me including two crosses with Utah Heart.

The two crosses with Utah heart were:

Utah Heart x Mission Mountain Rising Dwarf
Utah Heart x (Mission Mountain Morning x Sweet Cherriette)

There is one crossed tomato on Mr. Stripey and one crossed tomato on Hoosier Rose. Very green but if frost holds off long enough they may just make it.

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