My garden, my pride!

Dwarf Tomatoes - What's Good And How To Grow Them?

, Admin

Last season I tried an interesting series of tomatoes called "Gnome".  Contrary to my expectations, "dwarf" turned out not so dwarf. However, the appearance and taste that distinguishes all representatives of this series, did not leave anyone indifferent who managed to taste them. About the features of tomatoes of the series "Gnome" I will tell in this article.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Gnome tomatoes - what are good and how to grow?

History of Dwarf Tomatoes

In 2006, an international project called the Dwarf Tomato Project was established. The organization was created in response to requests from amateur vegetable growers who wanted to grow tomatoes in small spaces, those who wanted to make the most of a small garden, terrace, patio or balcony to grow tomatoes.

The project was organized by amateur vegetable enthusiast, writer and educator Craig LeHoulier of North Carolina (USA) and Patrina Nuske Small of Australia. Craig gathered volunteers from the U.S. and Canada, and Patrina gathered volunteers from Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. As a result, they launched the project in all hemispheres, covering two growing seasons in one calendar year (cutting in half the time to develop and test a new tomato variety).

A total of 260 people from 14 countries and 45 US states participated in this project. The enthusiastic breeders crossed dwarf varieties with indetes, as well as hybrids with varietal specimens.

The requirements for the dwarf tomatoes the project worked on were as follows:

  • heights from 40 to 140 cm;
  • strong thick stem;
  • fruits of all possible sizes, colors and shapes;
  • flavor from sweet to tart;
  • minimal bush formation requirements;
  • bush ability to grow to limited size;
  • tomatoes that can be grown in containers or on straw bale beds.

As a result of the project's work, 67 dwarf tomato varieties have been obtained to date. The work of the breeders continues.

Main features of dwarf tomatoes

Main features of tomatoes from the "Dwarf" line:

  • attractive, yielding, up to 140 cm high depending on variety;
  • all cultivars are varieties, not hybrids;
  • dark, dense wrinkled foliage, thick central stem;
  • fruits are all sizes and shapes, including large fruits weighing up to 500 g;
  • a wide selection of flavor shades: sweet, spicy, fruity, salty -any taste,
  • fruit colors include: red, green (mature), bicolor, striped, black (purple or brown), pink, yellow, orange, ivory,
  • gnomes are easily grown in pots, on balconies or other places with limited space.

Even though the project is only 15 years old, the Gnome tomato type has been around for a century, since the first such variety, the New Big Dwarf and its descendants.

Read also our article Varieties and hybrids of low-growing tomatoes, or Tomatoes for the lazy.

The "Dwarf" tomato varieties I grew

Tomato "Dwarf DSA" (DSA)

Tomato "Dwarf DSA" (Dwarf  DSA) is a new variety 1.2 m high, medium maturity, compact. Fruits are rounded, very beautiful bicolor color - light orange with crimson stripes. Weight of the fruit up to 200 g. The flesh is yellow with a red center, juicy, very sweet taste. Average height. Weight of fruit up to 200 g.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf DSA" (Dwarf DSA).
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Dwarf DSA tomato in cross-section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions.One of the most beautiful tomatoes I have grown, it combines taste and beauty perfectly. It was interesting to see that the fruits are bicolor not only on the outside, but also on the inside.

Tomato "Dwarf Uluru Ochre"

Tomato "Dwarf Uluru Ochre" (Dwarf  Uluru Ochre) is a medium-mature variety with unusual orange-green fruits of shades of ocher. It was named after a giant monolithic rock located in central Australia. The fruits are medium to large, flattened, 200-450g. Very juicy and tender, with a delightful sweet taste and pleasant aroma. The flesh is orange with a green tint. Have strong stems, wrinkled foliage and reach about 1.2 m in height.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato 'Dwarf Uluru Ochre' (Dwarf Uluru Ochre). © Ludmila Svetlitskaya
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Uluru Ochre" in section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions. Amazing tomatoes, which outwardly very easy to confuse with persimmon. This tomato variety has a really rare and beautiful color. The fruits are dense, fleshy and very sweet. It is pleasant not only to look at them, but also to eat them.

Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Giant"

Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Giant" (Giant Dwarf Rosella Tomato) has red-pink, fleshy and sugar fruits. The taste is rich, with a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. Fruits are quite large, weighing up to 300 g. The bush is low 40-60 cm. The variety was bred in Australia. The ripening period is medium-early.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Giant Dwarf Rosella Tomato. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Giant Dwarf Rosella Tomato in section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions. The largest of all tomatoes "Dwarf" I grew last season. Most of the fruits weighed 300 g. The taste is sweet and harmonious.

Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Purple"

Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Purple" (Dwarf Rosella Purple) on the term of maturity medium (65 days from planting in the ground). Fruits flattened, medium-sized, up to 200 g. At maturity they become dark pinkish-purple in color. The taste is intense, sweet with a touch of acidity and a little salinity. Fruiting variety. Shrub height up to 80 cm. The flesh is juicy and fleshy.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Purple" (Dwarf Rosella Purple). © Ludmila Svetlitskaya
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Rosella Purple" in section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions. Beautiful appetizing fruits of rich raspberry color with a darkened top. The flesh is very fleshy. Really tasty and yielding tomatoes.

Tomato "Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown"

Tomato "Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown" (Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown) produces numerous small red-brown rounded fruits. They taste spicy with a sweet fruity note, really tasty. This variety is part of Kangaroo Paw, a line of red, brown, green, and yellow varieties. Plants with sturdy stems, have healthy wrinkled foliage. By the end of the season reach a height of one meter.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown" (Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown). © Ludmila Svetlitskaya
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Kangaroo Paw Brown" in section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions. The sweetest and tastiest variety from the series "Dwarf". Fruits are small in size and can be equated to cocktail. The taste is fruity, very reminiscent of fruit cherries, but the fruits are much larger than cherries and are gathered in few clusters. The tomatoes are bright and showy in appearance, and also have a very expressive peduncle, like the tomatoes in the picture.

Tomato Dwarf Shadow Boxing

Tomato Dwarf Shadow Boxing (Dwarf Shadow Boxing) is a medium maturing, very productive variety. The plant height of 40-60 cm. The fruits are very original - elongated (7-9 cm), the main color is crimson-red. At the same time, the fruits are mottled with broad yellow stripes, the top - a rich purplish-black spot (on the sunny side). The tomatoes are of dense consistency, fleshy with little juice, weighing up to 100-120 g. The variety is highly resistant to fungal diseases.

Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Shadow Boxing" (Dwarf Shadow Boxing). © Ludmila Svetlitskaya
Dwarf tomatoes - what's good and how to grow them?
Tomato "Dwarf Shadow Boxing" in section. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

My impressions. In my experience, this is one of the most unsuccessful varieties of the series "Gnome". Externally, the tomatoes were certainly very pretty. Individual fruits on the sunny side turned out to be almost completely black. Also, this dwarf had dark purple foliage with beautiful ruggedness. But one of the main disadvantages of the variety was the strong shattering. If you accidentally hit the bush as you walk by, the unripe fruit starts to fall off it. When put to ripen, they were very unexpressive taste. But even those that were fully ripe on the bush were tough, with a sour and slightly spicy taste without sweetness.

Read also our article How to grow a crop of really sweet tomatoes?

Peculiarities of growing dwarf tomatoes

The fact that dwarf tomatoes are not united in one series for nothing, was evident even at the seedling age. Dwarf seedlings grew slower than other varieties, did not stretch, were sturdy and stocky with thick stems. Their leaves were wrinkled, unusually broad in shape, and many had potato-type leaves. Because of this appearance of seedlings and the name of the line I was sure that "dwarfs" will grow really small and not require garter. They did not.

After planting in the ground they very vigorously started to grow and many bushes fell down, requiring tying. The average height of the bushes was one meter. But they did not need to be potted and grew compactly, without forming shapeless "sprouts."

The bushes retained their attractiveness throughout the season thanks to the very original dark green wrinkled foliage and compactness. This season dwarf tomatoes were not sickened by anything. I also want to note that dwarfs were the only ones who have not formed ugly green shoulders (out of 50 varieties planted this year).

The only disadvantage of dwarfs for me was that almost all of them easily detach from the peduncle, even not ripe, making it not always easy to distinguish the ripe fruit (and variety "fight with the shadow" even crumbles at the slightest wind).

Taste almost all dwarfs really pleased us, and we used for salads practically only them, and the other varieties went for processing. Last season, very many gardeners complained that the taste of tomatoes was not rich, but it did not apply to tomatoes gnomes. They had a really deep and rich sweet flavor with a little saltiness. Salads with them could be unsalted. I also like their characteristic flattened shape, which makes them resemble tiny pumpkins.

Although gnomes refer to medium-ripening, most fruits ripened closer to the middle of August. This is due to the fact that at seedling age they take quite a long time to develop. So next season I plan to sow them a little earlier than others, especially since they do not stretch out and take up little space on the windowsill.