7 November 2020

The Dwarf Tomato Project propagates seedlings for sale at Tulgeen's Riverside Nursery

| Alex Rea
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Tulgeen Supported Employees Paige, Reese, Garnet and Craig.

Tulgeen Supported Employees Paige and Reese with Garnet and Craig. Photo: Supplied.

Melbourne Cup Day has passed and it’s time to get those tomato seedlings in for summer. Have you thought about going for a dwarf variety?

Tulgeen’s Riverside Nursery in Bega is a Tulgeen Social Enterprise, employing people with disability in paid, meaningful employment and providing training opportunities.

This crew of support workers and supported employees is responsible for Riverside Nursery’s participation in the international Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) and is part of The Dwarf Tomato Project.

The Dwarf Tomato Project grew out of a comment made in an internet forum about tomatoes. US based author of Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time, Craig LeHoullier, lamented the fact the dwarf category in tomatoes was very restricted. He suggested crossing dwarf varieties with heirlooms to remedy that situation.

Bega Valley resident Patrina thought this sounded like a fun thing to do and successfully went ahead to cross some dwarfs with heirloom varieties. She generously provided Tulgeen’s Riverside Nursery with seeds.

Multiple varieties of tomatoes.

So many varieties of tomatoes from Craig LeHoullier’s book, Epic Tomatoes. Photo: Supplied.

Tulgeen Supported Employees Paige and Reese, with the support of Garnet and Craig, have propagated the seeds, pricked them out and grown them ready for gardens.

Some of the benefits of dwarf tomatoes include them being sturdy, attractive and productive. Here are some more facts about them:

  • Plants vary in height from 60cm-140cm (two feet to 4.5 feet) depending on which variety is selected.
  • Dark and dense crinkly (rugose) foliage with a thick central stem.
  • They are tomatoes of all sizes and shapes, including some large fruits up to around 500 grams (18 ounces).
  • They come in a broad range of flavours: sweet, tangy, fruity and even a hint of saltiness – something to please everyone.
  • Fruit colours include green-when-ripe, bi-colours, stripes, blacks (purple or brown), pink, red, yellow, orange and white/ivory.
  • They are easy to grow in pots, on balconies or wherever space is limited.

“We are so lucky to have Patrina, one of the founders of the project, in our region,” said Tulgeen’s Riverside Nursery precinct coordinator Kelly Lancsar. “Patrina has supplied us with the seeds to participate in this great initiative and has been a tremendous support.”

Dwarf tomato seedlings are available for sale at Tulgeen’s Riverside Nursery for $3 each, or four for $10.

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Ken Liddelow10:32 pm 12 Dec 20

Iwould like to grow purple dwarf tomato

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