Dwarf tomato verdit
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
As I shared this summer in my Dwarf tomato grow list post, I started with a packet of "free with purchase" seeds and ended up tumbling down a dwarf variety rabbit hole.
With seed catalogs now rolling in, here are my thoughts on how those varieties produced, what I liked or didn't like about them, and which I plan to grow again. I've noted a "Verdict," indicating that likelihood.
Overall, growing the dwarf varieties was fun. They were cute and I found a lot of satisfaction in see how things turned out, even though my tests were simple observation and not truly scientific. It was also fun to search out varieties that I thought would suite my taste buds, especially with flavor descriptions that compared them to some of my favorite varieties of wines.
These are related to Snow White cherry tomatoes my second favorite indeterminate cherry tomato. Unlike the other varieties of dwarfs I tried, these are indeterminate and not a micro-dwarf. They've shown more effects of heat than other tomatoes but they've made up for it throughout the season. They've had the second worst growing conditions of the dwarf varieties but have produced on par with my indeterminate plants. The flavor is milder than a Sungold but brighter or more acidic than Snow White. The fruit has consistently been about 1.5 times larger than Snow White as well. They're not too large for a cherry or grape variety in my opinion but I would not be surprised if others disagreed with me. They are large enough that I wouldn't include them in a salad without slicing them in half. I’ll likely grow these instead of Snow White next year because the snow White plants grown extremely tall having overtopped stacked tomato cages and grown half way back to the ground. The Bendigo Moon plants stay shorter and more manageable in my space, topping out around four feet.
The product description identified these to be one of the earliest producers but I didn't find that to be true. However, the plant made up for it in many ways. It produced well and consistently into hot weather. Of all the micro-dwarfs, these were grown the closest to my beefsteak tomatoes, which suffered significant spider mite damage, still these didn't show signs of spider mites until the were mostly done producing. The flavor they offered was very good, being just shy of the flavor burst that Sungold tomatoes are noted for having. The skin is a little thicker without being off-putting. The shape is what sold me. I wasn't looking for a cherry with a distinct shape but these have it, which added interest when plated with other cherry tomatoes. They're shaped like a peach with a distinct point at the bottom.
The packet that started it all. Received as a gift-with-purchase from Totally Tomatoes. These plants were pulled early in the season because I had chosen the wrong spot for them. They simply weren't getting enough light and grew tall but lanky indicating their inadequate conditions. When the other dwarf varieties were setting fruit these were just starting to produce buds. Our extreme Oklahoma heat was due any minute which meant that despite finally producing buds, they were unlikely to produce fruit. If space allows next year, I'll try this one for the sake of giving it a second shot.
Verdict: maybe (because it didn't get a fair chance this time)
These share a lot of similarities with Sungolds, one of the most popular indeterminate hybrid cherry tomatoes grown in home gardens. The taste was similar, as was the color and size. They produced well and stayed under 12" tall but were the first of the dwarf varieties I grew to show spider mite damage. They were far away from the beefsteak plants, which were the very first to have spider mites so I was surprised that these were affected next. In contrast, my Sungold plants grew right beside the beefsteak plants and never showed significant effects of spider mite damage. I would have to grow a dozen or more of this micro-dwarf to keep up with the production of a single Sungold, so unless I absolutely couldn't find a spot for a Sungold, I wouldn't rely on these as a replacement.
Verdict: probably not
I chose this one because of its reviewer's experience that it produced better in the heat than other dwarf varieties. This one was one of the last dwarf varieties to produce for me with just a few fruit ripening before the heat and consequent blossom drop. The flavor was good but not particularly noteworthy.
If you're considering some of the varieties on this list, here are a few things to note about my growing conditions.
Average last frost date: April 1-15
Actual last frost 2019 (not freeze): April 14 with a chance on April 19
First day above 90 degrees: June 21; highs stayed consistently above 90 starting June 28
First day above 100 degrees: July 21
Precipitation: Flooding rains March-May with above average rainfall in early June, by July we'd swung into what the weather service called a "flash drought"
Planting location: Containers