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Old March 17, 2008   #1
ronbrew
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Default Are These Older Seed Varieties Really Available

I've been interested in the new section on this site on the older tomatoes and have read through some of the older catalogs posted. I've looked around at different sites that seem to be selling some of these seeds. I have bought from Victory on some of these and trust they are indeed what they say they are. But I've seen some people selling others that I didn't think were available. Some of them are:

Bonny's Best
Dwarf Champion
Matchless (Austin Strain)
New Big Dwarf
Red Fig
Scarlet Topper
Break O Day
Grahams Good Keeper
Mikado

I would be curious to maybe try these sometime but wanted to know if anyone knows if these are really the same tomatoes from the old catalogs, and if they are out there as stated. I've enjoyed all the old varieties I've tried in the past like Livingston's etc, but I bought them on recs from others and a write up that they were propagated from seed banks that had the original seed. The ones I've found above are written up as the old seeds from yesteryear but no mention how they got them. Anyway I wanted to ask more tomato seed historians out there if these are legit. If anyone has tried any of them I'd like to know if they were worth growing. After reading the controversial Black Brandywine post it made me wonder a bit.

Thanks,
Ron
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Old March 17, 2008   #2
carolyn137
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Ron, the assumption is that the varieties you're asking about ARE what they should be if purchased from reputable seed sources. Many of the following I've grown.


Bonny's Best, Bonny Best is fine

Dwarf Champion, also OK

Matchless (Austin Strain), this should be Quarter Century as introduced by Burpee. What was sent to me as Matchless, which I also showed in my book, is definitely Quarter Century. Craig was able to get Matchless out of mixed seed and it's an uninspiring med round red.

New Big Dwarf, is OK

Red Fig, I have a problem with this one b'c it was only IDed from a picture of long ago and there's absolutely no documentation to prove it is Red Fig. I consider it a long necked Red Pear.

Scarlet Topper, don't remember that one unless it's one of the many synonyms for Red Ponderosa, and I didn't Google it to find out.

Break O Day, is fine and one of my faves

Grahams Good Keeper, never heard of it

Mikado, there's a real problem here b'c there are different Mikados out there and not all are for real. Which specific Mikado are you looking for, the large pink?

Hope that helps.
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Old March 17, 2008   #3
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I will add a bit to what Carolyn said:

Scarlet Topper is fine - it is AKA Pritchard's Scarlet Topper, and not all that rare.

I think Victory is the only company selling true Matchless. I kind of like it, but it is very very similar to Favorite and Stone - a medium sized red of pretty good flavor and productivity.

Mikado is indeed a mess....the sample from the USDA was badly crossed, and nothing that I got out of it matches well the catalog description (when I read about Mikado, I picture Brandywine or Stump of the World. The pink potato leaf that I managed to find was unexceptional in all respects, esp. size and flavor).
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Old March 17, 2008   #4
ronbrew
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On the mikado this is the write up
NEW -- RARE MIKADO PINK TOMATO- - - also know as " Turner's Hybrid". I found very little history on this tomato variety. Here is what I found that is commonly said about this tomato : "Mikado: Also known as "Turner's Hybrid" , this variety was developed and released by Henderson in 1889. It is described as a large, smooth pink tomato on a potato leaf foliaged plant. "
This was an open pollinated tomato, so I wouldn't call it a hybrid at all. It did grow on potato leafed foliage and the plant was rather short. I would call it almost a determinate sort, although it did fruit all season, not once and done like a typical determinate vine. It was not really prolific but the fruits were amazingly pretty. They had an almost striped look to them, ( see photo).This pink fruited version of this tomato came mixed in with the very rare pure white " Mikado" or "Shah" that I had traded for. Please look for my rare "Mikado White " this year also. I was sold out the seed, and now can reoffer it again. So that person must have put both Mikado types together in one packet. At any rate this is very pretty , smooth,almost luminescent pink tomato about 6- 8 oz. It had variations on the skin almost like faint stripes. I have a limited quantity of this seed as this is the first time I have grown it out. 10+ of my own fresh organically grown seeds.

On the Matchless I'm wondering if it isn't the same as what was originally offered because the old catalog Craig posted raves about it over and over even calling it better than Brandywine.
http://nctomatoman.topcities.com/See...9_Burpee_6.jpg

On the Scarlet Topper I think was listed as Prichard's Scarlet Topper and it suppose to have a greener top to it. Can't seem to find which company offered this one.

Ron
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Old March 17, 2008   #5
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Ron - That Mikado reference looks like a writeup from Amishland's website. You might consider doing a search on Tomatoville's site for "Amishland." I purchased some seeds from her a few years ago before I joined T'ville and learned more about her operation.

I was disappointed. Lettuce didn't germinate at all, and Silvery Fir Tree was not true to type.

Other sites listing "Shah Mikado" include Underwood Gardens, Gourmet Seeds, and Harvest Moon Seeds. Amishland and all of these sellers seem to have a common reference for this "variety".

Having said that, when I recently made a purchase from Gourmet Seeds, as a lark I also purchased some "Shah Mikado" tomato seeds from them. I plan to grow some out along with some White Potato Leaf seed I acquired from Sand Hill Preservation as a comparison.

If you would like some "Shah Mikado" seeds, please PM me with your address, and I will send you some.

Regards,

Bobby
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Old March 17, 2008   #6
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Beware of Shah Mikado - it is I believe an inaccurate conclusion made from gardening literature.

Shah (not Shah Mikado) is a tomato that was around for only a few years in the late 1800s from one company - Henderson, released as a gold (deep yellow) "sport" from their Mikado. I believe that what we now see as Yellow Brandywine is what Shah would have looked like. What is being sold as Shah is not that historical variety - it is likely White Potato Leaf that was named Shah incorrectly. (just my theory).

And Amishland ...well, I just won't say, but that thread spells things out pretty well.

Burpee raved about Matchless in the old catalogs, just as Livingston raved about Stone. What was different about them way back then was that they were smooth, rather than ridged, and grew quite regular - something that we take for granted today, but was not common back then.

Most old literature I've seen mentions Paragon, Stone, Matchless, Favorite, many other medium sized red fruited smooth varieties of the time as nearly indistinguishable.
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Old March 17, 2008   #7
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Thanks for the feedback on this. Right now I have
Livingston Favorite, Golden Queen, Main Crop Pink (new this year) Ferris Wheel, Stump of the World, Peak of Perfection.

If there are any other older varieties people think worth growing let me know. I think I'll hold off buying any of these because they seem to be either similar to what I have or just OK. Thanks for saving me some money and time. I may try Break O Day since it seemed to be recommended.


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Old March 17, 2008   #8
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Graham's Goodkeeper is a Canuck storage tomato with roots in British Columbia. Not hugely historic but still heritage. Available almost exclusively in BC.

Jennifer
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Old March 17, 2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdntomato View Post
Graham's Goodkeeper is a Canuck storage tomato with roots in British Columbia. Not hugely historic but still heritage. Available almost exclusively in BC.

Jennifer
How's the taste? My Western Washington climate is similar to BC's, and I'm interested if the flavor warrants a growout.

Thanks,

Bobby
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Old March 17, 2008   #10
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If there are any other older varieties people think worth growing let me know. I think I'll hold off buying any of these because they seem to be either similar to what I have or just OK. Thanks for saving me some money and time. I may try Break O Day since it seemed to be recommended.

*****

Ron, there are many many older commercial varieties, b'c that' primarily what you've been talking about, and I've grown lots of them.

Do you have any specific ones in mind?

For starters I'd go with Wins All, which is a selection from Ponderosa by the Henderson Seed Co in the 1920's. I might also include Trophy.

Ron, forget about Shah Mikado, really, and beware of Amishland and please do read that thread about Amishland in the seed sources. You'll hardly believe it. So tell me what eenie meanie greenie is as well as Native American. Those are two legitimate viarieties that she renamed several years ago.

Dave, while it's true that some of the USDA seeds have been mixed, in my experience and Craig's when we were getting a lot of varieties out of the USDA in the early 90's , including some Livingston varieties, most were NOT mixed.

Of course currently, b'c of abuse of the USDA as regards requesting seeds, only those with formal documentation that they're hybridizers, etc., are able to request seeds.

But I think most of the good stuff is already out of the USDA where I'd say that maybe 90% of the accessions are old breeding material anyway and of no current use to anyone.
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Old March 17, 2008   #11
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I've probably grown out at least 100-150 of old types from the USDA - some are pretty interesting, many are quite ordinary - especially to those of us who are wooed by the large, flavorful different colored heirloom varieties that have arisen and become available over the past 30 or so years.

As for catalog scans, I have everything that Victory has linked from my site at my web site, free for the browsing!

http://nctomatoman.topcities.com/SeedCatalogScans.htm
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Old March 18, 2008   #12
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I do not spend much time on forums but this issue was brought to my attention as something that I should address.

This is in response to the request made to Craig by American_Gardener. They posted . . . "Now.. Craig.. you wouldn't by chance have access to those catalog pages listed on Victory seeds that require a subscription would you? They're probably your catalogs anyways."

First, you are referring to www.SaveSeeds.org and not Victory Seeds. There are no subscription areas at VSC.

Secondly, all of the links to the scans that Craig made are openly accessible to view from either his site or SaveSeeds. Any other catalogs mentioned are hosted on the SaveSeeds server and are either owned as part of our physical library or by others as duly noted.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your request. Are you publicly asking if Craig will give you a back door access to the pages that are not public?

Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to build the online library into the resource I had envisioned. Frankly, there was just too little interest from folks.

I should qualify. There tons of people that want free scans but no one wanting to help pony up the time or expense. As now stated on the main page of the site, hopefully in the future I will be able to pull this off.
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Old March 18, 2008   #13
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Great clarification, Mike - thanks.

By the way - with my imminent retirement, I am hoping to find time to scan more catalogs!
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Old March 19, 2008   #14
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Hello Dave,

No need to apologize. I wish that I would have been able to pull off the "SaveSeeds.org" project like I had wanted to. We really have built a pretty amazing historical horticultural library over the years but much of it remains in boxes and we just do not have the resources to get it digitized and available. In the future, if we get to the point of being able to hire workers, then my first block of spare time will be back working on this project. I agree with you that the need is there.

To clarify for you, Victory Seeds is me. SaveSeeds was a pet project of mine separate from VSC. It was planned to be a not-for-profit venture whose purpose was to share information. Unfortunately, with the exception of Craig, David over at New Hope Seeds, and one or two others, that is all who actually shared.

As I said in the previous post, there are tons of folks that love the idea of accessing and using the information, but just not enough who actually stepped up the the plate to support projects like this.

So, as it now says on the main page at SaveSeeds, the project is basically on the shelf for the time being. I just cannot afford expense of the server space and the monthly internet bandwidth that would be required to properly provide this service. Let alone the man hours required to scan, build pages and maintain.

Some day perhaps.

Mike

Last edited by mike; March 19, 2008 at 01:34 AM.
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Old March 19, 2008   #15
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I think perhaps it would be helpful if the front page of SaveSeeds.org stated more clearly exactly what people are donating towards.

If they knew that you already have hundreds (perhaps thousands) of seed catalogs ready to scan, but need donations to pay for the cost of hiring folks to scan them and post them online, you might get a few more coins in the bucket.

Perhaps even moving the website to SeedCatalogs.org ?

Just ideas I am throwing out there, not necessarily good ones.
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