One of my favorite podcasts is The Thomas Jefferson Hour. On April 23, 2018, the program featured three tomato experts: Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes; Pat Brodowski, Head Gardener at Monticello; and Harry J. Klee, Ph.D. from the University of Florida.
A New Line of Heirloom Tomato Hybrids
Klee explained that while everyone loves the taste of homegrown tomatoes, they can be challenging to grow. Therefore, in an effort to make it easier and tastier for home gardeners to grow tomatoes, the Horticultural Science Department at the University of Florida has developed a line of heirloom hybrids: Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, and “W” Hybrid Tomato.
The new lines are a cross between the very best flavored heirloom tomatoes and a hardy, modern parental line. Klee says that these hybrids are just as delicious as their heirloom parents with several times the yield.
How to Get Heirloom Tomato Seeds for Your Vegetable Garden
While seeds for these three new varieties are not yet available commercially, The University of Florida Horticultural Sciences Department is offering them as a gift with a contribution of $10. All the money donated goes back into their new variety development research. In addition, the donation is tax deductible.
Once the heirloom tomato seeds are planted, the University wants to know how they performed. Record your observations. Let them know how they did and what you thought about the taste. I started my seeds indoors and they have been planted outside in the garden for about a week now. So far they’re doing great. I will touch base with Klee in the fall with a report of their success.