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Tomatoes | New World Seeds & Tubers

The picture at the left show Taryn Koerker at a public tomato-tasting event she organized, hosted at the local Junction True Value Hardware store. The event featured many of Tom’s tomatoes. The two qualities that seemed to interest tasters the most were color and sweetness.

I’m about to disable the seed shop for the season because the site is desperately in need of maintenance. For one thing, the shopping cart software is barely functional and needs to be replaced. For another, as many of you have noticed, and commented, our seed stocks are very low. Right now I am busy cleaning tomato seeds to restock it with.

Thank you for your patronage. We’ll be back early next year, hopefully no later than January. I’ll send an announcement when we’re back. If you’ve “liked” our page on Facebook, you might get minor announcements from time to time, if the news filters decide to forward them to you. We have no control over that, but I think you might have some control via your own settings. I’ll look into that later and send a Facebook announcement if I figure out what the setting is.

If you have an outstanding order with us, it’s still in the queue to be processed. Thank you for your patience.

If you don’t hear from us before next year, we hope you had a great harvest, and enjoy upcoming holidays with those dear to your hearts. Warm regards from Tom and Rob.


Mashua harvested 11-13-2011

We’ve got a few a few late-breaking items listed including a couple of exotic Andean tubers, 5 new potato listings, and 9 new tomato listings. We realize that it’s late for tomatoes for most of you, but we’re glad to get them listed at all after we almost weren’t able to get anything listed at all this year.

We can ship tubers only to US destinations. Seeds worldwide to most destinations.



I know, I know….I am lax on posting pictures.  The Verde Claro is one of my favorite tomatoes…and I have lots of varieties.  As our website sells out of certain varieties, I need to list and release new ones to replace those that cannot be ordered due to lack of seed.

This is from my breeding work during the early 1990′s to make improvements on the Green Grape tomato which was first released in 1983…Tater Mater Seed catalog.  Verde Claro …meaning clear green….. has a clear epidermis unlike the Green Grape tomato which has a yellow epidermis.  VC is also sweeter than Green Grape.  It gets sweeter as you leave it on the vine….once it bursts…it doesn’t get any sweeter.  If your fingers don’t get as sticky as a bear robbing a bee don’t have VERDE CLARO!

Large indeterminate vines with green flesh cherry tomatoes with a slight grape shape.  Again, the epidermis is clear therefore it won’t have that amber/green look when ripe.  Besides the sweetness it has a rather subtle but strong tomato flavor…hard to describe!  Toying around with near seedless versions of VERDE CLARO was frankly…a misguided adventure….how do you sell seed if there aren’t enough to sell?  This clone has enough seed so that you and anyone else down the pike can grow them out and save seed.

To get the best flavor grow VERDE CLARO in a warm environment…and please grow them organically.  Better yet….don’t over-water….try to keep the subsoil moist, but avoid watering directly if you can.  Here in Washington….the flavor was superb in a greenhouse setting on river bottom ground where the greenhouse was never watered all season outside of transplanting the seedlings.  The hotter clime in the greenhouse…compared to the cool weather outside…captivated my friends upon sampling the fruits.

Note, this seed may not show up directly until Rob updates the listing.


There are number of somewhat unrelated tomatoes here. If the issue were just quality, go ahead and buy lousy tomatoes if that’s what you want. Just don’t buy tomatoes raised by slaves. If it comes to that, grow your own.

Tears are coming down as I type this, because it’s reminding me of the child-slavery used to make handmade oriental rugs. Remember Iqbal Masih. Shot in the back at the age of 13.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace.

Barry Estebrook via CNN Report: How the modern day tomato came to be

There are two factors at work here. The first is that the tomatoes are picked when they’re immature and no matter what you do, an immature tomato will never get any taste; though it might look alluring.

The second problem with industrial tomatoes is that for the last fifty years, they’ve been bred for one thing only, and that’s yield. One farmer told me, “I get paid per pound. I don’t get paid a cent for taste.” Sadly, he was right.

This is true of many foods and especially fruits. Some fruits are not available commercially at all because they don’t ship well. This has always been true to some degree but it’s exacerbated by globalization and global monoculture. Local products got to the table faster.

Production has been pushed over almost all other issues for most crops. I think it’s gotten well past the point of diminishing returns. Tom and I tend to care more about disease-resistance, flavor, color, and overall aesthetics.

The main problem is that tomatoes’ ancestors come from desert areas. They’re adapted to extremely dry, low-humidity areas. That’s why Southern Italy and parts of California are so good for tomatoes; it doesn’t rain all summer. Florida is notoriously humid, which is just perfect conditions for all of the funguses, rusts, blights, insects and pests that destroy tomatoes.

That’s why they have to use 110 different chemicals, fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides to even get a crop. Florida and California grow about the same amount of tomatoes. Florida uses eight times to get the same agricultural product.

I was going to say that it would be an exaggeration to say that tomatoes come from extremely dry desert areas, but then I remembered that is true of SOME wild tomatoes. The domesticated tomato comes from seasonally wet-dry areas, and ironically has little tolerance of severe drought either; I suspect most of the drought-tolerance its ancestors had has been bred out. It’s true that they have little resistance to disease, and that’s partially due to their native climate, and part to the genetic bottlenecks they’ve been through.

Being highly reliant on chemicals is not a peculiarity of tomatoes though; it’s pretty common among many modern crops.

Tom fears the health impact of chemicals and doesn’t use them. His tomatoes live or die on their own; he won’t rescue them with coddling or chemicals. It’s survival of the fittest on our plots.

The next part I find disturbing:

Eatocracy: Who are the workers?

Estabrook: They are primarily people from Southern Mexico, Northern Central America, Guatemala. United Farm Workers estimate that 70 percent of all farm workers in this country, not just tomato pickers, are undocumented immigrants.

Eatocracy: What are their working conditions like?

Estabrook: Slavery is what is happening. There is no way to gloss it. You can’t say “slavery-like.” You can’t say “near-slavery.” “Human trafficking” doesn’t even do it credit. Here are some things that are in court records; it’s all been proven.

People are being bought and sold like chattels. People are locked and shackled in chains at night in order to prevent them from escaping. People are being beaten severely if they’re too tired to work, too sick to work or don’t want to work hard enough. People are beaten even more severely or murdered if they try to escape. They receive little or no pay for their efforts.

That, to me, is slavery. It’s like 1850, not 2011.

I am not sufficiently aware of the situation to know what to believe.

I am aware that some human-trafficking rings were busted recently in some of the sunbelt states including California. It was a racket I am familiar with such as operate in a number of countries. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, are lured in with promises of jobs, then they find themselves effectively trapped.

One scheme involved having agencies charge the dupes large amounts of money for immigration and placement, then making it impossible to pay back the money due to low wages, and keeping the virtual slaves fearful of repatriation to their home countries due to the debt they incurred on their fraudulent contracts.

Eatocracy: How does a worker end up in this situation?

Estabrook: First of all, there have been 1,200 slaves freed in seven separate prosecutions in Florida in the last 15 years. The way that they get into slavery is often a slippery slope.

I talked to one guy who’d just crossed the border and hit the town of Immokalee, Florida. He was homeless and staying at a mission. He was standing outside and a guy pulled up in a pickup truck and said, “Hey, want work? I’ll pay you?” and he named a price that was twice the going rate.”

The man told him, “My mother cooks for the crew, and we’ll just deduct that from your check, and you can even stay on my property; I’ve got some buildings. We’ll just take that from your check.”

This all sounded good, but you know what happens. Even though he picked enough tomatoes to supposedly get out of debt to his boss, he was never told that.

Everything cost money. It even cost him $5 to hose himself off with a backyard hose every day. There was plenty of liquor supplied at a very high price. He was kept enslaved for two and a half years before he broke out.

That sounds like entrapment into debt slavery.

Eatocracy: How did he say he broke free?

Estabrook: This is telltale of the conditions they live under. He and three or four other slaves had been locked for the night in the back of the produce truck that was going to go out in the fields the next day. There was no toilet or running water.

As dawn broke, they noticed that there was a little gap between the rivets. He got on the shoulders of another man and they punched and kicked their way through the roof. He slid down the side of the truck and got a ladder so they rest of them could crawl out and run to safety.

I’ve heard similar stories in other contexts. I don’t know if these stories are true, but unfortunately they sound plausible, and I am aware that modern-day slavery does exist.

I’ve also heard people in the investment banking industry defend slavery in personal conversations. “If it weren’t for the carpet factories / sex-industry / sweat shops they wouldn’t have any means of support at all; they’d be out on the streets starving”.

Then why is any element of coercion necessary? If the impoverished are desperate enough, they’ll work for low wages without needing to be kept prisoner.

Folks, if it’s true that Florida tomato was raised by slaves, don’t buy it. Save your soul and grow your own. Enjoy them as a seasonal crop, and work with the change of seasons not against it.


POMEHANA APPLE….I know….what a strange name for a tomato variety.

Pomehana means warm love in Hawaiian….therefore warm love apple is a good name for the synonym ‘Love Apple’ so comonly used for the tomato.  The history of the name ‘Love Apple’ goes bace to 1578,  supposedly corresponding to Fr. pomme d’amour, Ger. liebesapfel, but we think it goes back to a corruption of . pomo de’Mori or  pome dei Moro, literally meaning. “Moorish apple.”

I don’t have photo of my new variety handy at the moment but I thought I would ‘talk’ about it for I am in the midst of seed extraction of my many created varieties of tomatoes.

The original breeding work of this variety goes back to twenty or more years ago…breeding my Green Grape tomato variety to Pineapple…sometimes known as Hawaiian Pineapple.  The F-2 generation was grown out in a direct seeded bed near Buttonwillow, California in 1994.  Of the hundreds of seedling plants…I selected several for flavor.  Fast forward to my Washington State grow-outs during the last few years….some of them have demanded my attention for color and flavor.  The one I called POMEHANA APPLE is a pink fruited tomato of about 2 inches in diameter with a bicolor interior of orange/yellow with a streak of red….and a die for—aromatic flavor.

POMEHANA APPLE is a play on words, just as it plays with my taste buds.  The two man staff here at New World Seeds & Tubers are under-staffed to say the least….however we invite folks to stay tuned to our website for valuable updates on varieties, and issues of food independence.

Tom Wagner


Just got off the phone with Tom. He mentioned an inquiry from a garden writer who is calling “blue” tomatoes “purple”.

I always thought they were purple. Eggplant purple.

A long time the potato industry decided that purple potatoes were “blue”. I suspect it’s the prevailing prejudice against “purple”.

Purple strikes people as being sort of a gaudy color…something little girls like, then when they become adults they don’t want to admit that deep down, they still like the color purple, which is a secondary color, but instead have to put on this false persona that only likes color fashionably well beyond tertiary like “taupe” and “mauve”, or better yet, colors we don’t have words for so you have to name something of a similar hue like “wheat” and “periwinkle”.

They then think they can cover up the whole sordid purpleness business by covering it up linguistically. It’s not purple, it’s “lavender”.

Talk about denial.

I often wonder how many people who refer to purple as “lavender” have ever seen lavender, which is usually a grey shade of blue.

“Blue” potatoes vary, probably according to the pH of the potato since it’s all the same pigment. Typically they’re purple just like an old-fashioned sweet potato before someone decided sweet potatoes should be orange or yellow not purple. But the purple ones are popular in Asia where they call them “ube”.

I think another issue is a longing for blue–which by the way is a primary color, but lacking particularly many blue receptors in our eyes, it doesn’t strike us as being particularly flashy. People long for blue, so they imagine it where it is not, like in Violets (and potatoes and tomatoes…).

Being the Johnny-come-lately of colors, blue is rare in flowers. Forget-me-nots are one of the few I can think of off the top of my head that are particularly common. Delphiniums can be blue. It seems like Iris should come in blue but they don’t really–though they have many close relations in the southern hemisphere that do. Blue seems commoner in the flora of the southern hemisphere than of the northern.

I come from a part of the world where true blue flowers exist–typically up in the mountains where we have Sapphire blue Gentians and sky-blue Penstemmons. We also have all sorts of exotic imports in our gardens like Cypellas, Meconopsis, Libertias, Dianellas (the flowers are blue; the berries are PURPLE), Pasithea coerulea, and one of my favorites, Tecophilea cyanocrocus, that I could just stare at all day, sighing.

What do you think? Are “blue” tomatoes blue or purple? What about blue potatoes?

…Roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple
I was the seventh out of seven sons
My pappy was a pistol
I’m a son of a gun.
–Roger Miller


This has been a crazy year for me….odd weather and lots of work planting and saving seeds.  Good news on tomato varieties… for some exciting new created varieties out of combining heirloom cultivars.

SOYUZ ELEVEN is a case in point.  This is a fairly stable line that I created out of the cross of Volkov and Black Plum…both Russian varieties.  It was named for the last space mission of Cosmonaut Volkov who died upon re-entry to earth, and the capsule experienced a malfunction and hypoxiation killed Volkov and two other Cosmonauts   back in 1971.

SOYUZ ELEVEN is a near perfect black tomato resembling a smaller version of a Cherokee Purple.  It has the smokiness of a lot of black tomatoes but, “Man….is it ever tangy with a touch of sweetness!” The fruits are about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter with about 5 to 6 locules.  Great production and the flavor was enhanced partly due to absolutely no artificial irrigation growing on a raised bed under a low tunnel.

The seed will be entered into the list of tomato varieties available later on this year. Exclusive variety from New World Seeds & Tubers

Stay tuned for new posts from Tom Wagner….heirlooms from the future to talk about!


One of our customers posted this on Facebook:

Everett man obsessed with better tomatoes and potatoes

Wagner’s name is surprisingly little-known in the broader food-loving community. To those in the know, though, he’s a legend: On one random day’s check, the site where he sells his seeds ( was being browsed by a Dane living in Poland, by an American stockpiling his own end-of-the-world seed bank and by 100-plus others. And at age 65, Wagner hasn’t slowed down. “To me,” he says, “what I’m doing is like a preacher man who gets a calling and serves the Lord.”

I knew about the article but had not seen it; I don’t subscribe to the Seattle Times.

The Zebra’s fame spread in part due to Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, who listed it as one of her favorites. Wagner has other notables, says Goldman, like the elongated, zigzagged Casady’s Folly, or the globe-shaped Green Grape. But he’s never attempted to license them. Wagner doesn’t make a dime from sales of his varieties unless they’re ordered through his own tiny company, and other seed-growers have been able to work with them.

“He’s just been incredibly generous . . . allowing interested gardeners and amateurs to take these and run with them,” Goldman says. “I’m just truly grateful to him for leaving these in the public domain.”

So be sure to buy them from the source, and patronize his (this) website, so that he can afford to keep sharing them! Thanks!


Last weekend Tom and I (Rob) went on a junket to Corvallis, Oregon, and vicinity, to visit some interesting folks. The one pictured above is Jim Myers, godfather (in the nice sense) to the blue tomato.

He modestly told me that it was actually the idea of one of his grad students. Three of them worked on it.

Someone got hold of one of the prototypes and distributed it; somewhere along the line a nondisclosure agreement was probably violated.  It quickly made the rounds in both the USA and Europe, and got into the Seedsavers network.

Unfortunately that makes it hard to recoup their development costs, much less fund future projects.

To help them out, Tom wants to participate in the upcoming release of Oregon State University’s own variety, called “Indigo Rose”. 10% of the proceeds will go back to OSU.

Here’s what it looks like:

It’s about saladette size and type. For those of you not familiar with blue tomatoes, the color is only skin-deep (the interior of this particular variety is tomato-red), and it develops long before the tomato is ripe, which has confused a lot of people who think they’re ready as soon as they turn “blue” (eggplant purple, actually, though it is the same pigment as in blueberries).

Dr. Myers and his students already implemented some ideas for getting them as deeply-colored as possible, and they’ve got more ideas for possible ways to get the color to penetrate the flesh. Tom has been thinking about that too.

Tom would like to help work on the blue tomato project to build some synergy to help accelerate the development of blue tomatoes.

Don’t forget about the Cook’s garden fall planting promotion. Enter code FG1FREE at checkout, and get free shipping on all orders over $25. Offer ends August 2nd, 2011, so hurry.

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