Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I have created many kinds of tomatoes, but potato breeding touches the deepest part of my soul and it is the most satisfying. Why would I refer to the soul? Definitions abound:
The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state
Why would a potato breeder combine material and immaterial entities? Plant breeding has been a calling for me, however, I have no congregation outside the readership of this blog. I do not expect people to understand me, hardly in the slightest, but to do what I do means a singular ambition, answerable to no one, but my activities still beg for an audience.
In my attempt to create new types of potatoes, I stumble upon crosses that I make that stir my imagination in many ways. When I dug my variety that I call NAVAMEY, I was impressed with the vine and the natural production of many potato berries that are likely selfed with an occasional out cross. The potato vine is a breeder’s dream, a round russet with yellow flesh with just the right size plant, maturity, and yield.
Looking at the cross extracted today between NAVAMEY and LUMPER, I was struck by the memory of the pedigree background coming full circle; namely the Irish connection. Since the weather here in the PNW is much like where my grandfather Joe Kaighin lived until he was 21 near the Irish Sea on the Isle of Man, I was hoping to get some more germplasm that would complement my endeavor of keeping his potato growing spirit alive.
The LUMPER did very well this year in one or more patches; good yields and good flavors. Since I am the only one doing breeding work with this two hundred year old potato variety, the progeny of my breeding work may some day be released to the public.
The LUMPER is uniquely suited to organic production and does well in a broad range of soil types. Breeding away from its Irish Famine history of Late Blight susceptibility, I hope I can re-acquaint people with better selections of this heritage potato!
I make painstaking trouble to record my breeding work. As follows is a breakdown of the pedigree.
F-1 of NAVAMEY X LUMPER
WASHINGTON 2008 TPS only
Pedigree: S 62-47-1 x MARIS PIPER
Great Brittain 1987
Exp. # L 2651/2088
NORTHERN IRELAND PLANT BREEDING STATION
Pedigree USDA B 6987-145 x USDA B 7805-1
Exp. # USDA B 9922-11
Pedigree BLACK HILLS GOLD X PLACER GOLD
CALIFORNIA 1995 (TATER MATER SEEDS)
Pedigree AMEY X GOLD PAN
California 1999 (TATER MATER SEEDS)
Pedigree NAVAN X GOLDEN AMEY
WASHINGTON 2006 (TATER MATER SEEDS)
Scotland to Munster (SW Ireland) 1810 or before
Tom Wagner aka Tater Mater
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
I have a picture of this variety of mine posted on the left somewhere. Harvested yesterday.
This clone and many related clones is part of my breeding work and stabilizing new lines thereof. Note the ripe ones! Hard to tell with its clear epidermis and green when ripe traits are factored in.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I cannot recommend more highly for everyone to go buy a copy of Amy's new book.
Amy was kind enough to send out advanced copies of the books to contributors and I suppose I qualified for that. Wow! Does she ever make me look good and my tomato varieties look even better with world class photos by Victor Schrager and Amy's hard work growing these varieties and writing about tomatoes in the most loving way.
The publish date is for tomorrow, August 5, 2008, so you can imagine my thrill in getting a first-hand look at this remarkable book.
As follows is a discussion forum I started at Amazon.com about her book:
Your initial post: Aug 4, 2008 11:31 AM PDT on Amazon.com
Victor Schrager's photo work is just phenomenal as well!
I have much interest in the book since Amy and Victor have captured the art of some of my own creations in tomato breeding. I cannot describe or show pictures better than what Amy Goldman has done in this soon to be classic book on Heirloom Tomatoes.
What are the names of my tomatoes that are cherished varieties and artworks? Simply go to the pages where Green Zebra, Green Sleeves, Banana Legs, Cream Sausage, Brown Flesh, Brown Derby, Schimmeig Stoo, Schimmeig Creg, Chile Verde, Green Grape, Elberta Girl, Lime Green Salad, Casady's Folly and others are presented. Note, too, that many additional varieties have been created by others out of natural crosses and selfing populations of some of my lines.
If you want to know about histories of many heirloom tomatoes and how to use them in recipes; this is your book.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Who would've come up with a name like that?
You'd think that whoever came up with that name was lacking imagination!
I thought Zebras were black and white?
What's with the green name with a Zebra?
A Zebra that ain't been broke yet?
How much is a "broke" Green Zebra worth?
Nothing! He's broke!
Then how much is a Green Zebra worth?
About 4.95 per lb.
What's black and white and red all over?
Answer: Outside of a newspaper it could be a Red Zebra.
Maybe a Green Zebra is a newspaper published by the Greenies?
Didn't I see mention of a Black Zebra?
Yeah, redundantly oxymoronic, isn't it?
BTW, what colors are the stripes on a Black Zebra?
If you said black on black, you'd be wrong.
Go to Trader Joe's and look for one in the produce isle.
Oh, wait a minute, did someone say tomato?
What's with this guy who developed such a tomato?
Didn't he like regular red tomatoes?
Tomatoes are supposed to be red, period, end of story!
When do you know when it is ripe?
What do you call a Green Zebra when it is not ripe?
A green Green Zebra?
So let me get this straight.
A green Green Zebra is still green when it is ripe.
So it must mean that when a green Green Zebra turns ripe it becomes an Amber Green Zebra?
If I look at a color chart for amber, I find these color shades for amber. Hat tip to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_(color)
Keep your hexes for your exes!!!!
Illustrate your thoughts if somebody says to pick Green Zebra when the fruits turn Macaroni and Cheese; or Atomic Tangerine!
You'd have to pick up your thoughts off the ground, brush off the dirt and start over!
Oh, somebody nudged me and said the reason a ripe Green Zebra looks amber (*#@%), pun intended, is that the epidermis of a Green Zebra has a yellow (say amber) skin if you would peel the fruit.
I get it!
The flesh color of green coming through the yellow epidermis looks amber.
Wait a gosh darned minute!
What color is the epidermis when the fruit is not ripe.
What? It just magically turns the epidermis yeller when the fruit is ripening.
Somebody needs to go talk with the breeder of the Green Zebra and find out what he or she thinks.
I hope growers of Green Zebra tomatoes aren't color blind.
On top of that try picking for amber Green Zebras in the shadier areas.
That is like looking for a shadow in total darkness!
Of course, it would help it the durn grower was totally blind!
Then the grower would have to grope the tomatoes to feel for a bit of "give" or maybe use the old olfactory nose,
or "Yikes" take a bite!
Yes, the breeder said a bite of Green Zebra when it is time is like a bite of heaven - tangy to the point of getting a kick from the old Zebra.
Conversely a bite of Green Zebra before or after its time is __________.
Wait another fool second!
You mean to tell me that large growers would be better off if they would hire the blind to pick Green Zebra?
Hire the handicapped!
Just imagine a crew of blind men, just a feelin' up the tomatoes and selecting the sweet tangy ones just by feel.
Yes, they would do a far better job than the idiot pickers they normally have and have a smile on their faces to boot.
What would say to a contract labor group picking Green Zebra?
Anything but English!
Pechan por favor sólo los maduros.
Las frutas del tomate que dan un poco cuando usted los aprieta.
Los tomates son todavía verdes cuándo maduro.
Los unos de rasgones miran un poco ámbar.
I love the response:
But..but..don't go away, you say.
What height do the pickers have to be to pick Green Zebras?
If you have indeterminant vines on your Green Zebras, do you need the basketball team out there to pick?
If the plants are determinants, go hire kids out of the primary grades.
You say why not teenagers?
You ever try to get a teenager to do anything?
But stop right there! I heard from the breeder of Green Zebra that the vine can be rather (Facultative): rather capable of adapting to different conditions. BTW, the opposite of facultative is obligate.
So as a grower of Green Zebra for the first time, it is your obligation to dictate how to grow!
However, don't let the neighbors see you talking (obligating) down to your Zebras. They think tomato hobbyists are nuts as it is.
I hear from the tomato vine that the breeder of Green Zebra has a new kind of Green Zebra tomato. It has a clear epidermis making it almost impossible to tell when the fruit is ripe. The breeder says it is so hard to know when to pick that going out at midnight is the best way to pick.
Mr. Whipple would be so proud. Charmin' story that, eh?
Going back to how tall the Green Zebra get.
Have you grown that other green when ripe with green striped tomato called Green Sausage or Greensleeves?
How tall do you have to be to pick them, you ask?
Most married people I know have spouses.
Before picking these Greensleeves, go talk to your spouse about how fat they look; get belittled or otherwise cut down to size and go pick!
The plant isn't called Greensleeves for nothing as you have to be down on your knees and sleeves just to pick!
After you pick the tomatoes, go back inside and tell the spouse,
"Look, Honey!" "Green Sleeves!" and get cut down to size even more by being told to do your own laundry from now on.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Send an email to me at email@example.com if you feel there is a subject I should cover on my blog. I will try to add photos as time allows. Meanwhile go to my forum at http://tatermater.proboards107.com/index.cgi and either login or register.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
“Heirloom by Descent”
By Tom Wagner
February 07, 2008
As a plant breeder, I live in a microcosm of the greater macrocosm of the world of seed savers. My insular habits are largely self-imposed as a plant breeder; thereby I rarely look up to see the larger picture. What I see, ever so vaguely, is that my tiny private world has impacted folks who see the big picture. Perhaps by sharing an element of my private work and my obscure philosophy, the reader can place a piece of the seed puzzle together to gain a better image of the entire seed saving movement.
Prior to 1996 I was bringing along strains that were segregating for Pink Brandywine traits, Elberta Girl types, etc., with the idea of finding an idealized prototype perfection of several varieties into one or more unique cultivars or “would be” varieties.
My selection of Pink Brandywine was directly from the Stokes seed catalog of the late 80's. It would be nice to know what "strain" Stokes had during that time. It was a classic potato leaf, large beefsteak, and pink-fruited tomato with many locules. All of the crossing work was done by 1990. All of the filial generations since have been inventoried and I have a myriad of selections that I am still going through.
As it is with anyone doing breeding work, the recoms (short for recombinations) is where the real work, the real numbers, the real art, the reality of expectations occur.
Q. Why (Pink) Brandywine?
A. The Premise for Use.
Q. But Tom, how many of those traits can be kept in a new variety?
A. All, or most, of those traits can be part of a new variety, and that is where hard work, science, and art prevail. I want all or none. Is it possible?
Q. OK, Let’s start with the name Brandywine. How do you keep that name and still have a distinct variety?
A. I did that by dropping the wine part off and calling a strain Brandy Stripe. A person could also drop the Brandy and use the wine part of a new name as well.
Q. But isn’t Brandywine an Heirloom? How can you claim any credibility by naming one of your varieties an Heirloom? Haven’t you been marginalized by “Heirloom Purists” who demand that your varieties not be called “Heirloom” but “Created Heirlooms?”
A. Of course, those are valid concerns. I did not intend on the onset of my breeding work to demand that my many created varieties be called Heirloom, Heritage, Treasured, or any other esoteric term. I preferred the term specialties, or just “New Varieties” or until a better nomenclature could evolve. I don’t mean to sound like I’ve been maligned, but the reality is malicious by default through good intentions; whereas folks make statements that undervalue my reputation as a plant breeder by strongly suggesting that none of my varieties are “Heirlooms.” Varieties of my creation, such as Green Zebra, are so ubiquitous with heirlooms that to make published statements otherwise is akin to being quasi-slanderous, (for want of a better Latin term). Why would the Seed Savers Exchange carry many of my varieties and/or varieties developed through accidental crosses of my lines, among their heirloom collections and offered in their catalog if they weren’t heirlooms, so to speak?
Q. Do you have a better word than “Heirloom” for your creations?
A. Yeah! I am for the first time ever, proposing the term, “Heirloom by Descent” to alleviate the mincing of words. Many rather heated arguments are generated trying to define heirloom. I want to trademark the new phrase. Help me if you know how. Go Google it!
Your search - "Heirloom by Descent" - did not match any documents.
- Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
- Try different keywords.
- Try more general keywords.
- TRADEMARK IT TOM!
- USE IT TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT TO LINK TO YOUR WORK
- LINK THE PHRASE WITH TaterMaterSeeds.com
There, I’ve said it! If people want to single me out for being disingenuous with the pride of being an heirloom breeder; then at least honor me with my term for some accuracy within the media. I have very accurately controlled pedigree crosses and filial descent progenies. I am not a proponent of listing “Newly Found Heirlooms” through some measure of illegitimate pollen flow. That shows little or no concern for conscientious breeders like myself who attempt to introduce new “Heirloom” quality varieties. If I wanted to be a tad more facetious I would use terms like, “Filially Descendant Heritable Heirloom.”
Q. You digress like this often?
A. You think this is digression? This is more focused than I usually write. I am the guy who comes to the fork in the road and calls Yogi Berra for more directions. You know the quote, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Q. But back to the traits of Brandywine. Why keep the potato leaf of this variety in your new creation?
A. Why not? As I said, I am trying to keep every trait of Brandywine intact but add a few new traits to make it like an add-on rather than a take-away.
Q. How do you know that you’ve kept the large fruiting habit of Brandywine?
A. None of the other varieties used in the original breeding have big fruit. It is very easy to segregate for the different sizes. So I’ve kept that trait and whatever else is genetically linked to that.
Q. But that claim to your keeping within the parameters of perceived flavor (your words), are you sure you are selecting for the Brandywine flavor?
A. Oh, I am pretty sure I have kept a big part of the Brandywine flavor and mystique. The other clones crossed with Brandywine had flavors only a mother would like. So it was easy forgetting Mom in this case. Again, I am sorry. It was Dad who didn’t have taste! Dad married up on this occasion.
Q. Tenderness is always considered classic in Heirlooms. How do you know if you’ve kept the Brandywine tenderness?
A. Easy response again. Dad (the other varieties) was like a hard ball thrown by Nolan Ryan's 101.9 MPH fastball back in ’74. I like baseball as much as the other fella, but I sure don’t want to eat a baseball. The answer in breeding tomatoes is to throw a lot of tomatoes at the barn door. In fact, Jackson Pollock, held no candle to my barn painting impressionism.
Q. OK, Mr. Expert in “Heirloom by Descent” breeding. What kind of tomato did you come up with?
A. I called this one group of seedlings Brandy Stripe. It had the potato leaf from Brandywine; the stripes and woolly foliage from Elberta Girl, but large fruit like Brandywine; tenderness of the Brandywine, pink and yellow stripes instead of red and yellow stripes like Elberta Girl. Good flavor instead of the uber-awful of Elberta Girl; none of the small oblate fruits of yet other varieties. In other words, all Brandywine with a bunch of add-ons.
The seed I sent to Holland in 1996 was from a true breeding line that I maintained as a heterozygous woolly/non woolly line. Each year I would save only the seed on the one with the moderate woolly fuzz and not from the super woolly segregates or the smooth leaf type. However, the selection in Holland that went into seed saving for a few years was the non-woolly type. From 1998 on, that sub strain was called Vintage Wine. The company over there disregarded my moniker of Brandy Stripe and went with a new name that kept the Wine part of Brandywine but inserted the heritage sounding name “Vintage” morphing into Vintage Wine.
Actually, I have some great pride that my Brandy Stripe has seen an independent release as the same variety now known as Vintage Wine. It is testament that I am a breeder of some merit, albeit, unrecognized to many and uncompensated. That said, the next generation of crosses and recoms are underway. When I gave a talk at the SSE Convention last July 2007, I mentioned that hybrids could give straight OP heirloom varieties a run for the money. A hybrid made between the Brandywine and Vintage Wine is doing well for me here in Washington State. Either variety may and will be kept into tomato eternity by seed savers. That a hybrid could yield some extra benefits in yield, and less catfacing is reason enough for dedicated breeders as others and myself to remake this hybrid over and over for everyone to enjoy. I think there will be renewed interest in hybrids among seed savers if they know and can obtain both parents in a hybrid, and the term, “Heirloom Hybrid” will be accepted and even embraced by a large public sector.
My current breeding of Brandy Stripe (Vintage Wine) centers on keeping a true breeding woolly cultivar for filial descendancies and hybrids. The woolly gene imparts a certain classy look and even augments some insect protection. The newer varieties I am working on have Brandy Stripe as a distant ancestor in the pedigree.
“Heirloom by Descent” is my way of saying I have a great respect for the varieties of yesteryear, be it tomatoes or potatoes in my case, however I am asking for your understanding, yea, encouragement for taking our heritage to the next level of treasured living things: Seeds of descendancies!
Q. Why don’t you coin the term “Heirloom by Ascent?”
A. Because I don’t have a prayer of a chance of that happening!
Friday, February 01, 2008
Explore a new potato variety adventure in one package!
The mix of 6 varieties at this point in time will be:
The TaterMater Potato Sampler is destined to be my most popular item. Here you'll discover six distinctive and delicious potato varieties with each order Review different colors, tastes, and textures, all postage-free. Displayed in a eight-pound box The TaterMater Potato Sampler comes with information clearly describing each potato Each of the six varieties is available nowhere else but here. Be the among the first customers to support TaterMater’s varieties $40.00 post paid
Lumpers Certified Nuclear generation
Skagit Valley Gold Certified Nuclear generation
Nordic October Certified Nuclear generation
Varieties recently from TPS
October Blue (Blue skin, blue flesh, large tubers high yield0
Thumb Wingers (Red skin, yellow-orange flesh. fingerling, very fast cooking)
Skagit Beet Meet (Red skin, very red flesh)
Call me, or email me for orders
cell 425 894-1123
If there is any other combination of varieties needed, email me. Thousands of newly named potatoes are available upon request. European type, South American type, etc.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Case in point is the "Green 'n Gold" tomato variety that originated out of my Dwarf Green Flesh Mix. I probably had a name for this one but Ken gave it his name. That is fine with me. I ran across the name Green 'n Gold before but didn't think that it was one of my creations. After talking with Ken, I went to his website this blurb:
The green (inside) and gold (outside) is, I suspect, a sister line of Green Zebra, produced from a mixture of dwarf green fleshed tomatoes that I obtained from Tater Mater Seeds many years ago. I called it "Green 'n Gold" when USDA strongly suggested that I place the names of every cultivar that I included in the packet of my "Dwarf Campion Tomato Blend" (as well as every other seed blend that I marketed).
No, Ken, it is not a sister line of Green Zebra, but is more closely related to a tomato called Lime Green Salad that I sent to Tim Peters of Peters Seed Research in Oregon. I may not even have the Green 'n Gold in my collection as viable seed anymore, so my hat is off to Ken more maintaining it.
Ken goes on with praise for my tomato breeding at his website. Please visit his website at the Long Island Seed Project to read more stories like below:
Tom Wagner has to be one of the most noteworthy of tomato collectors and prolific hybridizers of all time. His Tater Mater Seed Company in the early 1980's made these really neat breeding lines of tomatoes and potatoes available to gardeners looking to share in some of the excitement of his breeding experiments. He collected some very unusual material and made available some exciting crosses. I wasn't very interested in experimenting with potatoes but the tomatoes were, I guess, mind expanding. The results were F1 and subsequent generations of hollow tomatoes, waxy tomatoes, green tomatoes, striped tomatoes, brown fleshed tomatoes, etc.
Thanks Ken for sharing this story,
Sunday, January 27, 2008
My talk was entitled, The History, Present Activities and Future Plans of an Heirloom Plant Breeder.
I have a copy of the SSE 2007 Harvest Edition. I am including my remarks here.
Introduction by Kent Whealy --Our next speaker this afternoon is Tom Wagner. Tom has been breeding plants, mostly tomatoes and potatoes, for 54 years. He is the founder of Tater-Mater Seeds, and he's introduced some of the most beautiful tomato varieties that I've every seen in my life-Green Zebra, Schimmeig Stoo, Schimmeig Creg, Banana Legs, -a lot of them just knocked our eyes out when we fist saw them. I have to tell a story. This is our 27th "Annual Convention." (We used to call it the "Campout," but then we realized that people mistakenly thought that if they came, they had to camp, and some flolks weren't coming because of that.) Anyhow, when we first started having these gatherings, my family was living down in Missouri. Probably about our third Campout, Tom came down in a pickup for Kansas City, I think, and had thse breeding schemes for his tomatoes, laid out generation by generation. It was certainly way over my head. But then we started growing some of Tom's material, and it was just out of this world. i think that Tom has done more for the real beauty of today's tomato varieties than anyone could ever possibly imagine. So it's with a great deal fo pleasure that i introduce Tom Wagner.
Thank you very much. "Who's your daddy?" That's what people ask about the Green Zebra all the time. I bred that up when I was a kid back in the Fifties. I was getting seeds from Gleckler's, and I got the Evergreen and thought it was a crazy-looking tomato. It was late-maturing, and I didn't know when it was ripe. When is a green tomato ripe? It was cracking, and by the time I picked it I had to almost carry it in both hands to get in the house before it would either crack more or fall apart in my hands. I thought it was the perfect tomato for throwing at people-they would be all green and nobody would know what hit them.
Anyway, Evergreen cracked. So I went down to Atchison, Kansas, because there was a fellow there growing some old tomatoes that he siad wee the best he had and they didn't crack.. I thought, " I'm going to make my Green Zebra a non-cracking tomato."
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Everything is happening so fast with the new forum and this blog. I will entertain many ideas what to place into my blog from emails and from the Tater Mater Forum.
Friday, January 25, 2008
My website will hopefully be up soon at TaterMaterSeeds.com
cell phone 425 894-1123