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Tomato Cultivars Profiled

This will be my second year growing tomato plants from the Salt Sping Seeds 2008 Canadian Heritage mix.  For 2009 the mix is similar but they have replaced Canabec Rose and Montreal Tasty with Dufresne and Doucet’s Early Market Quebec.  I sowed the seeds way back on March 22nd and moved them up to six-inch pots on April 19th.  The five plants that are doing well are spending days outside either in the greenhouse or on a table in the backyard getting used to full sun.  I’ll put them into the ground in the garden at the cottage either this weekend (May 16th) or the weekend after.

I was frustrated last year when trying to gather infomation from the internet about these cultivars.  I think because these are all bred-for-Canada seeds they don’t get as much attention from the online databases that devote more space to American cultivars.  As well, cultivar information is usually gardener-sumitted so, obviously the smaller Canadian gardening community produces less information.  The Salt Spring Seeds site is alright but varies widely in how much information it gives and how this information is quantified (fruit size is sometimes “small to medium” other times “4 to 10 oz.”).

How to interpert the descriptions:

  • Growth Habit: Determinates (a.k.a. bush) stop growing and set fruit that ripens, more or less, all at once.  They are easier to manage, take up less space, and one large crop is more convenient for canning or freezing.  Indeterminate plants will keep growing (unless the growing tip is pinched off) and will continue to produce fruit until the growing season ends with the first frost.  They tend to take up more space in the garden but will produce more total fruit at a more spread-out pace.
  • Plant Size: Related to above.  Also, plants that are given more space will grow to a larger size.
  • Fruit: Average size of each fruit.  Pink tomatoes have a clear skin that shows the true colour of the flesh while red tomatoes have a slightly yellow skin that make the flesh appear red.
  • Support Suggestions: Staking or cage.  These suggestions vary widely.
  • Earliness: Number of days between transplanting to the garden and first fruit ripening.  Obviously weather also has an effect; more sun means an earlier crop.
  • Disease Resistance: F = Fusarium Wilt resistance; V = Verticillium Wilt resistance.  This information is pretty hard to come by so a cultivar may be resistant even if I don’t list it as such.
  • Notes: Quotations indicate descriptions taken from online sites.  These are often seed catalogs so they tend to highlight the positives.
  • Links: Online sources of information, seeds, and photos.

Canabec Rose

Canabec Rose Tomato Plant, 45 days old

Canabec Rose Tomato Plant, 45 days old


  • Growth Habit: Determinate
  • Plant Size: large, 65 cm
  • Fruit: medium, 100 to 180 g, pink
  • Support Suggestions: staking
  • Earliness: 65 – 70 days
  • Disease Resistance:
  • Notes: “Developed in Quebec for cool regions.”
  • Links: Eternal Seed; Seeds of Diversity;  essaime-artomate (includes photos but is in French)


Manitoba Tomato Plant, 45 days old and suffering from stunted growth

Manitoba Tomato Plant, 45 days old and suffering from stunted growth


  • Growth Habit: Bush according to most, but essaime-artomate says indeterminate
  • Plant Size: large, more than 150 cm; or 90 – 120 cm
  • Fruit: 150 to 180 g, red
  • Support Suggestions: staking
  • Earliness: 65 to 70; 70; or 55 – 68 days
  • Disease Resistance: F, V
  • Notes: “A Canadian heirloom that does well in all conditions.” “This slicer was developed in Manitoba, Canada, to ripen during the short summers of the Manitoba prairie. A vigorous determinate variety, it bears heavy yields of 3-4 inch crimson red fruit with a refreshing, tangy tomato taste.” 
  • Links: SeedCentreessaime-artomate;  Dave’s Garden ; Greta’s Organic Gardens

Montreal Tasty

Montreal Tasty Tomato Plant, 45 days old

Montreal Tasty Tomato Plant, 45 days old


  • Growth Habit: Determinate
  • Plant Size: 150 cm
  • Fruit: medium size, red
  • Support Suggestions: staking
  • Earliness: 69 – 80; 85 days
  • Disease Resistance: V
  • Notes: “Heirloom from Quebec with bright red fruits revealing a nice, tangy old-fashioned flavor. Also high in sugars. Misshapen fruits, sometimes fused together. Very large size. Fleshy.”
  • Links: Dave’s GadenTerra EdiblesGreta’s Organic GardensFlickr

Pollock (very difficult to find information for this specific selection so below is for Bonny Best in italics)

Pollock Tomato Plant, 45 days old

Pollock Tomato Plant, 45 days old


  • Growth Habit: Indeterminate
  • Plant Size: medium-sized
  • Fruit: 4 to 10 oz.; 6 to 10 oz., red
  • Support Suggestions: short, strong stake
  • Earliness: Early; Mid
  • Disease Resistance:
  • Notes: “Selection from Bonny Best for earliness, productivity and good cores by Andy Pollock of northern BC. ” An old-timer with wonderful old-fashioned flavour.” “Most popular open pollinated home garden variety.”
  • Links: Salt Spring SeedsTerra EdiblesWilliam Dam Seeds;

Salt Spring Sunrise 

Salt Spring Sunrise Plant

Salt Spring Sunrise Plant, 45 days old

  • Growth Habit: Determinate according to SSS; Dave’s Garden says indeterminate
  • Plant Size: 180 to 240 cm
  • Fruit Size: Small to medium, 50 to 200 g, red
  • Support Suggestions: wire cage
  • Earliness: 69 – 80 days
  • Notes: “Developed by the late J. James of Salt Spring Island.”  Appears to no longer be available from SSS and I’ve seen it listed as rare.  Last year both of the Sunrise seeds did very well for me but one died just after being potted-up and the other disappeared fom the garden the week after being transplanted.
  • Links: Dave’s GardenFlickr tomato montage

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  1. Kat says:

    Pollock is my favourite, he is a real winner I can feel it.

    It is my personal mission to have Pollock win the race.. don’t tell Food With Leg’s I am sneaking Pollock creatine in the a.m’s post work out!

    You heard it hear first folks, Pollock is going to take the other plants out!


  2. [...] Read the original here: Tomato Cultivars Profiled | Food With Legs [...]

  3. The Tomato Stake says:

    The best way to support your tomato plants is with The Tomato Stake.

    Easier to use than metal cages or upside down planters, stronger than bamboo and won’t rot like wood stakes. The built-in twist-tie supports make tying your tomato plants easy!

  4. foodwithlegs says:

    Obviously, the above comment is advertising / spam but I’m going to allow it through. It is for an interesting and relevant product but please know that I don’t at all endorse it.

    I can’t speak to many of their comparative claims (is it really easier to use than upside-down planters?) but I can say that I have never had a wood stake rot on me. If you grow tomatoes in the Mississippi Delta this might be a problem for you but here in Canada free and abundantly available old hockey sticks or the stakes from political campaign signs work excellently.

  5. [...] I imagine the fact that last year’s tomatoes were grown from seeds (these are either from Pollock or Manitoba varieties) specifically bred to do well in Canadian conditions helped a lot.  The “wild” [...]

  6. says:

    Hello there,

    How did these tomatoes do for you? I bought a packet of Pollock seeds from Salt Spring Seeds (half price sale, late-night impulse buy), and now I’m looking for information on them and finding nothing. Anything to report?

  7. foodwithlegs says:

    Hi Andreae, thanks for the comment. I was very happy with the tomato seeds from Salt Spring Seeds. Pollock was easy to work with, a good producer, and one of the best tasting in the group. Not sure if the half-price sale means this is last year’s seed stock but if so you might want to sow an extra couple per cell when you start the seeds.

  8. Brenda says:

    fyi – Salt Spring Sunrise is definitely a determinate (bush) plant. Jack James, who developed it, was my grandfather. It’s still sold by Salt Spring Seeds and also Eagleridge Seeds, here on SSI.
    happy gardening!

  9. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for the update, Brenda. It’s always good to hear from the people those great seeds. I’ll be starting my tomato seeds in a couple weeks and will definitely be including some saved SSS in the mix.

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