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Gardening 5

A New Tomato Selection Tool

DonShirer | Mar 6, 201703:15 PM

Tomatoes are wonderful fruits that come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors, and are almost as much fun to grow as they are to eat. Each spring, gardeners with ambitious dreams but limited space face the question of which of the thousands of available varieties of tomato seeds or plants to grow.

Looking through catalogs for the right tomato can be exhausting. Wouldn’t it be convenient to have an advisor (let’s call him Todd) who could suggest, for example, a few productive orange beefsteaks with some sweetness that could be grown in a container?

Several Web sites have large collections of information on tomato varieties. But most have no easy way to combine requests for combinations of traits, and none include estimates of fruit flavor or production, a primary concern of many gardeners. To see if such an expanded resource could be created, an intensive search compiled data on more than 600 tomato varieties favorably mentioned in websites and reference books. Since many gardeners are familiar with spreadsheet applications, implementing TODD (for TOmato Description Datasheet) as one allows the data to be sorted and filtered to select a desired combination of tomato qualities. TODD was written in Excel, but may be opened and used in Open Office and Numbers applications as well.

TODD4, the current version, is available to everyone from a Dropbox site, along with a .pdf file Intro to TODD4, containing an explanation of how the data are arranged plus suggestions on how to identify varieties with a desired combination of traits. Paste one of the URL’s below into your browser address field to see the file and then click on DOWNLOAD to copy the file to your computer. You may have to click on the MORE tab ( labeled ••• ) at the top of the page to see the DOWNLOAD option.


These links have been tested using Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer by a valued crew of beta-testers. Some users with an older version of Windows and IE were not able to connect to Dropbox. If you have any trouble downloading these files, send an email to and you will be sent a copy. (Dropbox has announced an update for March 15, 2017. If these URL’s change, a correction will be posted here.)

I hope this effort will be of use to gardeners. Updates will hopefully be available annually. Suggestions, changes or additions are welcome, since there are many worthwhile tomatoes not yet on the list. The appendix of the Intro to TODD file contains information on how to submit them.

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