While Tom Thumb, no larger than his father’s thumb, may have been a long-ago fairy tale figure, Micro Toms are quite real.
Not familiar with this little tomato gem? You aren’t the only one. Solanum lycopersicum ‘Micro Tom’ was developed in 1989 by Dr. J.W. Scott and Dr. B.K. Harbaugh at the University of Florida, but it’s unlikely to be seen at local nurseries.
Where then does one find this charming and smallest tomato? Fortunately, it’s carried by a few specialty seed catalog companies.
So, why sow this miniature plant with its pea-sized fruits instead of a dwarf tomato? Genetic dwarf tomatoes (plants for another tale), while compact, are still too large to perch on a window sill or ledge.
They are not GMO but bred conventionally. Most are open pollinated, growing true-to-type unless crossed with another variety.
Micro Toms grow best in very small 4–6” pots. The plants grow to a whopping four inches and sometimes up to six inches! Their unique size is due to three genes, each from a spontaneous mutation.
A dwarfing gene is common in dwarf tomatoes. Another self-pruning gene is responsible for its being determinate. The third, sun-dwarfing gene results in extremely short internodes under high light intensities. Under less intense light, Micro Toms might be a bit taller, but not much.
Anticipate harvesting around 10 to 15 under-an-inch big fruits per plant. Remember, you can have a number of plants in a very limited space. Micro Toms will even grow and give you fruit during the winter months, when planted in a petite pot on the window ledge.
No, you can’t expect to feed your family on these dazzling little dainties, but you can surely have some fun in very little space.
Their taste is not bad. While not claiming to duplicate something like “Sungold” (not many taste better than that cheery little hybrid cherry), Micro Tomatoes taste sweet just the same.
Micro Toms produce fruit in 90–115 days like larger tomatoes. They definitely prefer pots to open ground. Also, seeds sown in April–May will give you plants that won’t mature in summer, so you’ll have fruits for winter!
With a bit of gravel in the base of a 4-6” pot filled with good potting mix, you can transfer seedlings sporting their first true leaves to their new homes. Watering with a 50% solution of fish and kelp should keep them well nourished throughout the season.
Put each plant in a pretty little pot tied with ribbon. Micro Toms make the perfect winter gift resembling a compact Christmas tree that will soon be complete with its own red, orange, or gold ornaments to decorate a delicate holiday dinner salad.
So, if you have quite limited garden space or a sunny window sill, but are passionate for your own home-grown tomatoes, then the Micro Tom is for you!
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Micro Tom, Orange Hat, Spoon Tomato, and Cherry Berry
Plant World Seeds
Trade Winds Fruit
Tom Thumb Angel Hair Pasta (serves 4)
This is a lovely mixture of different tomato varieties.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups Micro Tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes may be substituted)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup of half and half or nondairy substitute (soy, almond, cashew milk)
1 tablespoon homemade or fresh-purchased pesto
1/8 teaspoon each sea salt and fresh ground pepper
One 6 oz can organic tuna
6 pickled organic pepperoncini peppers, seeded, stemmed, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon capers
Zest and juice from one organic lime
8 oz organic whole wheat or spinach angel hair pasta
2 cups home grown or organic arugula, washed and dried
10 Kalamata olives, sliced
Fresh shredded Italian cheese (Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio is great for this dish) or Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina
Bring 4 quarts water to boil and cook angel hair pasta al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, then return to pot covering with lid to keep warm.
Heat olive oil in skillet then sauté garlic on medium until golden, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté about 1 minute. Pour in half and half or non-dairy milk, pesto, sea salt, and pepper. Gently stir to mix. Add tuna, pepperocini, capers, lime zest and juice, then stir again to mix.
Coil angel hair pasta in 4 shallow pasta bowls. Top each with sauce, shredded cheese, arugula, and Kalamata olives. Serve immediately