Pixie tomatoes
Tomato Guy
The first time I got an urge to grow a tomato plant, I was living in a condo. We were not allowed to plant anything in the ground there, so my only choice was to try to grow one indoors in a pot. Having grown houseplants before, and having a nice sunny window in the condo, I was optimistic. But I had to find a small enough variety to grow in a pot.

One day I was at Xpect Discount, looking at the gardening stuff, and I spotted a little 8-cell growing pack with a plastic dome and a packet of Pixie tomato seeds. This little kit was put out by Burpee, the manufacturer of the Pixie seed. Being a hybrid (a cross between two other seeds), it has to be "manufactured", probably by mad scientists in white lab coats.

On the kit it said that this tomato plant can be grown in a pot, so I grabbed a kit and followed the directions on the seed packet. A few days later I had tomato plants! The Pixie did indeed grow in a pot, and indoors to boot! When the plant made flowers, I had to pollinate them manually by rubbing a Q-tip or a small cheapo watercoloring brush on the flowers. Outdoors the flowers get pollinated by insects or the wind, but indoors someone has to take the place of bees and spread pollen from one flower to another. The plant actually set tomatoes, although not many of them, and in due time they ripened.

The Pixie is a very hardy, short, compact determinate plant with broad dark-green leaves. The tomatoes range in size from cherry tomatoes to maybe three times the size of cherry tomatoes. It only grows to about 3-4 feet tall, puts out a lot of tomatoes pretty much all at once, and then withers away. Outdoors, the fruits ripen in about 52 days from going into the ground, which is quite a bit faster than the 72 or so days it takes for Better Boy to mature its fruits. It produces a lot of fruit for a shortie, maybe 25-30 per plant. In fact, the stems have to be given extra support because they get so heavy with fruit and a few of the stems break if not supported.
These are Pixie tomatoes shortly after birth. Notice how stocky they look, and how broad the leaves are for such a short plant.
Now for the bad news. Burpee stopped making the Pixie seeds a few years ago, and in 2006 I used my last packet of Pixie seeds. The seeds were from 2000, so Burpee has not made them since then. I emailed them and called on the phone, asking them to please make the Pixie again, but they would not. I was told that the next closest thing to Pixie was 4th of July, so I tried some of those seeds and they were okay but they are no Pixie.

If any of you would like to contact Burpee and ask why they don't make the Pixie anymore, be my guest. Maybe we can bring this little gem back from the grave.

The basics
Which tomatoes to grow?
Seed starting
Growing seedlings in a basement
Hardening off
How to plant tomatoes
Tomato cages
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