Urban farming is a trend, and Dalina Genetics adapted its assortment to this trend. After several years of breeding, this Danish ornamental plant breeder put its first edible ornamental plant on the market: a potted tomato plant for the windowsill. This award winning variety, which is said to be the first potted tomato plant that can be grown indoors year-round, has been on the market for one year now and is rapidly being discovered by growers all over the world.

First indoor year-round potted tomato variety
An ornamental edible plant that can be grown indoors year round. That is the idea behind the concept called kitchen mini's by Dalina Genetics. This potted tomato variety is not only the first plant in their concept, it is also, according to Dalina's Henrik Kampmann, the first potted tomato variety that can be grown indoors year round, in the windowsill. At the Fruit Logistica 2016, the company won the runner-up position at the innovation award competition.

The plant reaches a height of 30 to 40 cm and the consumer can harvest fruits up to six months. It will grow year-round and in good light conditions the plant can produce up to 150 tomatoes with an average diameter of 2.5 cm and 10-12 grams in weight.

But why would an ornamental plant breeder decide to breed a vegetable plant? "Next to breeding, we are cultivating plants too. As we have empty greenhouse space in winter and there is usually oversupply of all potted flowers in the winter, we started to look for a new crop that can be grown and offered year round. Looking at the demands from the market and the current urbanization trend worldwide, we decided to focus edible ornamental plants. As this is a “fusion product” we therefore created a team of pot flower and vegetable breeding specialists for this job.

In 2014 we started growing the Prudac potted tomatoes and in 2015, we introduced and started to grow our own genetics, that are especially suitable to be grown in the window sill."

But where did you gain the knowledge of vegetable cultivation? "I have been a vegetable breeder for twenty years and I have been in the ornamental plant breeding business only for five years now. So, the experience and knowledge of my colleagues in the ornamental breeding department and myself in vegetables, enabled us to create a potted tomato plant with a good taste and appearance in a very short period of time.''

Dalina Genetics exports the finished potted tomato plants to Scandinavia, UK and to Northern Germany and is pleased with the growing demand. However, according to Kampmann there are still some big challenges to overcome. "Consumer recognition of the product in the off season is one and having the plant survive the retail logistics in good shape is two", he says.

"In spring the demand is very high. From March till June, for example, we could easily grow 6 ha of plants, but due to lack of space, we grow only 2ha in the off season, we grow down to only 0,5 ha as the demand is lower during this time of the year. People are not aware yet of the possibility of buying and growing tomato plants year round. So, it should be promoted more heavily." But bringing the plant safely through the retail logistics is, according to Kampmann, probably the biggest challenge for the Kitchen Mini's potted tomato. It needed to be treated much like basil and some supermarkets are able do it and others just are not".

International interest
The seeds are being supplied all over the world and increasingly more growers have shown interest in growing this product. "It will be an interesting crop for, for example, herb growers as they are already familiar with managing crop protection products in edible crops and they have the right certification. However, potted plant growers can grow them too, as long as they have tables and light for the winter months."

At the moment, the plants are being trialed in many countries. "Growers in Japan, the USA, China, Colombia, South Korea, South Africa and several European countries are currently trialing the variety. We are now working on shipping seeds to Australia but that takes a Ph.D. these days." And some countries have even started selling them commercially. "In Canada, for example, the first products have been sold. And till now, the reactions are positive."

Expanding assortment
In the future, Dalina Genetics is planning to expand the Kitchen Mini's assortment with more potted tomato varieties with fruits in new colors and shapes and most important of all – top flavors. "We are about to launch a new, smaller and less leafy potted tomato plant with very high brix and in 2017 also varieties with orange and brown tomatoes will be available", says Kampmann.

Next to potted tomato plants, Dalina Genetics is also working on edible ornamental potted pepper and cucumber varieties that are suitable to be grown on the windowsill.

For more information
Dalina Genetics® A/S
Hans Henrik Kampmann
Email: hanshenrik@dalina.dk