Search For The Answer
Click here to access our database of
Plant Answers
Search For The Picture
Click here to access the Google database of plants and insects
Information Index
Alphabetical Listing of Topics, Recommendations and Plants

Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.


Gardeners can now "protect" the tomato crop from the non-productivity and/or odd colored fruit caused by TSWV contamination. There is a hybrid tomato variety named 'Tomato 444' which has natural plant resistant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus and the problems it causes. The fruit is large and the quality is excellent. '444' is the only virus resistant hybrid which has been extremely productive as well as resistant to TSWV. Most of the tomato varieties which have done extremely well in this area are hybrids. These include Big Set, Celebrity, Bingo and Merced. The super broccoli, Green Comet, and the fast maturing cauliflower, Snow Crown are hybrids which display superlative characteristics.

A hybrid is a first generation cross of two genetically different varieties. In order to obtain a high degree of uniformity, the parent lines are usually the result of inbreeding for several generations. Producing stock seed inbreds is a difficult task that may require years to perfect. The resulting crosses produce hybrids which are often sterile. The seed company that developed the hybrid then has an exclusive in sales which helps to pay for research, development cost and company motivation for continued research.

Many vegetables require hand pollination to produce the hybrid lines. Labor is expensive and often the costs are reflected in the price of the hybrid seed. In order to reduce costs, some companies use foreign labor and produce their seeds in South America or the Far East. Some hybrid seeds cost as much as 3-10 times the price of open-pollinated seed. Hybrid tomato seed can sell for over $40 for 1000 seed so hybrids such as '444' will ONLY be available as transplants, i.e., seed will not be packaged.

Hybrid seed has the advantage of high degree of uniformity as all the seeds are very similar genetically. This factor is very important in crops such as broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage. Hybrid crosses also seem to have an additional spark called hybrid vigor. The plants grow rapidly with good uniformity. By producing inbred lines with good disease resistance, the resulting hybrid crosses may inherit these qualities. This is why 'Tomato 444' has resistance to TSWV and other foliage diseases.

Just the fact that a variety is a hybrid does not make it an automatic winner, however. The horticultural merits of a hybrid must also be proven in every growing area, just as those of any other variety released. 'Tomato 444' has been tested for several years by the Texas Cooperative Extension with the help of Gardening Volunteers of South Texas and has never not produced a large crop of quality tomatoes. Yield and size data at:

shows that 'Tomato 444' (listed as BHN 444) yielded more fruit which were a larger size than Merced, Celebrity, Whirlaway, Bingo and Heatwave. This tendency was also repeated in the fall season as documented at:

This selection has been test marketed as 'Healthy Surprise' (the plant is "healthy" and eating tomatoes makes the grower healthy as well!--it will "Surprise" you with an abundance of large fruit!) as described at:

Second generation seed at is also available from this website.

Gardeners always want to know how a tomato variety tastes. Tomato taste is an individual preference so you have to decide that for yourself using the growing conditions in your garden. However, in the spring, '2000, variety trial, a taste test reveiled that 'Tomato 444' was rated better than 'SunMaster' or 'Celebrity'.

The Tomato444 is hard-to-find and expensive for the nurserymen to grow
so if there is danger of frost, high winds or hail, follow the
instructions at:

and repot the transplants to expand the root system and provide
"insurance' plants by following this information:

Purchase good transplants of the Extension recommended and Texas
SuperStar variety named 'Tomato444'. If it is too early to plant
transplants in your area and you put them in the ground, THEY WILL BE
FROZEN! Yet transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should be
established as soon in the spring as feasibly possible so they can be
blooming profusely when the optimum fruit setting conditions occur. So
how can you safely grow Tomato444 plants during risky weather
conditions? Simply buy plants with the intention of producing
bitransplants (a bitransplant is a regular transplant which will be
planted twice instead of once). Purchase transplants with the idea of
putting them in pots instead of the soil.

A plant in a pot has the distinct advantage of being portable.
This means that you can react when the weather person says the low
temperature will be 35 degrees F. You know from experience the actual
temperature will more-than-likely be either 25 degrees or 45 degrees so
now you can move your portable plant into a protected location. If the
colder temperature occurs, you and your plants can sit by the fire while
those who transplanted directly into the garden too early are soiling
every blanket in the house and receiving frost bite on their backs while
attempting to protect exposed plants. Even if they succeed, the effort
will not prevent the growth-retarding effects of cold soil and abusive

The potted plant will be expanding its root system at a faster
rate than those in the soil because the potting soil will be warmer and
porous. Never use garden soil in a container. Instead purchase a
well-draining potting mix. Since the mix contains no fertilizer
elements, mix in the right (according to label instructions) amounts of
slow-release fertilizer pellets such as Osmocote before planting in a
gallon-size container. Add a water-soluble fertilizer to the water each
time the plants are moistened -- DO NOT OVERWATER or you will kill these
precious transplants. Stick your finger in the potting soil and if you
feel moisture--WALK AWAY!!! If you water too much, the base of the
plants will rot and the plants will wilt. It is best to keep the plants
on the "dry side" rather than overwatering them to death.

Keep the plants in full sunlight situation to avoid stretching or
spindly growth. Transplanting of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can
safely occur in mid to late March in San Antonio and South; Hillcountry
gardeners should wait until after April 10; for timing in other parts of
the state, see the planting and transplanting table at:

REMEMBER: Protect potted transplants from virus-spreading insects and
wind damage by covering with Grow-Web as mentioned in # 3 of the tomato
growing advice at:

To see how important it is to eat tomatoes and tomato products,