Heirlooms forum: Growing heirloom tomatoes & saving seeds

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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Aug 15, 2010 9:22 AM CST

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Heirloom tomatoes can be fun to grow; there are so many varieties out there from tiny currants to Goliath sized beefsteaks, from yellow, red, black and everything in between!

So when you find that perfect tomato with the flavor you have been longing for; how nice that you can save the seeds and grow them again next year, and the year after that....

If you are growing more than one variety, there's always that chance of cross-pollinating, so keep them some distance apart! I don't go the recommended 80 to 90 feet apart, but even then, solitary bees could come by and cross pollinate? So I think it's a good idea to plant something else in between my tomatoes, like borage, nasturtiums and marigolds. That way, the bees might stop by the flowers before moving on the the next tomato plant.

Look for the early maturing and attractive plants. Selected plants can then be marked, staked, and regularly inspected during the growing season for resistance to diseases.

Allow tomatoes to completely ripen on the plant before harvesting for seeds.


Thumb of 2010-08-15/wildflowers/f79c79

TO SAVE SEEDS:

There are various methods used to save seeds, I've successfully just scooped them out, rinsed them, and let them lay on a paper towel to dry and then stored them and planted them the following year!

But my favorite method is using fermentation. It's used to save your seeds for many years.

Cut each tomato in half at its equator, opening the cavities that contain the seeds. Into a cup or small container, squeeze the gel and seeds. Add a little bit of water if you only have a small amount of seeds. Set the container with the seeds in a warm place for a few days. I usually just leave them sitting on the sink counter. After a few days, you will notice a layer of fungus appear on the top of your seed mixture. The fungus is eating the gelatinous coat that surrounds each seed and prevents germination; it also produces antibiotics that help control seed borne diseases.

After your seeds have fermented, about a week or so, fill the seed container with water. Let the seeds settle to the bottom, pour out the water along with the tomato pulp and immature seeds that are left floating on top. Your best, viable seeds will be heavier and sink to the bottom. Repeat until the water is clear. Pour your freshly cleaned seeds into a mesh strainer, getting out as much water as possible, then tip your strainer onto a paper towel, paper plate, or newspaper. Spread them out, separating them as much as possible and allow to completely dry. A drying oven can be used to dry your seeds completely, but I've not used this method.

Once the seeds are dried, put in an envelope or zip lock bags, label and store for later use. these days, I buy those small zipper baggies you can get in the craft section, they're perfect sized to save seeds.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Aug 16, 2010 6:59 PM CST

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White Currant Tomato IND. 70 days.
'Creamy white tomatoes with a yellowish tinge. A wild type tomato from South America that produces hundreds of fruits. It can get by on poorer quality soil & is somewhat drought tolerant. The seedlings start out small, so start them early. The flavor is sweet and crisp.'

Ready to pick they're a little yellow.


On the vine


In the bowl


These little berry sized fruits are bursts of flavor! Sweet on the outside and tangy tomato flavor on the inside. These are keepers that we enjoy growing every year! And they are early to begin fruiting, so while you're waiting on all those others to ripen, these can satisfy your taste for full flavor tomato!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Aug 17, 2010 5:54 PM CST

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Paul Robeson Tomato IND. 75 days.
'Russian heirloom named for American actor. Beautiful mahogany fruits are tangy and sweet.'

This will be my first taste of Paul Robeson..... I'll let you know soon Sticking tongue out
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Aug 17, 2010 6:19 PM CST

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Amana Orange IND. 85 days.

'Iowa heirloom from Amana produces extra big orange beefsteak fruits. The rich taste is superior with medium sweet yet full bodied tomato flavor. Its yields are moderate, yet the great taste and attractive fruit make it a natural for any garden. It's a great keeper & lasts for several weeks at room temperature.'

I'm about to find out about this one....
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Sep 3, 2010 1:49 PM CST

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I like the Amana orange tomato... it has very nice bright tomato flavor, tangy and sweet. I am saving seeds of this one. It goes on the 'Grow again list.'

It didn't produce big and although I am used to that with the heirlooms, this year seems extra sparse for fruit on all of my tomato plants. I'm sure next year will make up for it with bumper crops!! Smiling


May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb


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Patti1957
Sep 3, 2010 2:02 PM CST
I am experiencing a sparse year with my tomatoes also. That Amana Orange is a beauty, I am wishing that I had grown them again this year!

This is one of my favorites this year.

Mexico



Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Sep 3, 2010 2:11 PM CST

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Bijskij Zeltyi plum type tomato, IND.

This tomato is listed as very rare! It has an unusual reddish pink color and intense tomato flavor. Originally from Germany.


May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb


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Patti1957
Sep 3, 2010 3:45 PM CST
I have heard a lot of people are having trouble with production this year. I know that we had some real high temps right around the time when the blossoms were getting ready to set fruit and the heat makes them drop. Kind of frustrating to see all the blossoms only to have them die and drop off, but I am glad that I am getting some and they are tasting mighty fine Hilarious!


Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Sep 3, 2010 4:07 PM CST

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I thought that might be the problem! We had a rather cooler than usual spring and then jumped right into high temps! And yes, the blooms started to fall. And then some of the tomatoes seemed much smaller than I thought they should be??? The wild type currants were the only ones that seemed to thrive this year! They're still going strong!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
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wildflowers
Jul 8, 2011 8:52 AM CST

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Thumb of 2011-07-08/wildflowers/53bfff

The OSU Blue didn't come true! Rolling on the floor laughing
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb


The WITWIT Badge Mules Forum moderator
Patti1957
Jul 8, 2011 10:12 AM CST
They look like OSU Blue to me. Here is a picture of some of mine from last year.



Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jul 8, 2011 11:53 AM CST

Moderator

Okay! Big Grin Excellent! Thank you Patti! I am enjoying growing them & they were the first tomato in the garden this year!

The color is unique and they are good producers.
The flavor is quite good really, much more flavor than I had expected. Thumbs up
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb


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Patti1957
Jul 8, 2011 12:51 PM CST
I was surprised at the taste of them too. I had heard awful things about them but I didn't think they were that bad. They did produce early and had tons of fruit on them. I did have some that were more "blue" in color but most of mine looked like yours in the picture. They are fun to grow!



Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
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psa
Jul 11, 2011 12:41 AM CST
The OSU blue I had a couple years ago were so bad I tossed them. I've heard there's been a lot of variability in this unstable strain. This year I've got some of Tom Wagner's "Dancing with Smurfs", so hoping for good things.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
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wildflowers
Jul 11, 2011 6:54 AM CST

Moderator

Hmmm.... interesting, psa! I'm not so sure whether the OSU is an heirloom variety or not?

Dancing with Smurfs, is that something new? sounds blue LOL.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
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psa
Jul 11, 2011 11:52 AM CST
OSU blue was an ongoing breeding program to consolidate a set of different blue jeans, er, genes into a single line of tomatoes. It wasn't meant for general distribution, nor was it considered stable or marketable. Last I heard this breeding was still ongoing.

Tom Wagner is famous as the originator of many venerable varieties of tomatoes and potatoes. He has reopened his Tater Mater storefront on the web and offered some of his still segregating seed lines, among other things, including this recent cross that he called Dancing with Smurfs.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
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wildflowers
Jul 11, 2011 3:27 PM CST

Moderator

Ah, I'm familiar with the name Tom Wagner.. out of California I think... I'll have to check it out on the web.

....and come to think of it, I went to school in CA with a Tom Wagner, surely not the same one ?? it is a small world, after all!

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Franklin Troiso
Rutland, MA (Zone 5b)
Life is to short to eat rice cakes
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herbie43
Jul 13, 2011 6:40 PM CST

Gone But Not Forgotten

When i was a member of DG someone posted their method of makingsure their tomatoes were not cross pollinated by makinga pouch out of panty hose and tying it wound the flower when it first appeared. once the tomato developed they took the pouch off and marked which tomato had the pouch which they then used for seeds.



Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
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SongofJoy
Jul 29, 2011 7:45 AM CST
Just found this thread. I always grow the Heirloom Yellow Pear. This one is gowing upside down in a Topsy Turvy bag. They seem to do well here no matter where I put them.


Thumb of 2011-07-29/SongofJoy/0f0dba
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
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wildflowers
Jul 29, 2011 8:03 AM CST

Moderator

Tee, that is a nice healthy looking plant!! I've read it produces a very good crop of tomatoes too. I have seeds - guess I'll have to try growing some next season!!!

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

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