Heirlooms forum: Close proximity of heirloom tomatoes

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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
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Anderwood
May 30, 2013 8:03 AM CST
Question: I have German Giant seedlings that I saved from last year. I had 5 different heirlooms with about three feet or less between plants. Is it possible that the German Giant seedlings will have characteristics from the other plants? I had purple calabash, cherokee purple, Gold Medal, Old German, Orange Russian 117, and Green Zebra.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 30, 2013 8:37 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

It's definitely possible that with only 3 feet separation they would have crossed with each other. If I'm looking to save pure seed I separate my varieties by at least 20 feet.
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Jun 13, 2013 9:08 AM CST
Tomato flower is a perfect bloom (meaning) it doesn't have to be fertilised by other tomato pollen.

Depending on who's talking you have a 5 to 20% chance for a bee breaking in and pollinating for (or in spite of) you.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jun 13, 2013 10:20 AM CST
From the names, fruit color would tell you whether a purple crossed with an orange, or a green. Unless the color was dominant. And you would have to wait until they were ripe to know.

If you recall the type of leaf on each plant, that would give you a hint sooner.

P.S. To make sure that no bees break in and cross-pollinate your seed crop next year, you could bag a few branches of each variety, and only save seeds from fruit on those branches. Fabric stores have plenty of light fabrics or fine meshes.

Once you had enough green tomatoes set on those branches, you could even remove the bag (and just pluck any more flowers that came out on them). If you have a long season, you might be able to re-use the bag on a second variety. Pick any green fruit and flowers before bagging.

One way to reduce cross-pollination is to plant something attractive to bees, with lots of flowers and nectar, between and around tomato plants. It gives them better targets than the tomato flowers, and rubs some pollen off if they hit the trap blooms between tomato #1 and tomato #2..
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 15, 2013 12:58 PM CST

Moderator

I don't know if you saw this thread or not, Anderwood, where there is some interesting discussion with various ideas to insure that heirloom tomato seeds remain pure. The thread "Growing heirloom tomatoes & saving seeds" in Heirlooms forum

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

Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Jul 7, 2013 9:15 PM CST
Thanks everyone. It would be fun to see if I did get a cross, ands get a new tomato to me.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Apr 14, 2016 6:53 PM CST
My tomato plants are rather close together also. I see bees pollinating my tomatoes frequently so I would never have any confidence in the seeds unless I bagged. In fact I plan on trying that method this summer.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Apr 14, 2016 7:04 PM CST

Moderator

My tomato plants are close together this year. Shrug! Green Grin!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 15, 2016 7:02 PM CST
I believe I've read that potato-leaf varieties are more prone to cross pollinating, as well.

I've replanted seeds that I've saved from plants that were pretty closely spaced, though, without any obvious sign that they had crossed. Shrug!
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Apr 15, 2016 7:33 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:I believe I've read that potato-leaf varieties are more prone to cross pollinating, as well.

I've replanted seeds that I've saved from plants that were pretty closely spaced, though, without any obvious sign that they had crossed. Shrug!


I have lots of honeybees on my plants. I just know they cross pollinate!!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Apr 20, 2016 9:00 PM CST
I've read that the amount of cross-pollination depends both on the variety, and how many AGGRESSIVE pollinators you have.

I recall that Joseph sought and found a variety that was very prone to cross-pollination, like it tended NOT to pollinate itself thoroughly before opening. He put a lot of those "promiscuous" genes into his crop so that the offspring would also cross more freely, to advance his "landrace" policy.

The variety had a funny name, with some numbers and single letters in it, if I recall.

Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Apr 21, 2016 2:49 PM CST
I enjoy the variety and nature's promiscuity.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Apr 21, 2016 3:39 PM CST
I would not want any of "nature's promiscuity" when I am seed saving tomato seed for next year.
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Apr 21, 2016 4:27 PM CST
Right Rita.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Apr 21, 2016 4:30 PM CST
Thumbs up Big Grin
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Apr 22, 2016 8:20 AM CST

Moderator

Reid, how is your cross pollination going, anything interesting?

So far my tomato efforts have been focused on growing specific heirloom varieties, so I try to keep from crossing for the reason Rita said - saving seeds. But, my ultimate goal is to find the best tomatoes that will grow in my little micro climate. It would be nice to find some favorites that I can grow every year. I'm open to learning from Joseph and growing my own "Landrace" variety some day.

Here's a great article about Joseph and his experience with Landrace crops. http://cubits.org/WhosWhoSpotlight/articles/view/1111/

Here's an article he wrote about seed saving. http://garden.org/ideas/view/joseph/1157/The-Complete-Guide-...
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Apr 26, 2016 12:02 PM CST
Thanks for that Cubits link, Christine! I've been trading seeds with Joseph for around 5 yearss, but I learned a lot about him from that article.

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