Ask a Question forum: heirloom tomatoes

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 18, 2014 11:34 AM CST
I have a short row of assorted mixed heirloom tomatoes,. I bought the mixed packet as I don't grow many tomato plants, and don't know what I like yet. So, I don't know what variety I'm growing. I have them about 3' apart. My question is - if I grow a tomato that looks exactly like an Arkansas traveler picture, and I really love the taste, would it be safe to assume the seeds will grow an Arkansas traveler?
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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
Mar 18, 2014 11:48 AM CST
>> assorted mixed heirloom tomatoes,
>> if I grow a tomato that looks exactly like an Arkansas traveler picture, and I really love the taste, would it be safe to assume the seeds will grow an Arkansas traveler?

Since they are all heirlooms, they are all OP. If you can avoid cross-pollination, they will come true to their parent.

Tomatoes are "mostly" self-pollinated, and if you seldom see a bee nosing around the tomato blooms, each plant will produce "mostly" self-fertilized seeds. Even with some bees, "most" blooms will already have been self-pollinated BEFORE the bee got to them, assuming that the vines are shaken or blown around by breezes often.

"Mostly" is something like 80-95% if plants are grown in separate rows, but it sounds like yours will grow right into each other. So if you want to KNOW what you are growing next year, you'll have to identify which heirloom you liked, and buy a packet with that name (or trade for some known seeds).

Or, if you can plant 5 plants and accept that around one of them is likely to be an unplanned hybrid, that is easiest.

Or get fancy. Once you know what plant you want to preserve, make a bag from tulle or buy an organza bag big enough for a bottle of wine. Maybe panty hose or a nylon stocking. Strip any existing fruit and open flowers off the end of one vine to get rid of any possible randomly pollinated blooms. Wait for more blooms to form inside the bag, and vibrate them enough that they pollinate themselves. The organza bag will keep insects away, and tomatoes don't wind-pollinate.

Collect only fruit from inside the bag, and you'll know they were not cross-pollinated.
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
Mar 18, 2014 11:56 AM CST
>> if I grow a tomato that looks exactly like an Arkansas traveler picture, and I really love the taste, would it be safe to assume the seeds will grow an Arkansas traveler?

Does the packet print a short list of what varieties are in it? If the one you like does not look like any of the others, that would identify it. Or you could ask customer service what-all were in that packet, that year.

But if the packet only says "assorted mixed heirloom tomatoes", I don't think you can confidently identify the parent. There are thousands of heirloom varieties.

It would be safe to assume that around 80% of the seeds you save would look, grow and taste like the parent plant (if the weather and soil are similar next year) , but you might not be sure of the identification.

P.S. I have often wondered: one bloom produces one fruit. Does that mean that "one bloom uses one pollen grain to produce one fruit"? So that all the seeds in any one tomato are either all self-pollinated or all cross-pollinated by the same pollen donor?

or does each bloom use MANY pollen grains to produce its many seeds, and each seed MIGHT be cross-pollinated by a different pollen donor?

And is it the same for every species, that all the seeds in one pod came from one pollen donor? or do different plant species work different ways?
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Mar 18, 2014 11:57 AM CST
That's a good idea, then I can save the seeds from the tomato that's my favorite. Does the tomato itself need sun, or just the plant?
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Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
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
Mar 18, 2014 11:59 AM CST
P.S. One way to get a wide variety of known heirlooms to trial is to join seed swaps.

Buy or save many seeds of one known variety that you think will be popular. Then join a swap and offer 10 seeds of your variety for 10 seeds of another variety, and hope that a dozen people are interested.

Or if you are offering, someone may offer seeds in return for postage.

Or look for a local "seed library" and check out a few varieties. They may ask you to grow some in isolation (or bagged) and "return" the seeds next fall, multiplied.

http://www.seedlibrarian.com/
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
Mar 18, 2014 12:06 PM CST
>> Does the tomato itself need sun, or just the plant?

I don't know that. It's a good question. Mostly when I see photos of plants that people have "bagged", the bags are translucent, or at most, dark-colored pantyhose.

I do know that, after some self-pollinated fruit have formed and gotten a little size, you can remove the bag and just tag the "clean" fruits so you don't confuse them with later fruits that form later on the same vine.

You must have a pretty long, warm growing season, to be able to taste-test fully ripe fruit, then bag the plant, and still have another full round of pollination and ripening to make seeds. Where I live, that would only work reliably for cherry tomatoes and early or "cool" varieties. It's a gable whether mid-season varieties will ripen fully before it gets cool.

I guess you have more leeway, letting "seed tomatoes" ripen on into cold weather. In my very limited experience, a few cool night are enough to ruin a tomato's flavor, but they would keep right n ripening and maturing their seeds.

Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Mar 18, 2014 12:09 PM CST
That might be something I can do in the future. Right now, I'm still trying to get my garden to produce tomatoes. For me, they seem to be hard to grow. I have been improving my soil though, and I'm optimistic this year. Its always fun, anyway.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
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
Image
RickCorey
Mar 18, 2014 1:57 PM CST
>> Its always fun, anyway.

I agree. It's always challenging, but we make progress. For me, cherry tomatoes were successful one year when even "early" medium-size tomatoes don't have time to ripen and bear much.

Are you in a part of Texas where the summer is too hot for tomatoes? I've read that some people start them early (maybe under plastic) to get a spring crop, and then start another crop later to be harvested in the fall.

Even though they and I are both "Zone 8", we have opposite seasons for tomatoes. I ONLY get grow enough to them during the time that their part of Texas is too hot to grow them. Their "tomato growing months" are my "cold wet, sulky bad-tasting months".
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Mar 18, 2014 2:21 PM CST
It is very hot here, but I'm not sure that was the problem with my tomatoes. They didn't stop flowering, they almost didn't start, and by the time they set fruit, it WAS hot. I used to think I had too much nitrogen, (huge plants, no flowers) but I had a soil test, and I actually had too much everything but nitrogen. All the veggies were very slow to grow, flower, set fruit, ripen. I think I have fixed the soil.
Hurray!
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
[Last edited by texaskitty111 - Mar 25, 2014 10:30 PM (+)]
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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
Mar 18, 2014 2:35 PM CST
Playing with the soil is my favorite part of gardening.

I'd love to know what was wrong and how you fixed it, but this is YOUR question thread, not mine!

Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Mar 18, 2014 3:15 PM CST
What Rick Corey says is pretty accurate with one exception.... did anyone catch it from Dave and Trish's last ATP podcast "Let's talk Tomatoes"?
Unlike most tomatoes, potato leaf types have floral sex parts (stamens and pistils) exposed. For these, cross pollination is quite easy.

>>>Does the tomato itself need sun, or just the plant?

Seeing as how the traditional method of ripening green tomatoes (that are picked before a killing frost) is to wrap individually in newspaper, I'd guess that light is not required.


Rick Corey said:P.S. I have often wondered: one bloom produces one fruit. Does that mean that "one bloom uses one pollen grain to produce one fruit"? So that all the seeds in any one tomato are either all self-pollinated or all cross-pollinated by the same pollen donor?

or does each bloom use MANY pollen grains to produce its many seeds, and each seed MIGHT be cross-pollinated by a different pollen donor?

And is it the same for every species, that all the seeds in one pod came from one pollen donor? or do different plant species work different ways?

A barrel of questions that ought not be answered here, in my opinion. We're supposed to stick to the original question. Whistling
Maybe post in the Propagation forum?
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Mar 18, 2014 3:42 PM CST
Too much phosphorus, mainly, which apparently keeps the plants from absorbing any other nutrients. (5x too much phosphorous) I think that was from too much goat poop. ( I thought it was going to be good for the plants) I was unable to find any kind of quality garden soil that wasn't mostly sand, or compost, both of which I have plenty of. ( I live on a sand hill and don't need to buy more sand) so I've been purchasing bagged garden soil, and mixing it with my soil 5 parts to 1. This year, it seems like what I've planted out there is growing fine. Even the strawberries, which previously just sat there and slowly died.

Strawberries


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Patti1957
Mar 21, 2014 7:24 PM CST
texaskitty111 said:My question is - if I grow a tomato that looks exactly like an Arkansas traveler picture, and I really love the taste, would it be safe to assume the seeds will grow an Arkansas traveler?


You can't assume that it is an Arkansas Traveler Tomato unless you grew it from seeds that were Arkansas Traveler or you purchased a plant labeled Arkansas Traveler. And even that is not a guarantee. Smiling There are thousands of tomatoes and it would be impossible to identify one from a picture or even taste.

Like Rick said, you can bag the fruit to save seeds and you will most likely get the same fruit as the parent plant produced.


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