Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hammering out the details.....

Has anyone else out there had some heirloom tomato varieties go awry?

I have two varieties I grew out last year, one received in an on-line trade ("Pink Brandywine"), the other purchased from a small professional heirloom seed saver ("Amazon Chocolate"), that should have been potato leafed, but were not.  I know various genetic traits can be expressed in unstable varieties, and also, mis-labeling on seed the packet and on my end can certainly occur.  The problem is that this leaves me wondering what I actually grew.  And asking questions, like will the seeds I saved produce the same strain or will something new be expressed?  Will the original seed packet produce the same crop as the first?

None of these worries are large, but when a gardener is only growing 2 slicing tomato varieties, that gardener does not have room for experimentation.  (At least I don't!)  So, I am just wondering as I get set up to start seeds today, and am finalizing the varieties to be sown, does anyone else have this problem often, or is it a rare occurrence?

And if you experience this, is it only with 'saved seed', or do commercial heirloom seeds sometimes become unstable genetically as well?

10 comments:

Jane said...

Starting seeds today? When do you plant them? I am borderline zone 6 and wont start seeds for cold crops until feb and warm crops till March or April and that includes what goes in the greenhouse. I am curious how you handle your seedlings.

Erin said...

I had some surprises last year - I had a few that didn't come up as described leafwise, and I know my kids didn't switch them! Then there were those darn Jake Gyllenhaal tomatoes LOL... they didn't come true tastewise, but holy cow at 13 feet or so were sure a novelty!

Engineeredgarden said...

Thankfully, no surprises here last year, but I did manage to get several plants mis-labeled.

Sue said...

I grew some cherry tomatoes a few years back that were the most horrible, bitter things ever. There was DEFINATELY something wrong with that seed. I left it up, though, as it was quite funny to see people's expressions when they "snitched" one of those off the plant! I never did find out if it was that one seed or the whole pack......I only sow 2 seedlings of each variety and toss the weaker one at planting time. I threw the rest of those seeds away after tasting the first ones. I won't take the chance. Seed is cheap, but time is not!

Kelly said...
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Kelly said...

lol, I am reassured to know I am not the only one who has ever had this problem.

Jane- i am getting the shelves & lights set up, not sure that I will get to any sowing done today. But very soon I will sow spinach & pea greens, which I will harvest a bit while still indoors, and then put out in the coldframe once the weather allows. Also, I will start green onions soon, maybe some other onions as well. I am still on the fence as to when I will start the nightshades, but I start WAY early compared to many in order to get early tomatoes. Last year I started later than the prior year as babying big tomato plants for months is quite a bit of work...but I had July (instead of June) tomatoes. I liked having June tomatoes that first year gardening. So this is only year 3 for me, still playing with dates!! :)

Jane said...

Wow, I started "trust" greenhouse tomatoes very early last year and most people can get a June tomato with them. I still got a late July tomato, which was only a few weeks ahead of the outside regular planted tomatoes. So I kinda gave up on trying. I figured Mother Nature was not giving me any early tomatoes. glad you had luck.

Kelly said...

Have you ever grown sungold cherry? They are always my first to ripen, and there is no flavor sacrificed as is in some of the early globes.

When I started tomatoes in Feb. my first year gardening I did a fish fertilizer drench/soak every 2 weeks. The varieties were Juliet, Big Beef, Sungold, and something else I can not remember; they were in large pots, and were flowering before being set out. (I planted them deep each time they moved up to a larger pot), I can't recall when I set them out, but it was very early, everyone thought I was bananas. They went out in walls-o-water covered with reemay, and they started fruiting right away. The trouble was I knocked off half the fruit while removing the walls-o-water when it warmed up. And it was a LOT of work.

Annie's Granny said...

I had several varieties, in the past two years, that did not come even close to what they were supposed to be. All were from trades, or from free seed from Wintersown.org. My two Cherokee Purple plants last year were from the same batch of (saved) seeds, and one was a CP, the other was not even close....but a good tomato nonetheless. My "Sungold" had an oval fruit, with no sweetness. The "Tumbling Tom" didn't tumble. Since I'm not growing multiple plants of each variety this year, I hope the ones I do grow are true to their names.

Kelly said...

Hmm...I hope they are too Granny. Makes me not want to acquire seed from anywhere but an established mail order company.