Sunday, July 11, 2010

Surprise Garden

In my quest for the the perfect organic garden, I started raising heirloom vegetables which in previous years I purchased from City Floral. But this year I decided to take things a step further. In March, while snow still covered the ground, I started my precious little seeds indoors, lightly covered them in beautiful organic seed starting mix, and began putting them outside in cold frame. I had saved many of these seeds from last year's crop of Brandywine, Beefstake and San Marzanos, and then to increase my chance of a good yield I bought a few packets packets of Beefstake and Brandywine seeds to plant. Though, in my usual style, I didn't really bother identifying which seeds were which.
I had done a little research into seed saving, getting books from the library and going to on-line sites. I knew heirlooms plants or "open pollinators" are able to produce a "true" seed or a seed with the same traits as the parent seed, rather than F1 hybrids like Early Girl or Celebrity which are crosses of 2 different parent plants, and produce seed will not produce the same plant if replanted.
I figured that I would grow heirlooms and save my seeds, reducing costs and also producing a plant that over the years adapts to its specific garden conditions. What could be better? Unfortunately I didn't ready further, to the part that says heirlooms or open pollinators do produce a true seed IF they are isolated from other open pollinated tomato plants. If they cross you can end up with a very strange tomato. Since my garden is slightly bigger than a postage stamp, my tomato plants are planted one on top of the other, with the branches intertwined like Medusa's hair. I am certain that the seeds I saved last year are not true seeds, and I have no idea whether the plants growing are from my "saved"seeds or from the true store-bought packets.
This years garden should be interesting. Surprise!

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