Vegetables forum: Who's Your Mama?

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Jan 27, 2015 8:38 AM CST
Name: starlight1153 Zone 8a/b
Whose your Mama???????

This is a thread about tomatoes and peppers and their lineage.

This past season, I used this method for bagging peppers and tomatoes.

For a beginner it wasn't easy trying to get those first few bags on. I did learn you need to use a large bag and literally just about stick that whole branch in the bag.

Time constraints did not allow me to bag every pepper and tomato, so what I did was bag the first set of blossoms I saw forming and in some cases the second set. This way I would know I had some pure seed to collect and save.

After I had enough blossoms bagged that I figured I would have enough pure seed saved, as you don't know growing for first time how many seeds will be inside, I then let the rest go to OP. With letting them go OP they are no longer true strains.

There will be some that will look and taste exactly like the bagged, but if a bee got pollen from one and than pollinated another blossom that plant is no longer pure. Pollens have been mixed and genetics have been crossed and an OP is now that is what you will have.

Sure you may have some fruits that are pure just because of wind or rain or accidental brushing that caused the plant to self-pollinate itself, before an insect could get to it, but the only way you can really tell if what you have is a pure seed is by genetic testing.

If your seed has not been bagged, and you now have an OP, if you grow out your seed you may just find yourself with a surprise and have a new cultivar develop. Which may or may not be a good thing when you taste it.

For the serious tomato and pepper growers it is becoming harder and harder to find pure seed lines. They may bag their tomatoes and peppers and are like hawks to make sure that pollen doesn't cross but unless that seed once out of their hands is grown and not bagged it really shouldn't be called by it's original name and should have OP after the title at least to inform the next person growing this seed that it may or may not come true.

A lot of the rare and original heirloom peppers and tomatoes genetics are being lost due to not properly bagging to harvest seed. Which is really a shame. The old genetics are getting all muddied up.

For example take Person A who has seed that was bagged of say 1884 Purple, an heirloom. Person A shares seed with Person B. Person B is all excited about all the new tomato seeds they have gotten and goes out and plants 10 cultivars. The seed is not bagged. The fruits develop, are picked, seed saved.

Now to Person B the pepper or tomato looks like the description and so they just mark the seed Heirloom 1884 Purple and pass it on. Now Person C, D and who knows how many other folks have all grown the offspring of this original pure 1884 Purple. They have grown numerous other cultivars right along side of it and saved seed. That original bagged, pure 1884 Purple seed is now actually no longer an heirloom , no longer contains only the genetics of the original seed. It is now a pool party of who knows how many different types of tomatoes. Some of the genetics could be from heirlooms and some could be from hybrids. You actually at this point have no idea what you are you growing. You may think you do, but you don't and passing on those seeds without at least an OP after the name does a disservice to the next person you share them with.

Even with bagging there is no guarantee that your seed is pure and has not been crossed, but the chances of it being pure are a lot higher. When you buy commercial seed , you think you are getting pure seed, but that may not be true either. When I am looking at commercial sites, I look around the home pages. I look at the about us pages too. Usually somewhere on the site you will find information as to how the folks are growing their seed. If you look closely you will find that a lot of the popular named seed companies offer seed that has grown OP that don’t bag at all. It seems like they just hope that they have grown enough of that cultivar that it has self pollinated. Some of the companies gather the seed from the middle plants instead of outside ones hoping that the seed will come more true than the outside plants.

I have gotten commercial seed from reputable companies, grown the seed out only to find, I do not have the plant I was expecting. Very disappointing. At that point , all I can do is give it a garden name and save it, or destroy it to keep it from being passed around as the name on the package.

If a person wants to get back to a stable cultivar, they can grow the plant save the seed , bag it and keep growing out that same seed and saving it over and over for 7 to 9 generations. Some folks have the time and patience to grow a seed that many years. Me personally, I am too old and to lazy at this point to do it. I may go for a few years, but that is it.

You ask ,” Ella how do you know you have seed that's worthy of isolation?” The way I answer that is by personal choice. What I do is start researching the seed. I don’t google just the first few links because they usually are all copied from one site to another and say the same thing. I will go back several google pages and start looking at old posts to see what folks have said.

First seed that I will try and bag and save is anything where I find the seed is rare, very limited, or endangered, or no longer available and by luck I have managed to get my hands on a few old seeds. You see folks all the time wishing and hunting for a seed that is no longer available. I have a couple now that I am still hunting information on and since I can’t find anything, that means probably that seed has disappeared from the market and gardens. It may be that the fruits were not acceptable tasting to the public and just died a slow death. Could be it was a hybrid and the cultivar became very unstable for mass growers, they complained and it was pulled. Whatever the reason, I have a few precious seeds. I hope they will germinate, I’ll bag them and save them. It may in the future that this cultivar is wanted again. At some point, maybe I will discover it has traits that I like and try crossing it with another cultivar and do some hybridizing.

One of things I do before I try bagging a plant is I evaluate it. Does it look healthy? How is its form? Does it have good branching and do the leaves have good coloring and shape. There is no sense to wasting time and energy bagging a sick looking plant.

After doing the rares, than I start on those that have been labeled bagged. Now since I am getting them and don’t know how many years the person before grew them out, I have to consider them an F1 and go from there. They may have bagged them, but whoever they got them from maybe didn’t . It’s all a game of chance.

Than I go for the ones that say, “ From my garden.” I get excited about this group. I know there are plants that will look like the parents, but also there is the possibility of a new discovery. I love surprises and sometimes, if your lucky you find a good one. In this group, I am also planting seed and saving of breeding lines. Plants for example that Joseph from his breeding or landrace lines has grown. Makes me tingly all over just waiting to see what develops. Will my plants look like his? Will I have something different or better than what he developed. You just never know when you play with Mother Nature.

There are folks like Danita who grow many kinds of Salvia and some that maybe crosses. I’ll fidget for two or three years waiting for the first bloom to see what blooms. The folks that save seed from their garden and mark it as saved., I get excited about their seed. If possible, I try and see if they for example are/have grown several types say for example Zinnia. If they have, I will watch those plants for all types of tiny changes and bag, as there is a great possibility the different plant may hold something exciting, or even ugly. Which I have had a few plants bloom, but saved and enjoyed them as they hold different genetics and may someday when crossed with the right plant sprout a real beauty. I enjoy getting seed like from Poison, Chelle, Patrob, Wild, Arlene, right off the top of my head that has been collected from their gardens. I know I am going to get some plants the same and just maybe, something new.

Lastly then I will do the unknowns. These are cultivars that may just have a common name, for example Coneflower. I have no idea of the long line of cultivars, which one I may have. It could be purple, pink, poka dotted , striped. Those I generally don’t even try to bag, but let bloom out, evaluate the plant and if I think it has good qualities say for drought, heat and disease resistance, than I will just save the seed and mark it , “ Unknown from my garden.”

I think one of the things you have to decide for yourself is how much time and effort am I willing to put into my garden and saving seed. I don’t think personally there is any way which is really wrong. There are all types of gardeners that prefer saved seed all different ways.

Myself, personally, I would say I am a middle of the road gardener, grower. I try and bag and preserve special seed. Some folks all their seed is bagged. I also enjoy growing the hybrids. Even though the seed won’t be true if saved, if the plant survived my conditions, than I will purchase more to grow. I also enjoy learning more about and growing out landraces. I think at some point the landraces may become very important seed as our climates and growing conditions change. At least the landraces you have saved are ones that if something major did happen would have a better chance of surviving in your area.

When it comes to tomatoes and peppers, I admit I am a hog and want to try anything I haven’t before, but I really do prefer having bagged seed to start with if I am going to trade and don’t want just to mark OP.

If your growing things like heirloom squash, corn and beans and melons, there are methods to try and get true seed , especially if you have limited space and are growing several cultivars at once.

I think the bottom line I am trying to say is don’t just save a seed and mark it heirloom, because somebody else told you it was an heirloom or you found online it was listed as an heirloom. Mark your seed how you save it. Bagged, OP, landrace, unknown. That let’s folks know more or less what they can expect and what they are working with. Even I am at fault with some of my markings and am constantly trying to improve my labeling as I go along.

I hope folks will join in on their thoughts and also explain some of the different methods that they do and use for saving seed for different crops.

Jan 27, 2015 9:30 AM CST
Name: starlight1153 Zone 8a/b
When I was trying to find out how to try and get true seed from squash, this is the response I got as I had tried the baggy method and it just didn't work.

Quoting: When the blossom starts to open to tape it shut and than next morning go out and hand pollinate and mark the cross.

So this year I will be watching for blossoms to just start to open a tiny bit and be carrying a roll of scotch tape along with me. Than the next morning a pair of scissors to carefully cut the taped blossom open and little tags with the name on to tie to the plant.

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