It’s no surprise that tomatoes are one of the most popular plants to grow. I grew around 22 plants in my greenhouse last summer. Yes, that’s a lot of tomatoes but I like to try new kinds each year. Besides, who doesn’t like a good greek salad? This year I ordered some heirloom tomato seeds that I will be growing. They are all new to me. I will also be receiving some seeds from a friend who grows vegetables for a seed bank.
What is a seed bank? It’s a storehouse of heirloom and rare seeds that have a history and its a way of saving rare seeds not found today. One of the tomato seeds I will be growing dates back to 1795. I will be growing three different tomatoes in the greenhouse this summer to harvest their seeds. I know what you are thinking, no tomatoes? Yes, I will have tomatoes but not before scooping out the seeds carefully and putting them aside. I will also have to learn about how to isolate a plant. For example, if a bee flew in the greenhouse and landed on more than one plant, the insect could transfer pollen from one plant to another and the resulting seed would not be exactly like the parent plant. Its kind of like our children. When we marry, our children are totally different from us. To get pure seed from the tomato plants I will place small organza bags over the flowers until they start to produce fruit. Tomatoes are self pollinating so we don’t really need the bees for this job. Sorry bees. I still need you in the outside vegetable garden, just not in the greenhouse this year.
I am pretty excited to be growing these seeds for the seed bank. I will be growing Silvery Fir Tree, Calabacito Rojo and Wapipinicon Peach. The supplier was quite low in these three seeds so if I can obtain a good quantity of seed to donate back, that’s a good thing. Most people wonder why would I even go to such lengths to save seed. I want to do this to preserve some of the varieties of heirloom tomatoes that our ancestors grew. With a few large corporations controlling our seed supply, many old varieties are almost extinct. What would you rather have, just ten tomatoes to choose from or hundreds? I also like to grow these heirloom tomatoes because they cannot be bought in the grocery store. Fortunately many of the farmers markets are now selling some of the heirloom tomatoes.
I will be growing hundreds of tomatoes this year to spread the word. I hope to sell some of my heirlooms from my garden. I have seed to grow Berkely Tie- Dye Pink, now that’s a hippie name isn’t it? I will be growing Branscomb’s Orange, Everetts’s Rusty Oxheart, Gold Nugget, Indigo Rose, Mortgage Lifter,Peacevine and Snow White. As my plants come available I will let you know when they are ready for a new home. There is nothing better than being able to walk in the backyard and pick a tomato fresh from the vine.