Let's talk Heirloom Tomatoes

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  1. I love these!!

    I dont have any growing in the garden at the moment (well, I take that back...I MIGHT...I got some seedlings from a friend and she forgot what they were).

    I just love them. Look at this pic!

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    photo: swallowtail garden

    I just ordered some seeds for these varieties:

    Photos and descriptions courtesy of Swallowtail Garden. They have 41 (!!!) varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes! :faints:

    Heirloom Black Plum
    [​IMG]

    Tall indeterminate vines produce sweet, deep mahogany morsels perfect for backyard grazing. No other tomato quite like it--we are pleased to offer this rare and very special variety.


    Heirloom Delicious

    [​IMG]

    The huge, meaty fruits are frequently 2 to 3 pounds each and deliver excellent flavor with very little cracking. Declicious holds the world's record (over 7 pounds) for the largest tomato ever grown. Indeterminate vines.

    I like this vendor because they differentiate between Open Pollinated and Hybrid seeds, which is really important if you are planning to collect seeds and replant them.

    This company has tons of variety, too...
    http://www.sevenacreseeds.com/main.sc

    Anyone have any Heirloom Tomatoes growing in their garden?
     
  2. oooohh...I been looking into Black Plum for next year.

    I see some very unique heirloom varieties in seed form only. I don't have any experience with starting tomatoes from seed, and am a bit intimidated by the thought of it. It looks like it takes grow lights and other equipment I don’t have. Is this the case? If not, I’d like to try it.
    I'm hoping to find more of a selection of heirloom seedlings for next year.

    Also, how do you save seeds? Do you just take them out of ripe tomatoes and let them dry?
     
  3. Yes, it is hard to find heirloom varieties in plant form.
    But tomato seeds are really easy to start. In fact, my huge mess of a tangle just started when SO buried two tomato halves in the garden. We dont know if they were hybrids or what, so I am not sure what I will get, but they popped up and grew like mad.

    If you are not planting the seeds right away, then yes, definitely dry them and dont wrap them up till they are totally dry or they will rot.

    I start everything outside, but I am in zone 10, and I am home during the day and can water if it is super hot. However, if I were not able to do that, I would just use an old screen elevated above the starts table outside. You can use those small jiffy pots from the garden center and set them up outside on a table in good light and just make sure to keep them moist.

    If you need a grow light, if you are starting them indoors, its really easy!! You dont need complicated equipment. A simple FULL SPECTRUM compact florescent lightbulb from Home Depot will do the trick. you can put it in a shoplight and aim it right at your plants. You can put it on a timer and shut it off at night. These lightbulbs have really made it so easy to grow things indoors. Here is an article:

    Fluorescent Plant Grow Lights
    Recent advances in fluorescent technologies provide the indoor gardener with a multitude of fluorescent plant growing options.

    Standard T12 Fluorescents are an excellent choice for starting seedlings to get a jump start on spring plantings. They also are excellent for cultivating a cool weather harvest in the basement year round. Leaf lettuce, spinach, and herbs all will do well year round under fluorescent lamps.

    The trick to using them successfully is to keep standard fluorescent bulbs no further than 4 inches away from the tops of the plants. Since the tubes burn relatively cool to the touch, you do not have to worry about burning plants unless they are actually touching the bulb. Fluorescent tubes are an excellent choice for the display and grow lighting of african violets, small cacti and succulents, and many kitchen herbs.

    New advances in color blending make full-spectrum fluorescents one of the truest color rendering lamps on the market today. Standard fluorescent tubes are twice as efficient as incandescent bulbs, producing twice as many lumens per watt of energy consumed and have an average usable life span of up to 20,000 hours... more than 25 times as long as an incandescent.

    High Output T5 Fluorescents produce almost twice as much light as standard fluorescents while still burning very cool to the touch. HO fluorescent fixtures have a very thin profile, making them extremely useful in vertically limited areas. High Output Fluorescent fixtures are available in 2, 4, 6, and 8 tube models, making them ideal for a wide variety of horticultural applications. An 8-tube 4-foot model produces approximately the same amount of lumens as a 400 watt Metal Halide fixture, but with much less heat and the ability to more evenly spread that light over the coverage area. High Output Fluorescents produce about 5,000 lumens per 54 watt 4-foot tube and are available in warm (3000K) or cool (6500K) versions. Also available are 2-foot 28 watt tubes that produce 2,450 initial lumens. Average usable life span for High Output Fluorescent tubes is about 10,000 hours.

    Compact Fluorescents take the cool burning fluorescent technology and pack it into a focused, high output "bulb", that you can use not only for propagation, but for growing larger plants as well. Compact fluorescents work in specially designed reflectors that efficiently direct light to the plants, much like the high intensity discharge lamps described below. Compact fluorescent bulbs are also available in warm (3000K) or cool (6500K) versions. Average usable life span for Compact Fluorescent bulbs is about 10,000 hours.


     
  4. ^Thanks. Very interesting. This may be do-able afterall. I think I will have a looksey at the light bulbs the next time I'm at Home Depot.
    I didn't know saving seeds was that easy. I'm totally going to try it this year. Then next spring I'll have something to swap at the seed swap fair.
     
  5. Thats great! Look at the shop lights at home depot too. they are really inexpensive an can use screw in or tube bulbs. Not beautiful but definitely affordable.

    Just spread the seeds on wax paper and move them/turn them over each day so they dont stick and dry evenly. then you can put them in a fresh sheet of wax paper and put them in a zip lock bag, but just fold it, dont zip it. or in a box or whatever. :tup:
     
  6. yum - I want to bite 'em!
     
  7. I haven't grown any myself, but they are incredibly delicious...all you need is a little salt, & bite into them like an apple! when I lived in NC & VA, I had many friends who grew heirloom tomatoes. not only are they beautiful, but they really do taste better. I was kept very well supplied by generous garden friends :smile:

    I try to buy heirloom tomatoes whenever I can find them at farmer's markets.
     
  8. we are in the same zone??????????????????? I need to pay closer attention to your garden. maybe I can grow some of the things you grow.

    so you just planted tomato halves? holy cow...I may have just found my weekend project. do you get tons of rain like I do? it doesn't make the fruit rot on the vine? would I be better off to try in a large clay pot first?

    I am getting so excited at the thought that I could possibly grow my own heirloom tomatoes.... :woot:

    have you ever tried the PINK ones??? :drool:
     
  9. Zone 10-11 for me. And I get 120-200 inches. We cannot grow certain tomatoes outside the greenhouse. The larger thin-skinned varieties, forget it. But cherry tomatoes, absolutely. And some of the crack resisitant hybrids, and lots of folks are doing well with heirlooms, which is why I want heavy on the cherry and heirloom when I ordered.

    And yes, I have two HUGE vines from the tomato halves. The problem is, I dont know what SO put in the ground---hybrids? if so, the fruits will not be true to the fruit the seed came from. Hybrids require hybrid seeds to match from season to season. The heirlooms are Open Pollinated, which means the fruit should be true to the seed from the batch before.

    For example, if you plant a yellow bell pepper seed, you will not get a yellow bell pepper. you may get one or two, but likely you will get something green and it may be unattractive.

    So, I am not sure what will come of the tomatoes that were planted from the fruits, I dont even know if those seeds were from the farmers market or the supermarket.

    Check out my post in the other tomato thread about making frames from stretcher bars and screen. very cheap and a way to regulate the amount of water and sun, if you need to.

    My cherry tomatoes are well underway and so far no cracking, I have harvested about a dozen, with lots more on the way.

    My soil has a lot of clay so I did mix in some Kelloggs Amend, some red cinder, and some horse manure....
     
  10. I've never grown anything from seed, so I feel pretty intimidated. but I will give it a try if I can just "plant" halved tomatoes in the ground. I need to find some locally-grown heirloom tomatoes now.

    I need to visit that site where you ordered your seeds.
     
  11. Really???? Don't be intimidated! You can do it!
     
  12. ^I went to this website, but they don't tell you which plants will work in which zones. how do I know what will work here? is it there, but I'm missing it? did you order your seeds from a different company?



    ^thanks for your encouragement!
     
  13. What zone are you in?


    honestly I dont pay a ton of attention, because we dont get frost here, and have basically a year-round growing season. There are a lot of things that we all know wont grow here, other than that, we just try things.

    swallowtail gardens tells you zones for most flowers.

    Here is a zone map that tells you when to plant tomatoes by zone..

    http://www.tomatofest.com/tomato-growing-zone-map.html
     
  14. thanks! I'm in zone 10/11...just like you. I've had very bad luck growing things that aren't hearty in this zone. it's too hot & too much rain. I'll check out their zone map.