TZ -OH6
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It doesn't matter where you get the seeds from, varieties do not adapt to local conditions over time because there is no genetic diversity for selective factors to work on (if there were, these lines would be considered unstable and never get sent out to the public). Brandywine grown for 50 generations in Alaska is the same as that grown in Texas.


Environmental factors affecting plant health and disease transmission can be addressed.

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applestar
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OK, I'm not a biologist so maybe I'm just not getting it... or using the wrong terminology. But if you keep the seeds presumably from healthy plants that did not succumb to diseases, is it not likely that particular seed will grow plants less likely to succumb to diseases? If you grow them from generation to generation this way, aren't you only keeping seeds from plants that grow well in your region -- whether you tend to get a lot of rain, hardly any rain, too hot, too cold, overun by aphids, grasshoppers, stinkbugs?? Do the seeds really not retain those experiences "somewhere" in their genetic makeup? It seems to make sense to me.... :|

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You are confusing a genetically diverse population (or species) with a stabilized variety, which is just about the same thing as a clone of an individual. With a stabilized variety you will see neither adaptation nor inbreeding depression (decline due to inbreeding), all of that potential variability is weeded out during the selection process.

Breeds of animals are different from horticultural varieties of vegetables because it is nearly impossible to "stabilize" an animal breed because of the high number of complex gene interactions, low number of offspring for each generation and because they do not "self pollinate". Most animal breeds are full of hidden deleterious recessive genes, which constantly have to be weeded out through continued selective breeding. Plant varieties can get bred past that point rather quickly (5-10 generations). Some lab mice and fruit flies used in research are "purified" to the level of vegetable varieties and are pretty much clones of each other, but your basic German Shepard or Quarterhorse is comparatively very different from its brother or sister.


Here is a quick single gene example. I'll use a gene for leaf shape and call it 'El' (L or l) for leaf, but it could be one of dozens of flavor components, disease resistance etc.

Each gene has two replicates, one from the mother (Lm), one from the father (Lp) p for paternal or pollen.

A stabilized regular leaf variety will be homozygous dominant (L,L)
If it self pollinates (including pollination from any other individual of its vareity) the only option for that gene is regular leaf (Lm or Lp)= (L,L). Thus there can be no change (except for mutations, which are literally, one in a million seeds per gene).

Any potato leaf variety will be homozygous recessive (l,l), and similarly cannot change.

Practically all of the genes are this way (homozygous) for a stabilized variety (A,A, B,B, c,c, D,D, e,e, f,f, G,G....). Both parents can only contribute ABcDeFG to the next generation so the next generation cannot change.




What if you did want to chang the variety some how?

A hybrid of a potatoleaf and regular leaf will be (L,l) and since L is dominant the plant will look regular leaf. This is genetically unstable because if/when it self pollinates the possiblities are (L,L), (L,l) and (l,l)...This is genetic diversity. If bugs or fungal disease prefered regular leaf (L,L, or L,l) and killed most of them off then the population would shift to potatoleaf (l,l), and adapt to the local selective pressure, but in doing so a random mix of other gene combinations would end up in the survivors so flavor and production would be off. That is why it is so hard to get a good tasting supermarket tomato. They are bred for a handfull of disease resistance and storage characteristics and it is very difficult to get good flavor gene combinations to follow along.

It is quite funny to see the survivalist seed people pushing heirlooms, because it is the hybrids which are full of disease resistance gene components and are also heterozygous (mixed) for other genes, which could hold the genetic diversity needed for local adaptation. The heirloms will either sink or swim with local conditions year to year while the offspring of the hybrids will show a range of success from which survivors/high producers can be chosen at each location/year. They may taste worse than the parents but poor flavor is better than starvation

One reason that some people say to collect heirloom seed from multiple fruit and multiple plants is so that when there is crossed seed there will also be a large amount of true-to-type plants growing from those seeds for comparison. If you only save seed from only one plant and that one happened to be from a crossed seed then you have lost that variety. Likewise, each fruit has its own level of cross pollination based on what pollen was covering the bees that hit it.

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Ooooh..... OH! I think I had a flash of understanding.... I'm going to come back to this and read it again. Thanks TZ! :D

I AM gathering that what you're saying is actually Heirlooms... especially single or limited number of them is NOT what you want to choose as the "keeper"

Also, what you said kind of supports this wild idea I had... that I don't actually "care" if the tomatoes growing in my garden are the same as the named varieties as long as they grow well and taste reasonably good. While trying to save pure seeds are interesting as exercise, I don't mind in the least if they crossed and next generation turned out different.

When collecting a number of favored varieties and growing them, maybe what I should be doing is to plant them together according to size, for example, so large fruited varieties will not inadvertently cross with cherries and end up shrinking in the next generations. Or perhaps size and color.... 8)

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TZ first off for thanks crushing our dreams of the super tomato! :P :lol:

About the survivalist pushing heirlooms I'm sure it is because they usually don't have a real job at least the hard core ones. So it's more cost effective to save seeds from a plant that you know will be roughly that same year after year rather than having to buy seeds possibly form some meglo-seed/plant producer. Ethics can get you in a tangle fast. Just an hypothesis now.

As far as the supermarket tom's being bred for survival instead of taste. Maybe they are actually breeding out the good taste gene. Because what self respecting bug wants to eat a crappy tomato? :lol:

Thanks for the explanation. I'm still trying to compute it all. Where would we be without you. :wink:
Last edited by gixxerific on Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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What about mutations? Even the heirlooms shouldn't be immune to genetic mutation, especially given the current state of our environment. Right?

So, suppose you had a beneficial genetic mutation. Unbeknownst to you, the reason that one tomato plant fared better through the heat was because its thermo-regulator is more powerful than that of its counterparts.

Just playing devil's advocate here. The posting was impressive, TZ, and I got a clearer understand of what you were trying to say in an earlier thread!
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Why should you want to preserve the integrity of a variety (especially ones you like)? Each named variety (call it heirloom or OP variety) is the result of several years of selection where dozens or hundreds of its sister plants were tossed aside. Think of a bell curve where each one of them is at the top 10% for quality. Now if you cross two of them the chances are pretty good that 90% of their offspring will be of lower quality than the parents. The first generation (F1 hybrid) has a decent chance of being good if both parents are similar and good but after that things fall apart. Heirlooms/OP tend to differ from each other moreso than hybrids (round red things with generic tomato flavor), so mixing/crossing them will give you a broader range of outcomes (flavor quality) like mixing different bright colors together and ending up with brown.

You can hope that when similar varieties cross the offspring will be similar to the parents, but each bee in the garden will hit every plant, and not in order because bees temporarily scent mark each flower they visit and have to go looking for flowers where the smell from other bees has worn off (that give the flower time to release more pollen). Cherry tomatoes tend to have a zillion times more flowers open than anything else so many more bees have much more pollen on them from the cherry varieties when they visit other plants.

I'm growing out some Brandywine crosses that were supposed to be with Black Krim, because that is the pollen I put on the open flower, but from the leaves and color of the fruit I am seeing most of them could only be fathered by something in a plot 60-70 feet away with about 30 plants in between. There is a bit of variability in flavor, all are pretty good, but not as good as the mother Brandywine. In another post I put down my observations regarding Lime Green Salad x Green Giant (I spit out taste test bites from about 80% of the offspring because they were so nasty), three of 28 plants taste good, but not as good as the Green Giant parent.

All of this is why the old timers (1800s) used to think that varieties lost quality with time, and the idea was (mistakenly) linked to the modern concept of inbreeding depression. It is actually the opposite of inbreeding depression, quality is being diluted by input of new gene forms (alleles) and the plants are turning into Heinz 57 mutts.

Growing mutts isn't much of a problem if you have alot of varieties to keep you occupied, use them mostly for cooking, or really like the flavor of Early Girl, Better Boy and Roma (my mom used to save/grow seeds from hybrids and was happy as a clam at high tide), but if you only grow a few plants and have your heart set on the perfect Brandywine, Goose Creek (my new favorite), etc for 9 long months and the seed turns out to be crossed and puts out just an ordinary good tomato, its a big let down. :cry:

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All this excites me TZ. But the fact that I don't have the land or time to have the big "let down" keeps me on the straight and narrow. Although I love all your educational talks I won't be one to be experimenting too much in the near future.

Keep it coming my friend. I love it all. :D

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6 days later, with no further intervention from me, the septoria is now starting to take over. All this time, it's been just a leaf here and there. Now if I were going to remove all the affected leaves, it would be about 1/3 of the plant. So I'm giving up. I'll keep watering them as long as they keep producing tomatoes, which they are so far. But I give up on fighting the septoria. There's about 6 weeks left til frost.... If it gets closer and they get looking really bad, I'll just pick all the green tomatoes and pull them. They've done real well this year, despite vicious heat and drought, so if they give out a few weeks early, I won't feel too bad.
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If you have 6 weeks left, you could make a decision, cut them down, and opt for wintering over veggies like Romaine lettuce (covered might last until Thanksgiving), Spinach (Double covered with garden fleece and plastic or straw and plastic), Asian turnips (45~48 days), ... etc. There is also a Winter mustard called Winter Star, available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.... Stuff like that... You could also sow Daikon seeds around for deep digging the ground. For your raised beds with the concrete patio bottom, there are short stubby daikon varieties too.

...or even winter cover crop that you said you usually don't have time for. Schedule I have set for myself is -- Oats should go in about now, triticale 9/1~10/1, rye 9/21~10/7, Wheat 9/28~10/7, Spelt 10/1~10/17.

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I know... but they are still producing tomatoes (not as many, but still). I can't bear to cut down a tomato vine that's still producing! :)
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rainbowgardener wrote:I know... but they are still producing tomatoes (not as many, but still). I can't bear to cut down a tomato vine that's still producing! :)
Amen to that girlfriend.

I am in the same boat, I have taken out several plants but still quite a few hang on. The septoria is ever encroaching on the top and I'm not sure how long mine will last. But they are flowering and there are plenty of little buds on a few of them. I have actually been getting some nice tomatoes lately and i just can't cut my plants loose that easy. :wink:

I just telling myself that next year will be better.

As a matter of fact some of my still growing toms are way outgrowing there CRW cages, I'm a little worried they will get heavy with fruit and break. This year has been an odd one that is for sure.

Still waiting on my lettuce seeds to sprout a few have but not all. I need to get out and plant more seed.

Yes I have a problem. :lol:

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No disease so far -- knock on wood -- but the some of the tom leaves have been "shriveling" and I finally caught on to what's wrong -- leaf miners. ALL OVER. I've never seen anything like it. I'm also finding a lot more hornworms/hormworm damage than in the years past. Is it the drought?

Fortunately, so far, all but one hornworm I've come across are infested with braconid wasps. 8)

I've started trimming off the leaf miner infested leaves. It's a lot of work. Lots of leaves are involved and sometimes it's easier just to cut off the entire leaf. I also have to go back to my notes and garden maps to see which of the tomatoes are determinate. The Principe Borghese's definitely are, and a few of them have already bit the dust. It'll be easier to pull the plug on those.

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rainbowgardener wrote:I know... but they are still producing tomatoes (not as many, but still). I can't bear to cut down a tomato vine that's still producing! :)
....which is the no.1 reason I don't plant a cover-crop each year. By the time I take everything out......it's too late! There's already been a frost or two by that time :lol:.
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Well I thought about it some more and watched what is happening and ended up taking Applestar's advice. Fall slams down sudden and hard around here. Two days ago it was 93 degrees. Today it is 70 and tonight it will get down to 49 !! Not really great tomato weather any more, combined with shorter days...

So I picked all the tomatoes (picked 70 tomatoes off my 5 plants, in a whole range from almost ripe to small and green), cut the tomato vines off. We had had a discussion about whether to compost tomato vines with septoria, but I couldn't stand to throw it all away. So I cut off all the new fresh healthy growth at the top and composted it and threw away the rest. That way I was only composting the tender stuff, so I didn't even have to grind up any vines.

Left the tomato cages in place and planted peas all around them. If the peas sprout, they can climb the cages. I don't know if I have time left to actually get any peas, but they are nitrogen fixers and the vines can be my cover crop.

Along the edges (where the spinach and lettuce I planted at the end of July never sprouted in the heat and drought :( ) I planted onions and garlic.

Starting to shut the garden down for fall. Earlier than usual, but everything is looking really ragged with the drought...
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PS I was just out picking up the CSA produce and heard the weather forecast. Radio was saying "near-record low of 45 tonight"! Just as well I picked the tomatoes. All the house plants that are still outside may suffer a bit.
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RG, you said you put in onions. Isn't it way too late for onions? What kind are you planting?
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rainbowgardener
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Onions, like garlic, over winter. They will be ready sometime in the spring or summer. I planted some green onions and some bulb onions. The best onions I had this year were the ones planted last year. The ones I planted this spring never got very big.
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I have never tried onions in the fall but I may give it a go RBG. What do I have to loose right? I still have a bunch of sets here so why not.

I did pull a few more tomatoes yesterday as well Brussels sprouts and some other things are going in today.

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I've heard that you can plant bulb onions to overwinter and come up in the spring, but have always though that it was just for warm climates with mild winters. You say that you've had success with this method in the past?

Hmmm, maybe I should re-think this idea. Do you just plant the seeds and do you use any mulch to protect them from the frost?
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