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LA47
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need advice on heirloom vegetable seeds

I want to start planting mainly heirloom seed next year so that it can be saved and will probably need help later on HOW to save the seed. Right now I am interested in very short season plants as I live at 5800 feet in zone 4. We also have high alkiline clay soil that we will build up with compost, etc. I need tomato varieties for salads and canning, green beans, carrots, summer and winter squash, lettuce (love romaine types), green beans, green onions and onions I can store for the winter, pickling cukes, beets, broccoli and cauliflower. We are building a greenhouse in early spring and the tomatoes starts will be planted in the ground in it. Any and all recommendations would sure be appreciated. I have been growing gardens in this area for years but never really tried heirloom seeds before.
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jal_ut
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Do you know your average dates of last frost in the spring and first frost in the fall? How many frost free days do you usually get? This is important to know so you can tell what crops may have time to mature in your climate.

I have a short season too, but you are some higher than me. I can barely grow a pumpkin most years.

May I recommend:
Jade bush beans
yellow Spanish onion, sets for large bulbs and seed for green onions
Egyptian onions, have a mother clump and plant the bulbils for scallions
Charleston Gray Watermelon
romaine lettuce
black-seeded Simpson lettuce (Yes you can save lettuce seed as they don't cross)
Royal Chantenay Carrot
Butternut squash if you only plant this one Cucurbita moschata type, you can save the seed.

Summer squash and most pumpkins, delicata, acorn, and spaghetti squash are all of the same species, Cucurbita pepo, and will freely cross. Next year you get goofy squash, not true to type. You can save seed from these if you want, but never know what you will get.

I like Mardetmore 76 cukes, but have never saved seed from them. These may even be a hybrid?

I also like Burpee's Hybrid Cantaloupe. Don't know what to suggest for a heirloom cant.

Tomatoes? Good luck!

About carrots. They are usually biennial in growth habit. Plant a large root that you have saved over and it will go to seed for you. I saved a shopping bag full of seed this year. I also had some first year plants go to seed. I won't save seed from these as I don't want to develop an annual carrot. These do not make nice roots.

I do have some seeds. PM me if you are interested.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Oh, on beets. Detroit Dark Red is my beet of choice. For seed treat it like I said for the carrots. Save a root over and plant it next year. They too are biennial.

Chard is the same species as a beet. Chard is a great choice for greens all summer long. It just keeps coming. I don't know if they will cross with a beet. I don't usually grow chard seed. I think they are pollinated by bees or wind so they should cross. Probably best to not grow seed of both.
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rainbowgardener
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If you look in the Tomato Forum, there are a number of threads on people's favorite tomato varieties, many of which are heirloom. Jal_ut is at 5000 ft and has a 6 mo frost free season. You are farther north and higher so probably have less than that. For me (without a greenhouse) most tomatoes are right around four months from planting seeds to ripe tomatoes. So you will want to focus on earlier and more cold hardy varieties.
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jal_ut
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Ummmmm
Jal_ut is at 5000 ft and has a 6 mo frost free season.
Check my siggy line. From May to September is more like 4 months rainbowgardener. :)
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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rainbowgardener
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oh ooops.... I knew that... :eek:
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LA47
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Last frost day..we don't plant until June 1st and are prepared for frost really most of the summer. We have had 4 inches of snow on June 8 but that's not normal. Last frost date can be the..average, hmm, as early as sept. 5 to first of Oct. I know that seems vague but that's what we have experienced over 13 years. However we are always prepared for a frost and do cover the plants. We can pretty safely depend on no hard freezes until late Sept. I generally start my seeds in the middle of March in the house under grow lights and then move them into the heated greenhouse the first part of May. The tomato plants are planted in beds inside the greenhouse after the soil warms up. We bought a house early this spring a block from our old house so are familiar with the weather. We will have to build a greenhouse as early as we can in the spring and need to improve the soil in the new garden. Even though we planted late we did get plenty of produce to can and store to last us until next summer so it didn't do too bad. I'm just tired of spending the money for all of my seeds plus there seems to be fewer and fewer seeds in the packets I do buy, so I decided to try to get heirloom seeds and start saving my own. I just don't know much about heirloom seeds or how to save and store them. We are retired now so have plenty of time but not unlimited funds. With the seed, onion sets and seed potatoes I spent over $30 and did not plant as many kinds and varieties as I normally would. Sorry this is so long.
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tomc
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I'd look through High-Mowing (VT)
And
Sand Hill preservation Ctr (IA)

All have web sites

For trees St Lawrence Nursery (NY)
And
OIKOS Tree Crops (MI)

Worked for me in the monadnock region in NH...
Think like a tree
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digitS'
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Well, you have a shorter season than I've got but may have more seasonal warmth. My garden is often cursed - cursed, I say - with a very cloudy, cool spring :? ! Then, we share those cool nights thru the summer months.

I did live near that lake, the video I posted on your introduction thread, LA47. While there, after a few years I grew only Sub Arctic tomatoes. There are more than 1 sub-variety but I think all are heirlooms from the 1940's. They are very early!

Another open-pollinate, very early tomato is Bloody Butcher that I grow most years. However, since you are putting them out in a greenhouse thru the growing season -- do you really have to go with these very early varieties, LA47?

Burgess Buttercup is the winter squash variety that consistently matures squash that stay around as winter keepers. It is rated about as late as most any other in days-to-maturity and it will have some fruits that need to be used in the first few weeks after harvest, but it has come thru for me for several decades.

This isn't a recommendation but just a suggestion and something I can't seem to get around to doing. There are just a few common types of onions that are grown to produce sets. Stuttgarter is one of these and I grow some of these onions from sets every year. If I did a little research on the correct time to sow seed for these sets - I bet I wouldn't have to buy them! Baker Creek sells the seed. Walla Walla and Utah are sweet onions that I've grown a good number of years. They are heirlooms but I don't know how to tell you to get them thru the winters so that they can produce seed. Sweet onions don't make good keeping onions.

Muncher cucumbers were new-to-me in 2011. Both that year and this one had very difficult springs for starting off the cucumber plants. Muncher did great each year. They are a Beit Alpha type cucumber so they are a little different from the American slicers. I don't make pickles so I just imagine that they would be good for that. Beit Alpha types are usually hybrids but Muncher is open pollinated.

Nantes carrot types usually do well for me. I don't have the best ground for carrots (glacial till) so it doesn't help to have long-season types that hang around in it month after month. So, a short, quick variety like Scarlet Nantes works well.

The Romaines are probably mostly non-hybrids but give the Batavia (aka Summer Crisp) lettuce varieties a try. I like Nevada. Maybe you can get the idea of what I think makes them kind of special just from the names "Nevada" and "Summer Crisp" :wink: . They hold up just as well as the Romaines during the 1st part of our hot, dry summers.

I also grow Jade green beans. Green beans are probably all open-pollinated. I guess it is real time consuming to hybridize beans so that's not the route the seed companies usually take.

Steve
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LA47
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I want to thank everyone for their help. I understand now that I have a lot of research to do, especially on cross pollination! I'm really excited about it and so is DH.
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rainbowgardener
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Saving seed and storing is not hard. I just put them in paper envelopes inside a big paper envelope and put it in freezer. Paper doesn't hold condensation in like glass or plastic would. A wooden box would work too. And some years the envelope of seeds has just gone in the frig and that seems to work also.

I save seeds from hybrids also. They may not be exactly true from seed, but green pepper seeds still produce green peppers. My petunias will be different colors and markings from the original plant, but I think that is fun to see how they turn out.

Potatoes and garlic, I don't buy expensive ones from seed companies, I plant what I get from the grocery store. Many other seeds from grocery store produce can be saved too.
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digitS'
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LA47 wrote:. . . research to do, especially on cross pollination! I'm really excited about it and so is DH.
I have been thinking about this thread, LA47, and wanted to also add a little reassurance regarding cross pollination. Mostly, it may be a concern about those big, open squash flowers and those happy bumblebees that like to carry pollen around - I'm just assuming :wink: .

If you are wanting to save squash seed, it can come down to just choosing 1 from column A, 1 from column B and 1 from column C. That should work just fine (but, I was also having a little trouble thinking of a good Cucurbita moschata choice for you other than Butternut :) ).

As James says, summer squash, most pumpkins, and several winter squashes are the same species, Cucurbita pepo. If you want a zucchini or another summer squash, it may be best to just stay with that one with the pepo's and find the winter squashes in the other columns . . . and, maybe forget about the Halloween jack o'lanterns. Ooops! Did I say that :shock: ?

Anyway, the Cucurbita maxima are my choice for winter squash, mostly (see reference to Burgess Buttercup, above). I'm not saving seed and try choices within this species every year. I've grown Cha Cha Kabocha the last several years with good success! Like James, I'd like to try the Red Kuri but there's also one called Sweet Keeper that, at least, has the right name for what I have some problem with - keeping squash very many months after harvest.

Butternut may very well be the best choice in the Cucurbita moschata column for you. There is the Long Island Cheese Squash. Or, Long Island Cheese "Pumpkin" that is also a C. moschata. There are also some Italian varieties that I really know nothing about. The butternut that worked for me was the Early Butternut and not the Waltham Butternut. Waltham only reached a good maturity in some years.

And, there are some ideas on saving seeds from squash species & varieties . . .

Steve
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LA47
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That really helps to simplify the cross pollination problem for squash. I think I've decided not to be a 'total' seed saver as some are just not possible in a small home garden. I've decided to buy beet and chard seeds each year also the cole family as I don't want to alternate years on which one I grow. Tomatoes I'm not as concerned about as even if they cross pollinate they are still a tomato. Mmmm, I might avoid cherry type tomatoes as I wouldn't want my tomatoes to get smaller and smaller. Does this sound like a reasonable solution?
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jal_ut
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[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/squash3.jpg[/img]

Like you say for crossed tomatoes, its still a tomato.

Here is an example of a squash cross. On the left a Hubbard, on the right a Banana, and in the middle a Hybrid cross between the other two. The seed was saved from a Hubbard last season. The cross is not true to type, but is still a squash with some characteristics of both parents. I wonder what you would get if you planted some seed from this hybrid? I don't usually save squash seed, but was curious what I might get knowing I had only two maximas last year.

I have never saved seed from a yellow crookneck because I usually have up to 5 pepo type squashes and suppose the hybrid mix could be rather different. Maybe I could get a long necked pumpkin? Perhaps that will be my test planting next season? I do have a nice mature crookie I have been using for decoration. The only real reason for maybe doing this test would to be to take pics of the offspring for the sole purpose of education. A good way to demo what we are talking about, squash crosses not coming true to type.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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LA47
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It would be interesting to play around with it if you have the space. It might be frustrating to find a cross you really like and not be able to continue it. According to what I have researched, the seeds of a cross can be variable and maybe not exactly like the original cross. At the same time it may be a new kind. It would be fun to try.
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