tedln
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Which of my heirlooms would you plant more of?

Along with my standby Better Boy (21 plants) and Juliet cherry/plum (6 plants), I will be planting the following heirloom tomatoes. I think there is some question whether some of them are actually heirloom, but they are new to me. I will be planting three each of the heirloom with the exception of the triple crop vining tomato which will have 21 plants. I will also have space to plant five of one variety of the heirlooms listed instead of three. Of the heirlooms listed, which would you value high enough to plant five plants?

Prudens Purple
Kelloggs Breakfast
Mortgage Lifter
Climbing Triple Crop
Brandywine
Coustralee
Stupice

Ted
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TZ -OH6
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Right off the bat, dump the Climbing Triple Crop unless you are selling tomatoes or want to see a big plant (may be the same as Italian Tree tomato). It is not one of the best tasting OP varieties.

Stupice will give you early, small tomatoes. It is good if you are restricted to short season (early) tomatoes but usually gets left behind when mid and late season varieties start to ripen, and thus a waste of space for 80% of the season. An early cherry usually holds me over until the big tomatoes ripen so I don't need Stupice for the 2-3 weeks it preceeds the others.

I suspect that Mortgage Lifter might do better in the South, it has not been one of my top tomatoes (flavor or production) either times I grew it.

Cuostralee and Prudens Purple (PP=earliest beefsteak for me and dependable all season) are both good.

Brandywine (pink potatoleaf) can be your best flavored tomato if you can get fruit from it, but I don't think it does well in Texas heat, so it would be a gamble.

Kelloggs Breakfast is very good and the only gold variety you listed so I would definitely recommend it.


All can safely be called heirlooms (not hybrids and not known to be recently developed by a breeder). Climbing Triple Crop, and Stupice were developed by/for agricultural interests. Cuostralee came over from France in a trade (to Carolyn Male) with no information behind it. Prudens Purple has no historical information behind it but is wrongly listed as being related to Brandywine on several sites. Kelloggs Breakfast is a garden heirloom. Brandywine came from the Sudduth family in Tennesee (not Amish) and Mortgage Lifter has a good story behind it.

hope this helps

tedln
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TZ-OH6,

Thanks for the reply.

I plan on growing the climbing triple crop on an eight foot fence behind my other tomatoes. I think it will be interesting to see a "wall" of tomatoes. I haven't even considered the taste except as a "freezer" tomato to use in sauces and other dishes calling for tomatoes or tomato paste. If the plant grows as large as you say, they will also provide some shade for my other tomatoes during the hottest part of the late afternoon and hopefully prevent some sun scald on the others.

You seem to strongly recommend the Kellogg's Breakfast and I am very interested in it. Lately, I have been reading that it is a little light in the production department. What has your experience been with the production of this variety?

Does the Prudens Purple develop into the weird, irregular shapes that many of the other beef steak tomatoes grow into? I was hoping it would be more of a normal slicer tomato similar to the Better Boys.

Thanks again.

Ted
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hendi_alex
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Last year was my first big experiment with heirloom tomatoes. Sad to say, an early wave of moisture and disease in mid July really decimated my plants before prime production. Last year I found it difficult to plant enough of the varieties that I wanted to try. The garden just starts to get too big. This year I'm doing a core planting of my steady producers, just like you are doing. Mine happen to be Celebrity, Sweet Custer, and Juliet. Most gardeners will probably think that the next part of my plan is pretty silly. But I could not decide on which varieties to plant and was having a tough time limiting myself to a reasonable number of plants. So what did I do? I dumped all of my beefsteak varieties into one pack, all of my green stripes into a pack, all of my purples and blacks into one pack, all German types into a pack. So now my only decision is how many of each kind to plant, not which varieties to plant. And the tomatoes that result..... will always be a surprise.
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TZ -OH6
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I do a single count at the time I pick the first fruit on a plant to get some idea of productivity because with my season length the little pea size green tomatoes will be ripening if frost hits early. Pretty much any med-large beefsteak variety gives me between 20 and 25 fruit at this count with few exceptions. Kelloggs Breakfast is right in there with everything else. Some people have trouble with seedlings developing leaf problems (crud), and perfer the potatoleaf version (KBX) because of that, but I have never had any problems. KB actually lasted a week or two longer than most plants when late blight came through last year.


PP is well shaped and fairly spherical for a large beefsteak as I recall (as opposed to being flattened or oblong). Good for large burger slices. I suppose with any open pollinate variety you will have a larger proportion of misshapen fruit than with a hybrid, but I don't remember it being a problem with PP.

Take a picture of the Tripple Crop wall for us if it works!

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TZ-OH6,

Thanks, I have a good camera and will be taking pics if the wall works.

One more question please. I will be growing a number of OP varieties in close proximity to each other. Do you agree that it would be a waste of time to attempt to save seed expecting a second generation of an OP variety due to cross pollination?

Alex.

I like the idea of mixing the seed and may try that someday in a different bed. I like to evaluate the plants in my garden. Thats why I try to plant a number of varieties of each. By growing close to each other, it is easier to insure identical growing conditions including ambient temps, water, soil, sunlight, and nutrients. I also have to be able to identify each variety when I count the production, determine the size, and evaluate the flavor. Next year, I will probably replant the best three of the heirlooms I plant this year along with three or four new heirloom varieties. I think after five years, I should identify possibly three heirlooms which consistently have the characteristics I appreciate most.

Ted
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TZ -OH6
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It is very easy to get some 4"x6"/5"x7" drawstring sachets at Walmart (party favor/wedding section) and bag the flower buds. I get the best results (near 100% of the bags get fruit set) by bagging the first bud trusses of the season. Bag success can drop off significantly later in the season here some years. You could also go the cheap route and buy the tulle or organza netting fabric and envelope the bud truss with a small piece and tie it on with a string.

As a fail safe, in case of bag failure, I save seed from the first unbagged fruit of the season, which is when I have the lowest incidence of crossing.

Here, at the worst part of the season any one fruit has 0%-40% crossed seed (average about 20%) so four out of five seeds will probably give me true plants, but since I only set out two plants of any variety I want to be sure both of them are true, and hope that the seed I get in trade is true.

If I were to put out five plants of everything (or if bagging was difficult to do) I might not be such a stickler about seed purity.

tedln
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TZ -OH6,

Thanks for the information. I am curious about something. Are you a "gardener" or do you grow for a more professional reason? Are you like Carolyn Male with a few thousand test plantings to your credit?

Referencing your last comments, I find some humor in the seed trading that occurs on forums like this. I think because many gardeners experience a very good crop year with a particular variety, they offer to trade or donate seed from the plant without realizing the probability of cross pollination with other tomatoes.

Ted :D
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txglennross
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Heirlooms

I tried Brandywines in Central TX here and they all split on me. Every single one. Perhaps it was "user error" on my part or it could have been the heat. I've given up on them.

I've never grown Mortgage Lifter, but I'm under the impression they are grown for size, not flavor.

This year I'm growing:
Cherokee Purple (grew them last year with good results)
Striped Purple
Porter Improved
& Big Beef.

TZ -OH6
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I'm a small scale tomato collector (about a hundred varieties grown so far), whereas Carolyn was a large scale tomato collector (unfortunately she has been incapacitated for several years due to an accident so can only manage a few plants now). I only have about 2,000 sq ft for tomatoes, she had two acres and a farmer friend to plow it. I have a shovel.

Like Carolyn, I have a degree in biology (ecology and evolution). I grew up next to a dairy/corn/soybean farm and have taught conservation/environmental science courses so I'm familiar with soil/farming.

I do a little bit of tomato breeding for my own enjoyment, mostly frankenstein stuff, crossing unusual varieties and seeing if anything interesting comes out. For instance: fuzzy wuzzy x an unstable dwarf black. Fuzzy wuzzy is a small prostrate determinant with frosted-fuzzy foliage, and small pointed-nippled red and gold striped fruit. The dwarf is a cross of lime green salad, which has the multiflora gene (dozens of flowers per truss). So some place in the results I should get a something that looks like a frosted christmas tree with lots of ornaments on it that can be grown in a pot. I'm also trying to develop a large green-when-ripe oxheart on a dwarf plant, and will be growing out Brandywine x Black Krim this year (which should produce something worth eating).

tedln
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TZ-OH6,

That sounds very interesting. Please keep us posted on some of the things you are doing. While I am as far from being a botanist or plant geneticist as you can be, I am very interested in the subject.

I have always admired the work of Carolyn Male. I once had a short conversation with her about why the spring/early summer crop of tomatoes on some of my hybrid tomatoes were totally different in appearance, productivity, and taste from the same plants in the fall. It seemed the plants had almost changed their genetics from the early season plants to the fall season plants.

When I was fourteen years old, (that was fifty three years ago) I started driving a truck all over the country locating and purchasing different types of fresh produce from farmers, farmers markets, and produce houses. I would haul the produce home where it was sold in a "fruit market".

I was always looking for unusual produce. I once bought a load of what looked like regular Halloween pumpkins from a farmer near Hereford, Texas. When you cut the pumpkin, the inside was a very sweet, very tasty watermelon. The farmer had crossed the common pumpkin with a Black Diamond watermelon. They sold well, but never attained anything more than novelty status.

Ted
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TZ -OH6 wrote: For instance: fuzzy wuzzy x an unstable dwarf black. Fuzzy wuzzy is a small prostrate determinant with frosted-fuzzy foliage, and small pointed-nippled red and gold striped fruit. The dwarf is a cross of lime green salad, which has the multiflora gene (dozens of flowers per truss). So some place in the results I should get a something that looks like a frosted christmas tree with lots of ornaments on it that can be grown in a pot.
LOL! I really did laugh out loud at this description. Then my DH, who's computer is next to mine, made me explain why I was laughing. He just gave me the look--you know the one given when trying to explain why tomato genetics are funny and sounding like a complete nutter!

Hope you get what you want, TZ! I'm glad to have been able to help with your frankenstein experiments...

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Rob
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Tedln, definitely plant more of your Black Krim. OH wait...

Go buy Black Krim immediately. Plant many of them. You will not be disappointed... :D
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Rob
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hendi_alex wrote:So what did I do? I dumped all of my beefsteak varieties into one pack, all of my green stripes into a pack, all of my purples and blacks into one pack, all German types into a pack. So now my only decision is how many of each kind to plant, not which varieties to plant. And the tomatoes that result..... will always be a surprise.
Ha ha! I'm doing the same thing this year. I bought a an unknown mix of heirloom seeds, and have started them. I'm eager to see what I get.
What happens in the event horizon, stays in the event horizon.

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lj in ny
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Give your Brandywine plant a little shake when you're in the garden it may set more fruit (I shake all my plants to aid pollination). I've grown BW, Stupice and Kellogg's Breakfast before and like them all. I'm growing PP for the first time. I'd plant 2 BW -the plants aren't terribly productive but the tomatoes are really tasty. Stupice is early and prolific.

I asked Dr Carolyn and she said about 5% on average cross if you don't bag. I bag the blossoms for seed I'm going to save, it's not really hard to do and I prefer to make sure if I'm trading I don't send out any surprises. I have about 40 varieties of heirlooms going this year. Not exactly sure where I'm going to put them all.

PS- I second the Black Krim suggestion; Heaven on a plate!
"If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork." Masanobu Fukuoka

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tedln
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lj in ny wrote:Give your Brandywine plant a little shake when you're in the garden it may set more fruit (I shake all my plants to aid pollination). I've grown BW, Stupice and Kellogg's Breakfast before and like them all. I'm growing PP for the first time. I'd plant 2 BW -the plants aren't terribly productive but the tomatoes are really tasty. Stupice is early and prolific.

I asked Dr Carolyn and she said about 5% on average cross if you don't bag. I bag the blossoms for seed I'm going to save, it's not really hard to do and I prefer to make sure if I'm trading I don't send out any surprises. I have about 40 varieties of heirlooms going this year. Not exactly sure where I'm going to put them all.

PS- I second the Black Krim suggestion; Heaven on a plate!
Your comments about shaking the plants are right. I thought someone was crazy many years ago when she told me to just whup my maters with a broom if I want them to make lots of maters. I didn't whup them, but I did shake them vigorously with good results.

I love the 1 lb. mug. The color variations you achieved are great. My wife and I have a good collection of glazed pottery a friend produced over the years. Most of hers had a Native American motif. We love it.

Ted
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Can someone explain the process of saving the first thing you were talking about to get good seed? I am totally confused. thanks!
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tedln
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wolfie wrote:Can someone explain the process of saving the first thing you were talking about to get good seed? I am totally confused. thanks!
wolfie,

I'm sorry, I may have confused you by referencing a glazed pottery mug "tj in ny" made and displayed on her blog. My thoughts tend to run in a lot of directions at the same time.

Ted
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TZ -OH6
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Wolfie,

In my garden tests have shown that the first flowers of the season have a much lower cross pollination rate than mid season flowers (>5% vs. 20%). Unrelated to this, I also have a higher success rate (fruits developing within the bag) when I bag the early season flowers. But you have to bag the flower truss before the flowers open so I call it a bud truss. I put the bag on as soon as the little curled up bud truss is large enough to fit the bag over it, and leave it on as long as there are still open flowers in the bag or until fruit get so large in the bag that it has to come off.


Each garden's cross pollination rate is different. Carolyn Male says that she has higher cross pollination early in the season (opposite of me). There could be many factors involved in this such as the ratio of tomato flowers to wild flowers in the areas that the bees are visiting, and amount of wind (which promotes self pollination by shaking pollen loose befor the bees can get to the flowers). Although I have plenty of bees around even before it is warm enough to plant the tomatoes, I also have alot of wild flowers and few tomato flowers early in the season. By mid season the main flowers in the area are my tomatoes and peppers.


Tiny halactid sweat bees and larger bumble bees bite onto the anther cone and then vibrate their flight muscles to shake pollen loose (you can see the bite bruising on old flowers), some pollen falls onto the flower's stigma, but most falls onto the bee. The bee then scrapes it off of its body into pollen sacks on its legs. The structure of a tomato's flower has evolved to be (mostly self) pollinated in this way. Taking a stick and whacking the cage or stake sets up a vibration that does the same thing to the flower. Commercial greenhouses used to use special tomato buzzers, like electric toothbrushes, to help out before they started to bring bumble bees in to do the job better. The flowers actually release pollen starting in mid morning and ending mid afternoon, so if you are going to whack your plants keep that in mind.




This is from a write up that Carolyn Male likes to cite, especially in relation to the 5% cross rate, but note the range of values.

"Close interplanting of two tomato varieties may typically produce 2-5% NCP; however, factors such as long style length, frequent visitation of tomato flowers by bees and suitable environmental conditions may produce much higher NCP values. Various studies have reported values of 12, 15, 26, and 47% NCP values in interplanted tomatoes. The wide range of results reflects the influence of different methods and variables used in these studies; however, it is clear that NCP values can be high under the right conditions."

from

https://www.southernexposure.com/isolation-distance-tomatoes.p.html



I too love Black Krim, although it took a little getting used to because I had never had a black tomato before, so it wasn't until my second year growing it that I fell in love with it. In addition to the earthy flavor it also has fairly large seeds and quite a bit of gel (which holds alot of the flavor) so it is quite different than say a pink beefsteak. It is usually the first to ripen in my garden, even before early varieties for some reason. I don't have much luck getting early varieties to ripen early.

wolfie
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ok, so you put the bag over the flower and let the tomato grow in the bag then?

how does the flower get pollinated by the bee if there is a bag over it?

thanks, sorry for my lack of understanding lol
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I don't like mixtures and here is why:

Not being overly fond of radishes and lettuce, I ordered mixes of each.
Growing them at home, I picked them at the moment of readiness.

Some were okay, some were pretty good. And then I fell in love a radish, and a lettuce. I looked for more and every one like that was heavenly. I then tried to find a way to know them before I harvested them and get seed. That didn't work for me. And so, I bought more mix this year, I hope I find the treasures in those mixes.

And I bought alot of individual radishes and lettuces... looking for that treasure. Maybe this will be the year and I will find my treasures. Maybe not.

Sure, I tried alot of different radishes and lettuces, but I didn't know what they were. So it was not helpful in growing that one again. This year, before I bite, I am going to try to identify the radish or lettuce! Not a likely occurence, but maybe?
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applestar
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Thanks TZ! I remember you writing about bagging the flowers and collecting seeds from the first fruit. Your explanation and description makes it all very easy to understand.

This has been a good refresher, and I'm definitely going to need to make use of this technique this year since I'm growing a whole lot more tomatoes than I've ever grown before, and almost all of them are heirlooms! :D

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Its confusing because when most people think about wind and pollination they think that the pollen is being blown from one place to the other (like with pine trees and rag weed), but in this case the wind is simply jiggling the flower, not carrying the pollen any where.


The tomato flower is shaped in such a way that loose pollen falls past/around/ onto the stigma because the pollen is released from the INSIDE of the anther cone. Some pollen will fall out on its own but any movement increases the amount let loose (like a salt shaker) so a little bit of wind jiggling the plant around will release pollen even if the flower is inside a bag.

This gives you some idea of flower structure

https://www.kdcomm.net/~tomato/Tomato/xingtom.html

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