Tomatoes for 2023

Branching Out

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That would be my question too. I've dropped several early, beautiful, unblemished, highly productive tomatoes because they were bland in flavor. No one needs buckets full of tomatoes that are as appetizing as soggy cardboard.

Keep in mind also that if a tomato is a cross, that might be because the variety is especially prone to crossing... and would be very difficult to stabilize - and keep stable - in future years. I had to drop a variety I really loved ("Federle") because the saved seed was 25-40% crossed. If after tasting you do decide to grow it again, my advice is to take a cutting & keep it alive over Winter, to plant again.
Zeedman, you often have such unique and interesting perspectives on how to approach things. Cuttings are very much on my radar for the coming year. It is an area that I have not explored much, and it certainly has a lot to offer in terms of saving special rare varieties or for propagating efficiently. I took a few cuttings of two of my favourite tomato plants from this season, but I was late in getting to it. Thank you for your suggestions!
 

Zeedman

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Interesting @Zeedman, are the flowers of Federle different somehow? I actually have that tomato in a shopping cart right now, and wonder if I should toss it?
Tomatoes with an exserted (protruding) stigma are more susceptible to crossing. I never examined "Federle" closely, but my assumption would be that it has a stigma that protrudes from the stamens. Some heirlooms, especially potato-leaf types & currant tomatoes, often have protruding stigmas. Many modern tomatoes have an inserted stigma (completely enclosed by stamens) and are more likely to self-pollinate than to accept pollen from outside the flower.

ANY tomato can cross, if the saved seeds are from a fused or imperfect flower, and/or if there is heavy pollinator activity. For seed saving, only perfectly-shaped tomatoes, with no blossom-end deformity & formed from single flowers, should be used. The first fruits, formed when pollinator populations are low, are also less likely to be crossed.

In my experience, paste tomatoes are less likely to cross... which is the reason I was so surprised by the heavy degree of crossing I observed in "Federle". In my saved seed, some were red (normal), some were pink, and some were orange. Apparently they had been... amorous... with every other tomato in the garden. :rolleyes: Oddly all of the crosses were normally shaped (or very close to it) regardless of color.

All that aside, "Federle" is a great tomato, and might not cross in your area @heirloomgal ... but caveat emptor. You might want to give it extra space from other tomatoes, and shield it as much as possible. I have to do that when growing potato-leaf tomatoes for seed.
 

Branching Out

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So it's not supposed to look like this, with the stripes?
As luck would have it there are still a few of Spanish Winter Storage Cherry tomatoes kicking around my basement, so here is a photo showing what they should look like (on the right). Those fruits were harvested in October and November. They are shaped kind of halfway between a saladette and a cherry, and in terms of size they are larger than a cherry tomato but not as big as a Roma. The outcross is much smaller; for scale, the smallest on the bract is about the size of my pinky finger. In the autumn their colour was a lovely red, but I am noticing that all of my storage tomatoes are starting to lose their colour now; it's as though it is fading away, like ghosts.
 

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heirloomgal

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As luck would have it there are still a few of Spanish Winter Storage Cherry tomatoes kicking around my basement, so here is a photo showing what they should look like on the right. Those fruits were harvested in October and November. They are shaped kind of halfway between a saladette and a cherry, and in terms of size they are larger than a cherry tomato but not as big as a Roma. The outcross is much smaller; for scale, the smallest on the bract is about the size of my pinky finger. In the autumn their colour was a lovely red, but I am noticing that all of my storage tomatoes are starting to lose their colour now; it's as though it is fading away, like ghosts.
Whoa! Losing color! That's a surprise. Inspired by your experimentation with winter keepers I ordered a bunch of them for this summer. So many, I probably won't be able to grow all of them in one year, lol. Now I'm really curious to see how this experiement works out. All the tomatoes may be white by March! 👻 I have noticed, though, that photos of winter keepers, especially Mystery Keeper and ones like those, they do all seem a pale peachy colour in photos taken in Feb-March. Do they taste any better after a couple months in storage?
 
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heirloomgal

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Tomatoes with an exserted (protruding) stigma are more susceptible to crossing. I never examined "Federle" closely, but my assumption would be that it has a stigma that protrudes from the stamens. Some heirlooms, especially potato-leaf types & currant tomatoes, often have protruding stigmas. Many modern tomatoes have an inserted stigma (completely enclosed by stamens) and are more likely to self-pollinate than to accept pollen from outside the flower.

ANY tomato can cross, if the saved seeds are from a fused or imperfect flower, and/or if there is heavy pollinator activity. For seed saving, only perfectly-shaped tomatoes, with no blossom-end deformity & formed from single flowers, should be used. The first fruits, formed when pollinator populations are low, are also less likely to be crossed.

In my experience, paste tomatoes are less likely to cross... which is the reason I was so surprised by the heavy degree of crossing I observed in "Federle". In my saved seed, some were red (normal), some were pink, and some were orange. Apparently they had been... amorous... with every other tomato in the garden. :rolleyes: Oddly all of the crosses were normally shaped (or very close to it) regardless of color.

All that aside, "Federle" is a great tomato, and might not cross in your area @heirloomgal ... but caveat emptor. You might want to give it extra space from other tomatoes, and shield it as much as possible. I have to do that when growing potato-leaf tomatoes for seed.
This is something I will pay closer attention to in the future @Zeedman. I was aware only of potato leaved varieties and currants as having exterted stigmas, though I must say currants are the only ones that give me reliable crossings. The PL's not really, but still, I didn't know that those exerted stigmas could be found elsewhere in the tomato gene pool, I assumed it was only those 2 groups. I will definitely have a closer look at my tom flowers from now on. Thanks for this info!
 

Branching Out

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Whoa! Losing color! That's a surprise. Inspired by your experimentation with winter keepers I ordered a bunch of them for this summer. So many, I probably won't be able to grow all of them in one year, lol. Now I'm really curious to see how this experiement works out. All the tomatoes may be white by March! 👻 I have noticed, though, that photos of winter keepers, especially Mystery Keeper and ones like those, they do all seem a pale peachy colour in photos taken in Feb-March. Do they taste any better after a couple months in storage?
The flavour definitely hits a wall at some point, and then starts to go downhill. Each variety will have its own schedule, so you kind of have to get to know each one to see when its flavour peaks. Annarita stands out for me as one that did not even taste good when fresh, which makes me wonder why anyone would want to keep a supply of it for the early winter. Mystery Keeper I haven't tasted yet as I never got a ripe one, but in hind sight maybe I was supposed to pick them green and let them ripen indoors. Recently I read somewhere that Long Keeper should be brought indoors at the green stage; that's another one that did not win any popularity points with me this summer. It will be fun to compare notes next summer once you get your experiment going.
 

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And here is a photo of the very last harvest of Spanish Winter Storage Cherry Tomatoes. These have been outdoors growing in a 10 gallon grow bag that was placed in a tub close to the house, so the roof provided protected from the rain-- but with absolutely no other measures taken to insulate the plant. That they have managed to make it almost to the breaker stage in January is quite remarkable.
 

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