You Like Tomato, I Like Tomato!
It’s been said that if you have ten tomato growers in a room and ask a question about growing tomatoes, you’ll get ten different answers!
I suppose the reason is because there are many ways to grow tomatoes and many methods that will achieve the same results.
As we approach the middle of September it’s a good time to think about saving a few seeds to sow next season.
Why Save Your Own Seeds?
It’s not just the cost of the seeds, but knowing that you’ll be growing exactly the same strain of a variety. Too often I’ve bought seeds from different sources and have experienced different results that were because of the seeds and not the growing conditions.
So when you save your own seeds, you’ll know exactly what to expect next season – unless a friendly bee has cross pollinated your flowers of course!
F1’s and F2’s
It’s common practice to save seeds from open pollinated or heirloom varieties only. Hybrid F1 varieties can produce inconsistent results when their seeds have been saved, and sown a following season as a second generation F2’s.
However, more than one tomato grower has reported good results from F2 seeds and with the cost of F1 seeds rising, it may be worth sowing a couple of your own F2’s saved from your F1 fruit.
Seeds for Grafting
Rootstock seeds for grafting are very expensive so I’ve grown a rootstock (Aegis) plant and saved the seeds. It should still provide the benefits of disease resistance etc.
I think it could be a good idea to use an ordinary open pollinated variety for rootstock such as Roma VF. It’s still disease resistant but a lot cheaper – especially when it can be difficult to get the grafts to heal.
Soil and Organics
One of the benefits of organic growing, or adding well rotted stuff to the soil, is that it encourages microbial activity – friendly bacteria and fungi that help roots absorb nutrients.
The contents of grow bags and bags of multipurpose compost can be inconsistent, even to the point of ruining your plants in some cases! However, the cheapest peat-free is best avoided in my experience.
If you upgrade your bought compost by adding some good organic material it should provide the best growing conditions for plant roots. I used to add a handful of chicken manure pellets to each container and a handful of perlite with good results – I don’t know why I stopped doing it!
However, if you make your own compost it’s best not to include any green matter that has been affected by fungal disease, as fungal spores can survive from one season to another.
The weather has been very good recently in my part of the world and the Black Cherry tomatoes are tasting lovely. One variety that I’m growing for the first time is Large Red Cherry, a very vigorous tall variety but the taste of the tomatoes is disappointing – Gardener’s Delight would have been a better choice – but you don’t know until you grow it yourself!
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