05 July 2010

Endangered Tomato



A while back we had a post about our Grandpa's German Tomatoes. My family has been saving seeds from these tomatoes for over 40 years (mostly from my grandfather). Last year's blight kept us from saving seeds, so the plants we have this year are from two years ago.

Sadly to say the seeds are all used up, on our end and my grandfather's, and that has us very anxious to harvest. What has us even more on edge is that I got a call from my grandfather and his plants again got the blight. He lives on the other side of the state, where we've heard of some folks getting hit; thankfully for us we have not.

We do have friends in the area who we gave plants to, so hopefully theirs are doing well. In the meantime, we wait. The two tomatoes in the photo are the closest ones we have to being ripe. With this heat we expect to pick them by the end of the week. We'll be sure to take some seeds to my grandfather when we see him mid-July.

10 comments:

Darren (Green Change) said...

I hope yours do well so you can continue the "bloodline"!

It's a great argument for sharing seeds with other gardeners. The more people growing them, the more resilience there is.

And people wonder why we don't just buy F1 hybrids from the store every year!

Christina said...

If you save some seeds from these few fruit, I'll happily try growing this for you next year. Blight is not a problem in my neck of the woods. I can likely get a large enough stock of seeds to help keep you and your grandpa going for a couple years.

Let me know if you're interested in my help.

Kate said...

I will be sure to set some seeds aside from the plant you gave us. We don't yet have fruits on that plant as close to harvest as you do. I've heard that saving tomato seed is not entirely straightforward though, so if you'd tell me what you do, I'll try to replicate it. I think sharing out the plants is a good strategy in this case - spread 'em out and improve the odds on one of them surviving.

Taylor said...

My dad is growing tomato plants from 20 year old seeds that he managed to dig up- the very last of a wonderful variety bred by his advisor when he was a PhD candidate in the 70s.

Of the hundred or so that he planted only 4 germinated, and they are 4 of the most babied tomato plants in the history of his garden. He wants to save all the seeds and distribute them out all over the country so they aren't lost. Maybe we can trade!

Here's hoping you have a bountiful crop this year! Maybe the early-ripening will help beat the blight!

jimmycrackedcorn said...

You should definitely throw some seeds out there, even if you can only send 5 or 6 to each person. You have all your eggs in one basket this year! :D I'm having a very bad tomato year, but (USUALLY) there's always next year. Good luck!

fullfreezer said...

I'll send positive, non-blight thoughts your way. We've got some tomatoes in the garden this year that I planted from seeds saved from seedlings given to me by my brother who got them from someone who got them from someone..... They were wonderful, juicy tomatoes last year. Definitely widening the base is a good idea.
Judy

Kelly said...

Darren,
Seed sharing is a critical ingredient to the way we garden. We are very lucky to have a solid network of friends who value plant diversity and health as much as we do.


Christina,
The moment we get enough seeds, I'll send them your way.My grandfather would be tickled to know his tomatoes are being grown in California. Thanks in advance.

Kate,
I totally agree with you about the vagueness of tomato seed saving information. Most of the materials I've found make it out to be a pain in the ass; however, a few years ago I accidentally discovered a pretty easy method. As soon as we're ready to do some seed saving, I'll make a video and post it.

Taylor,
My grandfather unfortunately never got into seed sharing until I asked him for the seeds a couple years back. Since then, Meg and I have been giving all our extra starts to friends. It's great to have something that's one-of-a-kind, but sharing will always guarantee sustainability. Please tell your dad we said good luck.

Jimmy,
I couldn't agree more. Like I just said to Taylor though is that Meg and I haven't had the seeds that long to really get them out there. If you want some, let us know and we'll get them in the mail.

Judy,
Thanks for the positive vibes and good luck with your tomatoes.

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Allotment Blogger said...

Those tomatoes look fantastic - I really hope you succeed in keeping this variety alive by spreading the seeds far and wide and having lots of other lucky growers work with you to keep your grandfather's heritage in gardens and on plates.

mantis01 said...

If your end up having success with the tomatoes we would be interested in preserving the line. We are in your relative neck of the woods (Quakertown) and if there is one thing we can grow its tomatoes.