Pappy the Killjoy and my Tomato Issues

Here are my baby tomatoes

And here are the new seed varieties planted just yesterday

And here are the extra hybrids that I couldn’t bear to thin because they germinated so well and because they’re Park’s Celebrity for goodness sakes!

Not Okra

(The okra was yellow from the indoor lighting and I have a million more seeds so I yanked them to make room for these beauties.)

And here are my extra Russian Queens because I just found out that they’re pretty rare here in the states, so I couldn’t kill them either.

So yeah. I have a lot of frigging baby tomatoes and really don’t know what I’m going to do with them.

But what I do know is that I want to build a large heirloom collection, one that I can turn into seeds or plants for sale.

So I tell this to my dad (Pappy, as my kids call him). And he tells me, “You didn’t separate anything so you have a lot of crossbreeding going on and you won’t know what it is anyway.”

But tomatoes pollinate themselves. It’s like masturbation pollination. They don’t need bees like the squash and cukes do. They don’t accidentally cross, right? You have to work for a hybrid, yeah? I started googling, hoping that he was wrong —

Well fuck.

What am I going to do now? I have 5 varieties of tomatoes that I think are heirloom, but are probably really not. A couple that I first grew in 2016 and then again in 2017. Seeds that I was so proud of. Seeds that would be even better this year because they’re used to my soil and my growing habits. Strong healthy seeds grown from and for this place. My seeds.

My adventure down the somewhat depressing rabbit hole taught me that the varieties I’ve bought this year can be kept true through careful bagging of the blossoms. (What a pain in the ass!) But I’m not sure what to do about the others. Be surprised this year I guess. Bag those blossoms anyway? Yeah probably.

Well at least now I found the courage to thin out my other “heirlooms”.

R.I.P. “German Johnson” & “Black Krim”

My varieties (italics means they’re probably/possibly corrupted):

  • Black Krim 2016 & 2017
  • German Johnson 2017
  • Golden Sunburst 2016
  • Russian Queen 2017
  • Red Currant 2016 & 2017
  • Warren’s Yellow Cherry 2018
  • Chocolate Cherry 2018
  • Pineapple 2018
  • Big Rainbow 2018
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast 2018
  • Costoluto Genovese 2018

I have a random cherry tomato that volunteered itself in my compost last spring and I saved those seeds too. I call those Generosity Cherries because along with them being volunteers, they are large and prolific and germinated much sooner than all the others. I wonder if they may be a parent of the grocery store vine tomatoes.

I guess the worst case scenario is that I now have six funky mystery tomatoes I can play with and name.

Cool.

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Saving Seeds – Fermenting

Heirloom tomato seeds. It’s early in the season yet to be planning for next spring, but my Djeena golden plant is dead.  I got exactly 3 tomatoes,  all of which were first chewed by a big fat horn worm, before her stem rotted for some reason.

3 Djeena Lees

Here is one of them all ripe and pretty (and slightly wilted) on the right:

Maybe it’s because of the scarcity, but the Golden Girl tasted so tart and delicious. And it wasn’t just me. Gordon and Eddie thought she was yummy too.

So I saved her. I think.  Unless I let her seeds germinate by fermenting too long. But I think they’re ok. Nice and fuzzy like the random seeds I bought in the rainbow packet originally.

Pretty yellow in the sun
Eeewwww. Fermenting. Silas loves the smell. My boy.
Rinsed the keepers clean

Drying and hoping they’ll sprout next year

Heirlooms in Cheapo Containers

$1 apiece. Marshall’s bags. Huge and less porous than the cloth kind of shopping bag, so holds moisture better. I would call it a successful experiment. I have indeterminate heirlooms overtaking six foot bamboo stakes and producing lovely fruit, all contained within these colorful bags. 

These came from Burpee’s heirloom assortment, which I did my best to examine for differences hoping to reap the greatest probable variety.

It worked pretty well, because so far I have tasted a cuostralee:


A pink brandywine:



Lots of golden sunbursts:

A black krim and a couple of djena lee’s golden girls (r.i.p. djena’s girl….best tangy flavor but the stem rotted somehow):

And a hundred and fifty million red currants (separate seed pack) but still not too many to keep up with eating them fresh. And they’re the best!


Next summer I would like to put the tomatoes into the ground, mostly because of my own ideals about what a real garden should look like. But honestly, this is working out really well. The cheapy bags hold plenty of soil, they are sturdy enough to move around a bit, and the bamboo stakes do pretty well supporting everything. I do think my supports move a bit too much and maybe that’s why my djena’s girl died. Not sure. But overall, I claim success! Would recommend.

But one mystery remains. What the hell is sticking out of my tomato stakes?