Sunday, April 27, 2008

Empty Nest

Sunday April 27th

The empty nest.

They've all gone.
I miss them already.
I hope they all do well in their new homes.

All the tomato plants have been handed out, 25 in total. 12 Giant Beefsteak, 7 Old Virginia and 6 Big Red. I’ve asked everybody who received them to give me feedback, good or bad.
Later, when the plants had all gone one of my co-workers approached me and said they would buy any spare tomatoes that I had. They didn’t want any plants, they just wanted to buy the tomatoes from me. This got me asking myself what I was doing here with this small project of mine, and what I was trying to achieve.

The first year I grew tomatoes I had a bumper crop. I didn’t do anything special, it was just one of those years. I had spares so I took them into work and left them in the lunchroom, along with a small moneybox, and asked people to donate whatever they could and the money would go to the local Humane Society. The tomatoes were popular, money was left in the box and everyone benefited.

I then thought that, if I could get more people interested in growing their own heirloom tomatoes and encourage them to save the seeds I would be doing my bit to propagate these old varieties and help spread them around. Also, I hoped that when people ate them they would realize how tasteless and overpriced the ones were that they were purchasing from Wal-Mart and such.
Last year I gave away around a dozen plants and one person did actually save the seeds, grow more plants and pass them out to THEIR friends and relations. Hey, some went to Oklahoma City. I was proud!

This year I’ve tried to expand the project a little by growing more plants, but the idea is still the same. What I want from all this is information. Feedback on what works and what doesn’t in this area. I hope to find out which varieties work best and build on it. Maybe some of mine will fail to bear fruit, maybe all.
But perhaps if we are lucky we will get some of each type so we can exchange seeds between us if necessary. I’d prefer to pass on spare fruit to people who didn’t have success with their plants (but at least tried) as an encouragement for them to try again. By doing this they would get seeds from the fruit too, and hopefully grow their own the following year. All that I’d request would be the same small donation for the Humane Society.


Elizabeth said...

I love your donation idea so much. I think I may do that if we have an excess. If the hyb

I've been wanting to save my tomato seeds for next year, but I've run across a lot of conflicting information about cross pollination. Sounds like you have experience, so perhaps you can shed some light. Will my Brandywines produce true Brandywine seeds, for example, even though they're planted right next to a Genovese and a hybrid? Or would those seeds be some sort of cross? I was thinking that perhaps I should go ahead and plant one of extra brandywine seedlings in isolation for the purpose of seed saving, but I don't even really know how far away from the other varieties they'd need to be.

And you know, I've been thinking it would be really fun to have an Oklahoma seed trading group/website where we can all share and seeds of plants that do well in our part of the country... Maybe I should start thinking of ideas for it and wrangle my husband into creating a site. Do you think that would fly around here?

Mick said...

Tomato plants are self-pollinating so dont worry Elizabeth. I suggest that each time you walk past give the plants a light brush with your hand. This helps loosen the pollen and strengthen the plant stems.

Maybe a seed trading group would work but, as temperatures vary so much in the state, perhaps it would be more productive if kept locally. Then people could find out what worked best where they lived, which is my aim. I'm all for sharing information if it helps improve results.

Elizabeth said...

That's part of why I was baffled by some sources cautioning about cross-pollination when there are no male and female blooms, but thought, OK, maybe there's pollen that can just happen to make it over there? I've also read cautions against keeping currant tomatoes away from regular ones. Thanks for the confirmation, I think I'll offer the extra seedlings to a friend who just moved into a new house, instead. :)

One Acre Homestead said...

Hi, Mick...have you discovered Seed Savers Exchange yet? I understand that you are concentrating on locally thriving varieties, but you might get some info about what you are trying to accomplish off their site. Check them out:

I purchased some seeds and plants from them this year...time will tell if I'm a satisfied customer! ;-)

Mick said...

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. :-)


Barbee' said...

That is a wonderful idea and plan you have there. Very interesting.

I found you on Blotanical and came over to read awhile. I will continue on down the page, but just wanted to say hello and comment on that great system you have going with your friends.

Mick said...

Hello Barbee

I only hope that some of those plants have survived the terrible weather we've had but I'm sure they will. Mine are hanging on in there but need a bit more sun methinks.