Tuesday, January 13, 2009

reading more seed catalogs

I'm still looking through seed catalogs. So much to read and circle.

Here are some quotes from Sand Hill Preservation Center that I was amused by

"Sorry, but the rabbits continue to destroy the seed crop. This is ironic since we are surrounded by fields of genetically engineered Soybeans. Do you suppose the rabbits know something that we don't know?

"Butterbean: 85 days. A deep green soybean, used best as a green shell bean. (Unavailable for 2009)"

I'll have to find Buttterbean seed somewhere else. And here's another quote on their 2008 Tomato Problems:

"We are very sorry for the many unavailable varieties in the 2009 catalog. We had a few unexpected problems that hurt the seed crops. We had planned on three staggered greenhouse startings and field transplantings of our collection. We were successful with the three staggered greenhouse starting dates, but when our first set of 200 varieties were ready to transplant at Memorial Day, we had non-stop rain and were unable to get any set out until June 23. We then had to rush to try to get all of them set out by July 11. Oddly enough, the latest plants that were set out had no problems and yielded the best. We will try to get every one back in stock for 2010."

I was interested to hear they do staggered tomato plantings and that the last planting did the best. This is what Gretta (my local CSA farmer) also said. Sounds like a good idea. I'll try two plantings of tomatoes this year - just in case the weather is poor again.

I like to count the fantastic number of tomato varieties San Hill offers every year. (I copy into excel instead of hand counting.) 567 listed this year, though 77 are unavailable for 2009. I think I'll order a few: Box Car Willie, Big Boy (an OP version of the hybrid) and Opalka.

Also, it crossed my mind that I could save my own tomato seed. I still have lots left over in last year's seed packets that I'll use again this year. Tomato seed stays viable an average of four years. (seed viability link) But I think it would be nice to save some fresh seed from my favorite varieties.


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I think you've inspired me to try a new type of tomato this year. I always look at the heirloom packets. I had no idea the seeds were viable for so long. Thanks!

Salix said...

I am surprised that you haven't saved your own tomato seeds! I have done it for a couple of years now and it is easier than it sounds like. Then I just have to buy any "new" heirloom varieties that I want to try.

kathy said...

Actually, last year was the first time in recent history I've grown tomatoes plants from seed. I bought my seedlings in the past. (Though I did grow them a few times about ten years ago.)

I'm really enjoying the variety available from seeds. And its not so hard to grow seedlings if you have the space and light.

I'm glad to hear its fairly easy to save tomato seeds.

gld said...


When you save tomato seeds be sure to pick the healthiest plant and the best tomato on that plant, called selective breeding. You may end up with some "super" tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

I've never saved seed, but it sounds like a great idea, what with the unpredictability of catalogs it seems. But I guess this at least makes people experiment with new variations when their favs/standbys aren't available.

Anonymous said...

Tomato seeds normally stay viable for a lot longer than 4 years. 5-10+ years is not unusual. The trick is to store them some place that doesn't experience a lot of temperature changes, and is a little on the cool side if possible. In an airtight container in the fridge is a possible place, but not really much better that the back of a closet in a shoebox or in a drawer somewhere.

Properly frozen, tomato seeds can last 100+ years, but you better research this before trying because they need to be properly dried first and the risk of damaging the seeds is high. You probably don't need to store them this long anyway...