Jump start your 2017 garden plan

A month into winter – it’s time to start planning and making preparations for spring planting.

Tomato and pepper seed or seedlings, a few things you need to know.

Hybrid or Heirloom seed? Which is best for you?
Hybrid seed is not the same as GMO/GEO seed. In agriculture and gardening Hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Today, hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century.
In the US, the commercial market was launched in the 1920s, with the first hybrid maize. Hybrid seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed is usually purchased for each planting.

Heirloom plant variety is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

Heirloom growers have different motivations. Some people grow heirlooms for historical interest, while others want to increase the available gene pool for a particular plant for future generations. Some select heirloom plants due to an interest in traditional organic gardening. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables, or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant. Heirlooms, by definition, must be open-pollinated.

Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die. They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container, minimum size of 5 or 6 gallon.

Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vining” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all the time throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants.

I will not attempt to list or recommend any one variety to you. I am including a link to a seed supplier that I have used with good success.

Tomato, Pepper Seed website list over 200 different tomato varieties. About 60 sweet and mild pepper and around 75 hot pepper varieties as well as about 15 eggplant varieties that you may want to consider as well.

Tomato Growers Seed Company has a website that I often use as a reference when looking for seedlings and seed at my local nursery. Along with a good quality picture they also give a short description of it’s mature appearance, days to maturity and a bit of other useful information on each variety offered.

Not from the USA. Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

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5 responses to “Jump start your 2017 garden plan

  1. Last year was a good tomato year, so I hope this year will be another good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! In my family we always kept seed year to year. Pick the very best tomatoes of the bunch and keep the seed. This means we have a locally selected crop that has proven itself in our climate, soil and region. I also try a new variety each year. If it works, I keep the seed, if it doesn’t work I don’t. Because I keep my seed I am kind of “stuck” using heirloom seed but the hybrid ones also seem to kind of mix into the total. I few years ago I added some of those very tall tomato plants that make long trailing strings of small red tomatoes. (The name escapes me.) They crossed with my many years old family tomato strain that produces lovely huge yellow low acid bush types. I got the long strings of small cherry tomato size types that grew bright orange. Super delicious, super nice. last year I had a second generation plant of the same type. YUM! Unfortunately I am still months away because we can’t put out tomatos until the end of May in the north.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Any time you have 2 or more varieties of the same plant within a few yards of each other you have a good possibility of getting unintended cross pollination.
      However as you point out this is not always a bad thing. Grin … you have an accidental development of a new and improved tomato variety. 🙂 Call it Tumbleweed

      Happy gardening

      Liked by 1 person

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