Tag Archives: Seed Savers Exchange

Harvest For the Future

samples selected for seed saving


It seems wise – and maybe genetically prudent – that I should use the best samples from my harvest for saving seed. I try to find the most robust plant and its fruits for this task. The tomatoes that seem to resist cracking and disease and yet taste the best are selected. The least alien-shaped green peppers with the best taste are my “targets” for seed saving. Other qualifiers for my future harvests include:

• samples with the best color
• early fruits
• large fruits but not gigantic samples
• best taste trumps most other considerations

This is the first time in my gardening season that I think seriously about the next year. It’s just part of the cycle of the gardener’s life.

Anyone needing some information on saving seeds would do well to visit Seed Savers Exchange.

As a result of some friends on the Seed Savers Forum I am revising this post to add some information that I had forgotten and, in some cases, just didn’t know.

Dreyadin from the SSE Forum reminded me that it’s important to make an effort to keep the characteristics of a strain true to type. In other words, it would be counter productive to pick atypical samples such as those that may be very large, oddly-shaped, or extremely early or late. You more than likely originally picked seeds that produce fruits you like. There’s no reason to try to change them.

He further says, “Just keeping an eye out that you are selecting from healthy plants also is a factor.. in a situation where the plant may be effected one year, and if you have limited recourse.. there are a few methods to help try to decontaminate the seed.. but the result is usually a serious decrease in percentage of viable seeds left over.” Also, ” (It’s) always good to make sure you really clean equipment between batches just in case. Better safe than sorry.”

Finally, Dreyadin brings up a point that my photo seems to contradict. He says, “Just in the case of some peppers you use at the green stage.. you want those to fully ripen before collecting seed from them.” The photo does not completely represent vegetables selected for seed saving. My pole beans and green peppers are way too green for this purpose. Also, the two smaller yellow crook-neck squash are for eating while the larger almost-a-gourd one has mature seeds. I just thought the pole beans looked nicer in the photo than the brown ones I have been using for seed saving.

I use a fermentation process to rid my tomato seeds of pathogens. Dreyadin points to some more drastic means of doing this. He says, “The other methods to try to get rid of some of the more harsh pathogens are hot water treatment… bleach treatment.. and TSP (trisodium phosphate) treatment to name a few. They are all harsh.. the hot water one is the least toxic.. but regardless.. big loss in viability. Those are used in attempts to try to get rid of some of the diseases that get past the gel.. but Tobacco Mosiac Virus.. yer pretty much screwed as it gets right into the embryo.”

Again, thanks Dreyadin.

The revision also begs an additional photo…

Kentucky Wonder pole beans ready for saving

Posted in plant diseases, seeds, tomatoes Also tagged , , , |

First Blush


The first hint of color came on just one of my cherry roma tomatoes this morning. I’ve been waiting since March 11 for this. Also, I had no idea that these plants were so large – just about seven feet tall so far. It’s those healthy SSE seeds, I guess.

Close inspection of the photo will show an aphid enjoying the view too. Is that drool coming out of his mouth? His buddy is in the next photo.

cherry roma tomato with a little color

aphid on tomato plant

Posted in garden problems, insects, seeds, tomatoes Also tagged , , |

Brushing My Tomatoes’ Teeth

Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain) tomato

There are a lot of stages of growth in a garden. Waiting for seeds to germinate, seeing the first “true” leaves, and finding the first squash blossom are landmarks I look forward to each year. Probably my favorite is finding the first tomato.

I have been reading recently on the Seed Savers Exchange forum that the Brandywine (Sudduth’s Strain) variety has some, well… difficulties. Half of my tomatoes are – you guessed it – Brandywine (Sudduth’s Strain). Posters have been using words like “temperamental” and “difficult” regarding this variety. One even called it “legendarily temperamental.” One poster suggested using an electric toothbrush a couple of times a day to vibrate the flower clusters. This is “to allow the pollen to fall from the anthers onto the stigma.”

So I’m to brush my tomato plants’ “teeth” two times a day, huh. Gosh, I hope they don’t need flossing. It is actually nice to know that there are ways to pollinate plants when ideal weather conditions or lack of bees cause fruit to not set. This situation could certainly be encountered by both greenhouse and high-rise patio gardeners. Although tomatoes are essentially self pollinating, some varieties may need a little help. I really recommend the knowledgeable people on the Seed Savers and Organic Gardening forums

I’m happy to report that my tomato plants seem to have produced tomatoes without the toothbrush routine. This weekend I came upon first tomatoes of each of the three varieties I grew.

As usual, I’d welcome any stories about your gardens.

** an update from one of my Seed Savers forum friends regarding the tomato pictured above – “…as is very typical with Brandywine Sudduth’s and other varieties of that era, you can see that that’s 2 merged blossoms. You’ve got a double! That could produce a VERY large tomato.”

Cherry Roma tomato

Red Brandywine tomato

Posted in planting, tomatoes, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , |

My Spring Break is Over

my grandson's cousin enjoys some baby carrots


I made an obvious decision to forgo writing about and photographing my garden so far this year. It was a nice break that actually allowed me to enjoy getting my patch of green off and running without the encumbrances of camera and computer. Gardening is a messy business and I recall last year finding sudden inspiration while having muck up to my elbows. Dashing to the camera or computer in such a state required significant clean up which somewhat interrupted the flow of both the gardening AND the inspiration. This year when inspiration came I simply said, “Eh…” and returned to pulling weeds in the rain.

A friend on Facebook asked me “What do you have in your garden?” That’s my reason for returning to this.

I am experimenting with new varieties of mostly heirloom vegetables. This year I have purchased nearly all my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage. With any luck this year’s garden will contain:

Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans from SSE – This is a wonderful old standby that I grew in my first garden in 1973. It’s the only bean I’ve ever grown. For next year I have my eyes on some Rattlesnake Snap beans. I don’t think I can resist “dark green pods that are streaked with purple – very fine flavor.” I like the name too.

Wisconsin Lakes Pepper from SSE – I’ve always grown California Wonder peppers but wanted an heirloom variety with seeds I can save for next year.

Jalapeño Peppers from Burpee – just one plant in a bucket from last year’s left over seeds

Summer Crookneck Squash from SSE – I love the nutty flavor.

Burpee’s Fordhook Zuccini – I used some leftover seeds from last year.

Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash – I got these seeds from my son who grew them in Brooklyn.

Purple Top White Globe Turnip from SSE – I’ll plant a fall crop of these too.

Scarlet Nantes Carrot from SSE – I’ve finally discovered that the secret to growing carrots is deeply-tilled ground.

Cherry Roma Tomato from SSE – These are replacing my Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes from the last two years. We’ll see…

Red Brandywine Tomato from SSE – These are replacing my Better Boy Hybrids from Burpee. Those were pretty good but I want to save my seeds for next year and I can’t do that with hybrids.

Brandywine (Sudduth’s Strain) Tomato from SSE -another experiment in flavor and seed saving

Calabrese Broccoli from SSE – I was looking for larger heads this year which I didn’t get from the DeCicco variety I grew last year.

Giant Noble Spinach from American Seed – These are left-over seeds from last year. My twenty-month old grandson likes this!

Lettuce a variety of nine lettuces including a Gourmet Blend from Burpee, Black-Seeded Simpson, Burpee Bibb, and Roman Emperor (romaine)

Mary Washington and Jersey Giant Asparagus from crowns I purchased at Home Depot

Please feel free to leave comments, questions, useful information or idle chat below. Maybe you can tell me what’s in your garden. There is more to come. I promise.

And thanks for asking, Mark.

Posted in experiments, Jesse's Brooklyn garden, lettuce, seeds, tomatoes, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

“Huge Pumpkins up to 70″ Around!”

My seeds from Seed Savers Exchange


Last year’s successes have emboldened me enough to expand the garden. For the first time I’ve saved some seeds from last year to plant this year. Jesse brought some seeds from Brooklyn at Christmas that I’m anxious to plant and today I got some pumpkin seeds that will give me “huge pumpkins, up to 70″ around!”

I’ve taken a different approach to seed selection. Last year I picked up seeds on sale from Ace and Home Depot. This year I’ve done that again but I’ve also investigated some of the seed companies that specialize in heirloom and rare varieties. I have also taken a look at some of the companies that sell primarily to commercial producers. Those companies that maintain their own test lots and labs and trial grounds and whose germination rates exceed federal standards are the places I want to shop for seeds. Although there are others, I’ve taken a close look at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Stokes Seeds Ltd. and Parks Seed Company which has a wonderful Gardeners Handbook.

This year my favorite resource for seeds is the Seed Savers Exchange. This is a non-profit organization that saves and shares heirloom seeds. It is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States. They have 23 acres of certified organic preservation gardens. Their site itself contains a wealth of information on all aspects of gardening as well as seed saving and trading. Even their seed packets have instructions for seed saving . The Seed Savers Exchange is the source of the seeds photographed above.

Let me know if you’ve come upon a favorite seed source.

And yes, I know I already used this photo.

Posted in Jesse's Brooklyn garden, planting, pumpkins, seeds, tomatoes, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |