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May 10, 2011

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Kari

What an interesting post. I stumbled across your site the other day and this post was so informative. I had a couple questions that I've always wondered and maybe you can answer?

First, I've read that if I save seeds from hybrids that the tomatoes won't grow true. But I'm wondering if I can save seeds anyway, plant them and just see what tomatoes I get? Would the next year's tomatoes still be edible? Or is there some reason they couldn't be eaten?

Also, you mentioned about accidentally creating your own hybrid. I didn't think tomato plants crossed that easily and I have several different heirloom varieties planted right next to each other. How likely is it that they would cross? Will I just have to wait until next year to find out if they did?

Thanks for your great post!

Marc

Hi Kari, thanks for the great comment.

Saving tomato seed is definitely a worthwhile thing but a bit unpredictable if you grow more than one kind of tomato.

As for hybrids not reproducing true to their parent plant the following year, that is true. But they will still grow tomatoes the next year. Its just that if that variety is bred for something special, your new plants may not have those special traits. Your new plants will likely revert back to only one of the original hybrid's parent plants. The easiest example would be if you raised Early Girl this year and saved the seed, next year your new "Early Girl" tomatoes may not ripen early. Likewise, if a hybrid is known for large size, uniformity, being crack resistant or disease resistant and you save those seeds, your next generation tomatoes might not be big or uniform, may have cracks or be disease prone - whatever the individual case may be. You just don't know what you'll get.

Saving heirloom or OP seed on the other hand, you know the daughter plants will be the same - UNLESS they cross-pollinated. Tomatoes do cross pollinate as insects carry pollen from one type of plant to another. The plant breeders often keep each variety secluded and sometimes even screen them to keep insects out and hand pollinate them. Again, you don't know for sure what you will get when saving these seeds.

I don't write all of this to be negative. I know some gardeners who enjoy planting crossed seed. Its a grab bag mentality and sometimes you can get superior tomatoes the next year. I suppose that is how some of our popular varieties now marketed originally came to be.

Kari

Thanks for the answer. I don't mind the grab bag mentality. To me it's just fun to experiment and see what I get.

I do have tulle netting covering my tomato plants to keep out the stinkbugs and hornworms so maybe that will lessen the crossing, but I will be interested to see next year if I created my own hybrid since I planted the all right next to each other. How fun, though. Thanks for the info. Great blog!

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