The growing season is REALLY over now – check out this forecast from earlier this week:
Actual low temperatures for three nights in a row were 16°F, 9° and 14°. I harvested everything remaining and now have approximately 230 batches of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squashes, melons, etc. from which I am still working on extracting seeds.
For the most part, seeds are ready to go. Following is a summary of my efforts at saving seeds from tomatoes in 2020.
With over 2,700 varieties of tomato seeds in inventory, I really need to be growing at least 800 varieties every year. But the move last winter (fifth in five years) and the fact that there has never been a garden here and limited time and other resources have all conspired to make 2020 yet another challenging year.
In an effort to produce what I could manage, this was my selection process:
First cut: Ideally would grow if time & space & other resources: 1,600 tomato varieties
Second cut: “MUST GROW”: 588 (including 150 new)
Third Cut: 486
Fourth Cut: 179
Fifth Cut: 105
Final Cut for seed saving project: 97 varieties planted on May 25th
25 varieties for the Giant Tomato Project.
219 varieties for seedlings for other growers
Following is a table summarizing what actually resulted from my growing efforts in pots and growbags.
|No. varieties planted from seed||312|
|Est. No. seedlings transplanted into gardens||470|
|Est. no. seedlings killed by late frost, disease or pests||55|
|No. unique varieties transplanted into gardens||288|
|No. varieties for which vines produced zero seeds||137|
|No. varieties for which too few seeds (<70) were produced to allow for listing||31|
|No. varieties which were off-type, but seeds saved anyhow||3|
|No. varieties that are now new on offer from Delectation of Tomatoes||37|
|No. of varieties from which seeds were saved to replenish those already in inventory||100|
|Tot. No. of varieties from which adequate seeds were harvested in 2020 for listing||140|
So essentially, growing in 7-gallon growbags was only about 50% successful at producing enough tomatoes for seed saving. Actually, other than tiny bites for flavor assessments, I “sacrificed” only 5 tomatoes this year for fresh eating; all the rest went for seed saving. Well, I did cheat and snacked on a few cherry tomatoes here and there.
Here is the list of 37 NEW (to Delectation of Tomatoes) tomato varieties for which seeds are now available. These will also be listed and profiled on the main website as soon as I can manage the time.
Anna Maria’s Heart
Cherokee Tiger Large
Dirty Little Chicken
Dwarf Andy’s Forty
Dwarf Melanie’s Ballet
Dwarf Moliagul Moon
Indian Stripe Black
Indian Stripe, PL
Leh Red Egg
Make My Day
Starburst Nebula X Black Beauty
Summer of Love
Thornburn’s Terra Cotta
Xanadu Green Goddess
Zorica’s Croatian Bull Eye
Some of these were REALLY taste! Others produce beautiful fruits or were notably productive. More details to follow here or on the website linked above. The additional 100 varieties from which seeds were saved for replenishment are already listed on the website under the Seeds tab.
Now for a summary of seed harvest from everything except tomatoes.
Basil: 6 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Italian Large Leaf
Cucumber: 9 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Eggplant: 11 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Pandora Striped Rose
Snake of Mugla
Thai White Ribbed
Ground Cherry: 4 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Melon: 10 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Deosaki?? (Correct spelling TBD)
Extra Early Hanover
Pepper: 41 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Jalapeño, Traveler’s Strain
Le Rouge Royal
Mini Chimes Orange
Santa Fe Grande
Unknown large orange bell from store
Unknown large red bell from store
Unknown large yellow bell from store
Squash: 18 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Watermelon: 15 varieties planted, fresh seeds now available for:
Cream of Saskachewan
Jeremiah the Bullfrog
Moon and Stars Yellow Flesh
New Hampshire Midget
Peas, beans, flowers: 17 varieties planted, planted in front of the front fence by the street; essentially total failure (thanks to deer…) except a few dozen seeds of –
Autumn Beauty Sunflower:
Above photo taken on October 24th, just ahead of the hard freeze.
Non-edible, seeds collected wild or ornamental plants – just a partial list
Umm, yup, pretty obvious I have a seed obsession…
Also planted in early October: 27 varieties of garlic, about 450 total cloves! Here is the completed bed, 3′ wide X 40′ long, with 2″ of compost and other organic fertilizers mixed in, covered with chicken wire to reduce damage from deer.
Here is a photo of a bulb (which consisted of 6 cloves) of one of the larger varieties planted, Estonia Red:
Hopefully by late September, 2021, I will have some garlic bulbs on offer for the first time ever!
I still have plants growing! Before the light frost in early September, I moved about 20 potted pepper, melon and cucumber plants into the basement. I set up a 400-watt metal halide light over them.
For the most part, the plants continue to do well. But the aphid population absolutely exploded. I released about 100 Minute Pirate Bugs in late September, but they seemed to have zero effect. They are far smaller than aphids.
In early October, I released 150 adult ladybugs. They are still doing well and seem healthy and happy:
However, they seem to be gradually dying off (spiders?) or leaving. So far, I have not observed any eggs or larvae. The adults seem to stay directly under the source of light and heat, never venturing to the foliage and super-abundant source of aphids in the periphery.
Several of other interesting events, such as rescuing a Dark-eyed Junco that was trapped inside an old chicken house. Here it’s briefly suspended in a spiders web:
And this series of photos of a giant sunflower opening. I thought it would be interesting to take a photo every day, showing the progress. Here are three photos in the series:
Oops, deer. Devastating. Herds of them have descended from the nearby mountains and just roam the streets and gardens, eating everything they can reach.
They even broke into my “deer exclusion cage”, bending the chicken wire and breaking strands of wire that held the chicken wire to t-posts.
Plenty of evidence of their presence and damage.
I pretty much caught them in the act a few days later.
Covering immature melons helped.
Estimated cost to install an 8′ tall chain-link fence around the perimeter of the entire backyard where I want to put in a garden and high tunnel: $4,000.
Some flowers just started to open ahead of the hard freeze.
Morning Glory –
Also, it took two full, long days, but I finally managed to get my non-tomato seeds semi-organized, and actually have space to move around in the seed room.
Many hours still needed to fully process seeds, alphabetize, enter data, process photos, write up descriptions, put everything on the website. Many hundreds of hours. Not sure where those will come from!?