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Direct Seeding Tomatoes in ~100 Frost Free Days without season extension

 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Some potato leaved plants showed up this year in the Beautifully Promiscuos and Tasty Tomato Project. Therefore, i separated them to grow in semi-isolation. They could become a valued tool.
 
pollinator
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Location: Montana
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I know I would value potato leaf tomatoes in the promiscuous project because I could plant one with each group and get an idea of outcrossing rate just by planting some seeds. I thought I spotted a potato leaf seedling while rototilling along a direct seeded row last weekend. Mixed lot planting but possibly a promiscuous, but then I couldn't find it again so will have to keep an eye out when I weed that area more carefully.
 
William Schlegel
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Prepared this post for another thread but I am posting it here too because it is a good history of this project.

I've been intentionally direct seeding tomatoes for five years now. This being the fifth year. Last year I direct seeded a early version of the promiscuous project so I know it can be done. Though Joseph sent me better seed and nothing elite enough segregated out of the direct seeded row. So this year I direct seeded the elite material from last year.

This all started in 2016 when I noticed two volunteers that barely produced a couple tomatoes. I thought: what if I was more deliberate about this? I started this thread for my 2017 garden. Joseph sent me some seed that contributed to the project. I read Joseph's posts about exsertion and open tomato flowers. I found some exserted tomatoes in my 2017 garden- I used them as mothers!

I have noticed that direct seeded breeding material can be good at volunteering in subsequent years. I suspect that a direct seeding protocol could eventually lead to tomatoes that don't have to be planted- just weeded around a bit. I don't have any plants that have been consistently direct seeded for more than about 4 out of 5 generations. Those four year plants are some seeds of a variety I call exserted tiger. Specifically the parents (one striped and one exserted), F1, F2, and F4 generations. Which I direct seeded for the fourth (F4)  time this year but grew from transplant last year (F3) for a seed grow out (available from snake river seeds). I mixed them with Joseph's Big Hill and some leftover seed from the direct seeded rows of Joseph's promiscuous project.

I did notice a few flea beetles this year probably taking out some seedlings. Also I have black nightshade which attracts Colorado potato beetles which sometimes predate a few tomato seedlings. I noticed one year some volunteers that disappeared when I didn't weed around them promptly and I think they were eaten possibly by arthropods such as flea beetles.

I am also in the second year of growing a different Solanum habrochaites accession that is a known source of arthropod resistance. It will be interesting to see if I can use it as a habrochaites cytoplasm mother in the promiscuous project- it might introduce needed flea beetle resistance so more people can direct seed with the success I've known. I have planted it from transplant as I consider pure habrochaites too long season for direct seeding and I do have exserted tiger, big hill, and promiscuous project plants right next to it. Hope to find F1s to plant next to it next year. Which should facilitate back crossing into the habrochaites cytoplasm if it hasn't already occurred last year or this.

Another note, in 2019 the year I grew out the F2 that led to Exserted Tiger I did it without ever watering. It was an exceptional year for good rainfall in my locale but I think it possible that maybe aside from some occasional help with enough water for germination, that tomatoes could be direct seeded and dry farmed in many semi arid climates. I documented that year here: https://permies.com/t/99150/Dry-Farmed-Direct-Seeded-Tomatoes

In 2020 I grew only the promiscuous tomatoes direct seeded but alas saved no seed because they were all wild type and the transplant tomatoes from Josephs selections from the same cross were elite.

So now in 2021 I have four rows of the elite promiscuous project tomatoes direct seeded and about seven rows of the mix of big hill, exserted tiger, and promiscuous. Though the big hill I used for this like the tomatoes I planted in 2018 https://permies.com/t/84929/Direct-Seeded-Tomato-Breeding-Project were exposed to pollen from other varieties including wild species- so its really about finding more F1's. The Big Hill seed was grown in 2018 and 2019 gardens and not isolated. So this project should probably keep me busy for another decade or so!
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