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what would you do...volunteer tomatoes

 
                                    
Posts: 32
Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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What would you do if you had volunteer tomato plants popping up in your garden? I have three from an heirloom that I planted last year. They have all popped up in with the corn and beans. I'm going to leave them alone and provide them with a trellis of sorts...in other words anything I have around the yard that will keep them from  taking over the whole area. Would you do something different? If so, what?
 
              
Posts: 40
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I had a ton of volunteer tomatoes last year. They stayed pretty small for the most part. The fruit that developed on them wasn't anything like the fruit I got from the parent plants. It was mostly very tiny cherry like tomatoes. The flavor was so so. If I get some pop up this year I will probably just pull them. Unless they are totally out of the way of anything else I am planting it wasn't worth keeping them around. Plus there is the whole rotating crops to reduce disease.
 
                                    
Posts: 32
Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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Thanks David
I am very curious to see what they will do though as we are having an exceptional growing year so far. If nothing else I can use those little tomatoes to make jam.....
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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I too would leave them if I could, however if they came up in a place that didn't get enough sun I would dig them up with lots of their soil and move them.

I have lots of trees and shady spots - veggie plants without fruit or mini fruit is common if I don't take steps to ensure enough sun exposure, water and minerals.

I get volunteer veggies from my compost/hen house area dirt. 
My loop goes like this - city dumps truck loads of leaves in the fall.  I move these leaves from the front of my house around to the chicken paddock in the back.  I add food waste from the house and garden, plus grass and non-woody plant matter.  Poof - the girls make nice soil for me (adding their little bit too).  In the spring I shovel out this dirt and use it all over my yard, filling up garden beds and veggie boxes.  There are always volunteer pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelons, etc.

Best of luck with your tomatoes!
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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I always let them grow and see what kind of tomato I get. Usually they're alright and fine for making sauce, but last year I got a large sized (twice as big as normal) cherry tomato that was meaty and very delicious.

For support I just do as I would normally do for a tomato plant. Actually if it's in with the corn, the corn stalks might give it enough support--but then it might get too much shade. In any case it's fun to experiment, and you always learn something.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
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some of my best seed stock comes from volunteer plants. some of the hardiest as well.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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David's volunteer tomatoes were F2 hybrids (the tastier ones from the previous year were F1 hybrids), simplysue's are heirlooms.

I'd be much more likely to kill the progeny of hybrid tomatoes, than heirlooms: David's experience is very common, because most hybrid tomatoes have a cherry tomato parent, and most mainstream tomatoes are F1 hybrids.

Heirloom seeds, by definition, will breed true. Seed catalogs that trumpet "open-pollinated" are promising that saved seed will be reasonably similar to what you originally bought.

Soil is absolutely right that, by using seed that grew where you will plant it, you naturally select for stock that grows well there. Done for enough years, and perhaps with input from other varieties, you end up with a related group of plants called a "landrace."

Seeds that constitute a landrace will include a mix of genes that proved adaptive in extreme years, and normal years. They will be much, much less responsive to perfect conditions than "green revolution" style seeds, but tend to be a lot less vulnerable to problems with weather, disease, etc.

So from less to more permacultural, I see a spectrum:

"terminator" seeds < hybrids < new, open-pollinated varieties < heirlooms < landrace
 
                                    
Posts: 32
Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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@ Jodi...you are so lucky to get all those volunteers I hope my garden will do the same some day soon. I'm hoping to get chickens next spring but first have to decide where to put the coop, figure out how to keep in warm enough in winter and do the paddock thing. Our yard is good size but we also have two dogs so the coop will have to be inside the garden area.We will have only three chickens to start so I'm sure there will be plenty of space along the edge between the garden and the fence.I plan to plant that area with food for the chickens..comfrey ect. Hopefully I'll get that great fertilizer that you have and some good eggs too.
@wyldthang...last growing season was pretty cold here and still from the three heirloom plants we ended up with over 150lbs of green tomatoes...had to let them ripen on the shelf.I'm excited to see what they will do with this season.
soil and Joel...I don't plant hybrid tomatoes ever. If it says hybrid I don't buy it. I do have to settle for hybrids of some of my other veggies due to the short growing season but always try to go with the heirlooms so I can save seed. Haven't perfected the seed saving thing and have lost quite a bit due to mold but will keep trying till I get it right.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
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good post joel! not only do you get to pick the plants that do better in your area, you get to selectively pick the plants that taste best to you as well. so not only do you have plants that love growing in your garden, you have plants that taste exactly what you want them to taste like. and you have a tomato no one else in the world has
 
                                    
Posts: 32
Location: Ishpeming, Michigan
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I like that idea soil Now I'll be sure to use my "greenhouse"(plastic cover with clear 2 lt bottles warmed by the sun underneath it) during the cold fall nights if need be to get my seed.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i generally allow volunteer tomatos to grow, as even if they aren't the same as the parent they are generally pretty good eating..if you get a tomato off of them and they aren't tasty you can always pull the plant and throw it in the compost pile later.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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