My neighbour told me today to save the seeds from the first tomatoes harvested. He said that they will produce earlier each year this is done. I'm skeptical but I have no evidence one way or the other. Anyone have an opinion, or better yet experience with this?
I save my tomato seeds. I do it usually from the best, which are often earliest to produce. I've done it for about 4 or 5 seasons. What I noticed is that the seed becomes more vigorous and well adapted. Most of my seed I buy, I expect to get 1-2 vigorous growers. Seed I save I expect 90% vigorous because it's better adapted.
As for earlier, I had learned a while ago that tomato fruiting is triggered by the reduction of daylight that starts at the summer solstice. Theoretically, saving seed with a specific attribute will get you more of that attribute, but I found my tomatoes to be pretty uniform in this aspect, so the fruit and flowers appear all about the same time, so breeding an earlier tomato is unlikely here. However, if I did insert into my collection an early variety and then hand cross- pollinated, I could probably go some where with that breeding program.
However, being tomatoes can be perennial and therefore planted really early in the season and tricked to produce by adjusting the lighting, I'm not sure a breeding program is necessary here.
Amit Enventres wrote:As for earlier, I had learned a while ago that tomato fruiting is triggered by the reduction of daylight that starts at the summer solstice. Theoretically, saving seed with a specific attribute will get you more of that attribute, but I found my tomatoes to be pretty uniform in this aspect, so the fruit and flowers appear all about the same time, so breeding an earlier tomato is unlikely here. However, if I did insert into my collection an early variety and then hand cross- pollinated, I could probably go some where with that breeding program.
I noticed that too with my own seed saving. I too save the best most vigorous plants to save seeds from. My tomatoes are always a bit later than the growers around me, and I attributed it to the STUN practice that I use. However, my neighbour's comment made me wonder if that's all it was.
Ironically enough, said neighbour gave me some of his tomato plants that he started from seed. The plants were beautiful compared to mine started at the same time. Yet mine started producing this week and the plants he gave me are still just in flower....
I always save seeds from our heirloom vegetables, I choose the largest, best quality fruits for seed saving, not always the first to ripen.
Genetically it does not matter when the fruit forms, all that matters is that the plant produced fruits earlier (if that's what you want for subsequent plants), which fruit you harvest seeds from is just personal choice.
If you were looking for frost resistance then the plant that exhibited that trait would be the one to save seeds from.
Plant characteristics are genetic not depended upon which setting of fruit you got the seeds from, if you saved the last fruit's seeds from an early producing plant, the subsequent plants grown from those seeds will be early producers too.
What matters is that you don't get cross breeding that you don't want, this is taken care of by distance or by hand pollination and covers.
We get so many volunteer cherry tomato plants coming up every year that they tend to self-select for early season genetics. Whatever the first plants are that pop out of the ground are the ones that are allowed to grow. In the weeks and months that follow, we'll get hundreds more, but those tend to get pulled out and put into the compost pile. So year after year, it's the earliest season plants that get to stay.
If you're collecting seed from hybrid tomatoes, you won't get a true-to-type plant the next season. Even heirloom tomatoes may not produce the same variety. I just buy new seeds every year. For 5 bucks, I'm sure of what I'm getting and you'll have enough seed to start a small forest of plants. The only type of tomato I don't buy seed for is cherry tomatoes because they are like weeds, popping up everywhere. I think that some of that is because the chickens eat them and them "distribute" the seeds wherever they roam and poop.
The way I save tomato seeds (when I do) is to simply cut the tomato in half, and bang it onto a paper towel. All the tomato goo comes out. Smear that across the paper towel and let it dry. When you go to plant, just rip the paper towel into small pieces and bury the seed & towel all together. That's the lazy method, which works just fine.
If you want clean seeds without them sticking to the towel, (like store-bought seeds) scoop the seeds and goo out of a ripe tomato and put them into a drinking glass with a cup or so of water. Let it sit for 3 days on the counter-top until it starts to get a bit funky/fermented. Swirl the seeds around and then hold the glass under the faucet (low pressure -- just a mild trickle) and flush out the glass. The seeds will sink to the bottom while the tomato goo will flush out with the rinse water. Rinse them carefully until it's just the seeds and clean water in the glass.
Dry them on a piece of paper. The seeds come out perfectly clean and will germinate well next growing season.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf