This is intended as a year three extension of my direct seeded tomatoes threads.
I have an inkling both from recent experiences with under watering and reading about dry farming and dry gardening that it might be possible to not only dry farm tomatoes here but direct seed dry farm them and breed varieties for that.
I think there is both great variation in the suitability of habitat for that within gardening areas available to me and the genetic ability to withstand the growing conditions within the tomatoes I am growing.
Wild species and hybrids thereof seem to have tremendous potential for this. My favorite species complex so far the Peruvianum complex seems to have the ability to volunteer here. Moreover at least the Arcanum accessions I intend to grow in 2019 come from very dry deserts. My most successful Pennellii x domestic F2 plant in 2018 ultimately succumbed to overwatering which makes me think it retained some of the water sensitivity of its Pennellii grandparent. When I was gone recently for a month and did not water, only the domestic potted tomatoes looked stressed by not being watered. Habrochaites x domestic, habrochaites, peruvianum, and pimpinellifolium seemed fine.
Without watering for a month potted domestics Blue Ambrosia and Golden Tressette suffered but Amethyst Cream and Sweet Cherriette did not.
Generally it seems to me that my wild tomatoes and crosses are not ready for direct seeding. I don't have adequate seed stocks and they are still too long season. Therefore I hope to include them in dry farming experiments by transplanting. In my initial direct seeding experiment in 2017 they did not germinate adequately. However in 2018 Peruvianum and pimpinellifolium volunteered. My 2018 wild bed was watered minimally.
I have several potential sites for direct seeding experimental plots. One thought would be to use my entire outside the fence garden, though this may be excessive for an initial foray. Other sites could be a deeper soil moister area at the base of my hill, a dry shallow soil site on a small hill, and an intermediate site, then an even more mesic site at my parents hayfield. My backyard could work for a couple unwatered plants but I wouldn't have space for a full rep.
Another thought would be to do 20 foot x 5 foot reps with 3 plants each. Direct seed 10 seeds then thin to one. Transplant in wild species. Each rep might get something like 1 wild species transplant, and two individuals from my F2 Blue Ambrosia x unknown population.
It would also be interesting to test a number of varieties dry farmed direct seeded including:
Determinate (this list could be shortened)
Another related thought is to plant a few plants of pimpinillifolium and Peruvianum on pocket gopher mounds out in the wild grassland of my hill. If successful, they should reseed themselves.
There would be lots of room here for subsequent experiments or sub experiments. In fact 2019 might just be a few pilot plots I'm uncertain about the scale of the dry farming experiment just yet. Success with a pilot even partial, could inform scaling up in 2020.
2019 Tomato thoughts on what to grow out and how much:
Wishlist from transplant if get
Weight in Gold (4 seeds)
Wild Child (4 seeds)
Black strawberry (4 seeds)
Black Bumblebee (4 seeds)
Muchacha! (4 seeds)
Fairy Hollow (4 seeds)
To grow again: Direct Seeded
Sweet Cherriette (4 seeds)
Jagodka (Earls Strain seems earlier 4 seeds)
Anmore Dewdrop (4 seeds)
Krainiy Sever (4 seeds)
42 Days (4 seeds)
Coyote (4 seeds)
forest fire (4 seeds)
Blue Ambrosia ( large amounts as hybrids likely)
JL potato leaf exserted blue skinned RL exserted offspring F2 (large amounts as will segregate and hybrids possible)
Blue Ambrosia X Unknown F2 (large amounts)
Brad (4 seeds)
Big Hill (large amounts of home saved seed as hybrids likely)
Amurski Tigr (4 seeds- will replace with Black Strawberry if it performs well)
Dwarf Hirsutum Cross "jeepers" (4 seeds)
Brad x yellow pear (rest of original packet in search of short season yellow pear)
To grow again from transplant
Amethyst Cream (4 seeds)
Wild Species grow from transplant or just in pots in some cases.
Peruvianum (4 seeds as backup to volunteers)
Pimpinillifolium (4 seeds)
Galapagense (4 seeds)
Penellii X domestic (all homegrown) + 1 seed
Cheesemanii (4 seeds)
Arcanum (24 seeds)
Chilense (24 seeds- will grow in pots)
Habrochaites x domestic (all homegrown)
New Must Grows from transplant
Stress Tolerant Strain from Darrel (4 seeds)
Blue Speckled Favorite of Andrew’s (4 seeds)
Found a couple of the same opensource instructions in a book on gardening. At the bottom of the page there is a list of root system sizes for various crops. 5.5 feet lateral for tomato by 5 feet deep for the variety John Bauer. This was in 1927.
Hey William, first of all good luck, and second of all, what kind of climatic limitations do you have? Like precipitation distribution or short season without frost? I know vaguely of a farm here in California that dry farms tomatoes, and we have ZERO summer rainfall, but that farm is close to the coast where it’s foggy and temperatures are cooler. They don’t direct seed though as far as I know. It’d be awesome to hear about your progress, and if you think it’s plausible with my scant rain here, and IF I can clear the space, I have a long enough season to attempt direct seeded dry farmed tomatoes.
Best of luck. The tallest, most productive tomatoes I've ever grown sprouted up from canning waste, unintentionally direct seeded in my garden bed. They came up much later than vigorous transplants, (about a month later) and quickly caught up, then surpassed my carefully tended plants.
Shortly thereafter they not only outstripped the coddled transplants, but more than quadrupled their yield. Moreso, the direct seeded plants were from hothouse hybrid tomatoes, with wildly different parentage lines. All those seedling from cherry to large salad still out grew and out produced all my carefully selected heritage and open pollinated transplants. The flavors were exceptional. This was truly an eye-opener and very happy accident.
Thank you, I replanted the seed of the hybrids I found last year. Plus some hybrids Joseph sent me. Plus some half wild seed from Joseph. Plus some Sweet Cherriette as a standard. I suspect I selected a little for earliness mostly inadvertently because of a shorter season last year than the year before. Lots of F2 seed which is supposed to be the most variable generation after a hybridization event. Should have a lot of adaptive potential.
See where your hand is? Not there. It's next to this tiny ad: