Appalachia Gardening

Cross Pollination Can Occur When Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

Cross pollination can occur in heirloom tomatoes
Many of you may remember last summer was the year The Deer Hunter and I decided we’d grow only heirloom tomatoes; pick our favorite varieties; and save the seed to start our own for years to come. You may also remember I did not know heirloom varieties can cross pollinate-and when I found out I got slightly freaked out. If you missed all that-go here: Saving Seeds From Heirloom Tomatoes.

Hamson Tomato

Hamson Tomato

Not knowing if the seeds we saved had been cross pollinated or not-we decided to go forward with our plan and see what happened. We’ve had good tomato production this summer with the seeds we saved-even though the days have been hotter than usual.

Sticking with our plan-we planted our favorite heirlooms from last summer-with one exception. Hometown Seeds generously sponsored our garden again this year-and as I paged through their catalog I couldn’t resist trying the Hamson Tomato.

German Johnson
German Johnson

For the 2nd year in a row-German Johnsons are my favorite. They produced good again for us-and the taste is just dandy.

Cream and Sausage
Cream and Sausage

These little jewels were just as tasty as last summer-very sweet-and good producers.

Bonnie Best
Bonnie Best

Just as tasty-although they didn’t seem to produce as many as last summer-maybe it was the heat.

Yellow Brandywine

Yellow Brandywine

These are so big, so juicy, and so tasty-one is a meal in itself. The only problem-somehow I only ended up with 3 plants.

Cherokee Purple
Cherokee Purple

This is where we ran into trouble. Last summer Cherokee Purples were The Deer Hunter’s favorite. They didn’t produce very many tomatoes-but since it was free to save seeds from them-I did. I planted more Cherokee Purples than anything else-and oh man from the start they looked so healthy-so much stronger than all the other varieties.

Cross pollination can occur in heirloom tomatoes
Tipper’s Not Very Tasty Oblong Shaped Tomato

When the tomatoes first started coming in, The Deer Hunter was the one going out to pick them. As the first week or so went by-he was judging which tasted the best-which were producing the best, etc. One evening he was slicing one up and said he didn’t think it tasted as good as the others. I said well what kind is it? He said he wasn’t sure.

Once I seen the shape of it-I knew it wasn’t something I planted on purpose. Then I remembered the Hamson seeds. I said oh I bet it’s that new one I tried from Hometown Seeds. I never thought anything else about it-until a day or so later we were both in the garden together. As I looked around at all the tomatoes-I noticed all of the Cherokee Purple plants had funny looking tomatoes on them-fairly large-but completely oblong shaped-and a funny color of washed out red. (in the first photo of this post-you can see several of the odd shaped tomatoes)

Out of all the Cherokee Purple plants-only one has produced true to type. So I discovered it’s true-different varieties of heirloom tomatoes can cross pollinate-with not so good results.

So do I give up? Never. But I am thinking I should start fresh next year-with all new seeds that were saved by someone who knew what they were doing. And I will for sure give more thought into where I plant each variety.

Have your tomato plants done good this summer?

Tipper

 

 

 

You Might Also Like

21 Comments

  • Reply
    Becky
    August 27, 2011 at 8:08 am

    My tomatoes haven’t done the best this year. Just enough for eating, but not enough for canning.

  • Reply
    warren
    August 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I am glad you found this out. I think it would be interesting to let it continue and see where the cross pollination takes you…could be cool. I wouldn’t make it your whole garden but still might be fun!

  • Reply
    Tipper
    August 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Miss Cindy-the cream and sausage tomatoes are so good-they never stick around long enough to cook : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Tipper
    August 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Uncle Al- In this area- a lot of folks grapes got bit by a scattered late frost-maybe that’s what happened to your grapes? The blackberries around here didn’t do well this summer either.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    August 22, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Tipper,
    Our tomatoes did fairly well this year…The drought did a job on them just at the height of the ripening season..We watered as long as seaseable..then we had to let Mother Nature take over…
    We have been growing transplants for a few years exception a few tommie toes and peppers from seed..especially since reducing the size of our gardens and into more raised bed gardening…We grew a couple of German Johnson plants this year..plus Romas (that didn’t do so well for us but the deer thought the green ones were wonderful)..The Stripy’s were great..I too love the flavor..My little salad tomatoes were not very large this year but plentiful..and spliting in the heat and drought…I think I bought some mistagged plants..Oh, and I am sure the Mocking birds, Thrashers and Cat birds scatter many seeds around since they drank them up like water..ha We hope to try more heirloom seeds next year..
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ken
    August 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m tickled ‘pink’ with my German
    Johnsons. But I have to get them
    the moment they start turning or
    an ole tarpin bites holes in them.
    I just had too much garden and its
    been too hot this year. All the
    yellow Brandywines just disappeared, but the cream and
    sausage are really good producers.
    …Ken

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    August 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    In spite of blight, our tomatoes have done pretty well. Love the Stripeys — the red and the green — and Cherokee Purple is my favorite.

  • Reply
    Deanna
    August 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    This has been a very disappointing year in my Iowa garden, except for radish, cabbage, zucchini, and some volunteer squash in the compost bin. They are huge! Not sure what they are, probably a cross between a squash and a pumpkin, probably either a squmpkin or a porshe. Well, the tomatoes are about 5 ft tall and very little fruit. What I did get so far has had dry rot(chickens love them). Have planted nearly 30 plants and some of them are heirloom but they are all the same. I did not water them extra nor did I put any fertilizer on them. No fruit to speak of when I usually put up nearly 100 quarts of tomatoes, sauce, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc. Big disappointment this year when grocery store costs are so high. I sure don’t like to buy grocery store tomatoes for those BLT’s so guess we will have to hit some road side stands for a few fruit for our sandwiches. Sigh…

  • Reply
    Mary
    August 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Whether it be the flooding rains and chilly days early inthe garden season or the long hot dry spell that followed, our garden has not measured up to previous years nor expectation this summer.
    We have been blessed with ‘enough’ canning jars and freezer are filling,slowly, and there has been some extra to pass along to others.
    I will not complain, just hope that next season, my act of faith in planting will once again be rewarded.

  • Reply
    Mamabug
    August 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    That’s good information to know. Wonder how far apart different plants need to be spaced?

  • Reply
    Barbara Johnson
    August 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    We planted purple cherokee tomatoes this year. We purchased the seeds when we were down there last year~they are not quite ready yet. We planted late because of the rain here. We can’t wait to taste them!

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    August 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    My favorite heirloom tomato it the Mr. Stripey! They are wonderful and I grow them every year!
    Kimberly

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    August 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    My one an only Tomato plant has done quite well. Although the skin seems to be a little tough. I have misplaced the tag with the name but when ripe it is a mix of yellow and read (more red). Might it be from dry weather? I didn’t have a good blackberry crop this year and the wild grapes don’t appear to have much if any on the vine???

  • Reply
    Ethel
    August 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

    My goodness, those hybrids look just like the anemic tomatoes we find in the grocery store. Sorry you’ve been disappointed, those Cherokee Purples look really good too! How can you prevent cross-pollination? That might be something to investigate this winter – then you can try again!

  • Reply
    martina
    August 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    The Sweet Million plant didn’t grow, the Early Girls and Romas are doing well. I’ve not tried heirlooms, but enjoy reading about your plants.
    Just as I was writing this, the 4 year old boy next door threw their front door open and loudly said “Hey look at our really gigantic sunflower!” Ahh summmer.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    August 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Tipper: Your ‘tomatoe research; sounds very correct according to the SCIENTIFIC METHOD of doing research. You certainly captured Jim’s attention – him being a scientist and a farm boy from Jackson County! His daddy was very knowledgeable about such matters!
    The only luck I have had this year is with tommy toe tomatoes! I got the seeds from an old friend up in Hiawassee, GA and they came up ‘volunteerly’ this year. However the deer keep them ‘consumed’ on a regular basis. If any of your readers want to take out a few deer on my property they can ‘dress em’ right here in my back yard!
    BTW your PERFECT receipe from Friday is fantastic. Our AFS exchange student made the dish and it was PERFECT!
    Regards,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    August 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I have had a problem with blight for past couple of years. This year not as bad, but I sprayed the tomatoes 3-4 times with a fungicide from Lowe’s. My neighbor has for years been very ritualistic growing his tomatoes by saving seed, marking the biggest and best for seed saving. All his tomatoes mostly do fantastic and he plants them all close together. This novice never offers suggestions, but will sometimes mention something I have read on the web to him. He does all the ole-fashioned way from memory and trial and error. I just must ask if he has problems with cross pollination. He did use a bleach mix on his tomato cages after I mentioned they could carry the blight.
    Tipper, your tomatoes look great, and I do so love reading about your Appalachian experiences.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    August 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Try maybe splitting the patch next year instead of planting them all together. Also maybe space your individual plants further apart.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I don’t plant a garden anymore, I wish I could but it is prohibited where I live. Before we moved here though I loved planting heirloom tomatoes, How wonderful they tasted. Never did have a cross-pollination problem. My daughter who I gave all my seeds to has. I would be interested to hear what you find out about the seeds. Start over or keep trying.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    August 21, 2011 at 7:56 am

    amazing info here today, had not idea about any of this, daddy always had one kind, not sure what, but they were big and fat and really round, you have so many different ones here.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Tipper, all those pictures make me hungry. There aint nothin in the world like a mater sandwich!
    If you feel like you need to start over, at least you know which varieties you like.
    Are those Cream and Sausage tomatoes good to cook with? They are a good flavor.
    I’m with the Deer Hunter, I like the Cherokee Purple. I found a place near here where I could buy some to make sandwiches.
    It seems like it was a lot easier to grow good tomatoes when I was young. I guess life was just overall simpler then…..and perhaps it is also because I wasn’t doing the gardening just the picking and eating. LOL

  • Leave a Reply