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

 
steward
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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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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!
 
William Schlegel
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In 2021 the main tomato I saved seed from direct seeding was a very ordinary seeming red exserted potato leaf from the mixture of exserted tiger, non-isolated big hill, and promiscuous project. I'm not sure from which it came ?! It tasted like a normal red tomato. I am curious to find out what percentage of regular leaf offspring it will have because each of these will be a hybrid as potato leaf is recessive!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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In the spring of 2021, I did a direct-seeded planting of about 10,000 seeds of Wildling tomato, which is an elite hybrid swarm of three species of tomatoes, from the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomatoes project. I planted about two weeks before average last frost date.

Seven plants survived and bore fruit. I collected around 1800 seeds. Maybe that will be enough to continue the experiment next year, maybe not.

I did a second planting about three weeks later. More plants survived, but didn't mature fruit.
 
William Schlegel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:In the spring of 2021, I did a direct-seeded planting of about 10,000 seeds of Wildling tomato, which is a hybrid swarm of three species of tomatoes. I planted about two weeks before average last frost date.

Seven plants survived and bore fruit. I collected around 1800 seeds. Maybe that will be enough to continue the experiment next year, maybe not.



If those seven plants represent a genetic improvement in germinating and surviving direct seeded it almost certainly will. If they simply survived by random chance then they very well may not! Interesting experiment nonetheless either way and the very small number of surviving seeds is sort of exciting for the prospects of the former.
 
pollinator
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I don't pay a lot of attention to it because my season is plenty long enough for tomatoes but it is quite common in my garden for volunteer tomatoes to come up and survive some light frosts. A while back I sifted out some compost to use next year for seed starter. There were some tomatoes growing beside that compost pile and when I put my sifted compost in a clear plastic tub and set it by an outdoor workbench lots of tomatoes came up in it. All got frosted down except those that were under the edge of the bench. I guess it protected them from the frost falling down. Then it got colder and all but one of them bit the dust. The thermometer read 22 F on the morning the last one finally croaked.
 
William Schlegel
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https://permies.com/t/170703/Tomatoes-seed-zone-colder

Just thought I would cross link in this new thread above because I think it asks an important question:

Is reliable volunteering possible in tomatoes?

Dependent on genetics?

Dependent on soil type and other habitat elements?

Is good volunteering ability the ultimate evolution of direct seeded tomatoes? Or will they stop short of that?

Why don't wild south American tomato species either direct seed or volunteer well with some exceptions? Namely Solanum peruvianum and Solanum pimpinillifolium seem to do some but the other species at least for me do not.

Some other related threads:

https://permies.com/t/84929/Direct-Seeded-Tomato-Breeding-Project

https://permies.com/t/34777/tomato-transplant-seed

https://permies.com/t/99150/Dry-Farmed-Direct-Seeded-Tomatoes

https://permies.com/t/70905/Changing-world-direct-seeded-gardening

https://permies.com/t/139369/William-Seed-Seed-Garden
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Solanum peruvianum sometimes volunteers for me.

Generally, at my place, in my irrigated fields, the lambsquarters and wild lettuce germinate much earlier than the tomatoes. So by the time the tomatoes germinate, the weeds have already won the race.

My soil is deep-water lake sediment, so it's very silty.

I sometimes see volunteer tomatoes in my brother's garden which has sandy soil.

I haven't ever found a volunteer Solanum habrochaites.

When I explore for wild tomatoes, in the Andes, using Google street view, I often find them growing on cliff-faces, or on the edges of cliffs, with the vines falling over the edge of the cliff.



 
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