Thursday, August 9, 2012
Saving seeds from an heirloom
Heirloom tomatoes are very popular these days and I can understand why. They are usually very good and the seeds are saved and passed on just because they were plants that had good results. The best thing about them is that they can be saved year after year and grown from seeds (meaning the seeds are practically free). You can can improve on the vegetable by saving seeds from the best fruit and as you do this, you can share something very good with other gardeners.
In fact, that is essentially the story about this tomato I purchased from a vendor this past weekend in Murphy, North Carolina at the local Farmer's Market. A lady with a booth of lovely organic vegetables sold me this beauty, put it in a container she had recycled and wrote the name of the variety on it for me.
I am fond of both yellow tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes. Beefsteaks were the variety my father grew every year from the seeds he saved. His tomatoes were wonderful and memorable for their huge size, deep red color and excellent flavor. My mother canned and froze most of what he grew, but we always had our fill of those tomatoes every summer.
When I saw this tomato in her booth I thought, "Great, a yellow beefsteak!" I hadn't seen one before so I bought it to save seeds. The price was two dollars but I expected to get more seeds from the tomato than from a packet of seeds.
It is very meaty with few seeds. The "shoulders" of the tomato are green and I can't wait to grow these next year.
Now for the history--and I think this the general consensus. If someone knows better, please correct me. Dr. Wyche was evidently a dentist who lived in Hugo, Oklahoma and was of Cherokee descent who had many interests. When he retired he invested in businesses and was a garden enthusiast raising heirloom seeds and sending them all over the country to heirloom seed growers, until his death in 1985.
Evidently, he was a part-owner or investor in the Cole Brothers Circus (since Hugo, Oklahoma is a wintering ground for circuses, this makes sense) and from this relationship, he was able to get elephant manure to grow his prize vegetables (in one account I read he got the manure from a zoo, but it was most likely the circus). All this is according to the seed companies who sell Dr. Wyche's Yellow.
This tomato turns almost orange when it is very ripe and I waited until it was very ripe to harvest the seeds. I was happy to see that this variety was firm even though it was very ripe.
I first sliced the tomato and spooned out the seeds from the small cavities.
I put all the seeds in a strainer.
And washed them with a slight stream of water. This got rid of much of the tomato pulp. I was careful not to wash the seeds out of the strainer.
I dumped the seeds onto a paper towel and set them aside to air dry.