This seems to be a form of garden therapy - "yes, I know I start too many varieties and things go out of control. Maybe if I tell you a bit about those tomatoes, you will understand...." Well, not really - only similarly obsessed tomato growers and gardeners could possibly understand the annual challenge of finding spaces for all aspirations.
In the first two parts of this 2016 garden-to-be series, I discussed the family heirlooms and the weirdo varieties to be used for breeding new varieties. In this part, I will talk about the varieties I hope to fit in for saving fresh seed, or just their incredible deliciousness.
Something I like to do is to "test" varieties that I consider special for various reasons. I go back as far as I can to find seeds that germinate so that I can get a sense of the continued stability of those varieties.
For Cherokee Purple, I've started seed saved in 2002 (code 02-3), 2008 (08-12) and 2011 (11-51). When I received Cherokee Purple, it sent into vial 287, which is all gone. I grew that seed in 1991 - that was saved as 91-27. The 14 year old seed that is 02-3 was grown from 91-27. So, I will get to check out seed that is only two years removed from what J. D. Green sent to me. I grew some of the original - vial 287 - in 1993 - that seed, 93-2, was grown on 2008 - that, saved as 08-12 and destined for my garden this year, gives me another that is only twice removed from the original. Finally, the first time I grew Cherokee Purple (vial 287) was in 1990, saved as 90-10. I grew it in 1994 - saved as 94-108 - and that led to 11-51, which I am growing this year, and is three grow outs removed from the original.
Cherokee Chocolate originated from one plant from 91-27 - saved as 95-47. I grew a plant from 95-47 in 2003 - that 13 year old seed, saved as 03-21, is up and growing and will be in my garden this year. I grew two plants from 95-47 in 1996, saved as 96-3 and 96-9. From 96-3 I grew a plant in 2011 - seed is in vial 11-13, and I've got that up and growing. From 96-9 I grew a plant in 2011 - the seed, in 11-18, was germinated this year and will be in my garden. I will therefore have a chance to check out Cherokee Chocolate in three lines very near its origin.
Cherokee Green showed up in my garden in 1997 (seed of which was saved as 97-10) out of a sample of Cherokee Chocolate returned to me from a friend - I likely sent him 95-47 seed. I grew it quite often in 1998 and 1999, but sadly, none of those samples germinated. I did get one seeding from 16 year old seed - vial 00-51 (which came from 99-47, which came from 98-71, which came from 97-10 - so I will at least get to sample something three "generations" removed from when it first appeared. I also have one plant of 06-104, which is two removed from 00-51.
Brandywine - how I love this variety when the weather suits it. I received it in 1987, and still find it to be one of the most delicious tomatoes I've experienced. I have three sample of Brandywine to squeeze in this year - two are 5 years removed from that original sample, and one is 6 years removed.
Lucky Cross is another favorite, because it is the only yellow/red swirled bicolor type that I find absolutely delicious - in fact, very much like it's "daddy", Brandywine. I really like to go back and explore the uniformity of the selection, and I have 5 different "lines" growing - four of them are F9 generation and one if F10 (years removed from when I discovered the accidental cross).
Aside from the above, I hope to grow the following for fresh seed and/or great eating - Lillian's Yellow Heirloom, Mexico Midget, Sun Gold, Egg Yolk, Aker's West Virginia, Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red, Opalka, Dester, Eva Purple Ball and Gallo Plum.
I will not be using large containers for all of these indeterminate varieties. Last year, I found that 5 gallon grow bags and use of topping and extreme pruning work just fine to get a few clusters of fruit - certainly enough to examine, taste and use for seed saving.
Below are a few plants of Mullens Mortgage Lifter, which always show a few of the chartreuse leaf mutation.