In this Seed Saving class from the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Stanislaus County, you'll learn:
- What types of seeds to save and the difference between heirlooms and hybrid seeds.
- How flowers are pollinated and how seeds develop.
- How far apart to plant varieties of vegetables to ensure seed purity.
- How to save seeds and how long saved seeds last.
During class, you'll have a hands-on experience of separating flower and vegetable seeds from "chaff,*" and labeling to take home to your garden. Please join us at one of our classes at a local Stanislaus County library near you.
We are also excited to announce that classes are starting this month at the Waterford Library branch!
Seed Saving Classes for July 2023
Sat, 7/1 at 2:00 p.m. – Empire Library
Sat, 7/8 at 2:00 p.m. – Riverbank Library
Mon, 7/10 at 6:00 p.m. – Ceres Library
Tues, 7/11 at 6:00 p.m. – Salida Library
Tues, 7/11 at 6:00 p.m. – Oakdale Library
Thurs, 7/13 at 1:00 p.m. – Patterson Library
Mon, 7/24 at 5:30 p.m. – Modesto Library
Tues, 7/25 at 2:00 p.m. – Waterford Library
Wed, 7/26 at 6:00 p.m. – Turlock Library
*chaff is the extra stuff growing around the seed like the spent flowers, pods, etc.
- Author: Ed Perry
Most of the dependable varieties of vegetables that you grow in your garden are from hybrid seeds that were developed to improve the yield, quality, and dependability of crops. However, along with these advantages, the opportunity to grow seeds at home was lost because hybrid seed must be grown under very special conditions not found in most home gardens.
Hybrid seeds result from crosses between parent plants that are unlike. These crosses bring together the desirable characteristics of the parents, and allow you to grow better quality vegetables. However, any seed you save from hybrid plants and grow the next season will produce plants and fruits that have unknown and usually unfavorable characteristics. If you want to grow hybrids, the only solution is to purchase new hybrid seeds each season.
Open pollinated from plants that cross with other kinds of plants
A number of vegetable crops, including corn, squash and melons, cross-pollinate in your garden. In order to grow genetically sound seed from these crops, you must plant them at a considerable distance from similar plants. The distance varies for different crops, but ranges from several hundred feet to a quarter of a mile. Saving seeds from this group of vegetables is likely to give you disappointing results, unless you enjoy growing odd vegetables.
Open pollinated from plants that do not cross with other kinds of plants
Examples are tomatoes (non-hybrids), peas, beans, peppers and eggplant. You may save satisfactory seed from these crops from one year to the next for several years. However, even with these crops, a little genetic change takes place from year to year, so it's a good idea to get new seed every three to four years.
- Author: Julie Silva
Tomatoes come in many different sizes–from pea-size to almost 3 pounds and as large as a grapefruit! Different sizes fulfill different needs; cherry tomatoes are perfect for salads, omelets, kebobs, and snacking. Medium size round tomatoes are easier to use for canning. Oblong, meaty tomatoes with less moisture are perfect for sauces, paste, or salsa. Large tomatoes, referred to as slicing tomatoes, are your hamburger's best friend.
You can find many different colors of tomatoes, including red, pink, black, purple, orange, yellow, green, yellow-white, swirls, and striped. Sometimes when sliced, the tomato could take on another color completely!
When deciding which tomato to grow it helps to decipher the tag. Tomatoes are either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes grow to a particular height, then stop and put on a majority of fruit all at once. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow and will produce tomatoes along the branches throughout the growing season. It's usually best to grow both types.
You'll notice on plant tags some capital letters after the tomato variety name. Those letters indicate the tomato's resistance to a particular disease. You can read about these diseases as well as disorders and pests of tomatoes on the UC IPM Tomatoes page.
- V Verticillium Wilt
- F Fusarium Wilt
- N Nematodes
- ASC Alternaria Stem Canker
- TMV Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- ST Stemphylium (Grey leaf spot)
- SWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
- LB Late Blight
Many hybrid tomatoes carry the VFN designation, unless they are heirlooms. Hybrid tomatoes are grown by crossing varieties to improve traits, making them stronger, more disease resistant and better producers. However, if you plant the seeds from a hybrid tomato, they won't produce the same tomato. This is why many people like to grow heirloom tomatoes and save the seeds for the following year.
To find the top ten tomatoes, be prepared to discover many lists. Opinions are like tomatoes: everyone has a favorite of their own! One of the most popular cherry tomatoes is ‘Sun Gold'; it's considered the sweetest tomato. The favorite early-season tomato is ‘Early Girl,' which is a determinate that produces within 54 days from seed. For main season tomatoes, ‘Celebrity,' ‘Fantastic,' ‘Better Boy,' and ‘Ace' (70-80 days) are popular.
Summer for many people just does not start until that first hamburger with a slab of tomato right out of the garden. Here at the UCCE Stanislaus Master Gardener's Office we are curious: have you planted your tomato plants yet? What's your favorite tomato variety? Please sign in and post your comments below, or on our Facebook page.
Special thanks to Julie Silva for this guest post. She is a UCCE Master Gardener in Tuolumne County.