I typically grow 12-18 tomato plants (depending on how much of our garden DH claims for corn), and prefer to grow a lot of different varieties. I love starting from seed, and have heat mats and a grow light set-up in the basement, but I haven't done it the past few years, simply because I end up growing very few varieties when I have to buy the seed in larger quantities. Is there anywhere that offers sampler packs of 5-10 seeds for each variety, or allows you to put together your own collection with small quantities of seeds of each? I grow mostly OP varieties.
Some of my favorites:
Aunt Ruby's German Green
I've grown many others, but usually grow at least one of each of these, if I can find them as plants.
If you keep the seeds in a cool place (I borrowed a nook from our refrigerator) the germination rate only decreases slowly, so even if you just use 3 to 5 seeds per year per variety (as I do) packs of 15-25 seeds can last up to 5 years or more.
While not small quantity of seeds, her offer is for 20 varieties of seeds for $10. I have tried many of these varieties and have found some wonderful tomatoes. They are mostly Kentucky heirloom that have been found through the efforts of Gary Millwood who used to post here as VGMKY .
Nancy, I think you forgot to mention that you're talking about Blue Ribbon seeds and Maria only offers her seeds off e-bay, she doesn' have her own website online, but I think anyone can find it via Google, last knew.
She doesn't mention anywhere what methods of seed-saving she uses, or how she isolates the different varieties. I wonder if they would come true-to-name? I hesitate to order from someone when I know so little about their seed purity.
I wasn't directly suggesting Maria, I was just asking Nancy if she forgot to give a link to her site.
Booker, of all the seed site owners I know, which are many, none of them give an indication at their sites as to the methods they use to produce seed. More to the point, there are few that even do thie own seed production with some great exceptions, so even they don't know how someof the seeds were produced.
The worth of any seed site rests on the purity of their seed, viability and customer service. And NO site can guarantee absolute seed purity when it comes to OP seed/ For many years I did a wrong varieties thread at GW and there were always those companies that rose to the top.
The seed sites where I know the owners might include, and not in any order,just off the top of my tomato brain cells:
Mike Dunton at Victory Seeds
Adam Gleckler at Gleckler Seedmen
Tania K at her site.
Glenn Drowns at SandhillPreservation
Linda Sapp at TGS
Steve M at Heritage seeds
Steve W , Double Helix seeds
Jeff Casey at Heirloom Seeds of Airdrie in Canada
Gary Ibsen at Tomatofest
Rob Johnston at Johnny's
Carol Knapp at Knapp's seeds
Remy Orlowski at the Sample Seed Shop
Jere Getttle atBaker Creek
MarianneJones at Marianna's
Ira Wallace is the head at SESE now, but that was started by Jeff McCormack, whom I know well, as well.
... probably more but I can't remember right now. There are some advantages to being older, as I am, and one of them is getting to know seed site owners since for many of them I've sent tomato seedfor trial and/or to help them out when they're looking for specific varieties.
Do I recommend ALL on the above list? No, I don 't.
Can I ID the ones that do almost all of their own seed production, ,probably. But that gets complicated b'c the three ways that seed sites get tomato seed to sell is by doing their own, by subcontracting out and by buying commercially off the shelf
Enough for now and I hope I've answered your question about seed production, re commercial sites.
I like to acquire new varieties by trading seeds. Leftover commercial seeds you don't want can be re-packed into small Ziplocs and traded..
Once you discover a variety that you like through informal trading, you can buy a whole fresh packet of it from someone who has a reputation for purity and "getting it right".
But, just in case the plant you really liked was not actually what the seed trader said, always save some seeds!
I participated in a group swap and turned a few packets that I had bought into dozens of varieties - more than I can try in five years. Also, because the woman running the swap was knowledgeable, she sent more "extra early, cold tolerant" varieties than I knew existed.
You might want to look into the Hudson Valley Seed Library: http://www.seedlibrary.org/
I was fortunate enough to meet them at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford last February. Their small cardboard packs carry a good amount of info inside, and we were pleased with our purchases.
I can't wait to see them again this February 21st! And the catalogs have started to arrive!