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When saving tomato seeds with the goal of growing a plant that produces early does it matter which tomato I select for the seeds? Should I save seeds from the first good tomato that develops or from the biggest and best tasting tomato, even if it grows late in the season?
You should select a good, healthy tomato, with no evidence of Blossom End Rot or other disease.
Select from your best.
Just to clarify, the tomato variety determines its growing season length, not when (within that season) it ripens.
I grow mostly long season indeterminates (which will produce until the plant fails or the frost kills the plant, or it's time for me to rip it out). Some tomatoes will ripen earlier than others, but they are all long season fruits taking anywhere from 85-110 days to maturity (DTMs).
Check some of the tomato websites. They usually group their offerings by length of season (short, medium, long) and whether the tomatoes are determinates (tending to mature all at the same time -- great when you wanna make a batch of tomato sauce!), or indeterminates (producing fruits over a long period of time, until the plant dies out, etc..)
Thank you both for your help. I bought Black Prince and German Johnson this year. I do not have a lighting system or a sun room. I tried this year with a heating pad and as much indoor sunlight as possible, and put them outside when temperatures allowed. The stray seeds of any kind that grew in the compost were better than what I started indoors.