Category:MI TH D

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Dave Thompson

Garden Location 
Southeast Michigan, Zone 5b.
Seed Saving 
actively saving heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable seeds since 2001, a non-listed SSE member since 2007.
More information 
I am over 50, and have been gardening all my life. Used to be really into organic gardening and companion planting when I was a teen, not so much anymore. Been breeding cucumbers for about 8 years now, and I got a couple I really like but have yet to give them a name.
I have been saving seeds for other veggies, including tomatoes for about 6 years now. First started with some lemon boy hybrids, and now I have been growing those offspring out for the last six years. They are nothing like lemon boy, but they are good. Much larger and lighter coloration than the LB though. Other than that, I have yet to really try my hand at breeding any tomatoes.. although this season I have a couple I plan to try crossing, just to get the hang of it.

Dave's Tomato Trials Project - 2008

I am in the third year of doing tomato trials. First year was only 30 some varieties, last year over 300, and this year I am shooting for 1200 varieties. I am taking the year off from growing tomatoes for fresh market sales and just concentrating on doing the trial garden this year. Last year I had over 15,000 plants all together with my trial varieties and my production garden. So I am sure that the 1200 varieties is doable. I am figuring on between 3 and 10 plants of any one variety. If it is anything like last year it will average around 4 or 5 of each.

My intention is to do these tomato trials for 5 years, then at the end of that time (two more years) I am planning to do some large scale growouts from the best of the best out of the trials. Those and try my hand at making some crosses out of the best of the best.

I've asked for the voulenteers help for several reasons; the one most important is for back up in case something happens and I have a crop failure/ destruction. I have a mean herd of deer around here and they just love to destroy my garden. Try as I will they always find a way to get into the garden.. all it takes is one little weak spot in my fencing. So, I am sure they will be back again next summer. Second reason, I have far more seeds than I will be needing for my trials.. some varieties I have 3 or 4 hundred or more... and I only intend to be using perhaps 15 to 20. If everything works out, I won't be needing a stash of seeds for every variety next season cause I'll have my own saved seeds. Third reason.. I would like to see how these varieties perform in different climates and under different conditions. And then there is the fact that I like getting some of the lesser known varieties back into circulation.

My seed collection is from all around the world. I trade alot with Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada. But I have traders and collectors from numerous other countries as well, as well as the US. Some of these varieties have come from seedbanks from all around the world as well. Either acquired by the people I trade with or some that I acquired from the USDA and used in last years trials... From those there's a couple dozen going back into this years trial. The rest are either from family favorites of the people i trade with, or heirlooms that they have received in trades. I usually try to seek out english sounding names, when I trade... although I have been known to go for other countries heirlooms as well if I get some prior info about them. Most of the varieties I get.. I get nothing but a list of names to choose from.

Up till now I had never thought about saving the info about who or where my sources were for any particular variety. It was not till I received my first SSE yearbook this past month, that I found out everyone else keeps track of that stuff. So, I am still in the process of going back through the thousands of packets of seeds and trying to figure out their chain of custody. That will probably take me quite a while though.

Click here to see the list of tomato varieties that are being trialed in 2008

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