Tomato harvest 02.07Earlier this year we had the delight of picking and eating our own tomatoes – truly one of life’s joys – and hand grown, chemical-free produce is one of the sweetest taste sensations I know. And we are looking forward to an abundance of taste sensations to share with our customers in the coming months.

The image at left shows some of the first pickings from the tomato patch earlier this year, and they came from a mixed pack of heirloom seeds that Diggers Seeds supplied. Containing six varieties – Red Sugarlump, Black Krim, Orange Jaume Flammee, Yellow Peach, Green Zebra, and White Cherry – the seeds were not individually wrapped, so we didn’t know what we would get until each seed had sprouted, grown and fruited.

On one hand this is not ideal – what if we’d only got a crop of
Yellow Peach tomatoes? – however a range of types grew, and we had a
variety of colours, flavours and differing harvest times that kept us
in tomatoes for a good few months.

Aside from the culinary
benefits of healthy produce that these activities produce, we also
collected seed from the crop, followed the suggested procedures for
tomatoes, and stored them appropriately through the winter. Then, come
mid-August, just as the southern winter is starting to loose it’s bite,
the seeding begins.

Containers are filled with potting mix,
seeds are planted, the trays watered, and moved into the protection of
the poly house. Every second day, the containers are watered, while we
continue to wait with anticipation.

Then about 10-14 days after
planting, one of life’s great mysteries shows itself again. Like magic,
a little green plant emerges from the mix, and the circle of life
continues for another year.

1st 1466 tomato seedling 01Collecting
and germinating your own seed has many many benefits, and is quite easy
to arrange. This enables you to breed plants that have desirable
qualities, a practice known as selective breeding, and as successive
crops will have been acclimatised to your particular site, each
following year will provide plants that are suited a little better to
your specific conditions. You can choose any number of desirable
attributes to breed for – colour, fruit size, flower size, plant habit,
time of fruit set/harvest, pest or disease resistance, drought
hardiness, and on and on.

So each harvest you need to keep the
best fruit for the seed collection – probably not the picture you had
in mind when you planted your first seeds, but certainly the tact to
take when saving seeds, as then all of next years plants have the
opportunity to provide better fruit. If this practice is followed each
year, over time you will improve the quality of your plants and
harvest.

Another great advantage, in addition to knowing where
your seeds have come from, is participating in the preservation of a
whole range of plants that are slowly slipping out of circulation.
Commercial vegetable growers and seed suppliers are limited by what the
industrial food complex requires by way of produce that can store well,
often for long periods, withstand handling and long distance shipping,
be blemish free and be at peak colour at the time they reach the shelf.
For tomatoes, this means that a very limited number of varieties are
grown commercially, and you need to know that the range of colours,
types, shapes, sizes, taste and uses is almost limitless.

For a wealth of further information on this topic, see the Seed Savers Network,
a grass roots organisation founded in 1986 by Michel and Jude Fanton,
to preserve the diversity of our cultural plants. Their worldwide
activities include a newsletter, seed exchange, seed bank, frequent events and workshops and the publication of a best selling handbook on the subject.Tomato seeds - yellow peach 2008

Achievements of the Seed Savers Network include: 

  • Over 5,500 seed varieties have come through their seed bank; 
  • Over 10,000 people have been directly involved with Seed Savers; 
  • 23,000 copies of The Seed Savers’ Handbook sold in the first ten years 
  • Over 1,300 varieties of seeds and other planting materials are offered in our Spring newsletters; 
  • Seed Savers’ has helped to establish Seed Networks in a number of
    other countries such as Cambodia, East Timor, Ecuador, India, Japan,
    Solomon Islands and The Philippines.

For those interested in tomatoes, one lady following the biodynamic path is Cynthia Sandberg at Love Apple Farm in California. Cynthia supplies produce for the Manresa Restaurant in the Los Gatos area of San Francisco, and details her market farming activities through her website at Grow Better Veggies.

A quick Google for heirloom seeds brought up these suppliers in the US :

Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Victory Heirloom Seeds

In Australia, go to :

Diggers Seeds

If you’ve got your own favourite heirloom seed supplier, forward their details on through the comments section below.

5
Comments
  1. Hey Laura.
    Glad you like the post and thanks for the links.
    And you are so right about the labelling laws. On the small scale , I’m so glad the we are in a position to grow food ourselves and share it with other like-minded people.
    Cheers
    Andrew

  2. You’ve got to get the labeling laws in place. And if you let them get off by not labeling ingredients like they do in the US you will NEVER know what you are buying! They keep it off our labels because they know Americans won’t buy FrankenFoods. Keep up the good work! I’m putting links to you all over my site.
    I mentioned Prince Charles on my garden blog too. I got a comment from a GM shill telling me how jealous Australian farmers are of the US. Such lies they tell!

  3. Hmmm… thanks Darren for commenting.
    Given that Princes and other heads of state are usually masters of diplomacy, for me his comments went as far as he could go without actually naming Monsanto – “Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of “gigantic corporations” taking over the mass production of food.”
    Maybe we need to send him a copy of the just released DVD “The World According To Monsanto” which will lift the profile of the impact GM foods have in the US. Bring it on, I say.

  4. The point Charles missed is that GM is for Monsanto to take ownership of everything. notnews.today.com/2008/08/17/prince-must-prove-anti-gm-claim/

    • The claim should be easy egounh to confirm as either or both companies should need to disclose all ownership interests in any and all filings with the SEC, among other governmental agencies. Personally, I’ve been creeped out by the vampiric energy of Whole Foods since the original sale from the original founders and have definitely stopped shopping at Whole Foods after they bought Wild Oats and the debacle that reflected the degraded ethics of Whole Foods in that shift. But, Whole Foods serve a market for those who are not quite yet as sensitive to the wholistic connection of money, food, energy every place has its place in the transition to a higher vibration. Whole Foods is not my choice for me, but it definitely helps many people find their way to a different way of thinking about food and their bodies.

Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast