Posts Tagged ‘Johnny’s Seeds’

New Project: Grafted Heirloom Tomatoes

'Pruden's Purple' seedlings

As a horticulture major (at Nebraska), I’ve recently become very interested in grafting. I’m familiar with several types of woody grafting such as cleft, side-veneer, chip-budding and so on, but the field of herbaceous grafting is new to me.

Not any longer.

I’ve started a project that I intend to follow throughout the growing season, and it involves tomato grafting.

Tomato grafting has long been used in the commercial hydroponic or greenhouse tomato production field, and usually involves grafting a desired variety (scion) to a vigorous rootstock. This allows for increased production and quality in a greenhouse setting.

But what about taking some of the positives of that rootstock, such as vigor, disease-resistance, production, etc… and re-directing it into an heirloom variety instead of a commercial variety? This isn’t a novel idea that I dreamt up, of course, but it something that has been taking hold with a few growers around the country.

So, I decided to try it for myself. I ordered several different heirloom varieties from Johnny’s Seeds, a few interesting standard hybrids, and even an eggplant cultivar (another member of the Solanaceae, eggplant is closely related to tomatoes, and is graft-compatible).

The heirloom varieties I started are ‘Brandywine‘, ‘Pruden’s Purple‘, ‘Striped Cavern‘, and ‘Moskvich‘. In addition, I started some ‘Brandywine Sudduth’s Strain’ seeds that I got from the annual AHS seed exchange program. I also ordered some ‘Stupice‘ seeds from Morgan County Seeds, but they haven’t arrived yet. They’ll be too late to get into the project, due to size incompatibility between rootstock and scion.

I also started seeds of ‘Mountain Fresh Plus‘, ‘Celebrity‘, ‘Valley Girl‘ and ‘JTO-99197‘, all F1 hybrid types.

The eggplant I’m going to use is ‘Fairy Tale‘, a F1 hybrid type.

All of those are the desired cultivar for fruit characteristics, but the idea behind the project is to graft them onto a vigorous, disease-resistant, high-production rootstock. I selected ‘Maxifort F1‘, a selection that will give me great results — I hope.

As of now, the seedlings have all emerged, the cotyledons are fading and the first and second sets of true leaves are expanding. A couple more weeks and it’ll be time to graft!

For the grafts, I’m using silicone tomato grafting clips and standard double-edged razor blades. I’ll have an update on the progress soon!

Advertisements

Seeds, supplies have arrived… but not Spring.

I got a big box in the mail the other day. Three big boxes, actually.

My seed order had arrived!

I placed my order with Johnny’s Seeds in mid-January, and it looks like I was just in time. There’s a predicted seed shortage coming this season, and already there are a lot of varieties back-ordered weeks or months on Johnny’s website.

But I got 95% of what I ordered, with the other few selections due to arrive in the next two weeks. In fact, I just got an email today alerting me that Johnny’s sent me another shipment.

I’ll get into the details of the vegetables I’ll be growing this year in a later post, but suffice to say that it’s going to be a wide selection with some very intriguing varieties.

I also ordered 2400′ of 4-foot-wide black plastic mulch, and will be experimenting with it this year. It should allow me to use virtually no herbicides by physically inhibiting weeds, and will also retain soil moisture more effectively warm the soil early in the season.

I’m also going to be trying out my new Earthway seeder, which could conceivably save me a lot of time in direct-seeding my corn, beets, radishes, and a few other crops.

It’s still going to be a few weeks until I start seeding flats for transplants, with the exception of my leeks, which will be seeded into trays this week. I’m figuring the average last frost day to be mid-May, and since I’m in school until the first week of May anyway, I’m not going to be able to get a really early start on anything anyway.

Until I build my high tunnel, that is…