volunteer tomatoes

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does any one know about volenteer tomatos. with teh frist rain here in s.d. i have a lot of tomatos coming up in my raised beds can i just thin them out to what i want it may be a stupid ? but if you don't ask! thanks Shaun

-- shaun cornish (shaun-terri@juno.com), February 27, 2000


Response to volenteer

Shaun, nothing stupid about it. Hard telling what kind of tomatoes you'll get, but they tend to be tough plants. I always have volunteers in my garden. If they aren't in the way, I leave them. They'll most likely be crosses, and if you have grown hybrid tomatoes they'll really be strange, but still tomatoes.

Production is probably not the best, but then I never take special care of them. The tomatoes may be oddly shaped and colored most times, but they go into the canning jars just as easily as any other sorts. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), February 27, 2000.

Response to volenteer


Tomatoes are incredibly tough seeds and can pass through the digestive tracts of animals intact! Often manure contains lots of volunteer seeds. Gerbil is correct, as most toms now grown are hybrids, the fruit of these volunteer plants are often tiny. I do enjoy volunteers though and it is always fun to see if you get something special. I usually dig them up and move them out of the way, if I get something good from them it is an added joy to gardening, if I don't, nothing lost!!!! Kim

-- kim (fleece@eritter.net), February 27, 2000.

Response to volenteer

My parents always used volunteer tomato plants to fill in the skips of other plantings. They usually produced lots of small (tiny) tomatoes. Sometimes they produced almost nothing. The little tomatoes were still good in soup and in salad. If they did really well, Mother saved the seeds and planted some next year. Volunteers that have gone through several generations are usually very well adapted to their surroundings, and will survive and produce where hybrids fail.

For that matter, open pollinated usually will also produce where hybrids fail. I am not too fond of hybrids. Good luck. Green

-- Green (ratdogs10@yahoo.com), February 28, 2000.

Response to volenteer

thanks for all the advice all i planted last year were airloum? so who knows thanks again Shaun

-- shaun cornish (shaun-terri@juno.com), February 28, 2000.

Response to volenteer

Shaun: this is another type of volunteer plant, but if you compost, you may get squash a lot earlier than what you can plant, and it will be pretty hardy. We always have a few squash plants popping up in the compost...probably because the compost isn't as "hot" as it should be, due to lack of green matter to add. Those plants, when dug out carefully with dirt around their roots, and planted into the garden, will produce a couple weeks earlier than others, and you sometimes get some unusual types! A few years ago, we rented a small pasture area in town for our two horses. They were just fed hay and grain, and had no pasture grass or plants to graze on for the few months we had them there. We gave all the manure to a woman who works with my sister in law to spread on her lawn. A few months later, she called my sister in law and told her the lawn was COVERED with strawberry plants! We never did figure out where those seeds came from and got into the manure! Jan

-- Jan Bullock (Janice12@aol.com), February 28, 2000.

Response to volenteer

Well, Shaun, let's clear up a few things about tomatoes. There's a lot of good advice here, but it's not specific enough. Tomatoes, except for a very few wild types (Matt's Wild Cherry comes to mind) are self pollenating. Getting a "cross" is almost impossible in nature. That is to say, if you planted open-pollenated tomatoes last year, and ALL heirlooms are open-pollenated, you will get volunteer tomato plants that will be just like the ones you grew last year. Of course, if you planted more than one type last year, you won't know which variety you have until they start to bear. But you won't have any weird or unacceptable, or even different tomatoes. HOWEVER - and here's where the folks talking about "crosses" or "small" or "different" are coming from, if you planted hybrids (MANY of the catalog tomatoes are hybrids), then it's a whole 'nuther ball game. A hybrid is the result of man's interference, by hand pollenating one variety with another. The seeds of the resulting tomato will grow into a plant, and fruit that's a a bit different than either parent. Sometimes very good. But the only way to reproduce that fruit is to hand pollenate again from the same "parents". So if you planted hybrids last year, the "volunteers" could be almost anything. Large, small, tasty, bland, pretty or ugly, and not necessarily even close to the hybrid you planted or either parent. Since you planted heirlooms, you'll have volunteers that will give you tomatoes just like you had last year. Good Luck!


-- Brad (homefixer@mix-net.net), February 28, 2000.

Response to volenteer

Jan, might have been strawberry plants, but they don't seed themselves especially vigorously. Most likely it was a weed called false strawberry, which looks much like a real strawberry. False strawberry has longer thicker, stronger stems as it gets older. FS also has yellow flowers, real strawberries have white flowers.

However, if they are real strawberries and they seeded themselves that well, I want some. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), February 28, 2000.

Response to volenteer

Having read my answer, I realize that it had a high "fog index"! In talking about hybrids - after man (read seed company) has hand pollenated to get the hybrid, you will get what they advertise, and they are all good, or they (seed co.) wouldn't go through the bother since they'd have a seed they couldn't sell, at least not more than once. What I meant to say is if you plant (or nature does through the "volunteer" system) THOSE (hybrid offspring) plants will produce tomatoes that bear little resemblance to the parent hybrid, and may be truly weird. In this vein, not all hybrids are true hybrids. Sarcastic non-believer that I am, I suspect some companies claim to have hybrids merely to keep you from trying to save seeds. And if you want heirloom varieties, or want to become a seed saver, there is no finer organization than Seed Saver's Exchange (3076 North Winn Rd., Decorah, Iowa 52101 (319-382-5990)). If my message is still garbled, e-mail me and I'll try to help. Good Luck!


-- Brad (homefixer@mix-net.net), February 29, 2000.

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