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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247
210.497.3760
nursery@milbergersa.com

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.



Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.


SAVING SEED OF HYBRID VARIETIES -
ONCE NOT RECOMMENDED; NOW ENCOURAGED

Gardeners have faced discouraging arguments about saving their own seed, both in what they read and from conversations with other gardeners and horticulturists. These precautions and arguments should have been heeded most of the time and close attention paid to some of the obvious pitfalls, such as mentioned at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/dec04/2.htm

But desperate times call for desperate actions-if we don't save some seed of our favorite, vanishing hybrids, they will be gone forever. I am now going to encourage you to save seed from hybrids mainly because of the problems we are experiencing with the commercial seed companies discontinuing the production of the favorite Texas varieties. All of these problems are explained at: http://www.plantanswers.com/veg_varieties.htm Since we have tested and selected absolutely the most adapted, reliable producing varieties for this area, if we save seed from hybrid vegetables which absolutely "won't produce exactly the same in the next generation", the saved seed will still be a great deal better than other non-adapted hybrids which we will be forced to use because of the non-availability of our favorite hybrids.


The Tomato Celebrity is not known as a heat-setting tomato but is acceptable if fall temperatures cool early in the season.

The Tomato Merced is not a heat-setter but was a favorite of many Texas gardeners--it is no longer available.

Granted, it is difficult for the home gardener to isolate varieties to avoid unwanted cross-pollination. However, tomatoes and peppers are 85 percent self-pollinated and crossing seldom occurs on the first fruit set of the plant. If you plant only recommended varieties in close proximity, the small percentage of crossing could conceivably result in a better selection than the original hybrid. So to insure optimum results, choose the first fruit which ripens on the plant which has the qualities (yield, foliage, health, vigor, etc.) which you want to maintain in the seedling selections. It is true that self-pollinating a hybrid will result in the gradual deterioration or "running out" of the original qualities of the hybrid but, if careful selection is used, this process can take 5-10 generations.

Following are some simple directions on how to save seed from your favorite tomato: Allow the tomato fruit to thoroughly ripen on the vine. Cut the tomatoes open and remove the seed by squeezing or spooning out the pulp with seeds into a non-metal container such as a drinking glass or jar. Set the container aside for two or three days depending on the storage temperature, i.e., the hotter the location, the faster the fermentation. You want to clean the pulp from the seed before the seed begins to sprout-although some sprouting doesn't not completely ruin the batch. The pulp and seed covering will ferment so that the seeds can be washed clean with a directed spray of water into the fermented solution. The clean, viable seeds will settle to the bottom of the solution, allowing the sediment to poured off. Several rinsings may be necessary. Then spread the tomato seed out on a newspaper to dry in a sunny, hot location so they can dry rapidly before they sprout. After seed are dry, scrap off of the newspaper with a blade and package, label and date for storage in a cool (refrigerator), dry location.

This problem of disappearing vegetable varieties become more apparent when planting tomatoes for fall production. All of the tried-and-proven heat-setting tomato varieties such as Surefire, SunMaster and Heatwave are getting harder and harder to find. With non-heat-setting varieties, the successful production of fall tomatoes is entirely dependent upon how soon cool fall weather arrives. If cool weather arrives in mid-September, the non-heat-setting varieties such as Celebrity can set tomatoes and ripen them in 60 days or by mid-November. Mid-November is -- on the average -- when the majority of our area receives its first killing frost. We have also seen tomatoes killed by an early frost on Halloween. The great thing about the heat-setters is that they don't require that cool snap in September to begin setting fruit----they set the first blooms.


The Tomato SunPride will probably be the next Texas SuperStar since it is a heat-setter and a good tasting spring tomato.

The Tomato 444 is the latest Texas SuperStar and it a virus-resistant variety which produces well in spring and fall.

The Tomato Amelia also known as the Rodeo tomato is good for spring but has not been tested for fall production.

So to save our heat-setters and to insure fall tomato production, I HAVE SINNED!!!! and saved seed from a hybrid tomato variety for you. I have chosen the most reliable fall tomato for all parts of Texas named 'Surefire'. It is the first Texas SuperStar vegetable and was promoted statewide in Fall, 1992 in August. Surefire is a name I gave to GS12 which was originally sold by Goldsmith Seed which was purchased by Northrup King Seed Company which is now God-only-knows ................... The Surefire (VF) tomato variety is resistant to Verticillium (V) Wilt and Fusarium (F) Wilt but not to nematodes. Smaller determinate tomatoes such as Surefire are more productive per square foot and should be planted two feet apart in the row. Follow all of the recommendations for tomato growing at:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/tomato.html
Transplants of Surefire will be available from San Antonio nurseries in the fall and spring. If you would like to order some seed and grow your own transplants or sow them directly into the garden, send a self-addressed envelop with a check for $5 made payable to Dee Emory to: Dee Emory, 2830 Bee Cave, San Antonio, Texas 78231

If you think you have waited too late to plant fall tomatoes, think again!! Because the horridly hot temperatures have somewhat subsided, you may have been smart to wait to transplant fall vegetables. Make sure you use a heat-setting variety such as Surefire, SunPride, Heatwave and Solar Fire and you can expect to be harvesting vine-ripened tomatoes by early November. Also realize, depending on when the first killing frost occurs, if you are not going to provide cold protection, you will have lots of green tomatoes to use. Check out the green tomato recipes at: /Recipes/tomrec.html

So now you know the plan for a successful fall tomato crop. Enjoy!