Each year I have had a garden I’ve bought tomatoes to grow in summer – there is nothing better than home-grown tomatoes and if you only have room for one thing in the sun then tomatoes should be it.
Last year I bought seedlings from Victoriana (a yellow cherry ‘Clou’; an orange cherry ‘Sungold’; a red cherry ‘Matts Wild’ and two regular reds ‘Money Maker’ and ‘Blizzard’) and although we planted them a little late they grew like crazy. I was lax on the pruning due to growing a child but they didn’t mind and produced a giant crop of tomatoes.
Towards the end of the season when the sun was not around much, there were still a lot of fruit on the vines so I picked it all and set about making chutneys and pickles. I collected the seeds from the ripe fruit to be saved for germination next year, however in my newborn stupor I forgot that I had grown so many varieties labelled them as ‘big red tomato’ and ‘yellow cherry’.
As tomatoes are self pollinating this in itself should not be a problem; the yellow cherry will either be ‘Clou’ or ‘Sungold and the big red will either be ‘Money Maker’ or ‘Blizzard’
The problem that arises is that ‘Sungold’ and ‘Blizzard’ are F1 hybrids – which means the plants come from a combination of two different parents X+Y=Z (as opposed to self pollinated Z+Z=Z). This means that if you collect the seeds of an F1 you probably wont get the same plant and it can be a weak or strangely fruited or no fruited plant. The lucky ones can be a fruit that is the same or better than the original F1 that you collected from
Seed companies and other people might tell you that you can not collect seed from F1 hybrids; seed companies tell you that so you will buy more seed and other people may say that as they don’t want to waste time collecting and growing seedling without guaranteed/predictable results. However, if you don’t mind taking a chance and being sometimes pleasantly surprised then you might as well collect them along with the other seeds.
So far, ‘big red’ look healthy enough and are growing well and the same can be said for the ‘yellow cherry’ We now will just have to wait until they grow up and flower to see whether it was worth it. It may be that they are ‘Money Maker’ and ‘Clou’ and there was nothing to worry about.
The seed collected from the F2 plants (which will be self pollinated) may also be unpredictable but less so – it can take upto a four generations (F4) before a stable seed is grown.
If nothing comes from this I will buy another ‘Sungold’ so that I can grow some F2 seeds as I am curious to see what comes of it.
I also have a cucumber ‘La Diva’ F1 slowing growing at the moment and it if likes growing in my back garden I will collect seeds and see what an F2 gives.
Collecting seeds even from F1 hybrids can be advantageous as the seeds from plants grown in your own garden have adapted to the microclimate within your yard. This is better than growing seeds where the plants may have been grown under strict lighting and heating and never exposed to your garden pests and weather.
Update to follow