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Messages - Natasha Flue

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Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: Yesterday at 09:16:26 AM »
Natasha, have you given any thought as to how you will determine the dryness of your tomatoes?  For moisture levels may not be an issue with eating tomatoes, but for those for sauce or paste it can be if you don't want to spend hours cooking down your sauce or paste

I usually do a visual evaluation. It's pretty easy to tell when I cut the tomatoes open and if they have a lot of seeds/gel space in them that they will be too watery when I've done small variety trials in the past. I only do paste with my tomatoes so it takes hours in the pot/oven no matter what. I'm less concerned about the processing end of things than the growing. I'm sure the there will be a gradient of dryness in the offspring.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-11-15, 07:08:31 PM »
Natasha Flue, it has just occurred to me earlier this evening, that some of the OSSI dwarf tomato project material probably can be used as a parent for good tasting paste type tomatoes.  Crossing those to highly disease resistant non paste tomatoes should be able to combine both, and will segregate for the dwarf traits in the F2 generation.  All the F1 will not show the dwarfing habit, so F2 would be key to confirming what has or does not have dwarf genes.

Two of the lines started late in the project (Speckly and Worry) were crosses made to find pastes. Victory Seeds offers many of the stabilized lines. I'm tempted to try this myself with crosses to some of the (non paste) homozygous disease resistant lines (Iron Lady, Skykomish, etc) I have grown.  I have a very septoria resistant F3  or F4 grape tomato out of Piennelo del Vesuvio x LA 0417 that I probably can use as well.  It most likely homozygous for Septoria resistance.

How did the rest of your tomatoes do this year?  I basically abandoned my efforts to dehybridize Plum Regal several years ago since it tasted so terrible.

That's a very interesting thought! This year was the first one I grew out a dwarf tomato and I really liked how small and compact they were. I didn't trellis this year but I plan to put up a short trellis that I can get over with the cultivating tractor in the late season. I had Sneaky Sauce, which were lovely and soft and meaty and I was pleased with them. I did do a few crosses with them but I'll be more organized about getting some more varieties this winter for crossing.

Most of my tomatoes died around September due to late blight and probably every other disease in the area. While I didn't send any samples out for testing, late blight was present across the state and the lesions sure looked like it. Joseph's promiscuously pollinated tomatoes survived right up until the frost, they lost all their lower leaves but were still putting on new growth including flowers. I don't remember if the Plum Regal did anything interesting, I don't think I checked on it before the frost.


Community & Forum Building / Re: Let's Talk Soils!
« on: 2019-11-04, 05:13:23 AM »
something that has really stood out to me is how much calcium carbonate i have in my soil. This goes back to the blossom end rot i have seen when i was doing some domestic tomato trials and more often in the early (oblong) watermelon landrace fruit. Some tomato varieties have more blossom end rot more than others (often the oblong Italian types). Traditional gardener wisdom say's that your plants need more calcium, so add calcium and it will go away. That might actually work, but in my climate i already have lots of calcium, i shouldn't need to add any more. What it really means is that in those cases the plant is not getting enough calcium because of some other reason, such as possibly over watering and saturated soil, shallow root genetics, or the calcium is too deep in the soil (maybe tilling could fix that temporarily).

Calcium is water soluble and hangs out in the soil solution with Potassium and Magnesium. So if there is under or over watering at critical times like fruit set and early growth, the calcium won't get taken up by the plants because the water uptake isn't optimal. Generally, it is underwatering that I've seen it and it happens in peppers as well, although the spot is usually on the side of the fruit. Most gardeners don't test their soil, but if they're putting down compost, they should have enough of everything to grow plants decently. I think even with commercial farmers, the blossom end rot I've seen has been water issues rather than nutrient issues.

The only other thing that could possibly happen is that the ratio of K:Ca:Mg could be out of wack. This is when soil testing is good. You'll see it show up as more calcium needed in a soil test and depending on what you pay for, you'll get the ratio as well. But generally we only look into this if the grower has been watering adequately and there isn't an obvious irrigation issue earlier in the summer.

Your strategy is a good idea, you'll select for more resilient plants. Some varieties are more susceptible to blossom end rot and presumably have less resilience to water variation.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-09-17, 04:13:34 PM »
Habrochaites are a paler green, the foliage. A few of my segregates are deeper green. You had three plants? I have around 30 to 40 plants I would guess and most are green berry types. 3 are kinda colored, and 2 are almost domestic type fruits.

I had around 10 plants and most were the green berry type. I think I had two colored type and one domestic type, these didn't drop their fruit so I'm pulling as many of those seeds as I can and having less of the green berry type in the mix. I haven't grown out all of the original seed so if I want to bring those genetics back in, I can. They were spread out between about 70 other plants in a row, hopefully to cross them with the plants close to them. They were the pale color plants I think, but I didn't look close. They were still doing decently despite the late blight pressure in the area (and no spraying on my part) although I'll do a better evaluation next time I check the field out. But most of my tomatoes are dead, mostly dead or the fruit is covered in lesions at this point.

I did finally get a harvest of the Plum Perfect and uhhh, they are rock hard. Like, I wasn't expecting them to be that bad but really like a green tomato in texture when I pressed on them. I was also unimpressed with the meat to seed ratio because there was a ton of seeds and gel in there for a paste tomato.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-09-07, 05:30:12 PM »
Seed harvest is in. I collected the crossed fruit, which ended up only being a few, combined them and fermented. I also collected a variety of fruit within my breeding section that I'll make into a landrace, but there was one variety I skipped due to it's problems with disease and relatively uninteresting fruit. I'm going to be adding more varieties in next year and hopefully have more crossing success. That section also contained Joseph's promiscuously pollinated tomatoes, which I was a little afraid wouldn't set any fruit. They were all placed far from each other in the row but were crossed with something as they all bore fruit. I saw three different types of fruit from the plants, one that looked like a little heirloom style partially ripe, one like a little cherry tomato partially ripe and one that looked like TPS berries, where they were green and dropped from the plant. Picture attached.

The promiscuously pollinated seem to hold up against the large amount of late blight we have in the area this year. They held their leaves better than most other varieties and have less lesions. They were a paler green than I expected but I suspect that is just natural variation.

Plant Breeding / Re: Solanum pennellii
« on: 2019-08-31, 03:59:04 PM »

Wonder how updated this map is.

That's pretty up to date. Latest report listed is 8/27 and there's probably going to be more reports listed in the next week.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-07-29, 04:41:42 PM »
I've been making crosses every time I visit my tomatoes. Things are going pretty well despite the sudden hot dry weather and my lack of irrigation. I never did get around to setting up the system and it's too late now to run drip tape. I've got tomatoes of all sizes and some of my initial crosses have taken. The Plum blight resistant tomatoes have finally caught up so they are being crossed in. I'm tracking which crosses I use them for.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-07-09, 02:41:03 PM »
Did my first crosses this weekend! I've never actually crossed tomatoes before so it was interesting to figure out how to gently do it. I was fascinated to see the differences in stigma, stile and stamens across even the commercial paste varieties. Some had large stiles and some had very tiny and thin ones. Some had stamens that opened up at the top.

First crosses, all I did was cross one with the plant next to it since the plants are all mixed together in one row. I'll do some crosses between specific varieties in a different row next time I can and mark those down.

The plants have small fruit on them already except for the promiscuous pollinators. I suspect it is because I don't get enough insect interest in them due to where they are. I did see some flies on a few flowers. I'll make sure to cross them up more next time.

As far as cultural practices go, I've been using a cultivating tractor to weed them and this past time I used the hilling disks to give them hills to keep them upright a little longer. I won't be trellising because it's a lot of work for plants that just overgrow them and flop on the ground anyway. The dwarf plants are very interesting so far, being much much more compact than the other varieties. They are probably six inches shorter as well.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-06-24, 07:14:31 PM »
I had first blossoms this weekend when I saw the plants. They are looking great. I didn't cross these first blossoms because I want to do a whole bunch of crosses at once, so I'm waiting another two weeks. I'll do my first crosses then, and probably twice more after that in case something goes wrong.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-06-10, 05:00:14 PM »
The season is marching along. I got all my tomatoes in the ground in two days, although they don't have irrigation yet. I did make a mistake starting some varieties and they were knocked back pretty good. They are still alive and should pull through.

I've got two breeding rows, one where the plants were randomly planted with Joseph's promiscuously pollinating tomatoes so I can just cross plants to the ones next to them and combine them all into a mass of genes and seeds, and one where I planted them out in sections, so I can make controlled crosses that I know the parents. Now I wait for blossoms.... and get my irrigation set up.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-04-29, 04:00:33 PM »
My tomatoes have all been started, although I only have three breeding varieties in my apartment. The rest are being grown out by friends but they were all started around the same time. Thanks to Reed, I have Utah Heart as well and that, Plum Perfect and Plum Regal all have larger cotyledons than the other two random varieties I have. I'm not betting on that though, as it might be my growing setup that is causing the variation.

The fields aren't prepared yet, but I will be rototilling in the rye/vetch cover in two weeks (May 11/12), followed by another rototill two weeks (May 25/26) after that to make sure the cover crop is mostly buried or dead. Then I will be transplanting in on May 25/26 as we should be frost free. It's hard to tell how the weather will behave. It was in the 60s and 70s for a couple of weeks and then 25 degrees last night.

Plant Breeding / Re: Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-04-07, 06:01:14 AM » Truelove Seeds has a pretty big selection of Dahlia tubers and it seems like they have a variety of flower types and colors that might be neat to breed with.

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-04-02, 01:43:40 PM »
The price of seed is getting pretty ridiculous. I paid I think $4.95 for ten Iron Lady seeds plus shipping and was impressed that I got exactly ten, not eleven, ten.  :P

I have Plum Regal in F4 or 5, pretty sure it is homozygous for Ph 2 and 3 so should still have both if I understand that right. Actually never saw much difference between later generations and the F1. I'm interested in learning to sun dry tomatoes and think it might be good for that. I also have what I call Utah Heart which I'v raved about before. It came from Joseph's 'early all kinds" a few seasons ago. Not especially disease resistant or even super productive but it is a fantastic tomato for canning juice and sauce, we always get plenty early enough to fill our jars before the bad diseases hit. The picture is of the first year I grew it in complete neglect. It stood up on its own in the weeds and made a few fruits. Fruits are much bigger grown in the tended part of the garden.

Natasha, message your address if you would like seeds of these.

Thank you for the offer Reed! I sent you a message. The cost on both the Plum Regal and Plum Perfect plus shipping cost me probably $15 total. It's a lot of money! I'll just start breeding with them now if you haven't seen much difference. I wonder if it's only the disease resistance or something else that is in the cross.

Hi Natasha,
as GM pointed out - water is what most farmers want to sell, solids is what we want for paste.
You could do wet / dry weights on a number of varieties if you had a dehydrator, or another avenue is to look around for commercial soup varieties - tomato soup canneries do not want water either.
Though they are likely to be determinate, but might be sources of useful genes in your project.
Good luck.

Thanks! That's a good thought. I know the San Marzano is pretty widely grown so I'm considering what other varieties I'll fold into next year. I don't want to include a ton of determinates only because I'll have to do more selfing to breed out the determinate trait (recessive). Maybe I'll make a determinate pool and pull the best and most interesting out to bring them into my indeterminates to reduce how much work I'll do breeding out that gene.

I see a mention of Speckled Roman here. We grew it for a few years and really liked it as a tomato. However, as time went on the septoria leaf spot got to be more and more of a problem in our garden. In our experience resistance to that varies only slightly, and the only plant strategy that really works is being long and rangy and out-growing it. Speckled Roman was an exception in that it was particularly susceptible to septoria leaf spot because the fungus didn't just affect the leaves, but also would grow on the "speckles" leaving us with a lot of unusable fruit. I don't know how other tomatoes with that kind of pattern on the fruit do; we haven't grown a lot of them.

I did see that a lot with Speckled Roman last year! It never made a huge difference on the fruit, I think it was mostly on the top and I could cut that off. But that's a good reminder and I need to make a note of that. I'll probably keep those crosses separate from the others. Thanks!

Plant Breeding / Re: Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-03-31, 06:21:19 AM »
A couple of points you might like to consider - Moisture content. I've used a range of heritage tomatoes and a commercial hothouse line that is locally available in bulk here, and spent a considerable time cooking down the pasata. This year I exclusively used 'Roma' styles and reduced the cooking time remarkably. (After overhearing a conservation at the farmer's market, I tried baking the sliced tomatoes for a couple of hours at around 120C - reduced moisture, and added a real depth of flavour - but I digress)

'Opalka' produces large paste toms, and I have had Palmwood highly recommended by a commercial heritage tomato grower as producing very large fruit - perhaps check them out.

Another crossing question you might like to consider - which of each pair should be the pollen donor? just thinking of mitochondrial factors in terms of robustness and possible disease resistance - but just speculating...

Thanks for the suggestions! Roma style tomatoes tend to be determinates, which don't work for me, but Federle and SPeckled Roman are similar in shape. Opalka is on my list for next year! I ran out of seed money to get everything I wanted haha.

I'll be honest, I need to re-read Carol Deppe's book to think about the pollen donor question. I just figured I could do the crosses both ways and see what happens. I don't have enough technical knowledge to understand how that affects the traits I'm looking for.

I found this article about Plumb Perfect, says it has Ph3., not a good review of it overall though it sounds like.

Oh geez, I read that article and completely missed that. Thank you! I know it isn't a great variety but I'm using it for it's disease resistance rather than much else.

Have you read Carol Deppe's Tao book with the tomato section? We've had some discussions and there are two interesting approaches to late blight here. You already have a packet of Josephs seed which is one. Going back to wild species. The second is to capitalize on existing breeding work. Carol points out in her book that Iron Lady F1 is homozygous for Ph2 and Ph3. So the basic scheme would be to take your favorite tomato and or your tomato breeding project and make sure to cross it with Iron Lady F1. Carol wants to do this systematically on a large scale to preserve something of heirloom tomato diversity.

I did read the posts about it. I've thought about getting Iron Lady, but I don't know if I have the ability right now to select and breed out all the slicer tomato traits. That's why I'm starting with the Plum Perfect and Plum Regal, because they're most similar to my ideal tomato. That's also why I'm considering having a separate population with Joseph's tomatoes because I don't know if I'm going to be able to get the qualities I like back from the cross. Maybe I'll get Iron Lady next year once I've got some seed that I can split into batches and keep separate populations. It might be better to start with something that's already got the Ph3 gene in it if I can select that in my pastes. I'm also out of seed money for this year  :P

I attended the NOFA-NY seed conference this winter. One of the plant breeders was telling about tomatoes that he is working on that have like 20 different resistance genes built into them. I wasn't paying much attention, cause that's not my way, but I seem to remember that the seed is commercially available.


Thanks everyone!

Plant Breeding / Paste Tomatoes Project
« on: 2019-03-28, 12:51:00 PM »
My paste tomato breeding project is a few different things in one.

An ideal paste tomato for me is 8-12 ounces, produced on indeterminate vines so they produce a smaller amount every few weeks until frost, can hold reasonably well on the plant, and are disease resistant. I am experimenting with dwarf plants this year to see if they work for my growing systems so that is one aspect.

I want larger paste tomatoes because it reduces the amount of cutting I need to do when I'm processing (my sauce process is cook down in a pot for 3-4 hours and then food mill to remove skin and seeds and if I'm making paste, I bake that on sheet trays for another 3-4 hours). I want indeterminates because I prefer to process smaller, more frequent batches of sauce/paste since it fits better with my life and kitchen size. I also don't live where I grow, so if the fruit can hold reasonable well on the plant, or be decent quality even if it's on the ground, it's good for my processing schedule. Disease resistant because late blight is present frequently in the counties around where I grow (USA, PA). I'm less concerned about taste right now because I don't eat fresh tomatoes, all of my tomatoes get processed into sauce and paste. I also don't have that discerning of a taste because I didn't taste any differences in the sauces I made with last year's trial. It all tastes like tomato to me  :P

The varieties I'm growing out for this are: Amish Paste, Federle, Speckled Roman, Grandma Mary's, Plum Perfect, Plum Regal, Dwarf Sneaky Sauce.

The first three, I grew out last year and were the best in my trial with the biggest fruit and best harvest over time. Grandma Mary's is a new one but it has promise for big fruit. Dwarf Sneaky Sauce is my first dwarf variety to try.

Plum Perfect is a Cornell bred line released through High Mowing Seeds this year with resistances to Verticillium, Fusarium (I1, I2, I3), late blight, root knot nematodes, bacterial speck, TSWV and early blight tolerance. I don't know what the genes for late blight resistance are and I can't find out anywhere online.

I plan to cross all of the plants with each other, just because I want to see what the F1s and F2s look like and possibly combine the extra seed I have into a landrace. So the Amish PastexFederle cross might not be super interesting but it will give me some practice doing the physical crosses. I also kinda want a range of shapes because I find random shaped tomatoes hilarious.

I also received some of Joseph's Beautifully Promiscuous tomatoes that I plan to fold into all of these varieties and create a landrace separate from my other breeding crosses that might also have resistances from his work.

A thing I'm not sure about: how does crossing an F1 like Plum Perfect and Plum Regal affect the transfer of resistance genes? Since Plum Regal is homozygous for its trait, it should be normal like any other homozygous trait. But since I don't know about Plum Perfect, should I grow out extra plants from those crosses? Shoudl I cross it with Plum Regal and then to my other pastes? Should I let it self and see what comes out? All of the above?

Some of the issues with breeding Plum Perfect and Plum Regal into the other tomatoes is that they are both determinate and in the 4-6 ounce range. Dwarf Sneaky Sauce is also in the 4-6 ounce range. I'm not sure why the commercial growers have decided 4-6 ounces is the best size but the majority of paste tomatoes are in this range. I've still got a few more that are larger I'm going to pick up for next year but it's only a few.

My plants aren't being started for a few weeks yet, but I'm excited to see what comes out of these crosses.

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