Take a trip to your local farmers market and you’ll encounter a wide variety of tomato shapes, colors, and flavors. The majority of these tomatoes are open pollinated, heirloom and heritage tomatoes. Perhaps you'll come across a tomato so beautiful and tasty that you’re inspired to save seeds from that tomato to grow in your own garden.
Maybe you realize that the cost of one tomato at the farmers market is less expensive than a packet of heirloom tomato seeds and you get tons more seeds.Recently, a reader of my tutorial on saving tomato seeds emailed to ask if it was OK to save seeds from tomatoes at the farmers' market after reading another blogger recommending the practice.
If the tomato you are interested in is an open pollinated variety you can certainly save seeds from it. However, you should know that there is a chance that the tomato cross-pollinated with another tomato in a farmer’s field.
Unlike seed growers and seed savers, farmers who grow tomatoes for market do not have a reason to perform steps like plant isolation and bagging blooms to lessen the chances of cross-pollination between different tomato varieties. Farmers are growing lots of more than one variety to sell in the same fields and adjacent to other farmers. The chances of cross-pollination by wind and other pollinators is very high.
I don’t mean to discourage experimentation and frugality in the garden, but if your reason for saving a tomato seed is to preserve genetic diversity or to trade with other gardeners, you should know that there is a chance of your tomato seeds not coming true to type.
Enjoy all of the wonderful tomatoes at your farmers' market this season, but source your tomato seeds from reputable seed companies and seed saving groups. Experiment with growing tomato seeds you get from the farmers market, but do not trade them with other gardeners unless you are sure they've come true to type.
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