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Tomato seed

Tomato seed collection

It’s sounds a little odd to call it that, but this is my tomato seed collection. A rough count says there are maybe 150 packets, with another 30 on the way with the just-completed all-heirloom tomato seed order. I’ll get a few more basics, like Juliet, in the last big general seed order, and that’ll be it for the season.

Most of these are different cultivars, there are only a few…doubles. The brown envelopes are heirlooms from a small seed company. The printed packets are mostly hybrids, from my two main seed suppliers. The plastic pouches and plainer white envelopes are various seed given to me to try (I’ll generally only accept seed from trusted sources, people who actually garden and seed-save, to avoid…disease).

Why so much, so many? I dunno. I don’t think of any other veggies in my seed supply as “collections” (like trading cards or tiny action figures). I do clearly remember looking closely at a fuzzy little tomato seed back in Year 1, about to start my first transplants, and thinking, “No way is this little thing is going to turn into a massive tomato plant with 20 lbs of big, fat tomatoes?!” (At that point, all I knew was what I’d read and seen in pictures.) It wasn’t so much disbelief in the powers of the seed, but in my ability to actually manage this obviously intense process—what a tiny seed!—to a reliable, predictable harvest.

Of course, once you’ve watched seeds grow into plants, it becomes…normal: clear the way a bit, and the plants do most of the work! Still, having imprinted themselves on my consciousness FIRST, right at my gardening start, I guess tomatoes have a mild hold on me, and I obsessively plant a few more different varieties every year.

This year, there may be a more manageable 40 varieties (down from over 60 a couple years back). I haven’t finished the starting line-up yet.



  1. Nice tomato collection! I love seeing big ol’ piles of different heirloom tomatoes when they all start to ripen in the summer.

  2. that’s quite a collection!

    anyways, I was wondering if you plant the different varieties in close proximity, is there a problem with cross-pollination? ie. green zebras planted next to orange tomatoes will produce some weird hybrid of the two? or can you interplant different varieties with no problems?


  3. Wowser! That is a lot of tomato seeds. And people call me crazy for planting 20 – 30 different kinds. You are my kind of guy! You are right about how easy it is to be in awe of the tomato seed. It is hard to decide which of the thousands of varieties to plant – especially in the heirloom varieties.

    I can’t wait to see your tomato starting line-up!

  4. This is my first year growing .. anything at all and the whole starting from a seed BOGGLES my mind! Everyday I look at my little seedlings and I just can’t imagine that they will grow into huge plants.. so crazy.

  5. KMom246

    LOL, my husband thinks I’m going totally crazy with EIGHT types of tomatoes planned for this season! Little does he know how insidious this “disease” is! I imprinted on tomatoes early in life, too – my Mom grew some red pear type cherry toms when we were young, and the tiny seeds turned into an 8 foot tall monsters that fed the neighborhood kids with all the tomato snacks they could stuff themselves with. Once, when we went on vacation, they took over the driveway! Later in life I discovered Basil. So I’m planting 8 types of Basil to go with the 8 types of Tomatoes. Makes sense to me :-) Good luck, everyone!

  6. that’s a lot of tomatoes

    A little thought for you. I found it somewhere and kept it as it is so true.

    “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”


  7. What an interesting discussion! I only have a small plot but I cannot resist different tomato varieties. I think I have about 7 or 8 this year. I am trying to grow a whopper beefsteak tomato in the greenhouse this year!

  8. That’s exactly how I feel about seeds! I have a little more faith in them than I used to, but I still regard it as highly unlikely that anything that small will really become anything that big (and unmanageable, in some cases).

  9. I am so excited to see your production of tomatoes this year. I just started six different varieties but I may have to give a few away due to a lack of space.
    I’m going to have to live vicariously through you.

  10. Tom

    Collecting tomato seed is like collecting anything else.It gets under your skin and you’ve got to get them all.Myself I have hunderds of a tomato seeds and get more every year.Just can’t wait till spring to try the new ones.Just to see how they grow,how much they produce,what kind of problems they have but the best,how the taste.Yea I admit,I’m a tomato addict.I guess I’ll have to start a T. A. meeting for all us addict out there.

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