Trying to sort out Seed catalogs

williammorgan(6b)December 11, 2012

I should 1st say I prefer organic open pollinated types over hybrid science fiction types.

I've purchased from Seed Saver's Exchange and like the results. I purchased from an online retailer called Tomatofest and thought one of the tomatoes I got from him was the best. I was reading his descriptions and wanted to see if there was more info so I right clicked and went to some site called local harvest and the descriptions were almost identical.

Who am I buying from anyway? Seed Saver's wants $40 to get access to 13k varieties including almost 5k of tomatoes alone. Is it best to use local harvest and seed out various farms? I'm mostly looking for some obscure tomato seeds. I'm probably best off going with seed savers for larger seed needs like peas for example.

Would there be much difference between the San Marzano Redorta seeds from catalog to catalog? I mean besides price. I noticed the local harvest website have many offerings from various farms. Is that kind of like what the Seed Saver's larger catalog is like but on a grander scale?

I'm on the outside looking in. I just want to grow the redorta tomatoes I spoke of again as well as the other heirloom types. I wasn't too satisfied with the Burpee San Marzano tomatoes I grew last year(my dog loved them though and stoles lots of them). I've just got the tomato itch right now even though in April I set out some San Marzanos in the greenhouse and they did well, took suckers, placed them in another place and they did well...and right before they withered suckered again and I have them growing inside! lol One has an orange tomato on it. I need to move to a warm climate I love gardening too much!

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Most varieties of tomatoes in commercial trade will be the correct variety. But in general, open pollinated tomatoes are likely to cross with other varieties so some effort has to be made to keep them pure. You can find a ton of open pollinated varieties at a few stores such as these:

Johnny's Selected Seeds
Sandhill Preservation
Bakers Creek
High Mowing
Southern Exposure

There are plenty of other good places to shop. You might want to look at varieties such as Martino's Roma, Costoluto Genovese, Piennolo del Vesuvio, etc. Here is a webpage I set up to index seed and plant suppliers. You can find the above along with many more to browse through.

Seed Suppliers


    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Thanks for the link DarJones,

I recognize a few on your short list. Yes I will look into those varieties. I did really like Gary's San Marzano Redorta at Tomato Fest but I'm open to other varieties for experimentation and for adding complexity when I make red sauce.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:13PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

William, IMO I would say to skip paying $40 for the right to possibly buy seeds from someone through SSE. Then do some seed trading online at the tomato forums, here, idig, etc. People are very generous with their seeds even when someone is just starting to save.
Check Dave's Garden to see how specific companies are reviewed and Tatiana's tomato base to look up all the tomatoes!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 10:16AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

organic open pollinated types over hybrid science fiction types.

If you truly want only "organic" seeds, meaning organically grown, then SSE is going to be one of your best sources. On the other hand if you are happy with normal open-pollinated variety seeds like most of us then there are hundreds of sources to choose from - some better than others, true. But for the most part San Marzano Redorta will be the same. Just keep in mind that there are several different varieties of San Marzano and Redorta is only one of them.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I agree Little Minnie and thanks,

I think I'm going back to Gary Ibsen at Tomatofest who I'm sure is a supplier to SSE or the seeds he got came from members. It can be a little confusing. Anyway I was satisfied with the tomatoes I got from him a few years ago more so than the ones I grew last year. His prices are a little bit higher but I may start seed saving myself(of course in a small yard my seeds might wind up looking like something out of a Jules Verne work! lol

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Thanks Dave,

I grew San Marzano tomatoes last year and thought they weren't nearly as good as the ones I got from TomatoFest. Not exactly a scientific determination but I even concluded what I preferred and that was the Redorta over the regular San Marzano ones. Larger and easier to work with for making sauce. Some of them grow so big you could stuff them like a pepper.

My biggest problem isn't the variety I choose now it's keeping my dog away from them! She is a tomato fiend. She's also perfectly satisfied with eating them green while I wait for red ones in vain. Even though she's 4 years old i'm trying to train her to like the red ones. I have a sucker of a sucker's sucker in the house growing with an orange one on it and I'll share it will her. It's a San Marzano. Hopefully she give me a fighting chance. No one eats tomatoes like her. My last dog I shared tomato sauce with and she developed a keen sense for ripe tomatoes. The tomato had to be at the peak of ripedom or her nose shifted away.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:25PM
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