Many years ago, (about 23 to be exact) I purchased a popular gardening magazine which had a packet of tomato seeds attached to the front of it. They were called Tommy Toe and there were only about 10 seeds in the packet.
I dutifully sowed the seed and they all germinated. I planted them into the garden and did very little to them other than water them and was rewarded with a wonderful crop of 10 cents sized sweet tasting tomatoes.
I saved the seed and planted more plants the following year, but I need not have bothered as they came up all over the place. Regardless of how I tried to protect the plants the birds seem to get to them and eat some of the crop. This did not worry me as they cropped heavily so there are enough for all.
However, as the birds ate them they then deposited seed all over the place and come the following spring I have Tommy Toe tomatoes popping up everywhere.
Since then I have grown several different small tomatoes – sweet bite, yellow pear, Thai pink egg and a few other that I have forgotten the name of.
They all self-seed.
I let them come up and then I do a bit of thinning out if there is a clump of them, leaving the strongest plant and allow it to grow and crop.
I had assumed that they would keep cross pollinate till eventually I would get a tomato that was a combination of all the varieties and then it would continue to self-seed true to type, but this is not the case. I get the most fascinating variety of tomatoes of all shapes and colour and often they differ from year to year.
I still get Tommy Toe and Thai pink egg coming true to type, they do not seem to cross pollinate with other varieties, but of the remainder I can get yellow pear, red pear, red round of different sizes, yellow round or tear drop, red tear drop, red ones that look like mini Rouge de Marmande and all crinkly at the top and some that do not look like anything in current catalogues.
They all seemed to have slightly different taste as well which has us waiting in anticipation for our first taste testing of the new seasons crop.
When I select a self-sown seedling, I have no idea what it will be but I still seem to get a good variety of shapes and colours.
The variety of taste, shapes and colours make the most wonderful salads, ratatouille, bruschetta, pizza and sauce.
But do you know what delights me the most about these fabulous little tomatoes, they are just the right size to fit on a Jatz biscuit, which is one of my favourite snacks- Jatz, smear of butter, slice of cherry tomato and freshly ground salt and pepper- delicious.
So, next spring why not let those self-sown tomatoes grow and crop, just to see what they turn out to be- it is like nature lucky dip.
Happy gardening Kathy