Monday, December 20, 2010

Bagging Tomato Blossoms

Anyone that knows me, will also know that I am committed to saving the purest tomato seeds that I possibly can, as I hate growing a plant for 6 months only to find it is from 'crossed' seed.

I'm re-posting this useful topic from my Garden Forum, ( so that it is available to all who read my Blog who grow Tomatoes or Chillies, as it is suitable for both.

As an aid to the new growers who want to collect their own tomato seed, I'll try and give a brief run down on how I bag my tomato blossom to get the 'pure' fruit for seed saving, as doing it and writing about doing is not easy to explain in full. Assuming you have already got the organza bags, ribbon and tomato plants that are starting to flower, you're ready to start.

Working close to your plant, it is best to select the flower truss you want to fit the bag to.

Taking your marking ribbon, tie a running loop so it can be fitted to the stem of the truss. If you take each end of the ribbon, cross over and pass through 'twice', like the first part of doing a bow (as photo). Then slip over the truss and pull the ends until a loose fit on the stem. The idea with the running loop is, that when pulled to a loose fit around the stem, as the truss enlarges, the loop will slip open without strangling the truss and not come undone in the long process.

Take your organza bag and fold the top part back, so that everything above the pull string is back over the bag, this will give you a better fit on the stem when the bag is fitted.

Now the tricky part of the bagging process, to fit the bag over the unopened flowers, so that the bag fits onto the stem and the flowers are actually inside that part of the bag when the strings get pulled. Once the bag is pulled tight, grab each side of the bag and pull apart to give a more open area within the bag.

Now it's just a waiting game for the flower to set fruit, which will be noticeable when small tomatoes start forming inside the bag. When all the flowers have fruit, remove the bag. Here's a bag with fruit showing on some of the flower stems. Hopefully from your bag you'll get quite a few fruit to use for your seed. Just remember when the time comes that the fruit with the ribbon are the ones you are saving for seed.

After the bag comes off your truss should look similar to this.

Washing Instructions.

Remember if reusing the bags, that they actually hold quite a lot of pollen in the fibres and need to be washed to remove it. A tip for washing your bags is to use some Nappy San in a half bucket of warm/hot water, then add a squirt of Domestos to the water and it will assist with the Pollen release from the Organza. Don't soak the bags with any bleach as it will make them deteriorate. Rinse well then hang to dry.