Friday, June 3, 2016

"Seeds of the Land Grant": A Follow up on the WV 63 Tomato

We are still growing and growing and spreading the seeds of our WV 63 tomatoes and keeping the heritage alive! If you remember 2 years ago we posted about the WV 63 tomato.  The tomato is now 53 years old.  Seeds were shared at the 2014 Shirley Meniece conference - we would love to hear from any of you that took these seeds home and tried them.

To refresh your memory the tomato was created in 1963 by Mannon Gallegly, a professor and researcher at WVU. 
"You could say that the West Virginia ’63 is living proof that the land-grant mission remains alive and well at WVU. Before the introduction of the land-grant institution, higher education was viewed as an elite enterprise exclusive only to wealthy white males. The 1862 Morrill Act knocked down those barriers, and paved the way for WVU’s founding four years later. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act, granting each state 30,000 acres of land for each member it had in Congress, with the land and gross proceeds used to fund educational institutions focused on agriculture, science, and engineering."   Excerpted from Mannon Gallegly’s WV ’63 Tomato: The People’s Tomato
Fonda is our gardener extraordinaire and is a major contributor to keeping these wonderful heirloom plants going!  She collects and saves the seeds, propagates, shares her plants and then does it all again...and again.  For the past few years she has been providing our membership with beautiful young plants in May.  This year she grew 50 plants to share. 

Here is her story and her photographs:

I saved the seeds in August 2015.  The tomatoes I used were over -ripe!  It only took 2 days for the mold to grow.
I rinsed, drained, dried on paper towels and then put in zip lock bag into the freezer.
I started propagation the middle of March in the peat pellets. I kept them in a warm place, did not put them under grow light until they sprouted. Next year I will use a warming mat.
Planted 72 seeds, 68 germinated - 94%!!
I transplanted April 5 into 4" pots, next year I will put into larger pots.
I used commercial potting soil with fertilizer in it.
I only transplanted 50 seedlings, into the pots, simply because I ran out of time, energy and space under the grow lights.
I put into the garden Mothers Day weekend.  They survived that  long rainy spell and seem to be thriving now.

A beautiful plant in the garden!

 And from those of us lucky enough to be recipients of the tomatoes:

From Debbie on May 28: (she is one of our newest members who won a blue ribbon and best of show at our spring Hort Flower Show)

This is one planted in the garden - we have had weeks of rain, now finally stopping.  The plants are perking up and have blooms.

The one on the right is in a pot - blooms on it, too.

This is their home and I will update you soon.

Read about growing tomatoes and how temperatures play into blossom drop at About Home - a lot of weather plays into making the perfect tomato!

From Lynn on May 27 - and Lynn's husband still thinks these are the best tomatoes he has tasted - small but mighty!



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