June is here and the tomatoes are flowering. Time to bag them!
Many of us have small gardens and want to grow several types of our favourite heirloom tomato. We do not have the space to plant them far enough away for the correct isolation distance. The solution is to put a little bag over the young flower buds before they open. This is an easy and reliable way to ensure that the seeds we are collecting are pure.
I sew up little bags from muslin or some similar fabric. It is open weave and lets in the light and allows the air to circulate.
My bags are about 3 inches by 5 inches.
Here you see open and closed flowers – when the flowers are open its too late!
The next picture shows the buds all closed – the perfect time to put on the bag. I tie it closed with a red ribbon which will serve as a marker when I remove the bag.
The bag is transparent and easy to see when the young tomatoes have formed. At this stage remove the bag and make sure its marked. Its a good idea to shake the flowers in the bag to mimic the wind and make sure pollination occurs.
Its also a good idea to save some early flowers so these seeds have the genes for an early crop. These first tomatoes will produce the hardiness seedlings, as the mother tomato is at her peak of energy. Bag a few more groups of flowers so when you have the ripe tomatoes you can choose the best colour, shape, taste – whatever qualities you would like to have for the next year’s crop.