Fortunately, I have the heater going full blast out in the greenhouse. Most of the heirloom tomatoes have germinated from seed I have been saving from many sources over the years. Seed-saving is a form of independence and security, and also appeals to my thrifty side. Since many of my heirlooms have come from friends, I have the joy of remembering friendships while I start the seeds. My former supervisor (and current friend) Bob from Healdsburg Hospital in California gave me a few Yellow Pear seeds back in the late '80's, and I have been saving seed from them ever since. They are the most wonderful, adorable little tomatoes, and enormously productive. No matter what kind of year, I can always count on them. And Chris, another friend from the same lab, brought me seeds from a tomato that her Italian neighbor had been growing ever since she emigrated to the United States from Italy. It had no name, so I call it Chris's Heirloom. It's a meaty paste tomato. I found a picture of a tomato that might just be it in a library book a couple of years ago, but I failed to write it down. So Chris's Heirloom it remains. One of the most remarkable things about this tomato is that it was one of only two tomatoes untouched by the great Late Blight epidemic during the summer of 2010. The other was Persimmon, from another friend, my neighbor Marti. In all, I grow about 30 different types of tomatoes, with such names as Mortgage Lifter (wish it would lift mine!), Glacier, Black Krim (most delicious, ugliest tomato on the planet), Speckled Roman, Pinkie, Brandywine, and Amish Paste. Looking forward to BLT season with all my heart.
Seeds are a source of continuity. It feels wrong to me to think that there are biotech companies patenting seeds and their DNA and making seed-saving into some type of piracy. Will the day soon come when seed-deals are made in back alleys by scruffy looking characters looking back over their shoulders? If that's the case, then I better hide that big box of my seeds before the seed-police arrive!