Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MINUTES of the 8th GENERAL MEETING 8/20/11

AUGUST 20, 2011

Executive committee members present: David King, Sarah Spitz, Linda Preuss, Lucinda Zimmerman, Elizabeth Bowman, Patty Kestin, Timothy Smith, Albert Chang, Julie Mann

The tomato seed saving presentation was given by Albert Chang, co-chair of Best Practices committee.

Tomatoes belong to the solanaceae family (night shade) -- characteristic of this family is that the only EDIBLE parts are the fruits, not the leaves, which ca be toxic

Amusing history lesson: Technically, tomatoes are fruits, but thanks to the US Supreme Court, in a decision regarding tariffs, it is also classified as a vegetable. Albert has raised as many as 75 different varieties of tomatoes. They WILL cross pollinate; 2 to 5%, which is OKAY if you are just using it for food.

But for the sake of seed saving, you must protect them from cross pollinating. A good way to do this is similar to the presentation that David King gave on peppers: use an isolation cage, covered with a breathable fabric while the flowers are on the plant. One other way is to grow only the one variety of tomato by itself. Timing your planting is another -- so that when one flowers, the other doesn't, and you don't need to worry about cross pollination.

Spatially, if you put at least 10 feet between tomato plants, you may not have a problem. Put something between them that isn't a tomato. Cherry tomatoes are especially "promiscuous." Spacing is not the most reliable way to grow if you are collecting seed that you want to be pure, and to reproduce exactly the same variety.

Barrier method: isolation cage, as mentioned above. Prevents insects from entering and pollinating. Staple fabric that lets in air and light to a wooden cage frame, cover till the flowers drop; they'll self pollinate. Once the blossoms drop, take off the cage.

Alternative methods that are time and labor intensive: pollinate by hand. Albert grows in groups of six and gets up early to hand pollinate the earliest blossoms with a brush. Once done, cover the plant or the branch to prevent insects from cross pollinating. You can use tulle, old nylons, fine mesh screen. Once you've pollinated be sure to tie it off at the bottom of the plant so bugs don't get in and wind doesn't cross pollinate.

MARK the flowers that you've hand-pollinated with a red sharpie on the branch by the flowers you've brushed. Once barrier is removed, mark this as the branch you want to collect your seed from. Later, when you harvest, you can pick from tomatoes that are mature and green or mature and red: you can wait but they get soggier as they get more mature, and harder to save the seed. They are viable for seed once they transition from flower to fruit.

Cut the tomato across the equator, spoon out the seeds into a small dish. When tomato seeds are in the plant, they have a coating to prevent germination. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, poke some holes in it, put it someplace warm. Warning: IT WILL SMELL!

Mold and fungi break down the seed coating, in about 3 days, stir it up a bit, it will be stinky, pour through a fine sieve, and if you plan to exchange seeds, to guarantee that you kill any potential pests or diseases, mix 1 part bleach with 5 parts water(*info updated), put seeds in that bath for ONE MINUTE; RINSE; then lay them out to dry - either on paper towel, paper plate, newspaper or coffee filter. DON'T MIX YOUR SEEDS; label them and store in your refrigerator. Glass is best.

To keep them from becoming moist, use the silica packs that come in vitamin bottles or other such things that need to be kept dry. You can put these in your oven, with just pilot light on or at the lowest temp, for six hours, then put that in the jar with the seeds. Powdered milk also works.

HARVESTING TIP: Wait at least 36 hours after you LAST WATERED before harvesting.

Membership committee chair Tim Smith reports that since July 10th meeting, 38 new members have joined (as of this meeting date), for a total of 161 members. You can join online or on-site. We are working on a privacy policy; input from members is welcome, especially if you have any experience with privacy policies.

The library opened for distribution on Aug 27, and four librarians volunteered their services for seed giveaways. The next step is to get the inventory up to date, with actual quantities updated after the distributions.

Other committees:
Bylaws -- these are being drafted and revised, we hope to post for member input, and in order to be a free-standing 501(c)3 non profit, we must have bylaws. We will try to finalize so we can push the paperwork forward.

Best Practices: we'd like to have a few more brave souls become experts in seed saving, especially so we can have presentations on fall and winter veggies.

General business: We're moving to a 3rd Saturday monthly meeting, except for September (due to schedule conflicts and commitments to appearances around town), which will be SEPT 10 at 2:30 pm at The Learning Garden.

David announced that SLOLA will receive an award from the South Bay Environmental Coalition, their SEED Award for Resource Preservation on September 22, and all are invited to observe. It's in Hawthorne, in the afternoon David and Sarah are attending; we're happy to carpool, and would love to have more members come out and support this event and honor.

Also we are attempting to create relationships with other community gardens to hold seed that they grow, which we could offer to members.

We need more jars! Any size, with metal caps (not plastic) from baby food up to quarts.

The meeting was adjourned, and seed distribution took place after it ended.

Submitted by Sarah Spitz, SLOLA Secretary

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