Attn: Seed savers, good news... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Last Sunday I started some tomato seeds for my greenhouse plants. As an experiment, I planted some old hybrid tomato seeds (Homestead) that I had from the 1994 season that I didn't get around to planting as a test for gernination rates. The good news is that I am getting very good germination from these tomato seeds and I plan to continue to raise them and see how vigerous and productive the plants are in relation to those grown with this year's seed.

I don't know if tomato seeds are especially viable after long term storage but I have older seeds of other vegetable varieties that I will experiment with this summer. I will keep you all posted. I did not keep these seeds in especially pristine conditions. They were stored in a heated garage then in a work room cabinet at about 60 to 70 degrees on average. This might be helpful to those that can't find a reasonable supply of open pollination seeds to start seed gardens or for those that think the interruptions will last only a few years. FWIW.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), April 10, 1999


Ramp Rat, you found out that tomato seeds are extremely durable! So much so that they can go through the digestive system and emerge intact and ready to germinate. (I have not personally tested this; I prefer to take someone's word for it.)

If you wish to save seed from a tomato this year (or any other fleshy produce), simply scrape the seeds from the edible, place on a paper towel and allow to dry well (not in direct sunlight). Once dry, fold them, towel and all, into a screwtop jar or other moisture-proof container. Keeping seeds as cool and dark as possible will preserve them a long time. If your storage is not dark, wrap seeds in aluminum foil before storing in the jar.

I believe onion and carrot seed do not save well from one year to the next, hence allow a plant or two to go to seed each year.

-- Old Git (, April 10, 1999.

you can plant seed from hybrid plants and get an edible product. You may get basically the same thing for several generations before it "mutates" but you usually will get something edible. Same with stuff that cross pollinates. One year I had zucchini and Delicata squash cross pollinate and I got striped zucchini. Another year with cross pollination I got the best squash I have ever had. It matured at size of soft balls. When used as golf ball size they were like a summer squash. When mature they were the sweetest winter squash. But you had to use a saw blade knife to open them as shells were hard. After baking, you could clean out all the meat and have a bowl or cup that was as hard as ceramic. I was really excited and saved some seed, but alas! the next year I got a withered up tough fibered fruit that even the donkeys wouldn't eat. What I am trying to say is that you can use hybrid seeds again and hybrid seed is better than no seed. I bought a bunch of open pollinated seed this year, but I also bought a bunch of hybrid seed. My garden this year is mostly hybrids and will be again next year. I will use the open seed the following year. But I have gardened all my life and have saved seed so am not a novice at raising food. If there is any life at all in a seed, I usually can coax it to grow. Old Git, those Organic Gardener magazines from the 70s can't be beat. Hang on to them.

Something to add to your prep list are a couple of hose repair kits and washers. Hubby works at landfill and jumps off cat and cuts the repair kits out of the hoses when he sees them.

-- Taz (, April 10, 1999.

Ramp Rat:

I have some experience in this area. We have been growing all of our own food for about 25 y. In addition, I have more than 30y of experience in Plant Science Research. Tomato and pepper seeds are easy to store [you can kill them if you try]. About 2/3 of the 38 varieties of tomato that I will grow this year are non-hybrid. They were chosen because of quality factors, not because of the fact that they were non-hybrid. Factors for choosing seeds for your location include long term experience with disease & insect resistance and tolerance to your local evironmental conditions. You can only make those decisions based on experience. For example, last year was very wet and cold. My non-hybrids produced some fruit, but the bulk of my harvest was from the hybrid plants [disease resistance]. I have read that people are using non-hybrid as a reason for selecting varieties. Let's hope they don't depend on their crop for survival, because they may starve [depending on the year]. In contrast, you will find that legumes [beans, etc.] are very difficult to store. More

-- Z1X4Y7 (, April 10, 1999.

We put a very ripe tomato of a variety we want to save in pot..leave it all winter in our unheated greenhouse and come spring have beaucoup baby tomato plants to pot up..keep it simple! In Mich. the sewage sludge some unknowing farmers spread on their fields would yield a field of tomato seedlings...if you throw canning waste on your compost you'll have enough plants for your garden.

-- MUTTI (windance, April 10, 1999.


You may get basically the same thing for several generations before it "mutates" but you usually will get something edible.

This is not mutation; it is genetic segregation. Keep in mind that when you are dealing with plants related to such things as tomato and potato you can get segregants that can either make you very sick or worse.


-- Z1X4Y7 (, April 10, 1999.

tomatoe seeds will survive virtually anything- they grow in sludge generated by treatment plants. I use a compost based potting mix(commercial) and I always find a stray tomato plant or two growing in a flat. Not advised to store any seeds though on warm, hot, wet or sunny conditions- dark and cool best.

My onion seeds are from 1996 though- fine germination....

re: hybrids- you will get plants- they will not resemble the parent hybrids, but will be relatives of theirs back in their ancestry- won't make you sick.

Crosses such as between a zuke and a winter squash may or may not be edible- won't make you sick however. Don't know much about genetically engineered seeds though- don't trust them one bit-

-- anita (, April 10, 1999.

Old Git: I can personally verify that tomato seeds can survive a trip through the human digestive system. Last year a tomato plant came up right next to our plumbing outlet, which sometimes overflows. We never knew which of us "gave birth" to that plant, but we called it our Shit Tomato and my husband tended it lovingly. Alas, only two or three miserable little green tomatoes ever appeared, and they never ripened. I think the dead plant is still out there, because my husband just hasn't had the heart to pull it up. He loved that plant.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, April 10, 1999.


I am not in this to argue with an obviously intelligent person. I am just reporting facts. Many of the important traits incorporated into this group of plants were derived from ancestors that are decidedly toxic. Segregants from the hybrids can be toxic. I am a plant molecular bioligist. I know of no recombinants [genetically engineered varieties; or GM plants] which can segregate to produce anything dangerous. In fact, I know none that are directly dangerous. Most of the potential danger is ecological; unfortunately, rational discussion is not possible on this subject at the present [we will probably be able to discuss it after the damage is done; that is the way we humans work].

-- Z1X4Y7 (, April 10, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon comments on April 1 rollover

asked in the TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Q&A Forum ---------- Mr. Yourdon writes a weekly Y2K column for some outfit called Cutter Consortium. He wrote one of these columns about the April 1 rollover, and a friend passed it along to me. Not sure if it's kosher to post it here on his forum, but I figure that what goes around comes around...



Welcome to the Y2000 E-Mail Advisor, a weekly electronic briefing from Ed Yourdon, Director of the Cutter Consortium's Y2000 Advisory Service.


It's now been a week since New York, Canada, and Japan celebrated the beginning of their new fiscal year; as I write this week's column, the British government is going through the same process. Thus far, it appears that there have been no significant Y2000 problems, and Y2000 pundits are now trying to decide what it all means.

Unfortunately, much of the discussion has degenerated into petty bickering between the Y2000 optimists and pessimists (or, to use the more disparaging terms, pollyannas and doomsayers). The pessimists may have been hoping that dramatic Y2000 problems would emerge in Ottawa, Tokyo, London, or Albany in order to validate their predictions about Y2000, or to at least raise the level of awareness about potential problems looming ahead in the next few months. And the optimists may have been hoping that the lack of 1 April problems would prove, once and for all, that the pessimists' predictions were grossly exaggerated.

I found myself dragged into the fray when a participant on the Internet forum reminded his fellow participants shortly after 1 April that I had written a grumpy article last July (available at in which I said "On April 1, 1999, we will all watch anxiously as the governments of Japan and Canada, as well as the state of New York, begin their 1999-2000 fiscal year; at that moment, the speculation about Y2K will end, and we will have tangible evidence of whether governmental computer systems work or not." It was suggested that I should "put up or shut up": unless there was tangible evidence of Y2000 problems resulting from the fiscal year rollovers, I should acknowledge that Y2000 isn't going to be such a bad problem after all.

Well, maybe it won't be -- and if that's the case, we should all rejoice. After all, we're all on the same side, in terms of our desires for a best-case Y2000 outcome, even if our current assessments of the situation may differ. I'm happy to agree with the notion that the fiscal year rollover success enjoyed by New York, Canada, and Japan -- coupled with the similar experiences enjoyed by the Eurocurrency projects, as well as the absence of catastrophic rollover problems on 1 January 1999 -- means that there is less reason than before to assume that Y2000 will lead to TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). But I never believed in the TEOTWAWKI scenario in the first place, and I still think there's an enormous amount of potential for moderate disruptions between the "bump in the road" scenario predicted by the optimists, and the apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI scenario articulated by the doomsayers.

Looking back on the words I wrote last July, I do regret having said "at that moment, the speculation about Y2K will end," because it has become evident that there is still much to speculate about. The most significant aspect of speculation involves embedded systems: regardless of whatever problems the various government authorities might have had with their financial computing systems on 1 April or their Eurocurrency systems back in January, none of it involves the embedded systems. We still don't know how that part of the Y2000 story will unfold, and we continue to be whipsawed between optimism and pessimism as we see each new report indicating that embedded systems failures are worse than -- or, according to the next report, less serious than -- what we previously believed. Y2000 optimists and pessimists will continue arguing passionately about the presence or absence of life-threatening embedded system failures until much later this year -- indeed, possibly right up to midnight on New Year's Eve.

It's also fairly clear that a fiscal-year rollover phenomenon only concerns those computer systems that are aware of the concept of a fiscal year, and that make use of that concept in their decision- making and/or calculations. Thus, there are almost certain to be a wide range of computing systems within a government organization that are date-sensitive, and potentially noncompliant, but which are completely unaffected by the fact that the organizational entity has moved into a new fiscal year that extends from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000.

But let's put these two categories of systems aside for the moment, and focus on the heart of the debate: what can we conclude from the apparent fact that FY-sensitive computing systems in the Canadian, Japanese, and New York State governments appear to have survived the 1999-2000 rollover event?

The optimistic interpretation is fairly obvious: it means that appropriate remediation efforts on those systems were indeed finished on time, rather than falling behind schedule; and it means that the testing efforts were sufficiently thorough and comprehensive that no "show-stopper" bugs have appeared. And if that interpretation is correct, one might logically conclude that the government agencies will extend their success to the rest of their systems, and thus succeed in remediating and testing all of the other systems that would otherwise fail on 1 January 2000.

But this gets back to the issue of what I referred to as "tangible evidence" in my 1998 article. How do we know that New York State's mission-critical systems survived the fiscal-year rollover? Well, we have the governor's word for it: on 1 April, New York Governor George Pataki issued a press release (available at, which announced that "New York State's "mission critical" computer systems -- such as the state's payroll, general accounting, and tax systems -- that are dependent on the state's fiscal year have been remediated, tested, and are in production." Alas, we have become such a cynical nation that we're not entirely sure if we can trust such public statements; after all, we live in a nation where the meaning of truth is sometimes determined by what the meaning of "is" is. Thus, the Y2000 pessimists -- along with at least a few computer- illiterate cynics -- may seek their own evidence that the state's computer systems are working properly.

But it's likely that many computer problems that might have occurred on 1 April were simple enough that they could be fixed by computer programmers within a matter of hours, without the public ever becoming aware of the problem. True, this might have cost the taxpayers some money, and it may have caused an incremental, temporary decrease in the efficiency and productivity of the state government. But the reality is that if the problem is small enough -- or, to put it more cynically, if the problem is capable of being hidden and covered up -- then it doesn't qualify as "tangible evidence." If the citizens and taxpayers don't see it, it doesn't exist.

That seems to have been the experience with the Eurocurrency situation, and the FY-99 rollover experience. That's not to say that either of these two "trigger dates" were completely problem-free; a Eurocurrency problem with one of the French banks led to riots in Marseilles by welfare recipients who had not received their checks by mid-January 1999 (see 00bsGq&P4_FOLLOW_ON=/99/1/7/wrio07.html&pg=/et/99/1/7/wrio07.html

for details); and rumors abound of European banking difficulties with bungled deposits and funds transfers. And though the FY-99 rollover didn't lead to any catastrophes, there is no shortage of minor problems that have been reported (see for one such list).

But thus far, we have NO evidence of FY-00 rollover problems in Canada, New York, Japan, or England. It's worth remembering, though, that many of these problems -- if they exist at all -- may not show up until several "cycles" of processing have occurred, e.g., when monthly or quarterly reports have to be generated, or when several payrolls have been run. The cumulative effect of software errors -- sometimes referred to as the "Jo Anne Effect" problem among Y2000 cognoscenti -- may not be visible until numerous database records have been clobbered, or numerous end users have been affected.

And that will be the ultimate test: if FY rollover problems cause New York, England, or Canada to bungle the payment of pension checks to a hundred thousand retired civil-service workers, it won't be possible to hide the problem. We've already seen one such problem, though it's now attributed to human error rather than a Y2000 software bug: the recent fiasco that led the New Jersey state government to erroneously credit thousands of food-stamp recipients with an additional payment.

For whatever it's worth, the public acknowledgments of the 1 April situation by New York and Canadian Y2000 managers was cautious. A 2 April article in the *Los Angeles Times* (see quotes Jim Bimson of the Canadian Year 2000 office as saying, "So far it's been a nonevent. We haven't heard anything today, but I'm not that surprised since we really have to wait a while for some transactions to occur. Most of the computers are still working in the last fiscal year."

Meanwhile, it's also important to remember that Canada, Japan, England, and New York State are not finished with the systems that MUST work on 1 January 2000. A quick look at the "top 40" mission- critical systems in New York State (visible at, which shows the status as of January 1999) indicates that roughly half are not yet compliant.

Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, it's important to remember that we still have several months before we'll really know how Y2000 will turn out. If you think of it as a 10-round boxing match, the optimists can claim to have won the first three rounds; but there are still several rounds to go.

-- 32356 (3@23.56), April 10, 1999.

What the hell does the above post have to do with seed savers. If you can't stick to the point don't post. There's already too many threads here for anybody with a life to keep up with. You just trashed a perfectly valuable thread for the archives. Put it on the web and post a link to it if it's so important to you that you have to stick it where it doesn't belong.

Back to the point: In California you can pretty much throw tomato seed on the ground and stomp on it and it'll grow between the cracks in the sidewalk. (OK, this is a cultural slang expression. ;-)) That's a hardy plant. Dad grew two plants one year and my stepsister and I were walking the streets with grocery bags full begging people to take them. (It was two years before I voluntarily ate tomatoes again.)

I have read in detail about saving seed, protecting crops from plants that will cross pollinate, et al. Reality: I live in a little town with a backyard and a chain link fence. Every garden in my town is a potential cross pollinator and most are probably hybrid seeds (since that's the majority of what seed companies sell). I finally decided that I am just not going to worry about it. I'm going to plant all the crops I want to grow that will grow in that season, and if they cross pollinate, too bad -- we'll eat striped zucchini or yellow pumpkins or whatever, or we won't eat them -- we'll have enough stuff growing that it won't be tragic to lose a few things.

As for hybrids and their mutant "genetically diverse" offspring (sort of the opposite of royal families?), don't know what to do about that -- seems logical to me to save O/P seeds for the future, and plant the gloriously large-resistant-yummy hybrids now.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 11, 1999.

Some bubble wrap emits toxic fumes. If your seeds come from a mail order company, discard the bubble wrap and store your seeds in brown paper in a glass jar in a cool dark place.

-- Weed Wedding (weeding@gown.bride), April 11, 1999.


Thanks for the good advice. This is my first year to attempt O/P seeds, and seed saving and I am a bit worried about the cross pollination issue. I have also purchased and have transplants started of a variety or Hybrid as well as O/P tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, etc.

My question is methods to prevent cross pollination of varieties, such as winter/summer squash? If a plant where self pollinating to itself, it would be as simple (although not easy) as covering a sampling of each plant entirely with some sort of material during early bloom for seed collection, letting the remaining plants grow as they will. Thought I had a pretty good handle on self-sufficient gardening, looks like much more to learn. Can anyone recommend a web site for further information? Thank you so much.

-- Lilly (somewhere@some.level), April 11, 1999.

Gardeners Supply ( has row covers for crops meant for exclusing harmful insects. (There are also covers that protect against some frost.) They let in air, light and moisture but not bugs. I don't know much about pollinating plants but I suspect if you cover your hybrid crops with row covers (or grow in a greenhouse), you could hand-pollinate the flowers and keep them from being pollinated by non- or other hybrids. Een if you were to grow all one kind of hybrid out in the open, there's always the chance of a cross-pollination from someone else's crop or a wild cousin. (And we all know about wild cousins.)

-- Old Git (, April 11, 1999.

Tomato seeds are definitely viable after passing through human digestion. We used to pick up fertilizer from the local waste-management plant and their flats were full of tomato plants. We were too squeemish as kids to eat them, but they made great ammunition for throwing at each other.

-- Steve hartzler (, April 11, 1999.

If you would like to purchase a good book on this, look up Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth. It's 8-1/2 X 11 size, gives tips on all sorts of seed saving, and can be reviewed on

-- Whetherman (whetherman@storm.warning), April 11, 1999.

I read in the last year an article, (sorry can't cite the source),...that a sewage treatment plant somewhere in the US harvests seeds, and gives them away for free. Also in the same article was mention of sewage treatment sludge to compost company's "stock"...and the result was seedlings that were subsequently potted up, identified and given away. In reading other stuff on the evolution of human endeavors, one of the ways in which humans became aware of the ability to cultivate seeds was to notice seedlings growing in waste/latrine areas...rescuing, cultivating. Of course the other way,...before supposed recorded history was to watch what birds were eating what seeds, and harvesting from the plants that did not cause the birds to die. (the hint of course was bird corpses sprinkled about the growing plants. :-) )

My compost pile readily grows many seedlings...most of which are melon and a couple compost heap is a slow one...warm over a long time and not hot-hot. Have only so far been able to get tomato fruit from those seedlings...even though the melons and cukes grow nice foliage.

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 11, 1999.

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