How to save tomato seed
There is an unchallenged king in gardens everywhere who’s flavor is outstanding – and that is tomatoes! Growing the perfect tomato is like searching for the holy grail. It can often elude gardeners. They have become the fan favorite because of the wide variety of shapes, colors and flavors. There are literally thousands of different tomatoes for you to grow in your backyard vegetable garden. The possibilities are endless if you learn how to save tomato seeds!
How to save tomato seeds: Saving money
Do you ever find yourself flipping through the seed catalogs each year looking for your favorite varieties? Ever stop and think about the money you are spending on those seeds year to year? What if I told you that you could save your own tomato seeds from your favorite varieties, so that you can have them year after year. Wouldn’t that be great? It is true – and it is awesome! Read on to find out how to save tomato seeds!
How to save tomato seeds: What seeds can be saved
You can literally save seeds from any variety of tomato that you want – but there is a catch! Only seeds that you save from heirloom varieties can be trusted to grow “true-to-type”.
What do I mean when I say “true-to-type”? I simply mean that the seeds you save this year from an heirloom will sprout and grow the same type of tomato next year. Only heirlooms can be trusted to do that!
You can save seeds from non-heirloom or hybrid tomatoes as well but understand that the tomatoes you get next year will most likely resemble their “parent plants”. This is not always a bad thing as I have had some great plants using this very method.
How to save Tomato seeds: Getting started
When it comes to saving tomato seeds, it conjures up memories to helping out with our family vegetable garden growing up. We would always go out to the garden to collect all of the ripe fruits and vegetables with my parents. We would find some of the ripe tomatoes that the birds had pecked and we would put those aside for saving seeds. Nothing goes to waste!
Tomatoes are different when it comes to saving seeds that most other fruits and vegetables. The seeds can’t be just scooped out and dried; they first need to be removed with all of the tomato guts. The seeds are coated in a “gel sack” that has to be cleaned off. How do I do that? It is actually easy!
Once you have scooped out the seeds and the tomato guts – they need to be fermented to remove the gel from the seeds. This can be like a science experiment for the kids.
How to save Tomato Seeds: Fermenting
Why do I need to ferment the seeds?
Can’t I just scoop them out onto a paper towel and let them dry? The answer is no. The seeds need to be fermented to remove the gel casing around the seed. This fermentation time mimics nature and the process that the tomato seeds go through.
Here are the things you will need
- Knife and spoon
- Mason jar w/ring
- Paper towels
- Pen or sharpie
- Fine mesh sieve
- Paper plates (or any plate)
- Small paper envelope
How to save tomato seeds: Choosing the right tomato
One of the most important parts of saving any seeds is selecting the fruit. You want to select the best fruit to save seeds from. You want to pick the tomato with best visual example of the variety: perfect color, size, and shape. Other things that you want to look for in selecting the fruit are disease resistance, vigor, productivity and finally – flavor!
How to save tomato seeds: Saving the seeds
After you have selected the perfect tomato – you now want to save the seeds from it for next year. This process is incredibly easy! Here are the 5 simple steps in saving the seeds:
- Cut the tomato in half.
- Scoop out the seeds using a spoon into a mason jar.
- Fill the jar with tap water just until the seeds are covered.
- Place a paper towel over the top of the mason jar and then secure with the ring.
- Allow to sit for 3 days.
- Pour contents of jar into the fine mesh sieve and rinse with water.
- Rinse the jar.
- Put seeds back into the jar.
- Repeat steps 3-8 until the seeds are completely free from the gel.
- Once they are free from the gel substance, place strained seeds onto a paper towel on a paper plate to dry over the course of a few days.
- Once completely dry, place into paper envelopes. Make sure to label with date and variety.
How to save tomato seeds: Shelf Life on seeds
The seeds that you have saved should last for years if properly stored. They should be store in paper envelopes in a cool dark place. You can also store multiple envelopes in a mason jar in the refrigerator. If stored correctly, I have seen seeds last for 5-6 years. The older the seed – the lower the germination could be.
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