Tomato Tidbits: Saving Seed
Tomatoes have always been my favorite plant to grow! We grew them when I was a child and I have been growing them on my own for twenty years now! To say I’m obsessed with tomatoes is an understatement! The last five years Ryan and I have been actively saving the seed of our heirloom open pollinated tomatoes we grow. We grow more and more varieties and colors every year!
I love saving seed because it saves me money on seed orders and I can trade with other seed savers and get even more variety! This year we grew over 40 varieties of heirlooms, next year will be even more!
So to start, be sure the plant that you are saving from is an heirloom so the seed will be true to parent plant. Hybrid plant seeds can have all different results from their lineage. If you don’t know you can just research the name of your tomato plant and find out easily. Next, choose your healthiest plant with the best fruit.
Get your fully ripe fruit and cut in half to expose the most seed cells. They will be in the jelly between the meaty sections. Scoop out with a spoon and put in a container, I use Mason jars because that’s what I use for everything!
Then, cover seed with water, at least half a cup is good. Put a lid on it and let it ferment for 3-5 days. This will remove the jelly layer that inhibits germination and even kill some diseases. You may want to burp and stir it each day. At the end of three days its going to be stinky!!! Just be ready for it when you burp it.
When the ferment is finished, all pulp, jelly and bad seed will be floating on top of water. Pour this stinky clumpy mess off into your compost and add more water and stir and pour off as seed settles to bottom until all pulp is gone. Then pour your seed into a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth if holes are big enough for seeds to go through. Run it under fresh water until clean and then spread out to dry.
Dry for at least a few days or until very dry. Depending on your climate and humidity it could take as long as two weeks to dry out. I use a paper plate to spread them on and write the name of the seed right on the plate. Once dry put them in envelope, bag, or jar and seal. Keep in cool, dark, dry place. I store mine in a Rubbermaid container in a closet or even in fridge or freezer too.
While that is the proper way to save tomato seed for best results and seed sharing, you can always be a rebel and just spread the seed out on parchment paper and dry for your own use! You may not get as good results and germination might be reduced so it’s not recommended. But shhh, don’t tell anyone I said that was okay!