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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saving Tomato Seeds

Hello to all you Buckeyes out there! I'm Andrea and I'm thrilled to have been invited to join OPN and contribute in some way to the preparedness plans of families all across Ohio. I want to say thanks to Shelly for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to be part of this growing network.

All that aside, I'd like to talk seeds. Specifically, tomato seeds.

After an odd growing season here in west-central Ohio, my tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen, which means it's not too early to think about saving seeds. Saving seeds is a simple way to save money, ensure healthy plants and enjoy one-of-a-kind flavors year after year without having to depend on your local nursery. I will admit that I found saving tomato seeds daunting at first. It seemed like there were so many steps and so many places to screw up! But in all actuality, it's a very simple process.


First you start with a slightly overripe, open-pollinated tomato variety. Choose the healthiest fruit from the healthiest plant so that next year's plants carry those choice genes.

Easy enough. Now comes the icky part.

Slice open the tomato and squish out the seeds and the gelatinous goop into a small glass, a canning jar or whatever dish you have available. Add a few tablespoons of water, just enough to float the goop, then cover your dish with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top for ventilation. Set the seeds in a sunny, warm spot, like a window sill or on top of the fridge and let the fermentation begin. Each day, stir the seeds and after a few days, a white scum should begin to form on the top. You should also notice that seeds are beginning to settle on the bottom of your dish...that's a good thing!

The fermentation is an important step, so don't rush it. The gelatinous stuff prevents tomato seeds from germinating, but the fermenting action breaks down that substance so that next spring you'll have viable seeds. If you skip this step, you risk low germination rates.

After you see the bloom on top of the water and seeds beginning to sink, remove the plastic wrap and carefully spoon off the scum. Pour the remaining water and seeds into a small kitchen sieve. Rinse well with cool water then pour the seeds onto a plate or a sheet of wax paper to dry. After several days of drying, place your seeds in an airtight container such as a plastic bag or even an old pill bottle and store in a cool, dark location. If stored properly, your homegrown seeds will have a shelf life of many, many years.

Best wishes,

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Anonymous said...

Andrea-Thanks for a great first post. We grew some yellow type of heirloom tomato and let me tell you, it was wonderfully tasting. This will be my first year saving seed, so thanks for the info.

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Welcome, Andrea!! I haven't saved tomato seeds yet, but will be doing so this year. I'll be printing off this post to help me out!!

Andrea said...

Thanks for the encouragement, ladies! I appreciate the warm welcome!

Anonymous said...

Saving tomato seeds are the easiest thing to do. This is the 2nd year growing the 1885 Amish Heirlooms and I had saved the seeds from last year, growing them from seeds. I also have a couple "Mr. Stripey" heirloom plants growing that aren't doing as well as the 1885's - this year and last years plants are taller then I am (I'm 5'11") with baseball to softball sized fruit.


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