Monday, October 15, 2012

Saving Tomato Seeds, part 1

One of my favorite farming activities is saving seeds. I love seeing the full cycle of the seasons from seed to seed; I love the independence of not having to buy seed every year, and I love learning about the various mechanisms plants have developed for continuing themselves. Fall is a good time for saving the seeds of summer plants, and anyone growing heirloom tomatoes will probably want to save seeds from their favorites. An heirloom plant will make seeds that are genetically similar to the parent plant, unlike hybrids which make seeds that can have the traits of any of the ancestor plants. Tomato seed saving is a little more complex than other saving other seeds because it involves a brief fermentation process. The fermentation step helps kill any plant diseases.

There are great directions for saving tomato seed on I thought it would be nice to have photo illustrations too, so here are the steps (This is the first part. Part 2 will be posted soon):

1.  Choose a slightly overripe tomato from your healthiest tomato plant(s). We grew 16 varieties of tomatoes this year, and I am saving seeds from many of them.
Several varieties of heirloom tomatoes ready to have their seeds saved.

2. Slice the tomato horizontally, across its "equator."
3. Squeeze the seeds, including their gel goo, out into a clean jar or other container. Add a couple tablespoons of water.
Tomato seeds in a clean, reused container with water.

 4. Cover the container with a lid or a piece of cellophane, and poke a few holes in it for ventilation. Label with the variety if you are saving more than one kind. Place in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days.
My full menagerie of tomato seeds in various reused containers.

Part 2 is coming soon! Stay tuned.

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