How to Save Tomato Seeds

 

As the world settles into the summer-fall change of pace, kids going back to school, traffic patterns adjusting, temperatures cooling off, birds are migrating, stores change their displays to autumn holidays, and gardeners are busy preserving the tapering bounty of produce.

In season now are fresh juicy peaches, heavy enough to break limbs as they nearly fall off the tree, pears of all shapes, sizes and colors, summer squashes like butternut, delicata, and sweet dumpling, the tail end of watermelon and cantaloupes, and the heat lovers like peppers and tomatoes are ramping down production.

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Although, this doesn’t look very ramped-down to me!

Meanwhile, the cold weather lovers like spinach, bok choi, brussels sprouts, pumpkins, and winter squash are coming alive and some may be planted now for a second fall/early winter harvest.

One of my absolute favorite things about gardening is the seeds. And the miracle that one tiny seed is capable of producing pounds upon pounds of produce. And that one single fruit from that plant, if you keep one single seed and plant it again, you can again get pounds and pounds of produce!

I honestly sit and wonder sometimes how many growing seasons it would take for one tomato seed to reproduce enough to cover the planet.

Say one tomato makes 200 seeds, and each seed is planted the next year to create 200 plants. Then each plant creates twenty fruits, each with 200 seeds. Now you have 40,000 seeds, each capable of being planted again the next year.

And so on.

Tomatoes could inherit the Earth in about 10 years, I think.

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Seeds from heirloom Italian tomato varieties

There are so many good reasons to save seeds:

  • It promotes heirloom varieties – non-GMO and non-altered versions of a plant that will create new, similar plants the following growing season; each unique
  • You produce plants that are best-adapted to your individual climate, elevation, and soil. No store-bought seeds can be ideally suited to every location, but a few growing seasons of choosing the best fruit and saving the seeds will breed the traits that are best for you & your plants
  • It is essentially free food! If you save seeds, you only have to buy them one time, but can plant indefinitely
  • It promotes self-reliance. If you can grow your own food year after year, it doesn’t matter if the store runs out or doesn’t have any nice-looking produce, you know you can harvest your own right out of your back yard
  • You can create ‘designer produce’. Seed saving is a little bit like genetic modification, only much slower and done as nature does. You can choose fruits based on how quickly they mature, how many leaves the plant grows, or color, and by choosing the trait(s) you want you can enhance the chance that more of the next generation will have those traits. Eventually you can create an entirely new, true-breeding species!

With that said, here’s how to save seeds from tomatoes easily. It is much simpler than you may think!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tomato of a variety you want to save
  • Cup of water
  • Time

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Step 1: Cut the top off the tomato & discard or compost it.

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Step 2: Cut the tomato into wedges, and squeeze out the pulp and seeds into a cup. It’s okay to get juice and goo in with the seeds, you will get rid of it soon.

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Step 3: Cover with a paper towel or cloth and let it sit at room temperature for a day or two. The water may get frothy, and some seeds may sink while a few float. The goo will slowly degrade, leaving the seeds uncovered.

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Step 4: Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, or simple pour off the cloudy water and re-cover until there is nothing left but seeds. Spread onto a plate and let air dry for 24 hours.

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Step 5: Put the dry seeds into an envelope or other container, and store it in a cool, dry area where it is not likely to get wet or be invaded by insects.

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Canned tomato sauce from my garden tomatoes

Step 6: The next planting season, plant your seeds and watch them grow! Soon your seeds may have stories attached to them, you can create your own fun names for the new species, and pass them down to your friends and family for their enjoyment too.

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