Every gardening season starts with simple, little seeds. These seeds are what kick starts everything and luckily all the plants grown naturally produce seed, which we can save. The way to save seed changes by plant type (pepper vs. tomato) and the type of seeds being produced (hybrid, open pollinated, heirloom). The type of seed matters because once a hybrid seed is planted it can no longer produce viable seed, so if you are saving seed for the next year, you will want either an heirloom or open pollinated variety.
In today’s blog post I will specifically be focusing on saving seed from a tomato plant. The first thing is that the varieties of tomatoes have to be separated by 10-200 ft depending on the variety. I have one tomato bed in the front that is strictly amish paste heirloom varieties so I am using these tomatoes for seed this year. I pick the tomatoes when they are completely ripe from the vine. I then remove the seeds from the tomatoes of my choosing (pick by desired traits like size or flavor) and put them in a canning jar.
I then place a piece of cheese cloth on top to keep debris out. I use a rubber band to hold it in place and let it sit to ferment for three to four days. It has to ferment to help break down the gelatinous substance around the seeds.
Throughout the fermentation be sure to swirl the seed container. After the three to four days passed you will see there is a mold on the top, this aids in the fermentation, and the seeds will sink to the bottom.
Now that the seeds are sinking, this is where the washing begins. The washing is to get all the junk left at the top off of the good seed now left at the bottom. So I fill up the jar and swirl it so anything stuck to seed will loosen up, get the junk to float up, and the seeds to settle back to the bottom. You repeat this washing until the water is clear and the seeds are all at the bottom.
Lastly, you empty off the last wash’s water and pour the seeds out somewhere to dry. It should have good air flow, so I placed mine on a paper towel on a microwave cover we have so the air could pass around and through all of that. The seeds should dry in a day or so. This is easily done by setting the drying seeds in the sunlight until they are dry, and then bag them and place them in a dark and dry place until the next year!
These seeds will then serve as future plants, future tomatoes and a great investment as they become more regionally adapted! Have you ever tried saving seed?