Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving Tomato Seeds

I love tomatoes, especially home grown tomatoes. There is no contest in taste between a fresh picked, home grown tomato and a store bought tomato. The flavor difference is amazing.

Each year I plant a lot of tomatoes -- 14 plants to be exact. Two of those plants are very special tomato plants. The original seed packets came from Austria from my sister and brother-in-law when they had vacationed there. They are the cutest plants. They are very small, but grow a nice sized tomato, just a little smaller than a typical Early Girl. I don't know the official name of them because the seed packet is all in German. So I just call them my "Austrian tomatoes". The first year I planted them in the garden amongst all of the other tomato plants they looked like miniature tomato plants. The following year I decided to try them in pots, and they did great. When I had finally come to the end of my seeds, I decided I would try saving the seeds from the last of the Austrian tomatoes. So I did a bit of looking around to see how one goes about saving seeds, and this is what I found out, and it works great.

Cut open the tomato that you want to save the seeds from. Scoop out the insides of the tomato where the seeds are and place them in a small container. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a couple of holes in the plastic so that air can circulate. Each day give the container a little stir. After a couple of days they will have begun to ferment. At this point carefully scrape off all of the stuff on the top, and thoroughly rinse the seeds in a small strainer. Place the seeds on a clean coffee filter or a piece of waxed paper, and let them sit to dry for a couple of days. Once they are completely dry, you can store them in a plastic bag and they are ready to plant next spring. I also label the year on the package.

Tomato seeds last a long time. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking they are only good for one year. This year I planted seeds that I had saved in 2002, and they germinated beautifully. I also have saved seeds from volunteer tomato plants that have grown in my garden that were different than any others that I have grown. This year for instance, I had some absolutely amazing cherry tomatoes that volunteered. They were the best cherry tomatoes that I have ever eaten. So I have saved the seeds, and will plant them next year. I will let you know how they turn out next summer.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

you definetly (I don't think i spelled that right) have the best tomatoes ever!!!! good job. i love you!!! Love, Clara

wbtrice said...

I found your blog through Nancy Wilson's blog...

Do you think this would work with butternut squash seeds? We are part of our local CSA and each year we get a few of the most amazing butternut squashes. They are expensive to buy, so I saved the seeds in a bag in the fridge about three weeks ago. I've been meaning to look up how to keep them to plant for next year...if it's as easy as tomato plants I'm encouraged! :)

Monica said...

I have never saved squash seeds myself, but from what I have read, all you need to do is to rinse them off and lay them out to dry. Once they are dry, you can save them in a cool, dark place. Just like you would pumpkin seeds.

alison said...

Thank you for this! Do you know if the seeds have to be taken from a ripe tomato? I have some green tomatoes from my garden that are ripening inside in a bag. I didn't know if saving from those would make a difference. Also, I was wondering what "volunteer" tomatoes means?

I, too, found you through Nancy Wilson's blog. Your blog is lovely also!

Monica said...

Alison,
I don't see why you couldn't save the seeds from the tomatoes that you have ripening in a bag once they have ripened. And "volunteer" tomatoes are tomato plants that just grow on their own without having been planted, at least by me intentionally. At the end of the season, I just throw any old tomatoes and other vegies into the garden, and sometimes they seed themselves, and grow the following spring. Wouldn't it be great, if the entire garden would just come back on its own!

Blue Castle said...

I just found your blog via Femina..

I've been canning salsa and wondered if I could save the tomato seeds for next year. Thank you for posting your method for this. It's a great help and answers my question. :)