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July 8, 2011

Saving tomato seeds, save tomato seeds from a tomato

If you have some tomatoes in you garden that you want to save seeds from, or just want to have some seeds for planting, here's how we can harvest seeds from a tomato. Before we go into a step-by-step explanation, let's think about how a tomato propagates itself in nature.

A tomato falls on the ground where it rots and the seeds get into the soil, then they germinate. Not every vegetable need to rot in order to produce new seedlings, but for tomatoes it seems to be an important step. So in our seed saving venture we want to imitate nature.

Get some tomatoes. If you are just starting a garden and do not have your own tomatoes, as well as do not have any seeds, get some tomatoes from the store. To increase your chances for success, get a few tomatoes of different varieties. The problem with germinating store bought tomatoes might be with "terminator seeds" - seeds that were processed to disallow germination (not likely), or that tomatoes were picked very green and seeds had no chance to mature (more likely). In either event, trying a few of different varieties will increase your chances for success.

Cut tomatoes in half:

Using a pointed teaspoon start scooping the seeds into some bowl:

About that many seeds will be scooped from two tomatoes, I would estimate about fifty seeds:

Top the seeds with water, not tap (chlorinated) water, but some well water, or spring water from a bottle or a gallon or even distilled water. Chlorinated water will halt fermentation, so do not use your tap water. 

Now put that bowl on the window sill or simply on the counter. In a few days you will see foaming and film on top of the water covering the tomatoes. That's a good sign; that means your seeds are fermenting. Fermenting tomato seeds emulates nature's rotten tomato. Granted, I cannot attest that a non-fermented seed will not produce germination, but the consensus in a gardening community is that you want tomato seeds fermented. 

After you see the signs of fermenting, give it another couple of days, then rinse the seeds in the strainer and spread them on the coffee filter. Set aside to dry. For storage, the seeds need to be bone dry, which will take a week on average. If you want to plant the seeds, they do not need to be dry and can be planted right away.


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