I’ve mentioned it before but it is worth saying again ~ I have a seed fetish. Some women like shopping for shoes, hand bags, the like.
I shop for seeds.
I have been guilty of buying seeds that I don’t really need just because I thought they would be fun to try.
I have been guilty of buying a package simply because I thought it looked pretty.
Because seeds are so relatively inexpensive, I tend to load up my virtual shopping cart (I’m an introvert, I do all my shopping online) thinking it is no sweat.
After my last shopping spree,however, when all was said and done; I suffered a bit of sticker shock.
Quite a bit.
I won’t say how much or how many but I did decide then and there that it was time to start learning how to save my own seeds.
The zinnias and the lettuces haven’t been that difficult. They are pretty straightforward and pretty easy to collect. Asparagus was a tiny bit tricky but easily mastered once I got the hang of it.
The tomatoes on the other hand were a bit of a challenge.
Tomato seeds, as you know, are surrounded by a jelly~like membrane that needs to be removed before the seeds can be stored. In order to do this the seeds must be fermented. A most interesting process to say the least.
In order to extract the seeds I cut two tomatoes in half: one of each variety that I wanted to save. The halves were squeezed into two small glass bowls each providing about 2-3 tablespoons of seeds.
To ferment: I added enough water to cover the seeds, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and made a small incision on the top to allow for a bit of air circulation. Since they need a warm place to do their thing, I set them on top of the fridge and monitored them on a daily basis.
Within about three or four days a thick, scummy mold had formed on the top. I skimmed off the mold and gently shook the bowl to release any further membrane that might be clinging to the seeds.
Many of the directions and guidelines I had read for saving tomato seeds suggested flooding the viscous mess with clear water. Since my containers were so small I was afraid of losing the seeds altogether so I opted instead to drain them through a small strainer and rinse. It worked fine.
Once rinsed, I spread them out on a brown paper bag. They needed a surface that would wick away any moisture. A styrofoam plate wouldn’t work, and they would end up sticking something awful to a paper towel. A paper bag was what I had on hand, a paper bag was what I used.
After about 48 hours they were completely dry and ready for storage. To ensure that the entire process was done correctly I decided to sprout one. It sprouted beautifully and is growing quite happily in my fall garden.
If you would like to try saving your tomato seeds:
*Make sure you are using an open pollinated, heirloom variety. A hybrid will probably sprout and grow but it will only revert back to the characteristics of the parent plant. You can read more about hybrids and heirlooms here.
*Choose the fruit from your strongest plant to produce strong seeds that will produce more strong plants.
*If you choose to save more than one variety, make sure each is labeled properly so you aren’t playing any guessing games in your garden next season.
*Seeds should be labeled with the variety and the date and stored in a cool, dark, dry place away from moisture. It is recommended they be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. I did this for a time, but have since reverted to keeping them in envelopes stored in a covered box. I’ve not had any problems.
*Seeds should remain viable for a few years.