Gardeners are content to purchase seeds or plants, grow them, and then reap the harvest. A spirited few see the full cycle of nature through and will save seeds in order to keep the line going the next year. Tomato gardeners are the most common seed savers of this group.
This is due to labor of finding the right variety or even created your own that is particularly well-suited to your area and methods. Preservation is key so, keep the seeds germinating year after year.
Many hybrid varieties are not likely to breed true from generation to generation. Most hybrid producers are combining the same two base stocks year after year to create the seeds or are breeding specific seed plants.
Nearly all heirlooms and commercial non-hybrid varieties are ideal for seed saving, they are more stable. Heirlooms are usually the top of choice for seed savers.
Pollination is not an issue since all varieties of tomato are self-pollinating, though some hybrids are sterile and cannot pollinate or be pollinated.
How to save tomato seeds
The process is simple. Different methods depend on your preferred method and how long you’d like the seeds to last. All methods have basically the same beginning steps.
Cut the ripe tomato into halves or quarters and squeeze to remove the seeds and pulp. Let the seeds rest in their juice for two or three days, the fermentation mimics the process in nature where the fruit rots around the seed. This process triggers the seed’s dormancy and is important for storage.
Separate the seeds from the pulp. Filter the seeds through a rag, cheese cloth, or a fine mesh screen. Remove any left over pulp chunks and spread the seeds across a dry cloth or paper towel. Allow the seeds to dry, turning or replacing the cloth or towel at least once. The seeds will dry in a day or two at room temperature.
Place the seeds in a cool, dry, mostly dark place free of insects and pests. Make sure to label the container with the variety and year stored. Seeds stored in manner should be good for up to 5 years if kept free of moisture and will germinate at a good rate (70% or better) in most cases.
Another method is similar to the above, except by placing the dried seeds into a jar or sealed container and freezing. This makes them last longer and is believed to improve germination rates.
Saving seeds is the full circle of natural gardening and is a great way to ensure that you have excellent produce from your garden year after year. If your favorite tomato variety is doing well in your garden, why not save the seeds so that you can have the same great tomatoes every year?