Have you ever had an heirloom tomato that you really enjoyed? Have you ever tried to save the seeds? Tomato seeds are one of the easiest seeds to save other than beans! Most tomato plants will not cross with another tomato due to their retracted styles. (Remember those plant parts from Biology?)
This year a friend of mine gave me some tomato seedlings. One of the seedlings was called a Green Zebra. This variety is actually the result of 4 heirlooms being bred together. It has a wonderful flavor and you actually pick the tomato when it is green! How do you tell when a green tomato is ripe? You can tell by feel or when the yellow stripes on the tomato start to blush pink from the bottom up.
I really enjoyed this tomato and decided to sacrifice a few of the tomatoes and save the seeds so I could grow them in my garden again next year.
The first step in saving tomato seeds is to cut the tomato in half.
Squeeze the tomato into a container, I used a plastic cup.
To aid in the seed separation I added about a cup of water to the tomato mixture.
Each tomato seed is encased in a gelatinous sack. The gel in these sacks contains chemicals that inhibit seed germination. This is why the seeds don’t sprout while in the tomato! In nature the tomatoes fall off the plant and begin to rot. Eventually the fruits totally rot away leaving the seeds on the surface ready to sprout when the conditions are right.
In my cup of tomato seeds and water a layer of fungus will grow across the surface. Once the mold is growing across the surface I pour the seeds, liquid and fungus into a strainer. The seeds are washed clean by rubbing the mixture against the strainer under running water. Once the seeds are washed clean place them in a coffee filter. Tomato seeds tend to stick to paper towels, the coffee filters work better at wicking away the moisture and allowing the seeds to completely dry.
Once the seeds are dry store them in a container in a cool, dark place. In the spring you will have your own tomato seeds to grow!
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