Saving Tomato Seeds

Saving Tomato Seeds @ Farming My Backyard

Last year my family belonged to a CSA where we would get heirloom tomatoes.   These tomatoes were grown just a couple miles from our house, and were delicious, so I decided to save the seeds for this year.  Tomatoes self pollinate, so it’s easy to save seeds even if you don’t grow the plant in your own garden.  Luckily saving tomato seeds is pretty easy.  I was worried all winter that maybe I done something wrong, but this spring when I started my tomato seedlings I actually was shocked with a 100 percent pollination rate in the four dozen seeds I had started in eggshells.

Now, just in case you think I’m some amazing gardener who has a robust crop of 4 dozen tomatoes crammed into her front yard, you should know that I have a black thumb.  I actually managed to kill ALL four dozen seedlings from alternating under and over watering and not hardening them off slowly enough and had to start over.  I  only managed to get 4 tomato plants into the garden before having baby #4, two of which subsequently died.   The remaining two have flowered, and have a few green tomatoes, but no ripe ones yet.  I’m kind of bummed out.


Regardless, I have plenty of seeds saved to try again next year.   And don’t worry, saving tomato seeds is a lot easier than keeping tomatoes alive, apparently.

How To Save Tomato Seeds

  • Cut your tomato in half
  • Squeeze the pulp and seeds into a jar
  • Add a few inches of water
  • Let sit for 2 days
  • Rinse the pulp off the seeds in a strainer
  • Spread the seeds out to dry.  (I dried mine on a cloth napkin, and they all stuck to it.  I hear a paper plate is better to use)
  • Store them in a cool, dark place after they are completely dry.
  • Label the variety (I forgot to do this, so it’ll be a complete surprise what varieties I get when I do manage to grow them, and now I feel embarrassed to share my seeds with other people/real gardeners)

That’s it!  Have fun saving your tomato seeds, and growing tomatoes, and eating tomatoes, (I’m not jealous of your tomatoes), and sharing tomatoes with neighbors, and canning tomatoes, and making ketchup with your tomatoes (no really, I’m not…), and making salsa with tomatoes, and eating hamburgers with fresh tomatoes, (Really!) or tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles (maybe a little jealous), or making tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, or standing in the sun eating orange cherry tomatoes off the vine…

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it, I’m jealous of all you successful tomato growing people.  What will YOU do with the tomatoes from your saved seeds?

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Posted in Gardening and Permaculture
6 comments on “Saving Tomato Seeds
  1. Cynthia Hill Durham says:

    How to grow tomatoes:

    1. Start seeds (you have that down).
    2. Transplant into GOOD RICH dirt. If unsure of dirt composition, buy some good quality composted manure.
    3. If you are having trouble growing things, try containers. In Oregon, I think you’ll have plenty of water without too much difficulty.
    4. If watering anything in the ground, sprinkle until the dirt turns shiny, then stop.
    5. Tomatoes really like the heat, and certain varieties are developed specifically for Oregon. Nichols Herbs is a good place to start as they are IN Oregon.
    6. Baby #4? No wonder your tomatoes died. Don’t be bummed. You can only do what you can do, and many things don’t work first time, every time.
    7. Good luck!

  2. Tracy Brown says:

    Hi Kathyrn,

    I’m glad I found your blog post today! (Anna from Northern Homestead shared it on Pinterest.)

    This is the first year we’re having a tomato crop – of any size. We live in a city neighborhood with a small, often shaded backyard. And, this year we did not start tomatoes from seeds, but started with seedlings from relatives and a local organic grower. Plus, my Dad gave me three “patio tomatoes.”

    Anyhow, the seedlings from the relatives seemed to suffer from septoria leaf rot, so we dug them up and got rid of them before they started to even flower. The patio tomatoes are doing… okay. But, they seem to be struggling now too. (We’ve had a lot of rain this year.) The two organic-started plants, however, are doing great! They are a vining variety and they’re loaded with a bunch of green fruit right now. I’m hoping to be able to can some when they ripen. 🙂

    I want to save seeds from these plants since they are doing so well. I will be putting your instructions to good use! Thank you, Kathryn! 🙂

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Welcome! I’m Kathryn and I'm creating a tiny urban homestead in Portland, Oregon. Our 1/10th acre lot includes gardens, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. If you want to create an urban homestead please subscribe for email updates and let us help inspire you with baby steps to farming your backyard.
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