Saving tomato seeds from heirloom fruit has several awesome advantages. The first is that you get to save money on seeds. When you save your own, you don’t have to purchase new ones every year! The even better benefit is that every year your crop becomes better adapted to your particular micro climate. You can save seeds from the earliest ripening tomatoes if you live in an area with short summers and extend your crop. You could save your seeds from tomatoes that did best during the dog days of summer if you live in a hot area. Just about any factor you want to improve, you CAN with saving tomato seeds from your garden.
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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 Get Started Saving 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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