Saturday, 31 March 2012

Saving Tomato Seeds For Next Season's Crop

I've never saved my tomato seeds before now but after giving it a go I've realised how super dooper easy it is. No more spending $3 per plant at the local hardware store. You'll have enough seeds to grow tomatoes for yourself and two of your neighbours and it won't have cost you a thing (only your time).

One thing to keep in mind however is what type of tomatoes you grew this year as you can not use the seeds from a Hybrid plant. To tell if the seeds from your tomato stock are ok to use, you'll need to have kept the tomato label and if it says F1 hybrid, then I'm afraid you won't be able to use the seeds. If it doesn't mention anything about F1 Hybrid then you should get the same tomato plant from your seeds as you had last season. If you didn't keep the label, ask your old neighbour or a family member if they can spare a tomato from their yield if they know what they have is not a hybrid plant.

As a rule of thumb, pick a tomato that is healthy looking. The theory in this is that you will have healthy seeds. I'm using a Heirloom tomato called Black Russian.

Cut it up and dig out the seeds with a spoon, placing them into a jar with a lid. You will notice that the seeds come in a sort of membrane. The whole idea of this next process is to separate the seeds from that membrane because that is what stops the seeds from spouting.

Add approx 60ml of water to your seeds, put the lid on the jar and put the jar in a warm place (like on a sunny window sill). Shake the jar a few times a day.

After several days you will notice that your seeds are separating from the membrane and are dropping to the bottom of the jar. This is good. Sometimes the water at the top of the jar starts to go a bit mouldy. This is good as it means the fermentation process is working, just skim the mould off the top and go onto the next stage.

Once you're happy that your seeds have separated from their membrane, strain and clean them with a bit of water and then spread them onto a piece of paper or kitchen paper to dry.

Once you're happy that they have dried (they should be hard enough that you can not leave a pinch mark in them with your nail) then you can fold up the piece of paper and put it in a air sealed jar with a silicon sachet (I steal the sachets out of the vitamin jars) until July when you can plant them and grow your seedlings.

You see, easy!

If you have left over tomatoes, why don't you try making Green Tomato Pickles, I'd highly recommend it!

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