Tomatoes are a favorite summer crop that not only adds flavor to your salads but is also used in ketchup, salsa, and other sauces.
Did you know that you can collect and store fresh seeds from Tomatoes for the next season?
Continue reading, and you might never have to buy Tomato seeds again.
Seed saving does not only save you some money but plays a major role in conserving the vintage Tomato varieties.
How to Save Tomato Seeds?
The first method is to collect the seeds from a fresh Tomato and dry them in the open. You can drop the collected seeds at different spots in your Tomato garden to create seed reservoirs. Another way is through fermentation. In this method, soak the seeds for up to 3 days before drying and storage.
Saving the Fresh Tomato Seeds
Most varieties of Tomatoes self-pollinate, so the seeds will produce Tomatoes similar to the original plant.
Saving Tomato seeds will help you have a healthy crop year after year since you will be sure that your Tomatoes are disease-free.
If you are growing multiple varieties in your garden, you need one seed from each variety.
But I would recommend saving more seeds for sharing.
Most Tomato growers use one of three methods mentioned below for saving the Tomato seeds.
Gather the best-looking Tomatoes from your garden and follow these steps below.
Drying Tomato Seeds
As the name suggests, you simply dry the seeds in this method.
But keep in mind that the seeds dried using this technique last for a year or two maximum.
This method is perfect for gardens that plan to save the seeds for a short period. I would highly recommend using the seeds stored this year in next years’ Tomato planting.
Use a knife or cutter to divide the Tomato in half from the middle, bumpy part.
This part has the biggest seeds. You can handpick the seeds and dry them on a paper towel or coffee filters.
If you want to create seed trays, arrange two to three seeds on a single piece of filter or towel. Now leave the seeds out and let them dry for few days.
The number of days required can differ according to the temperature in the region you’re living in.
Once completely dried, these seeds can be stored in envelopes or airtight jars for replanting next year.
Tomato leaves can also be stored by burying them in the garden soil. You create seed reservoirs at multiple locations in your garden.
Clean the area and dig a small hole in the garden where you plan on planting the Tomatoes next season.
You do not have to prepare the seeds in any way.
Place them directly with the gel sacs and cover them with 1-2 inches of soil. You should also add mulch.
These seeds will not germinate in winter but make sure you bury them deep in the soil.
Once spring arrives, you can work the soil, and soon the germination will begin as the warmth in the weather increases.
This method doesn’t give you much control over the growth of the Tomatoes since you are not sure at what time exactly the seeds will germinate.
These Tomatoes might not develop a strong root system or germinate early and be killed by frost.
Fermentation of Tomato Seeds
If you examine the Tomato seed carefully, you will notice that they are enclosed in gel sacs.
These sacs have a special purpose, and they prevent seed germination until the seeds have settled in the soil.
You might think the gel sacs have a positive role only for the seeds, but this is not true if you plan to store the seeds.
These sacs can create a perfect environment for soil-borne or seed disease while they are stored.
This is where fermentation comes into action because it helps you clean the seeds before storing them.
- Slice the Tomatoes and collect the seeds from the cavities. Put these seeds in a cup of clean water and leave them in a warm location.
- This will help in separating the pulp and seeds. In my opinion, adding water can slow down fermentation. You should depend on the natural liquid available in Tomato.
- I prefer doing this in a clear jar or container that allows me to view the actual situation of the seeds. You can also seal the lid with a linen cloth to control the smell.
- You have to soak the Tomato seeds for one to three days maximum before rinsing and drying them. Scientific studies have indicated that soaking for more days can impact seed germination negatively.
- Check the seeds regularly, and once the seed or pulp develops mold, you are ready to move to the next step. Another indication is when the seeds settle at the bottom, and the pulp or mold is floating on the top.
- If you leave the seeds in the fermentation container for longer, germination might start.
- Once mold forms, remove it and wash the seeds well in a strainer to remove the residual gel or mold. Now let the seeds dry for a week or so on a paper plate.
- Do not let the seeds form clumps while drying. You can separate them by hand or with tweezers. The seeds are ready for storage once they feel papery and dry.
Store these seeds in a location that’s both cool and dry to help them last for several years.
Gardeners use envelopes, plastic bags, or empty bottles to store them. Any container’s good as long as it’s airtight.
Fermentation of the Tomato seeds creates an unpleasant smell. Therefore, I would recommend keeping them at a location where you do not have to tolerate the smell.
The fermented seeds will also attract tiny fruit flies, but you can install a fly trap to catch and kill these flies.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Save Tomato Seeds
How long will the Tomato seeds last?
If the seeds are stored properly, they can easily last for up to six years.
What is the best time to collect seeds from the Tomatoes?
Make sure you collect seeds from ripe Tomatoes. You can collect the seeds any time from mid-summer to autumn.
Why is fermentation the ideal method when you save Tomato seeds?
Most growers prefer fermentation for saving Tomato seeds because it gives cleaner seeds, the germination rate of these seeds will be higher, and they last longer compared to other methods.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.